The Corvin Castle, also known as Hunyad Castle, is one of the most impressive medieval constructions in Romania. Many say that it is even more amazing than the famous Bran Castle.
Iancu of Hunedoara ( aka John Hunyadi) was a leading Hungarian military and political figure in Central and Southeastern Europe during the 15th century. He started the construction of this magnificent castle. According to most contemporary sources, he was son of a noble family of Walachian (Romanian) ancestry. He was appointed voivode (highest-ranking official in Hungarian Kingdom) of Transylvania (at that time a region of Hungary) and he assumed responsibility for the defense of the frontiers against ottoman attacks. Later, the castle belong to his son Matthias Corvinus, one of the greatest kings of Hungary.
The symbol of the Corvin Castle: the raven and the golden ring
The construction of this castle started in the 15th century having an old settlement as a starting point. Depending on the kings and noblemen who lived here, this castle changed its appearance. The symbol of this castle is a raven with a golden ring in his beak. This symbol has an interesting legend. It is said that Iancu of Hunedoara was in fact the illegitimate son of Sigismund of Luxemburg, king of Hungary. At his birth, Iancu received a special golden ring so that he will be later recognised by the king. At one time, a raven stole the ring. Iancu, as a child, went outside and killed the bird with an arrow. He hit the target right in its heart and he recovered the ring. Since then, it was decided that the raven would be the his symbol.
Huffington Post presented this castle as one of the ten most fairy tale like constructions of this kind in the world.
Before you come to cross the impressive wooden bridge to get to the castle you can see an interesting statue. It depicts Saint John of Nepomuk, protector of bridges and water crossings.
As it was when I last visited the place, you can see the castle on your own, without being in an organised group, or you can require a paid guide. So, if you want to, you can linger in any part of the castle as much as you want. There are different panels on every corner so you will be able to read all the necessary information. Maybe there are not many objects and furniture inside to remind you of the medieval era (the castle “survived” two fires, it was abandoned for a while and then suffered many transformation works) but you will definitely feel the right vibe inside.
The furniture exhibited in present times reunites valuable parts, belonging to some different schools and trends, starting with exhibits in Gothic style, Renaissance style, and eclectic style.
The link between Vlad the Impaler and Corvin Castle
Linked to this amazing place, there is a historical rumour that Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned in this castle’s dungeon for seven years, a period that made him go insane and turn to his darker thoughts. This fact was never proven. Some historians say that he was imprisoned here for only three or four months. This theory has never been proven either even though it is more popular among specialists than the first one.
* Speaking of Dracula and stuff, here is a very interesting show I discovered. It is called Ghost Adventures and, in the episode below, a team of “investigators” follows the footsteps of Vlad the Impaler through Romanian territory, including to Corvin Castle. Some may consider this show mumbo-jumbo, others may believe it and all may be entertaining to some, but all in all, it is a nice show to watch if you are planning on visiting Romania.
The bear pit, the dungeon, the knight’s hall
A tour of the castle would take about one hour. On your way, you can see the Ladies’ Chamber with 19th century furniture, a really nice royal chapel, climb up the spiral staircase, see the Diet Hall, which is decorated with medieval flags, admire the Bear Pit and see the dungeon and torture chamber.
You can also climb to Capistrano Tower. There you can find the chamber where the monk Ioan of Capistrano lived. Also, in his room, you would see a gothic fireplace used in the middle of 15th century. All the other fireplaces specific to that medieval era were destroyed by upgrading works, as the modern way of heating the castle became available.
The Knight’s hall is also interesting. Here, you can see a small collection of armors and weapons and a Iancu of Hunedoara bust. This huge room was used for trials, questionings and sentencing the enemies of the royal court. Sometimes, during the questionings, people were tortured here. Also, under the Knight’s Hall, you can see the dungeon where Vlad the Impaler might have been imprisoned. On top of that, outside, you will see something called “the bear pit”. It is said that in this enclosure, two hungry bears were kept for people who were damned “to disappear”.
The legend of the castle’s well
If you choose to spend time in the courtyard, which in summer can be really nice and cool, you will most surely stumble upon the famous well. Why would a well be famous, you would ask. Well, this well is ordinary but it is shrouded in legend. It is said that this well was dug by three Turkish prisoners. Iancu of Hunedoara ordered them to dig in the rock until they found water. And when they would have found it, they would be freed – he promised. After many years of digging they indeed found water but, by then, the voivode had died. His wife, Elisabeta Szilagyi, chose not to keep the promise of her husband to the Turks. So she denied their freedom and beheaded them instead. Down the well, there is an inscription in turkish. The legend says that one of the prisoners wrote: You now have water but you don’t have a heart. Also, on another wall, there are written the names of the three prisoners.
However, after you would gaze into the darkness of the well you can comfort your eyes with a great landscape. For a nice view you can go to the artillery platform and see the city from up above.
The Corvin Castle in foreign movies
The Corvin Castle was a host and a subject for many prestigious cinema productions (artistic movies, documentary movies or advertising spots), here being filmed famous moments of the Romanian or Universal History. Which are the criteria that make the Corvin Castle an interesting choice for the movie producers? The monument’s integrality, the generosity of the areas within the precincts and the protected area of the monument, the architecture and the related services offered by the urban environment and optionally by the rural one, near the castle.
When, where, how much
You can find this castle right in the city of Hunedoara. There is a small parking lot in front of it so you can drive right to it. There are also many trains that arrive in Hunedoara city, including from Bucharest, the capital of Romania, where the main airport of the country is. Also, you can arrive on local airports like Timisoara or Sibiu. The distance between those two cities and Hunedoara is half the distance from Bucharest.
The Visiting Schedule is: Monday ->09:00 – 15:00
Tuesday-Sunday: 01 Nov – 29 Feb -> 09:00 – 16:00, 01 Mar – 30 Apr -> 09:00 – 17:00, 01 Mai – 31 Aug -> 09:00 – 18:00, 01 Sep – 31 Oct -> 09:00 – 17:00
The prices are not high: Adults – 20 lei (about 4 euros), Students – 5 lei – about 1 euro (based on the card stamped for the current year), College Students – 5 Ron (based on the transport card stamped for the current year), Pensioners – 10Ron (based on coupon pension), Photo Tax – 5 lei, Video Tax – 15 lei, Guide Tax – 30 Ron.
Also, if you want, you can rent the castle’s chapel for 600 lei/Hour (about 150 euros), Castle Festivities -> 1.000 lei/Hour (about 220 euros) and you can film Artistic or documentary footage for also 1.000 lei/Hour
You will find it fairly easy to find accommodation in the area due to the fact that the castle is actually in the city and not in a remote location. Just look on accommodation websites for guesthouses or hotels in “Hunedoara”.