The site has been settled since the Neolithic Age and fortified since the Bronze and Iron Age and later by Celts and Romans.

The cliff (elevation 212 meters) is an ideal place for a fort due to its position at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. The fort watches over an important trade route along the Danube as well as one branch of the Amber Road.

The castle stands just inside Slovak territory on the frontier between Slovakia and Austria. The border runs from west to east along the Morava River and subsequently the Danube. Prior to 1989, the Iron Curtain between the Eastern Bloc and the West ran just in front of the castle. Although the castle was open to the public, the area surrounding it constituted a restricted military zone, and was heavily fortified with watchtowers and barbed wire. After the Velvet Revolution the area was demilitarised.

The most photographed part of the castle is the tiny watchtower, known as the Maiden Tower. Separated from the main castle, it balances perilously on a lone rock and has spawned countless legends concerning imprisoned lovelorn daughters leaping to their deaths.

Inside the castle is a sprawling landscape of walls, staircases, open courtyards and gardens in various states of disrepair. They are all, however, made readily accessible by a continuing restoration and archaeological project conducted since the borough of Devín was reclaimed from Nazi Germany which had annexed it shortly before World War II.

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