National Blue Trail



RUINED CASTLES AND FORTRESSES ALONG THE ROUTE OF THE NATIONAL BLUE TRAIL
(Last revision and update: 11th June 2020)
Panorama from the ruined walls of Castle of Regéc

Panorama from the ruined walls of Castle of Regéc

If you walk along the more than 1100 km long route of the National Blue Trail, you will visit about two dozen castles, forts during the hike. A lot of them are not more, than abandoned, ruined walls without windows, doors and roofs. It is very difficult to imagine, how did they look like many centuries ago, and what was their destiny, why are they only miserable remains of proud castles? We find the answer in the history of Hungary, I try to explain it with the help of Wikipedia in the first chapter.

The excavation of the old ruins has begun about 50-60 years ago, archaeologists have surveyed the remains of the old forts, while historians had been looking for old documents about the history of them. The engineers and video experts had got the pictures of the old documents and the surveys, finally they created the 3D virtual models of the castles, forts by computer software. The result is short videos, which show the original shape of the walls. I would like to present to you about twenty videos about the castles on the route of the National Blue Trail and tell you in brief, their story in the second chapter.



CONTENT LABELS

An episode from the Hungarian history

When and why were these castles built on the summits of hills? What was their role in the medieval Hungary? Why were these castles demolished? Reconstruction works of the abandoned walls.

Virtual flight around the medieval castles

How did castles, forts look like many centuries ago? Take a virtual flight around the castles! The 3D models of the castles are an important phase of the more dozen years long excavation and renovation work.


An episode from the Hungarian history
(Mainly from the article of the Wikipedia)

In 1241–1242, the kingdom of Hungary suffered a major blow in the wake of the Mongol invasion of Europe. After Hungary was invaded by the Mongols in 1241, the Hungarian army was defeated disastrously at the Battle of Mohi. King Béla IV first fled the battlefield, and then the country after the Mongols pursued him to its borders. Before the Mongols retreated, a large part of the population died; indeed, historians estimate the losses between 20 and 50 per cent. In the plains, between 50 and 80% of the settlements were destroyed. Only castles, strongly fortified cities and abbeys could withstand the assault, as the Mongols had no time for long sieges – their goal was to move west as soon as possible.

As a consequence of the Mongol invasions, King Béla ordered the construction of hundreds of stone castles and fortifications to help defend against a possible second Mongol invasion. The Mongols did indeed return to Hungary in 1286, but the newly built stone-castle systems and new military tactics involving a higher proportion of heavily armed knights stopped them. The invading Mongol force was defeated near Pest by the royal army of King Ladislaus IV. Later invasions were also repelled handily.

Stormy Mongol squad

Stormy Mongol squad [Source]

The castles built by Béla IV proved to be very useful at a later time in the long struggle against the Ottoman Empire. However, the cost of building them indebted the Hungarian king to the major feudal landlords, so that the royal power reclaimed by Béla IV after his father Andrew II significantly weakened it was once again dispersed among the lesser nobility.

Centuries have passed, the Hungarian Kingdom had 200 calm years after the Mongol (Tartar) invasions, but the many dozen castles and fortifications were kept continuously in good condition because of the systematic development and maintenance works. These castles were generally the seats of the local landlords, the centres of the feudal possessions. But a new danger was born in the middle of the 15th century, the spreading Ottoman Empire. Turks occupied Constantinople (Istambul) in 1453 and gained a foothold on the European continent. Three years later the Ottoman troops reached the big Hungarian border fortress, Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade).

Hunyadi János (the father of the most popular Hungarian King, Matthias) defended the city against the onslaught of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II. During the siege, Pope Callixtus III ordered the bells of every European church to be rung every day at noon as a call for believers to pray for the defenders of the city. However, in many countries (such as England and the Spanish kingdoms), the news of the victory arrived before the order, and the ringing of the church bells at noon was transformed into a commemoration of the victory. The Popes did not withdraw the order, and Catholic (and the older Protestant) churches still ring the noon bell in the Christian world to this day.

View of fort of Nándorfehérvár in the middle of 15th century

The view of fort of Nándorfehérvár in the middle of 15th century [Source]

After the Ottomans achieved their first decisive victory over the Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohács in 1526, their forces conquered large parts of the kingdom of Hungary and continued their expansion until 1556. This period was characterized by political chaos. A divided Hungarian nobility elected two kings simultaneously, János Szapolyai (r. 1526–1540, of Hungarian-German origin) and the Austrian Ferdinand of Habsburg (r. 1527–1540). Armed conflicts between the new rival monarchs further weakened the country. With the Turkish conquest of Buda in 1541, Hungary was riven into three parts.

The northwestern part of the old kingdom of Hungary (present-day Slovakia, western Transdanubia and Burgenland, plus western Croatia and parts of present-day northeastern Hungary) remained under Habsburg rule as the realm of King Ferdinand. Although initially independent, it would later become a part of the Habsburg Monarchy under the informal name Royal Hungary. The Habsburg Emperors would from then on be crowned also as Kings of Hungary. The Turks were unable to conquer the northern and western parts of Hungary because of the thick net of castles, forts.

In 1686, two years after the unsuccessful Battle of Buda, a renewed European campaign was started to re-take the Hungarian capital. This time, the army of the Holy League was twice as large, at over 74,000 men, including German, Croat, Dutch, Hungarian, English, Spanish, Czech, Italian, French, Burgundian, Danish and Swedish soldiers, along with other Europeans as volunteers, artilleryman, and officers, and the Christian forces reconquered Buda in the second Battle of Buda. The second Battle of Mohács (1687) was a crushing defeat for the Turks. In the next few years, all of the former Hungarian lands, except areas near Timişoara (Temesvár), were taken back from the Turks. At the end of the 17th century, Transylvania also became part of Hungary again. In the Treaty of Karlowitz of 1699, these territorial changes were officially recognised, and in 1718, the entire kingdom of Hungary was removed from Ottoman rule. But the state of Hungary did not change really: the Ottoman occupation was followed by an Austrian occupation.

The siege of Buda on an old etching

The siege of Buda on an old etching [Source]

There was a series of anti-Habsburg uprisings between 1604 and 1711, rebelling against Austrian rule and restrictions on non-Catholic Christian denominations. With the exception of the last, all took place within the territories of Royal Hungary but were usually organized from Transylvania. The last uprising was led by Rákóczi Ferenc II, who took power as the “Ruling Prince” of Hungary after the declared dethronement of the Habsburgs in 1707 at the Diet of Ónod.

Despite some successes by the anti-Habsburg Kuruc army, such as the near-capture of the Austrian Emperor Joseph I by Balogh Ádám, the rebels lost the decisive Battle of Trencin in 1708. When Austrians defeated the Kuruc uprising in 1711, Rákóczi was in Poland. He later fled to France, then to Turkey, and died in 1735 in Tekirdağ (Rodosto). Afterwards, to make further armed resistance infeasible, the Austrians demolished most of the castles...



Virtual flights around the medieval castles

You find here descriptions and videos about the following forts and castles:

Content:



Castle of Kőszeg

Castle of Kőszeg
Castle of Kőszeg
Position: N47.389515 E16.538721
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

Kőszeg is a very nice old town, it is worth spending a day here, and visiting the sights of the town. Of course, the most popular sight is the castle. The place and the ancient fort were mentioned first time in documents in 796, 100 years before the Hungarian Conquest, which happened in 896. This place is inhabited since the Roman times. The modern castle, or rather fort was built after the big offensive of the Tartars (Mongols) in the second half of the 13th century. The town and the fort are located close to the Austrian-Hungarian border, the position of the fort was very important beside the busy road from Venice to Vienna, so this place was always an object of battles between the two countries.

The most significant episode was the Ottoman (Turkey) attack in the life of the fort. Soliman sultan moved against Vienna in 1532, and the fort of Kőszeg stood in his way. The Turkey troops began the siege with 60.000 people and it lasted 25 days. Jurisics Miklós was the leader of the small defender group, they were able to keep the fort against the significant overpower. After the unsuccessful siege the Turkey Armee had to turn back, because of the approaching cool winter of Hungary, so they couldn’t attack Vienna. The Austrian Emperor Ferdinand gave the fort as present to Jurisics, because in that time the fort and the town were Austrian property.

Unfortunately, the original video about the medieval castle was deleted from the Youtube (I don't know, why?), but I have found a short aerial video taken by a drone, which shows the recent castle. A big part of the outer wall was destroyed in the past centuries, but the main buildings and towers still stand in the centre of Kőszeg town.

The yard of Castle of Sárvár

The yard of Castle of Sárvár
Castle of Sárvár
Position: N47.251808 E16.937450
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The castle was mentioned first time in 1327, it was the property of the Hungarian kings in that time, later it was owned by other noblemen. The castle became the property of the Nádasdy clan in the 15th century, they developed it, and defended the castle successfully against the Ottoman troops many times. After the Turk times the owner of the castle, Ferenc Nádasdy got involved into the conspiracy against the Austrian Emperor (because the Turk occupation was followed by an Austrian occupation). But the conspiracy was unfolded, Nádasdy was executed and the castle was sequestrated from the family.

The owners of the castle changed often again, but didn't happen bigger renovation works on the walls of the fort. Similar to Kőszeg the castle of Sárvár is one of those forts, which survived successfully the Turkey times, and the Austrian occupation. The name of the town: Sárvár means “Mud Castle” in English, and refers to the fact, that this fort stood among the bogs of the wide floodplain of Rába river, so it was not easy to occupy it! Now we can find many historical exhibitions among its walls.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Castle of Sümeg

Castle of Sümeg
Castle of Sümeg
Position: N46.982178 E17.282703
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The bishop of Veszprém had built the core of the castle after the order of King Béla IV in the middle of the 13th century. Later the castle was the property of the Kőszegi clan, but the king take back from the family in 1318. The development of the fort happened continuously during the 14th and 15th century, so it was the biggest fortification of Westwrn Hungary in the middle of the 16th century. The fort was so strong, that the bishop of Veszprém took his seat here, into the small town at the foot of the Castle Hill.

The Ottomans attacked it, but they could not occupy the walls! The fort had an important role in the independence war against the Austrian Empire, Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II used it as main basis and made gun powder in the workshop of the fort. At the end of the unsuccessful freedom war the Kuruc troops gave up the fort and the Austrian troops occupy it in 1709. The Austrian troops kept a “military exercise” four years later, attacked the fort and set on fire the roofs. Nobody renovated the castle later. The excavation works have begun in the 60s of the 20th century, now the fort is partly renovated. Sümeg town organizes castle games among the old walls every year.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Castle of Tátika

Castle of Tátika
Castle of Tátika
Position: N46.906069 E17.259464
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The Tátika-hegy Hill has got its name from the Tátika clan, which had a fortification on the hill, but not on the summit. The bishop of Veszprém had built the new castle on the top of the hill after the Mongol invasion in the second half of the 13th century. The core of the small fort was a dwelling tower and other buildings were connected to it. The owners of the castle changed often in the 14th and 15th century, it was the property of the Hungarian king many times. Castle of Tátika was not an important fort, its role was insignificant in the war against the Turks.

A smaller Ottoman troops attacked it, and set on fire in 1589. Finally the Austrian troops attacked and demolished the remains of the small castle on pretense of a military exercise after the unsuccessful independence war. The castle was mentioned already as ruin in the 18th century. Only the northern walls stand at present with some other parts, but its partial reconstruction began a few years ago.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Among the walls of Castle of Rezi

Among the walls of Castle of Rezi
Castle of Rezi
Position: N46.865981 E17.241384
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

There is no data, when was this castle built, probably in the second hald of the 13th century, similar to other Hungarian castles and forts. According to the documents Ladislaus IV Hungarian King gave the land to Tiba landlord for Castle of Boldogkő (the National Blue Trail visits that castle, too). Apor landlord took away the land from Tiba, probably he had built the core of the castle on the top of the hill. But Apor died without heritors, so the castle was the property of the kings again. The owners changed often, they developed the small castle continuously, but it stayed insignificant in its whole history.

The castle's fate was similar to the neighbour Castle of Tátika: the same Ottoman troops attacked both castles in 1589 and set on fire them. It was mentioned as ruin in a document in 1592. Later the Hungarian tresury was the owner of the land and the ruins, finally the Festetics family bought it, but the walls were never renovated. The excavations began in 2000, now the walls are partly renovated and an ugly roof covers a part of the walls and give shelter for the hikers and day trippers. The panorama is beautiful from the walls to the valley of Zalaszántó village and to the Tátika-hegy Hill.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Panorama from the walls of Castle of Szigliget

Panorama from the walls of Castle of Szigliget
Castle of Szigliget
Position: N46.804802 E17.435967
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The core of the castle was built by the Benedictine monks of Pannonhalma between 1260 and 1262. King Béla IV visited the new castle in 1262, and he liked it so much, that he procured it from the monks with a possession swap. The castle was the property of the kings until 1441, when Vladislaus I gave it as present to Némai Kolos Jeromos. The owners changed frequently in the following time, they developed the castle contiuously because of the Ottoman danger. But the castle was far from the important main roads, so the Turks never attacked it.

The castle had lost its importance slowly, the walls were not renovated already in the 16th century. The fate of the castle was a thunderbolt, which hit the gun powder tower, the explosion demolished partly the walls. The owner Lengyel family did not renovate the fort, rather they had a mansion built at the foot of the Castle Hill. Finally the Austrian troops demolished the walls in 1702, so it was already unusable during the independence war. The excavation and renovation of the walls began in 1913 bacause of its importance in tourism: the castle stands close the shore of Balaton Lake.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

The ruins of Castle of Csobánc

The ruins of Castle of Csobánc
Castle of Csobánc
Position: N46.871086 E17.503817
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The castle was mentioned in documents first time in 1272, but according to the historians it was built still before 1255. The castle was the property of the Gyulaffy family until the second half of the 17th century, so long possession is rarity in the Hungarian history! The owners developed the castle many times, it was a real fort in the Ottoman time. The Turks attacked unsuccessfully the castle in 1554, in that time Gyulafi István was the owner and the captain. The Turks tried to occupy it in 1559, but they were unsuccessful again. Because of the sieges the condition of the walls deteriorated continuously, but there was no money to renovate them.

Leopold I Austrian Emperor intent to destroy the walls of the castle, but meantime the Rákóczi independence war erupted. The Kuruc troops occupied it from the Austrian troops in 1705 and kept it until 1709. After the reoccupation the Austrian troops began to demolish the walls, the castle was mentioned already as ruin in 1722. The excavation works began in 1953, the survey of the ruins happened in 1984, but the condition of the walls have deteriorated further, the renovation does not tolerate any delay! A civil association was founded in 2003, they try to make the most important preservation works.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

The ruins of Castle of Vázsonykő

The ruins of Castle of Vázsonykő
Castle of Vázsonykő
Position: N46.984993 E17.695616
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The Vezsenyi family was the owner of this area in the 14th century, they had the core of the castle built. The position of the fort was very important: it could watch the main road leading from Buda towards Italy. Later the Vezsenyi clan died out, therefore King Matthias gave this fort to his faithful knight, Kinizsi Pál, as a present. Kinizsi was a very good owner: he extended the castle by adding a palace, a chapel and a defended entrance with barbican in the early 1490s. Kinizsi died in 1494, his widow, Magyar Benigna married again, but her second husband, Horváth Márk died in a riding accident and she killed her third husband by her own hand. The royal court did not judge her bacause of his well-known first husband, because everybody loved the faithful knight, but she was banished into a far castle.

During the Ottoman occupation of Hungary the castle proved to be a stronghold in the network of border fortresses. Unfortunately the defenders left the castle, when the Turks occupied the big fortress of the close Veszprém. The Turks did not keep it longer time, a few years later the Hungarian troops reoccupied the castle. After the Turkish Age the residential tower was used for many purposes over the ages: for prison, distillery, and servants quarters. Later the eastern wall of the dwelling tower cracked bacause of an earthquake and a fire demolished the furniture. The excavation and renovation works began in 1954, now a museum works among the walls of the castle.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

The ruins of Castle of Csókakő

The ruins of Castle of Csókakő
Castle of Csókakő
Position: N47.360221 E18.277383
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The history of the castle is similar to the other Hungarian forts and castles: it was built in the middle of the 13th century by the Csák clan after the big Mongol invasion. It was mentioned first in documents in 1299. The position of the castle was very important: it could watch the main road leading from Székesfehérvár towards the northern regions of Hungary. The owners of the fort changed often in the following centuries, it was the property of the Hungarian kings, as well. The Ottoman troops occupied it in 1544, but a few years later the army of the Austrian Emperor took it back in 1566. Because of the important strategic position of the castle, it was the object of serious attacks during the next centuries. The Turkey troops occupied it again, but the united Hungarian and Austrian troops took back it in 1598. Finally the Turks invade it again in 1602 a kept it until 1686.

The walls were in very bad condition after the last siege, but nobody renovated it in the next years. After the war against the Turks the fort has lost its strategic importance, it was abandoned during long centuries. Later a thunderbolt hit its tower, and the fort burnt down. An excavation work happened between 1960 and 1963, but the walls were in dangerous condition in 1970s. An association was founded in 1995, local people tried to maintain the walls mainly with their own work. A big renovation work has begun in 2017 mainly from the money of the EU. The photo on the right side was taken still before the reconstruction works.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

The ruins of Gesztesvár Castle

The ruins of Gesztesvár Castle
Castle of Gesztesvár
Position: N47.467991 E18.395647
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The Csák clan had built many forts to protect their land, Gesztesvár Castle was among them, later King Charles Robert I (Károly Róbert) procured it from the Csák clan with a possession swap in 1326. Luis I The Great (Nagy Lajos) demolished the old, small fort and had a bigger one built on the top of the Castle Hill in 1342. This castle was the property of the Hungarian Kings as hunting residency until 1410. In that time King Sigismund of Luxembourg (Luxemburgi Zsigmond) pawned it. Later its owners changed frequently, it was the castle of the Rozgonyi and Újlaki family, as well. The small castles in the Vértes Mountains obstructed the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the first decades of the 16th century, so they started a big offensive against them. The first attack was unsuccessful in 1529, but the Turks occupied it next time, in 1543. Hungarian troops reoccupy it a few years later, but it was in the hands of the Ottomans again in 1558. The Turks kept it until 1683, when the Ottoman defenders retreated from the castle without any fight.

The castle has lost its importance after the war, the owner of the county, Esterházy József had built a monastery from the stones of the outer walls. The castle was mentioned as ruin in 1795, it was abandoned in the next centuries. A tourist house opened in the partly renovated inner castle in 1932 and worked until 2013. In that time it was closed because of the dangerous condition of the walls. Now the castle is still closed and waiting for a bigger renovation.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

A bigger hiker team at the ruins of Vitányvár Castle

A bigger hiker team at the ruins of Vitányvár Castle
Castle of Vitányvár
Position: N47.515063 E18.414500
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

We do not know, who had built this castle deep in the forest of Vértes Mountains, probably he was a member of the Csák clan after the Mongol invasion. According to the first written document it was already the property of the Hungarian kings. Sigismund of Luxembourg king gave it in pawn with other castles and forts, later the castle was the property of Rozgonyi István and Egervári Máté. The Ottomans attacked it first time in 1529, and occupied the castle in 1543. The Hungarian troops reoccupied it a few years later, but the Turks went back again in 1559. The castle was reoccupied again in 1566, but the Ottomans sieged and occupied it again one year later. The last siege of the castle happened in 1597, and the Hungarian troops partly demolished the walls to obstruct the next Turk attack.

It is very difficult to imagine, why was this small fort so important for the Ottomans and the Hungarian troops, because the main roads avoid the big forests of the Vértes Mountains. Perhaps it could give a good shelter for the raider Turk troops, who attacked regularly the surrounding villages. Vitányvár is not an easy accessible castle, now only the path of the National Blue Trail visits it far from any populated place. The excavation and the survey of the walls have begun a few years ago, but there is no renovation work in progress. The condition of the walls is dangerous, you can visit this castle only on your own risk!

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

The Fort of Visegrád and the Salamon Tower taken from the ferry

The Fort of Visegrád and the Salamon Tower taken from the ferry
Fortress and king's palast of Visegrád
Position: N47.793662 E18.980200
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The main goal of the construction of the castle was to make such a strong fort on the peak of the steep hill, which can protect the people of its environs in case of strong attacks. King Béla IV gave this fort as present to his wife in year 1258. In that time was built the “Lower Fort” at the coast of the Danube and the two fortresses formed one big system. The remains of the Lower Fort are the Salamon-torony (Salamon Tower) and the gate of the village. The Hungarian kings lived here till the beginning of the 15th century, in that time they moved to the Castle of Buda (it is now the Castle of Budapest).

The Ottomans besieged this castle after the fall of Castle of Buda in year 1544. They couldn't occupy the fortress on the top, only the Lower Fort, so they decided to starve into surrender the defenders of the fortress. This tactic was successful, the Hungarian defenders finally threw in the towel. The reoccupation of the fortress happened in year 1595, but the walls of the castle became very ruined. People tried to repair the walls, but the Ottomans occupied it again in 1605. A long Turk age had begun in those years, because they stayed the owners of the castle till 1684, when the fort was reoccupied by the army of Prince Carl of Lathering, who prepared with this siege to the attack against Castle of Buda (it was still in the Turks' hand). But the long row of sieges did not finish with this episode, because the Turkey troops occupied the ruined fortress back. But they couldn't keep it for a long time, one year later the castle was again Hungarian property. The walls of the fortress were so ruined after the long row of the sieges, that nobody renovated them in the later centuries.

The partly renovated palast with the fortress on the top of the hill

The partly renovated palast with the fortress on the top of the hill

But there are many sights in the village, it is worth visiting them! The king’s palace is located at the foot of the Castle Hill among the houses of the village. The first palace was built at the foot of the Castle Hill in the first half of the 14th century. This was always the residence of the Hungarian kings, but King Matthias had a biggest one built in the second half of the 15th century. Now you can see only the ruins of the palace, because it was destroyed during the many siege of the fortress and people took its stones to other buildings. Its excavation began in year 1934 and finished a few years ago. It is worth visiting its ruined walls to see the remains of the renaissance palace of King Matthias.

The second sight is the Salamon Tower. It stands at the northern border of the settlement in the side of the Castle Hill. It is a part of the former “Lower Fort” of Visegrád. A wall connected to each other the fortress on the top of the hill and this tower. The walls went farther, till the gate of the village. The tower and the gate was reconstruct in the first half of the 20th century but smaller renovation work have been flowing continuously on the former area of the Lower Fort.

A short video about the medieval condition of the fortress and the palast on the Youtube:

Castle of Nógrád

Castle of Nógrád
Castle of Nógrád
Position: N47.906504 E19.045576
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

Unlike the other Hungarian castles this fort was not born after the Tartar offensive in the second half of the 13th century, it stood already in primitive form before the Hungarian conquest in the 10th century. The first rampart fortification was built by Slavonic tribes, the name of the village cherishes the memory of this fact: Nógrád is the distorted form of the Slavonic name “Novy Hrad” (New Castle). After the conquest was built the stone fort, it was the property of Hungarian kings during centuries. Later Ladislaus IV gave the fort as present to the bishop of Vác town.

The defenders of the castle escaped from the approaching Ottoman army in 1544, so the Turks gained the fort without fight. The reoccupation happened fifty years later, but after a 27 days long siege the Turkey troops occupied it in 1663 again. 22 years later the gun powder storage was hit by a thunderbolt and the castle burnt down. The Turks didn’t try to reconstruct the fort, rather demolished the rest of the walls and left the castle. The troops of Prince Rákóczi tried to repair the fort during the independence war, but they didn’t have enough time, couldn’t finish the work, so when the army of the Austrian Emperor approached, they demolished the walls again. The walls of the old castle were partly renovated a few decades ago.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Castle of Szanda

The remains of Castle of Szanda
Castle of Szanda
Position: N47.911438 E19.422347
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

Unfortunately we do not know exactly, who had built the small castle on the eastern peak of the Szanda-hegy Mountain. The first document mentioned it in 1331, when Széchy Péter was the captain of the fort. Sigismund of Luxembourg king gave the castle to his faithful men, to the Pásztói family, but later is was already the property of Csetneki family. King Sigismund took back the castle at the begin of the 15th century, because of the treason of Csetneki family and presented it to his wife Cillei Borbála. But the owner of the castle was already the Báthory family, when the Ottomans occupy it after a short siege in 1546. The Turk defenders of the castle attacked regularly the surrounding villages and robbed the people, finally the soldiers of the close Balassagyarmat town sieged the castle on the request of the people of the environs and occupied it. The soldiers blown up the walls, so the Ottomans could not use the castle as shelter.

Nobody renovated the abandoned walls of the castle, at present only one wall stands on the rocky eastern peak of of Szanda-hegy Hill. Its archaeological exploration and conservation is uncertain, the decay of the old ruins is continuous. There was a smaller fort on the western summit of the Szanda-hegy Mountain, but is disappeared during the work of a stone mine in the 20th century.

Unfortunately, the original video about the medieval castle was deleted from the Youtube (I don't know, why?), but I have found a short aerial video taken by a drone, which shows the modest ruins of the former castle. But the panorama, which opens from the summit of the mountain, is unique!

Castle of Hollókő

Castle of Hollókő taken from the neighbour ridge
Castle of Hollókő
Position: N47.997701 E19.581811
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The castle was built after the Mongol offensive in the second half of the 13th century by the Kacsics clan, but probably a few parts of the fort already stood in that time. The castle was first time mentioned in a document in 1310. The owner Kacsics family was unfaithful against the king, Charles Robert I sequestrated the castle and gave to Szécsényi Tamás. But the castle was still in the hands of the rebels, and they repulsed the siege of the new owner. He was the real owner of the castle only after 1327. The Szécsényi family developed the castle continuously, new walls, tower, dwelling rooms and water reservoirs were built during the next centuries. In the Ottoman time the defenders of the small fort tried to protect the population of the environs against the Turk attacks, but it happened only with little success. The Ottomans occupied the castle without any fight in 1552, because the defenders escaped, when they heard about the approaching big Turk army. It is interesting in the history, that we gained back the castle after negotiations in 1593.

Later the Turks were again in the castle between 1663 and 1683, finally Sobieski Polish king regain it. Leopold I Austrian Emperor decided to demolish the walls of the castle in 1701, but it happened only in 1711, after the unsuccesful independence war. Although the population of the neighbour villages used the stones of the walls at the building of their own houses, it is among the most intact castles in Hungary. The archaeological exploration and conservation works have begun in 1966, the castle is open for the visitors since 1996.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Castle of Sirok

Among the walls of Castle of Sirok
Castle of Sirok
Position: N47.939103 E20.195765
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The first fort was built on the end of a long ridge before the Hungarian Conquest in the 8th century by Slavonic tribes. The name of the settlement refers to this thing: “Sirok” means “wide” in the Slavonic languages. After the Hungarian Conquist the environs of the fort was the property of the Aba family, they developed the old fortification and built a new upper castle from stones. It is interesting, that a few corridors and rooms were carved into the rocks of the Castle Hill. The owners of the castle changed often, it was the property of Országh Kristóf in 1566, when the Diet ordered the development of the castle because of the Ottoman danger. The owner developed the lower castle with new walls and towers and completed the number of the defenders with 100 horse soldier.

Nonetheless the development the defenders of the castle handed over the castle to the Ottomans after the siege and capitulation of the neighbour big fortress, Eger in 1596. This castle was the property of the Turks until 1596, when the defenders left the walls and went to help the defenders of Eger at the siege. The Hungarian troops occupy the castle, and the siege of Eger was successful, as well. After the Ottoman time the castle lost its importance, but the walls stood until 1713, when the Austrian troops demolished partly them. The first excavation happened between 1956 and 1972 and the walls were renovated in 2011-2012.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Castle of Eger

Castle of Eger
Castle of Eger
Position: N47.904101 E20.379309
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

First the catedral of Eger was build on the hill above the town in the 11th century, later it was surrounded by walls after the big Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Unfortunately the material of the stone walls was that riolite tuffa, which was mined among the hills close to the town. Workers can carve this type of stone very easy, but it is soft, so the walls of the castle needed continuous maintence works. After the appearance of cannons the fort was already outdated. Dobó István was the captain of the fortress before the big Ottoman offensive and he decided to strengthen the walls and increase the number of defenders. The Turk troops reached the fort in September of 1552, the siege lasted 38 days. Finally the Ottomans gave up the siege because of the approaching Hungarian winter.

The siege of Castle of Eger by the Turks is a famous episode of the Hungarian history. About hundred years ago Géza Gárdonyi wrote a novel about the history of the siege, the title of the book is “Egri csillagok” i.e. “Stars of Eger”. When Zoltán Várkonyi, a well-known Hungarian movie director decided to take this story on film, he had a castle built at the foot of the Nagy-Kevély Mountain at the border of Budapest. The reason was very simple: in the past 400 years the houses of the modern Eger town have built up in the surroundings of the old fortress! The Ottoman army (many thousand figurants) besieged and demolished the walls in the movie, later people left the scenery to its fate, now the walls are overgrown with grass and weed, but hiker maps show its position exactly and it is a well-known target of hikers and day-tripper families.

So the defenders won in 1552, but the walls of the fort were severely damaged. The renovation of the castle had lasted many decades, and the fortress was much more strong before the next siege, than in 1552. But the Turks were successful in that time, they were able to occupy the important fort and kept it in the next 91 years. The united Hungarian-Austrian troops reoccupied the fort in 1687, and the walls were destroyed according to the order of the Austrian Emperor in 1701. The modern Eger town was built from the stones of the outer fort, the downtown stands on the area of it, now only the walls of the inner fort stand on the Castle Hill, above the houses. It is an interesting thing, that only three minarets (tower of mosque) stand in Hungary, one of them in Eger!

A short 3D video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

The ruins of Szádvár Castle

The ruins of Szádvár Castle
Szádvár Castle
Position: N48.544463 E20.663991
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

We do not know, when was this castle built, it was mentioned first time in documents in 1268. The owners changed frequently, but at the begin of the 14th century the castle was already the property of the king. Later Sigismund of Luxembourg gave the castle the to his faithful man, to Bebek György. At the middle of the 15th century the Polish Peter Komorowsky occupied the walls, and looted the villages of the environs from the castle. The Bebeks reoppupied the fort in 1454, but a few years later it was already the property of Szapolyai family by a marriage contract. The Bebek family gained the castle back in the political chaos after the Battle of Mohács and finished the building of the walls.

When the owner, Bebek György was on a travel, the captain of Castle of Kassa (Kosice) attacked Castle of Szádvár in 1567. Patacsy Zsófia, the wife of the owner defended the fort with the staff, but after a four days long gunfire the walls were already in very bad condition, so the defenders gave up the fight. The Ottomans never sieged the castle, later the Kuruc troops were among its walls during the independence wars, finally the Austrian troops demolished and set on fire the castle. The abandoned walls stood in the forest during the next centuries, after the World War I the ruins were located in the vicinity of the border lane, so it was restricted area. The civil association named “Szádvárért Baráti Kör” was founded in 2007, they have been doing the most important maintenance works and organize regularly the “Vármentő napok” (in English: Castle Rescue Days), when everybody can join and work together with the team.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Castle of Boldogkő

Castle of Boldogkő
Castle of Boldogkő
Position: N48.344565 E21.232485
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The oldest part of the castle was built probably after the Mongol invasion in the middle of the 13th century by Tyba or Aba Amádé lords. It was mentioned first time in 1295 in documents. Later Charles Robert Hungarian king took away the castle from the Aba clan and gave it to his faithful clan, to the Drugeth family. The owners of the castle changed often, it was the property of the Czudar Péter, prince István and György and the Szapolyai family, they developed continuously the castle. The Ottomans never sieged the walls, but the troops of the Hungarian kings, and the Austrian emperors often fighted for the castle. Rákóczi György gained the castle in 1666, later it had an important role in the independence war, because it was a military base of the Kuruc troops.

The Austrian troops demolished the walls in 1701, but nonetheless it was probably in the best condition among the ruined Hungarian castles. The archaeological researches began in 1963, it was followed by the partial renovation of the walls. A tourist house worked among the walls in the 20th century, but it closed before the millennium. Now there are exhibitions among the walls and a restaurant works in the cellars of the castle.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Castle of Regéc

Castle of Regéc
Castle of Regéc
Position: N48.378671 E21.344393
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The castle was built after the Mongol invasion at the end of the 13th century by the Aba family. It was mentioned first time in 1307. It was the property of Patenye fia Péter, but Charles Robert I Hungarian King took away with siege. Later the castle was the property of the Hungarian kings, but Sigismund of Luxembourg gave it to Lazarevics István Serbian prince, later to Brankovics György. In the 15th century it was the castle of the kings again, but Matthias gave it to the Szapolyai family. The owners changed often in the 16th and 17th century, finally Rákóczi György gained it with siege in 1644. The Rákóczi family kept this castle in the 17th century, the great-grandchild of Rákóczi György, prince Rákóczi Ferenc II, the leader of the independence war spent his childhood among the walls of Castle of Regéc.

When Rákóczi Ferenc I, father of Rákóczi Ferenc II died, his wife got married to Thököly Imre, to the leader of the Kuruc troops. The couple organized the main base of the resistant troops among the walls of the castle, but the Austrian army attacked the castle in 1685, occupied it and demolished the walls. The ruined castle lost its importance, it had no role in the independence war, but the siege and the fight against the Austrian troops was an important milestone in the life of the young Rákóczi Ferenc II.

The abandoned walls stood during the next centuries in the forest, the council of the small Regéc village decided in 1990 about the maintenance of the ruined castle. They cleaned the walls and the area of the castle from the thick brushwood and built dirt roads for the visitors. The council initiated the archaeological researches and excavations in 1999, the works began one year later. Because of the lack of the monetary support the works were stopped in 2001 and 2002, but later from the money of the EU the renovation of the northern tower was finished. Now an exhibition works among the walls of the tower, it shows the history of the castle.

A short video about the medieval condition of the castle on the Youtube:

Castle of Füzér

Castle of Füzér
Castle of Füzér
Position: N48.541943 E21.459331
The castle on Google Maps: LINK

The castle was mentioned first time in 1264, but probably the core of it was standing already before the Mongol invasion. According to suppositions this castle was built by the Aba clan and it was the first fort in private ownership in Hungary. Andrew II Hungarian King bought the castle from the Abas, it was the kings property until the Mongol invasion, later Béla IV gave it back the the Aba family. Charles Robert I sequestrated the fort because of treason, later its owner changed frequently. Finally the castle was the property of the Nádasdy family, but the owner of the castle, Ferenc Nádasdy got involved in the conspiracy against the Austrian Emperor. The conspiracy was revealed, Nádasdy was executed and the castle was sequestrated from the family (similar to Castle of Sárvár). The Austrian troops set on fire the castle and left the walls.

The archaeological researches and excavations began in 1977, they were followed by the partial renovation works in 1992. According to the decision of the Hungarian Goverment Füzér is the first medieval fort, which will be fully renovated in the future! The lower fort, the chapel and the palace rooms were rebuilt between 2014 and 2016, but the works will continue in the future.

A short movie about the renovated castle and other sights of its environs on the Youtube:







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