Banffy Castle: From Medieval Times to Electric Music

If you’d like to visit this castle and other must-see attractions from Transylvania, contact us via www.uncover-romania-tours.com

If you’re wondering what history, ruins, tales of castles and electric music all have in common, the answer is simple: Banffy Castle from Bontida. Once known as the Versailles of Transylvania, this castle was centuries ago the most spectacular in the region. A silent witness of over 600 years of history, the castle is today more alive than ever thanks to a unique combination of restoration efforts and to its hosting of a major music festival.

banffy castle

Photo source Foundation Transilvania Trust

From the 14th to the 20th century

Long before the castle was part of any kind of festival, the large estate from Bontida was donated to the Banffy family in the 14th century by Sigismund of Luxemburg. The construction of the castle started in the following century, but reached its actual dimensions starting with the 17th century under the supervision of architect Agostino Serena. He designed a fortified monument with a bastion for each corner, an imposing seven levels gate tower that served as entrance until the 19th century and a park on the southern part.

The Renaissance elements were altered one hundred years later when Austrian architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach was hired to reconstruct the castle in the Baroque style dominant then in the Habsburg Empire. He added the Court of Honor, the stables, the servants’ wings, and, during this time, a Baroque style park with statues and fountains was created along Somes River.

banffy castle

Photo source Foundation Transilvania Trust

But the changes didn’t stop here as over time Banffy Castle went through a veritable architectural journey. In 1820, the Bánffy family demolished the gate tower and made from it a water mill for the entire village. The gardens were redesigned and got an English look, and the castle was enlarged with one more wing.

While the Renaissance and Baroque styles remain dominant, Rococo, Classic and even Neo-Gothic elements are still visible, especially in the best conserved wing of the main building where once were the library, the Blue Hall, the Yellow Hall and Maria Tereza Hall, all destroyed.

banffy castle

Photo source Foundation Transilvania Trust

The 20th century brought the most abrupt and unfortunate changes that irremediably affected the castle. In the Second World War, the German troops devastated and set the castle on fire, while the communist authorities transformed what was left of it into an agricultural cooperative. The park eventually disappeared and only the statues were recovered and saved, while the castle continued to degrade.

The castle in the 21st century

The monument recently got a new chance as an ample restoration project of the castle started a few years ago under the coordination of the Foundation Transilvania Trust, also with the support of the Prince of Wales and of Princess Margareta of Romania. It’s a long-term plan to recover as much as possible from the grandeur of what was once the Versailles of Transylvania.

best things to do cluj napoca

Photo source Full Fat

Brought to life and slowly recovering its fame, Banffy Castle remains one of the most beautiful in the region even if part of it is lost forever. Its journey continues, and today Banffy Castle writes its own new stories, waiting patiently for curious travelers to discover it all year long whether for a casual visit, during the popular Electric Castle Festival, the European Artistic Crafts Day or through the classes of restoration that take place here.

Travel tips

You can visit the castle from Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm.

Pack a picnic basket and enjoy a nice lunch in the gardens of the castle.

The price of a ticket is only 3 RON.

Don’t miss one day in vibrant Cluj-Napoca.

More information about the castle on www.transylvaniatrust.ro or on the castle’s Facebook page

If you’d like to visit this castle and other must-see attractions from Transylvania, contact us via www.uncover-romania-tours.com

About the author

Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer, focusing on sustainable tourism practices and destinations. You can find Diana Condrea on Twitter and Google+

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