Corvin Castle: The Gothic Masterpiece of Transylvania
A fairy tale castle for some, a Gothic masterpiece for others and even a haunted looking place with great backgrounds for Hollywood movies, Corvin Castle is simply the most impressive castle in Transylvania. While many chase the ghost of fictional characters at Bran Castle, we recommend you add Corvin Castle to your list of the best places to see in Romania.
A glorious prince: Ioan of Hunedoara
The story of this imposing medieval castle is, at least, in the 15th century, the story of Transylvania’s greatest prince, Ioan of Hunedoara. Born into a Romanian family, Ioan of Hunedoara succeeded in reaching the highest military and administrative ranks in the Hungarian Kingdom in a time when the Romanian majoritarian population of Transylvania had considerably fewer rights than the other ethnic groups. He was a regent of Hungary between 1446 and 1552 and the ruling prince of Transylvania between 1441 and 1456.
A brilliant military leader with equally high political ambitions, Ioan of Hunedoara carried and won some of the most important battles against the Ottoman Empire, stopping at least for a few decades the Turkish plans to advance to Central Europe. He died in 1456, only a few days after obtaining the most important victory of the time against the Ottomans at Belgrad.
History and architecture across century
The construction and expansion of the castle took place in several phases starting with 1440 when Ioan of Hunedoara considerably enlarged the existing site of a 14th century fortress. The castle will evoke not only his accomplishments, but also his ambitions, becoming until the death of its owner, one of the finest in Europe of that time.
In the first stage, the old fortification was surrounded with two strong curtain walls and rectangular and circular towers were added, most of them, like the Old and the New Gate Towers, Capistrano Tower and the Painted Tower standing until today. A second stage began after Ioan of Hunedoara became the regent of Hungary, the castle becoming the reflection of the great political role obtained. The interior chapel, the Knights’ Hall and the Council’s Hall are the masterpieces of the time, these two major halls being unique in Transylvania.
After his death, it’s his son, Matia Corvin, the greatest king of Hungary, who continued the expansion of the castle. He added the loggia Matia that still conserves the only laic painting from Transylvania’s 15th century.
Prince Gabriel Bethlen brought many changes to the architecture of the castle in the 17th century besides building new towers fit for artillery fights. However, the castle was gradually abandoned afterwards. The restauration of Corvin Castle started only two centuries later, but the process was long and challenging, often destroying more than repairing. It’s the work carried on in the course of the 20th century that brought back to light the original architecture of the medieval construction.
The contemporary castle
The castle offers today a rare historical and architectural presentation even in a region so rich in medieval heritage like Transylvania. It will take you from Renaissance and Gothic elements to 19th century changes, guiding you through a past world of great military and political achievements. All you have to do is let yourself carried away.
Corvin Castle is becoming more and more popular. Go early in the morning or closer to closing time. Consider that a full visit takes around two hours. You can check the schedule on www.castelulcorvinilor.ro
The castle is only one of the highlights of this area, historically known as the Hateg Country. Visit the old rock churches Santamaria Orlea and Densus or the ruins of the fortresses from Colti and Malaiesti.
For a complete day of history-based attractions, drive to Sarmizegetusa to visit the ruins of the ancient Roman capital.
The hiking trails of Retezat National Park are only a few kilometers away.