[Vajdahunyad]

[The court of the castle]

VAJDAHUNYAD One of the ancestors of the Hungarian Hunyadi dynasty, Sorb, received the castle of Vajdahunyad (Hunedoara, Rumania today) from the Hungarian king, as a severance, in the 14th century. Son of Sorb, Vajk, was confirmed, as the legal owner of the castle in 1409, by German-Roman emperor and Hungarian king Sigismund (1387-1437). Son of Vajk, János Hunyadi, the great Hungarian defender of the country against the Ottoman (Turkish) onslaught, the savior of Christianity, governor of Hungary, built the palace of Vajdahunyad, between 1446-1453. After his death in 1456, the construction was continued by his widow, Elisabeth Szilágyi. After János Hunyadi, his son Matthias Hunyadi, the renaissance Hungarian king (1458-1490) inherited the castle; after him Matthias' son János Corvin was the next resident. The castle frequently changed owners during the period of the 16th and the 17th century, and the last owner was countess Kata Bethlen, wife of Mihály Apafi II (1690-1701), Hungarian governor of Transylvania, and when she died in 1725, the ownership of the castle was transferred to the Hungarian royal court.
It was devastated by fire many times; its major renovation periods were between 1870-1880 by Hungarian architects Imre Steindl and Frigyes Schulek, followed by another one between 1907-1913, by István Möller.
The castle of Vajdahunyad never served military purposes, it was a fortified residential palace. It is the most majestic, finest, and greatest gothic castle of the historic Hungary, comparable to the French or German gothic palaces. It is only a miracle that the castle avoided the common end of all the other Hungarian castles or fortresses: they were all methodically destroyed, one by one, during non-war periods, by Habsburg kings, reigning Hungary, Leopold I, and Joseph I, in the 18th century.
In the north wing of the castle is the gothic chapel which was finished in 1446. In the north wing locates the two-aisle, two-storey Knights' hall, which is a masterpiece of the Hungarian gothic architecture of the Medieval Age. On the first pillar from the entrance of the Knights' hall, a gothic inscription tells about the identity of builder of the castle : Hoc opus fecit fieri Magnif. Do Johannes de Hunyad Regni Hungar, Gubernator anno dni 1452. Above the Knights' hall is the Council hall where Gábor Bethlen (1613-1629), the finest Hungarian governor of Transylvania, used to hold the sessions of the Transylvanian parliament, the diets. Erzsébet Szilágyi built the Matthias hall where her sons, the two Hunyadi princes, Matthias, the later become Hungarian king, and Ladislaus were raised. The castle complex has numerous towers and bastions which served, to an extent, defensive roles as well.

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Hungarian Images and Historical Background
© 1994 András Szeitz
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