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THE MANSIONS FROM THE TRANSYLVANIAN PLAIN

The surroundings of Cluj city combine the nobiliary air of the castles with the pages of history written in the walls of the old fortresses. The quietness of the picturesque villages, much too little disturbed by modernity, the hospitality and kindness of the Transylvanians and the delicious traditional dishes, they will all make you fall in love with the charming rustic atmosphere in Transylvania. On top of it, add nature’s spectacular show in the grandiose Turda Gorges and the melodious murmur of the HÓ‘ÅŸdate River, accompanying you along your journey among rocks.

Coltesti Fortress

The Bánffy Castle in BonÅ£ida

Don’t hesitate to make a short layover in BonÅ£ida, nearby Turda, to visit Bánffy Castle, also called 'Transylvania’s Versailles'. The Bánffy noble family was given the BonÅ£ida domain by King Sigismund of Luxembourg to build his fortress here. Initially, the building was fortified with four bastions and a tower, and later Austrian baroque elements were added. The Palace had stables, servant rooms, spring wells and statues. At the end of World War II, the castle was attacked and robbed by German troops, who destroyed the furniture, the library and the portrait gallery. The statues in the park were saved and can be admired at the Art Museum in Cluj-Napoca.

We recommend you to visit Bonţida in the last weekend of August, when the Cultural Days of the locality are celebrated. On this occasion you can enjoy jazz, classical music and rock concerts, equestrian parades or equine demonstrations. For that manner, the former stables of the castle were truly grandiose, with arched ceilings and red marble eaves. We invite you to relive the atmosphere of the palace and discover its romantic accents.

Banffy Castle Bontida

 

Banffy Castle Bontida

“Calendar” Castle in ZÓ‘u de Câmpie

One of the architectural jewels at the beginning of the 20th century tells its story on a hill in ZÓ‘u de Câmpie village. The building with orange walls reminds of the unrequited love of count Istvan Ugron; having fallen in love madly with a Russian princess, he built here a palace, but the girl was unimpressed with this grand gesture. Furthermore, she asked the baron to pave the road to the castle with golden money. Ugron couldn’t grant her wish as he was already broke. Years later, the princess and all her family members were killed and the grieving count never got married.

Even if it did not fulfill its initial purpose, the building is famous for the unique way in which it was built. Respecting the calendar principle, it has 365 windows (the number of days in a year), 12 hallways (the months in a year), 52 rooms (the weeks in a year), 4 towers (the seasons) and 7 terraces (the days of the week). Because of this it was called the Calendar Castle. On its façade, one can identify neo-Roman and neo-Greek elements combined eclectically, but managing to reflect the medieval aspect. Although the baron did not live here, the rooms housed art collections and valuable pieces of furniture, confiscated during the communist regime. The moment of the nationalization led to a gradual degradation of the building which is one of the Romania’s hidden treasures. The curious can take a walk in the yard of the palace, following the steps of Istvan the enamored.

Calendar Castle Zau de Campie

MoldoveneÅŸti - Rîmetea

If what you’re looking for is a relaxing vacation near Turda, you should definitely stop in MoldoveneÅŸti, a picturesque village at the foot of the TrascÓ‘u Mountains, keeping ancient traditions. Each year, at the end of September, they celebrate the Ball of the Grapes here, an occasion to honor the work of vine growers. During the day, the villagers are invited to the festivity by a group of young people who roam the alleyways and in the evening there are folk dance and music shows. Don’t miss Rîmetea either, one of the few monument villages in Romania. the village with white houses and green windows offers a unique scenery; nothing is demolished here, but rebuilt according to the initial architecture in a neoclassical style. Rîmetea has a special charm, enchanting you from the first meeting and welcoming you back again and again.

Close by you will also find the ColÅ£eÅŸti Fortress (TrascÓ‘ului Fortress), from which only two towers have remained along with a few pieces of wall. The fortress was built by the villagers in Rîmetea and ColÅ£eÅŸti on a calcareous abrupt versant, but given to the Thoroczkay noble family. Although in ruins, the fortification still holds a mysterious medieval air which dominates the surroundings. Furthermore, the panorama it offers is fascinating, opening over the TrascÓ‘u Fangs.

Rimetea

 

Coltesti Fortress

The Shell Castle

Near Dej, in Coplean commune, one can still find the ruins of an old castle, one of the most beautiful baroque buildings in all Transylvania. Haller Mansion dates back to the 18th century, when it served as the residence of Transylvania’s governor at that time. Raised on the place of a fortified renaissance palace, the sumptuous and elegant edifice was considered a real architectural jewel. The rococo decorations were impressive, with the window frameworks standing out, displaying giant shells shaped as fans. Above the entrance there was a terrace covered by a baldachin and supported by pillars.

Although restored in 1970 after a fire, the castle was eventually abandoned, heading towards gradual degradation. Presently, Haller Palace is on the list of Romania’s most jeopardized monuments, risking definitive ruin. With no investments to restore its fame, one of Transylvania’s architectural symbols will collapse under the negligence of the authorities.

Haller Mansion Coplean

The Unicorn Castle in MÓ‘nÓ‘stirea

At MÓ‘nÓ‘stirea, 7 km form Dej, on the shore of the SomeÅŸ, two unicorns guard the ruins of a once famous monument. Unfortunately, only the legend remains of Kornis Castle, a splendid renaissance edifice. Situated in the center of an extremely vast domain, it belonged to a noble Romanian family, holding important functions in medieval Transylvania. The building of the residence began in 1573 and along the course of 150 years secondary buildings were added – corner and gate towers, bastions, a chapel, all forming a massive quadrangular edifice. The interior stands out with ceilings decorated with frescoes, paintings portraying the personalities of the time and the carpentry decorated with popular motifs. Repeated interventions have determined a mélange of architectural styles, among them Transylvanian renaissance, late gothic, the baroque and the modern styles.

The Second World War ended the history of the castle; the impressive library and the natural history collection of count Karoly Kornis were set on fire in the yard and the building was destroyed. The stone unicorns remained the only testimony of the nobles in MÓ‘nÓ‘stirea.

Unicorn Castle Manastirea

The Bánffy Castle in RÓ‘scruci

The descendants of the Bánffys were some of the most renowned and wealthy in Transylvania, owning several castles in Cluj County. For more than two centuries, the castle in RÓ‘scruci has carried its stories with nobles. Used as a summer residence, it had a lake garden, a spring well and a Japanese pigeonry. In the interior, there are some pieces of furniture for which the castle is famous. The ceiling is decorated with panels sculpted in the style of German renaissance, embossed with the crest and genealogy of the Bánffys. Another special piece is the green terra cotta stove, decorated with scenes from the history of Hungary.  During the Second World War many objects in the castle were stolen and the library was set on fire. After this episode, the building functioned as a special school. Presently, it can be visited but it only offers a humble image of its past glamour.

Banffy Castle Rascruci

On the course of the SomeÅŸ Rivers, the wooded hills and the green plains hide natural gtrasures and architectural beauties. The surroundings of Cluj occasion a journey in the time of noble man and glamorous balls. Charged with history, these places keep their picturesque charm and share their stories with anyone who is willing to listen.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]