2011. szeptember 28., szerda

Hollókő Castle

Among the hills of Cserhát the castle of Hollókő stands on a cliff only for a few steps away from the Old village, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The castle is visited by many tourist all-year-round.
According to contemporary documents the earliest buildings were established by Kacsics nation, among them were the pentagonal old tower. In the XIV. century Máté Csák took over the castle, from whom the army of King Károly Anjou took it back. In the next decades it belonged to the baron Szécsényi family. Though its owners tried to build up its defences, by the XVI. century it lost its military position.
In 1550 György Kapitány captain of the castle fighted his famous duel with the Aga of Szandavár. After the expulsion of the Turks the castle became useles and were partly destroyed by the Habsburg army. Then the local inhabitants continued with removing the stones of the castle. The restoration, started in 1960-es put an end to the destruction of the castle and made it possible to open up a castle museum behind its old walls at present.
According to the legend András Kacsics kidnapped his neighbour's wife and kept her in his castle. The lady's wet-nurse - being a witch - managed to convince the devil to help her to set the lady free. The devil's sons changed into crows and disassembled the castle stone by stone, in this way the lady became free. But the crows carried the stones into the hill of Szár and built the castle of Hollókő at its present location.
Nowadays only some remainders of the wall of the inner castle and the cannon of the outdoor castle remained.
source: Északi Várak

2011. szeptember 27., kedd

Döbrönte: Szarvaskő Castle

On the north coast of the Bakony Mountains, on downs over the valley of the Bittva brook ridge the spectacular command castle of Döbrönte was built. The castle was built by Benedek Himfi, who was a Bulgarian viceroy and the reeve of the bakony king’s hunt, with the permission of King Lajos I. for the protection of his property. According to chronicles it was built in 1367-74.
In the 15th century the Himfi’s sank armod, brigand, loot, and their castle became a robbercastle. They stormed the surrounding villages including the monastery of Pannonhalma, so King Mátyás condemned their property for a short time and he donated it to the Kanizsai’s.
Imre Himfi, the captain of Visegrád was the last member of his family. His castles and property was given to Ferenc Essegvári and his only daughter. The captain of Pápa and Somló Szapolyai’s had the castle of Döbrönte rebuilt and extended after 1526. He had the outdoor castle and this defender cannon built. During the Turkish occupation the Essegvári family became poor and they couldn’t maintain the castle so it was held by the king guard after 1550.
About 1640 the successors of the Essegváris lived there, but in the second half of the 17th century it began to fall.
The irregular ground-plan castle of Döbrönte, which was standing on a rocky edge, was an indoor towered castle with 1.5 to 2-meter-thick walls. The window openings which can be seen on the remainders of the wall originate from the 17th century reconstruction. The castle was rounded by rampart and chase, then additional chase and rampart dissevered it from the inner, palatial castle of Benedek Himfi viceroy.
Nowadays only some remainders of the wall of the inner castle and the cannon of the outdoor castle remained.
source: http://fured.loczy.sulinet.hu

2011. szeptember 26., hétfő

Miskolc - Diósgyőr Castle

Diosgyor castle started life most likely as an earthwork castle in the 12th century and which was later destroyed during the Mongol invasion of 1241–1242. The current castle, which stands today, is a result of an order by King Bela IV who, after the Mongols withdrew from the country, ordered that every hill top had to have a castle constructed upon it. Diosgyor was oval in shape with a rounded donjon, encompassed by a polygonal outer wall.
The castles hey day was during the rule of Louis I, who modernised and refurbished the castle. These modernisations included an inner castle which was built around a rectangular courtyard and had four towers, one on each angle. The first floor contained the storerooms, whilst the second floor contained the rooms and the Knights' Hall. As well as the fore mentioned, the castle was surrounded by a four meter deep moat. The modernisation programme was finally finished during the rule of Mary, who was Louis’s daughter.
In 1364 the nearby town of Miskolc came under the control of the Diósgyõr estate. Whilst in 1381, the Peace Treaty of Turin was signed at Diosgyor castle. The treaty compelled the Italian town of Venice to raise the flag of the Anjou dynasty in St. Mark's square every Sunday.
Diósgyõr castle started to loose its status when the personal union between Hungary and Poland ended (Louis had shared the two countries between his two daughters Mary and Jadwiga.) Over the perusing centuries the castle became a holiday home for the ruling monarchy.
During the time of the Ottoman occupation of the southern territories of Hungary, Diosgyor castle was further fortified against the advancing armies. The present ruling family turned it into a large fortress, and had an Italian-style rondelle constructed in the north-western tower with enforced bastions replacing the smaller turrets. These were the final alterations to take place at the castle as from 1564 the owners changed frequently, and the castle slowly deteriorated.
In 1596 the Ottoman army defeated the Christian army at Mezõkeresztes with Diósgyõr falling into the hands of the advancing army. For the next 90 years, Diósgyõr was under the control of the Ottoman Empire until 1687 when it was freed from Turkish rule.
In 1953 restoration of Diosgyor castle was started with only the areas being restored were those threatened with collapse. In the north-eastern tower there is an exhibition of the history of the castle, a weapons exhibition and the waxworks showing the singing of the Torino Peace Treaty. The south-western tower is in ruins.
Sadly, today instead of the rolling hills and countryside of it former past, Diosgyor castle is surrounded by concrete buildings and the trappings of a modern city.
source: Guide to Castles of Europe

2011. szeptember 24., szombat

Csókakő Castle

As part of the system of borderline fortifications in the Vértes Mountains, Csókakő Castle was built and first owned by the Csák clan in order to guard the main road between Győr and Komárom. The first written document dates back to 1299. The name originates in Chowka, an early nickname for Stephen. It was King Charles I who, recognising the strategic importance of the castle, made it a royal possession in 1327. Later it became the property of various noble families. Following the Turkish occupation, German soldiers were stationed in the castle which, as its owners did not care much about maintenance, gradually fell into ruin. The outstanding strategic position of the castle was due to the steep, almost vertical hillsides on three sides. It was only approachable from the west, where it was defended by a ditch, a drawbridge and a gatehouse with loopholes. Today the ruins nestle on a rocky ledge above the small settlement built among vineyards. The first inhabitants were settled here by Count Lamberg in the 1750s. These days, the village is a favourite centre of rural tourism owing the beauty of the landscape, the history of the region and the fiery wines.
source: Közalapítvány / Pro Vértes Public Foundation for Nature Conservation

2011. szeptember 19., hétfő

Csobánc Castle

The castle of Csobánc was mentioned in a document for the first time in 1272, but the owner is unknown to us. We know, however, that from 1300 on for about 400 years the estate was owned by the Gyulaffys, who belonged to the clan of "Rátót". Together with the castle of Hegyesd it controlled the road between Veszprém and Tapolca. After the fall of Veszprém (1552) it became a member of the royal border castle-system. It was never occupied by the Turks. In 1554 Gyulaffy László with his troops repelled the turkish aggressors, but in 1561 Aga Pajazit took Hegyesd, and then Csobánc got into a difficult situation. Gyulaffy challenged Aga Pajazit to a duel, he ran the armoured turk through the body with his spear, which could be pulled out of the dead body only with the help of a hatchet. In the time of the Rákóczi War of Independence the insurrectionists occupied the fortress, and it became an important provision-centre for them. In 1707 the emperor's troops failed to besiege the castle, but in 1709 they succeeded in occupying it. The damages caused by the attacks were not restored, and this way it began to decay. The walls of the big tower are reaching as high as 8m today as well, but only some stumps have remained from the other walls. source: elisanet.fi

2011. szeptember 16., péntek

Bánd, Essegvár Castle

In the boundary of the village of Bánd there’s a little but steep slope where you can find the relic of 9-10-meter-high towers. Besides these are only a part of the outer walls remained from the castle. The castle was built in the middle of the 13th century. At this time it was owned by Pankotai Lőrinc from whom the Essegváris bought it in 1309. They were followed by the Kőszegis, the Rozgonyis, then the Újlakis from 1457 to the dying out of the family. During the Ottoman occupation of Hungary the castle wasn’t mentioned so it’s likely that after the fall of Veszprém it was destroyed. In a 1641 list it appeared again as a ruin. source: Castles and palaces in Veszprém county

2011. szeptember 15., csütörtök

Buda Castle

After the Mongolian conquest in the 13th century, King Béla IV. ordered fortresses from stone to be built. The fortress of Buda was also founded at that time. The castle reached its golden age during the rule of the renaissance king, Matthias. He had it enlarged and transformed to a palace. The Buda Palace Later, during the Turkish occupation of Hungary, it was under Turkish rule for over 150 years. Not even the Habsburgs cared much about it, as the empire was ruled from Vienna. During the second world war it was badly damaged. The Palace was founded around 1247, but the royal seat was in Visegrád until the 15th century. It went under major reconstructions several times. Firstly, King Matthias converted the fortification to a palace, later Maria Theresa had it rebuilt and enlarged. In the 19th century the famous Hungarian architect Miklós Ybl got the comission to reconstruct it. From the original fittings unfortunately nothing was left. Today the buildings house the National Gallery, the National Library and the Historical Museum. From the panorama terrace there is a magnificent view of the Pest side. The funicular railway One way of getting to the palace is by the funicular next to the Tunnel, which has a 95 metres long, 48% steep track and offers one of the most astonishing panoramas in the World - as mentioned in a popular travel blog. The Dísz tér is to be found on the northern side of the palace. It was the place of the market during the middle ages, the place where executions were performed too. Szentháromság tér (Holy Trinity square) is situated in front of the Matthias Church, it is the place, where all major streets of the castle district meet. In the middle of the Szentháromság tér a Holy Trinity coloumn was erected to commemorate the plague epidemic in 1709. The Castle district The first Town Hall of Buda faces the square, which was built after the end of the Turkish occupation. Off the beaten track in the smaller side streets one can still feel the atmosphere of old ages, you can see hidden courtyards, signs of the guilds, beautifully reconstructed citizenhouses. A range of Amsterdam holiday apartments to rent in Central Amsterdam. Tóth Árpád sétány also worth a walk. The Castle district of Buda is part of the World Heritage since 1987. source: budapestinfo.org

2011. szeptember 14., szerda

Szeged Castle

The castle of Szeged was built parallel to the river Tisza with an irregular layout but roughly rectangular in shape. On every corner of the castle stood a circular tower built for defensive purposes, and the walls on everySzeged Hungary Church side were also fitted with rectangular towers. The castle’s palace was situated west of the southern gate and was turned into an artillery storage space from the 18th century. The circular tower on the south-eastern side of the castle was far bigger than the other towers. It was later named the water tower because it stood on the banks of the river. The thickness of its walls surpassed all others so experts think that it was originally a medieval old tower.

In the 18th century the castle was surrounded by a water filled ditch which was 18-19 meters wide and 3-3,5 meters deep. The water of the ditch was fed by the river Tisza. Although it is not a proven fact the castle was most probably planned by the French engineer Villard de HOnnecourt, who was invited to Hungary by King Béla the 4th.

The building of the castle started in 1247 due to the privileges given by King Béla the 4th right after the invasion of nomad tribes. It is most likely that the building of the castle was carried out by replacing the existing wooden castle walls and towers with stone built ones. The first official document mentioning the castle is from the reign of Róbert Károly when the castle was managed by master Pál who was the son of Dénes from the Dorosma clan. As a king’s castle the ownership of it changed many times with the reign of Hungarian kings.

In 1524 after King Lajos the 2nd paid off a debt of 2000 forints the castle of Szeged was passed on to the archbishop of Esztergom.

After a Turkish attack the Szeged Hungary Hotel Squarecastle was rebuilt by the order of King János in 1528. 14 years later the city of Szeged and the castle was sieged again by the Turks and was finally captured. The strengthening of the badly damaged castle was almost immediately started by the Turks (castle walls were built higher, the water filled ditch was cleaned and deepened, ditches and bastions out of dirt were erected to protect the city laying south of the castle). According to historical sources the number of castle guards was 323 in 1545 and 348 seven years later. The name of the first Turkish ruler of the Szeged area was Mustafa.

The recapture of the castle started with an assault on October 5th, 1688. The troops were lead by captain De la Vergne who died of severe wounds sustained during combat. Baron György Wallis took over command and other leader worth mentioning who took part in the battle were Barkóczy, Petneházy and Bercsényi Jr and baron István Károlyi. Since the defenders of the castle did not receive any help they surrendered the castle on October 23rd.

In 1704 during the war of independence with the leadership of István Andrássy and Ádám Vass 8000 soldiers tried to capture the castle of Szeged but failed. Later in July Ferenc Rákóczi the 2nd also took siege of the castle but was also unsuccessful.

Szeged Hungary Walking StreetAfter the Szatmári peace treaty the castle was strengthened between 1714 and 1716 according to the plans of De le Croix Paitis.

The irony is that the demise of the castle was not caused by war or the enemy but by the force of nature. Due to the Great Flood of 1879 the eastern wall and north-eastern tower fell into the Tisza river. Since the ruined castle lost its significance and was deemed just a big obstacle in the rebuilding of the city the residence of Szeged started to demolish the remainder of the castle walls.

The only remnants of the once important castle are the water tower still found on the banks of the river and small ruins of the castle interior from the time of Mária Terézia.
source: hungaryrooms.com

2011. szeptember 13., kedd

Eger Castle

Eger is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hungary. Situated in the northeast, the town is rich in historic monuments and famous for its wines and medicinal waters.

St. Stephen, first king of Hungary, founded a bishopric in Eger sometime between 1001 and 1009 AD. The town’s ecclesiastical importance led to the construction of a stone fortress for its protection in 1248, built around a Romanesque cathedral. Over the next several hundred years, high- and late-Gothic cathedrals were built to replace this church, which had since fallen into ruin. The episcopal seat, situated within the castle precinct, enjoyed its golden age during the 15th century Renaissance, when the town was one of the country’s most important cultural centres. By the 16th century, the Turkish invasion was in full swing, with Buda falling in the 1540’s. In 1552 the Turks turned their attention to one of the biggest obstacles in the region, the fortress of Eger. The Hungarian defenders, only two thousand strong, managed to withstand a five-week siege by a force about forty times its size. This heroic show of defiance is considered to be one of the most outstanding military events in Hungarian history, and was immortalized in Géza Gárdonyi’s world-famous historical novel, Egri Csillagok (lit. “The Stars of Eger” though the English translation used the alternate title “Eclipse of the Crescent Moon”).

The fortress of Eger, now a protected historic monument, is the site of the István Dobó Castle Museum. Permanent exhibitions cover the history of the castle, the underground fortification system (Casemates), while another exhibits the medieval forms of punishment. Carvings from the destroyed cathedral can be seen in the lapidarium, while the marble sarcophagus of István Dobó, the heroic captain of the fortress during the 1552 siege, can be found in the Heroes’ Hall. The Art Gallery, also hosted in the castle, has one of the finest art collections in Hungary with works by Dutch, Italian, Austrian, and Hungarian masters.

There are also various programmes offered to visitors alongside the exhibitions to illustrate the historical traditions of the fortress.