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Hunedoara Castle: Transylvania's Gothic Masterpiece

Updated on November 6, 2016
Hunedoara Castle.
Hunedoara Castle.

Hunedoara Castle (original Romanian name: Castelul Hunedoarei, Castelul Corvinilor, Castelul Corvineștilor or Castelul Huniazilor) is the medieval fortress of Hunedoara and is one of the most important Gothic architecture monuments in Romania.

It is considered one of the most beautiful castles in the world, being found in most of the tops covering the fairytale destinations of Europe.

Ioan of Hunedoara bust found inside the castle.
Ioan of Hunedoara bust found inside the castle. | Source

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The Knights Hall.
The Knights Hall. | Source

History of the castle

The castle was built in the XV century by Ioan of Hunedoara on the grounds of an old stronghold, on a rock next to the Zlaști brook. It has a massive structure, containing towers, bastions and a donjon. It’s high roofs are covered in multicolored tiles. Recently the castle has been rehabilitated converted to a museum.

The castle was first mentioned in a document by Ioan of Hunedoara himself, the document having been kept until this day. Also in the Knights Chamber there is a Latin inscription that states "this work was done by proud and mighty Ioan of Hunedoara, governor of the Kingdom of Hungary, in 1452 A.D.".

The fortress has been one Ioan of Hunedoara’s largest and most famous properties. The building went through several transformations, serving either as a strategic stronghold or as the feudal residence. With time, its different owners have altered it’s look, adding towers, halls and guest rooms. Some of the most representative sections of the castle are represented by the Gallery and donjon The Ne Boisa Tower, meaning “have no fear”), which has remained unchanged from the time of Ioan of Hunedoara, and The Capistrano Tower (named after a famous monk that resided at the court). As a side note, Ioan of Hunedoara and Capistrano were very close, both of them fighting together in the Battle of Beograd, and both of them dieing because of the plague after the battle. Ioan died in August 1456, while Capistrano died two months later.

The castle's courtyard.
The castle's courtyard. | Source

Some of the castles rooms have frescos painted on the walls representing rulers of Wallachia and Moldavia. In the Matia wing of the castle a vaguely distinguishable painting can be found containing the legend of the crow from which Ioan of Hunedoara’s descendants have gotten their name (Corvini). In the courtyard, next to the chapel build during Ioan of Hunedoaras time, a 30 meters deep fountain can be found.

The Turks engraving.
The Turks engraving.
The Corvins' Castle (Castelul Corvinilor)/
The Corvins' Castle (Castelul Corvinilor)/


The legend of the fountain

The legend says that the fountain was dug by three Turkish prisoners that were promised freedom after they would reach water level. After 15 years of hard work they had finally finished digging the fountain.

But before they could finish their work Ioan had died and his wife, Elisabeta Szilagyi, decided not to respect her late husbands word and ordered that the three Turks be killed.

It was said that the inscription on the fountain’s wall said „Apă ai, inima n-ai” (You have water but you don’t have a heart). Later Mihail Guboglu deciphered that the writing said “Cel care a scris această inscripție este Hasan, care trăiește ca rob la ghiauri, în cetatea de lângă biserică.” (The one that wrote this inscription is Hasan, that lives as a slave to the giaours, in the fortress next to the chirch.). The engraving is written in old Arabic and dates from the XV century. Currently the engraving can be found on one of the chapels buttresses.

The Corvin Family coat of arms.
The Corvin Family coat of arms.

The legend of the crow

On Corvin Family’s coat of arms there can be found a crow holding a gold ring in its beak. There is a legend behind this affiliation of the crow symbol to the family. It was said that Ioan of Hunedoara was the illegitimate son of Sigismund of Luxemburg, with a beautiful woman from the Land of Hațeg, called Elisabeta (Elisabeth).

To keep her out of shame the king offered her to marry one of his bravest men, Voicu, gifting her also a gold ring for the child, so that he would be recognized when he would be all grown up and attend the royal court. One day, during a journey made by Voicu’s family, while they stopped for lunch, the ring got forgotten on one of the towels that the food had been brought on. A crow, being drawn by its shine, picks it up in its beak and tries to fly away with it. Right away the child Ioan of Hunedoara grabs an arch and shoots the crow, recovering the ring. After he was all grown up and arrived at the royal court, the king, impressed by his story, decides that the symbol of the Hunezi family would be a crow with a gold ring in its beak.

The family’s name, Corvin, comes from the Latin Corvus, meaning Crow, a bird that in medieval times symbolized wisdom and longevity.

A markerHunedoara Castle -
Castelul Corvinilor, Strada Castelului 1-3, Hunedoara 331141, România
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