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THE CASTLES AROUND SATU MARE

With its castles and exceptional mansions, Satu Mare County still evokes the atmosphere of the times when the pompous balls were an occasion for the stylish ladies and the gallant princes to meet. Unique buildings, with a special architecture, these stone jewels belonging to the people of Satu Mare are genuine bridges across centuries and testimonies of the glorious times they’ve lived.  A holiday in Satu Mare will offer you the opportunity travel back in time and learn the fascinating stories of the noblemen here who have made their mark on these lands.

The history of the OaÅŸ Country starts with the Neanderthal man, who occupied the highest terraces of this region. Suciu de Sus culture flourished here during the Bronze Age; it is a splendidly decorated ceramic which can be admired at the History and Archeology Museum in Baia Mare. Then the Dacians occupied the area for a millennium, giving birth to a fascinating civilization, the creator of the greatest pottery center in Dacia, at MedieÅŸu Aurit. Situated at the intersection of important commercial roads and disposing of abundant natural wealth, Satu Mare faced a stormy history. Being a territory disputed by the Austrians, the Polish and the Transylvanian princes, the Szatmár preserves the undying evidence of all memorable events.

The ruins of the stately fortresses which defended the people in the past, the Romanic and Gothic churches which served as a shelter and a source of wisdom and the nobiliary castles will reveal the legends of Satu Mare and the spirit of those who inhabit this land.

Karolyi Castle Carei

 

Karolyi Castle Carei

Karolyi Castle

In Carei, in the middle of a rich dendrological park dominated by a huge plane tree, between the branches and the leaves of the trees, one can see Karolyi Castle. From the very first meeting it enchants you with its immaculate white walls, contrasting with the brick-red roof, and with the four towers, all different, but equally impressive. The first residence of the Karolyis, the solid building with elements of fortification was raised at the end of the 15th century. A century later, under the threat of Turkish domination, the fortress elements multiplied, as the building was added a ditch and four corner bastions, becoming a part of the defense system at Transylvania’s western border. During the uprising led by Francisc Rákóczi II, the castle was attacked by the German troops and successfully resisted the siege. With the beginning of the 1800s, the palace lost its fortification aspect and was rebuilt in baroque style, with romantic and neo-gothic decorations.

The locals preserved some legends related to the personality of leader Francisc Rákóczi, one of the being called ' Rákóczi’s cellar'. It is said that this cellar and its secret tunnels were dug by Magyar outlaws who thus surprised their enemies in the most surprising places. Seeing that they lose ground to the Magyars, the Austrians sent a very handsome officer to the castle, with the purpose of stealing information from Rákóczi’s daughter. Vilma fell madly in love with the young man, revealing her father’s secret to him. But as she soon realized the mistake she had made, the girl confessed everything to her father, and the latter managed to escape through the cellar’s secret tunnels. Continuously followed by the Austrian soldiers, the prince never forgot his daughter’s betrayal and cursed her to not get married until she would sew her own wedding dress. The girl’s task wasn’t easy at all, for the needle pricked her finger at each stitch. We still don’t know whether the curse was broken or the girl – forgiven.

Inside the castle there is a hallway paved with mosaic, having huge white marble fireplaces, framed by two fearsome-looking sculpted lions. The History Museum and the Museum of Natural Science also function here, along with a library of 80,000 volumes. These three, together with the quiet, English style park recreate the past atmosphere of the castle. A page in the local history, Karolyi Castle evokes the nobiliary times that it has witnessed.

Karolyi Castle Carei

 

Karolyi Castle Carei

 

Karolyi Castle Carei

Ardud Fortress

The ruins of Ardud fortress are on a hill surrounded by a deep ditch, in the city by the same name. The walls filled with history invite you to discover their story. During mid-15th century, Bertalan Drágfi, voivode of Transylvania, was allowed to build a fortress on his family’s estate. Ardud soon became a center of the Calvinist movement in the region and housed the first Protestant synod in Hungary. The edifice knew many masters, among them John Sigismund, Prince Rákóczi and baron Karolyi.

One of the most powerful seigniorial fortresses in northern Transylvania, the fortification in Ardud presently consists of a few walls and a rebuilt bastion which can be observed from a distance. The recent restorations made the fortress relive a flourishing period, as grand as its fascinating history. Here, you will also find Rákóczi’s secret tunnels, which are said to connect Ardud, Karolyi and Lonyai Castles and Szatmar fortress.

Ardud Fortress

Teleki Castle in Pribilesti

Eighteen kilometers from Baia Mare, the remains of an old castle remind of the pompous balls held every summer at Pribilesti. The estate belonged to the Teleki Magyar counts and was surrounded by a very shady forest of Canadian trees, beyond which the village started. Set up in the eclectic style at the end of the 19th century, the edifice was the residence of Count Pal Teleki, prime minister of Hungary. They say he used to come to the castle only in the warm season, while during the rest of the year the gardener and the administrator were the ones taking care of it, and also that he kept a stuffed rhino and hippopotamus in the cellars. However, many personalities spent pleasant days here, gathered around the piano in the salon. The beautiful story of the palace ended with the nationalization process, when the monument received different other functionalities that caused major damage. After a long period of oblivion, the building was bought by an heir of the family who promises restoration and its reintegration in the tourist circuit. In Pribilesti, investments are imperative. Otherwise, the glamorous period of Teleki Castle will be history.

Teleki Castle Pribilesti

 

Teleki Castle Pribilesti

 

Maramures

Once very appreciated architectural jewels, the nobiliary edifices in Satu Mare deserve a better destiny. To keep their greatness and historical importance alive, the authorities need to turn their attention to these symbolic buildings. Brought to life and valorized for their potential, the Transylvanian castles would attract numerous lovers of novel sceneries.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]