Today, Corvin castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle or Hunedoara Castle, is one of the most important gothic architecture inspired buildings in Romania. Built in the classical imposing style of the 15th century, with towers and bastions, it was restored over time and transformed into what is today the Corvin Castle Museum.
ABOUT CORVIN CASTLE
Huffington Post places Corvin Castle second on the list of the world’s most frightening places. Its frightening look could be due to its history or to its gothic architecture. Or perhaps both.
Even though there was an early stone fortification in Hunedoara as early as the 14th century, it was only after 1440 that Ioan de Hunedoara started building the stone citadel into a castle. Strategically, the first step began with the construction of two curtain walls surrounding the citadel, having defense purposes. The walls were flanked with circular or rectangular towers, a novelty for Transylvanian architecture at the time. The lower part of some of the towers (Capistrano Tower, Deserted Tower, Drummers’ Tower) was used as prisons, while the upper part was a residential area for the inhabitants of the citadel or a defense area. The painted tower, also called the Mace Tower, was built solely with the purpose of defending the castle, and it was decorated on the outside with geometrical patterns. The rectangular towers had entrances for large weapons, with firing holes for cannons and cord weapons.
The first stage of the construction ended in 1446. At the time, Ioan was the governor of the Kingdom of Hungary. The citadel chapel, located in the eastern part of the estate was built in the same period.
For visitors, an important attraction is the fountain located in the castle courtyard. It is 30 meters deep, and legend says that it was built by three Turkish prisoners who were promised their freedom if they could find water by digging. After 15 years of digging, the prisoners were killed on the order of Elisabeth Szilagyi. Before their death, their wish was to leave an inscription on the walls of the fountain. For a long time, it was believed that the inscription meant “You have water, but no heart”, but over time, an exact translation was done, which said, “Written by Hassan, prisoner of the Giaours, in the citadel by the church”.
The castle has three main parts: The Knights’ Hall, the Diet Hall and the Spiral Staircase. The halls are rectangular and decorated with marble. The Diet Hall was used for ceremonies and receptions while the Knights’ Hall was meant for festive dinners. The Spiral Staircase is a unique and refined element for today’s Transylvania.
After Ioan de Hunedoara’s death, the second stage of construction came to a halt. In 1458 the works continued and the Matia wing was built. 1480 is the year when the castle works stopped. By now, it was recognized as one of the largest and most sumptuous buildings in Western Europe.
The 16th century brought no new alterations to the castle, but during the next century, under prince Gabriel Bethlen, it underwent aesthetic and especially military changes. Aesthetically, this is when the Large palace facing the city was built, a large, two-story building which housed living quarters and a vast living room. Additionally, the Diet Hall was divided into several rooms, and all gothic influence disappeared. On the military front, there was the construction of two towers: The White Tower and the Tower of the Artillery Deck. The 17th century also brought new elements to the exterior courtyard, known as the hussars’ courtyard, a space intended for the castle administrator and the court officials, but also for storage.
The 14th century is when the castle underwent most of its restoration work. This is when the palace façade facing the city was built, as well as the roofs, which were now taller, and new decorative elements appeared: battlements and a new watch tower.
In spite of the fact that over time, Corvin Castle was passed from one owner to the next, its first owner remained the most memorable. Ioan de Hunedoara lived between 1419 and 1456, and was one of the most important military and political leaders of the time in Europe. While in the service of King Sigismund of Luxembourg, he easily became voivode of Transylvania. The most important moment is his military career was the battle of Belgrade in 1456, in which he forced Mohamed the 2nd to retreat his offensive against Europe. Ioan de Hunedoara died of the plague after the Belgrade event, on August 11th and is buried in Alba Iulia in the Catholic Cathedral.
THE LEGEND OF THE RAVEN
The Corvin crest is emblazoned with a raven that holds a gold ring in its beak; this raven is the source of the Corvin name. Legend says that Ioan de Hunedoara was the unacknowledged son of Sigismund of Luxembourg, back when the latter was king of Hungary, and that his mother was a beautiful woman named Elisabeth who lived in Hateg Country. In the hopes of washing away his sins and shame, the king married one of his sons to Elisabeth and offered her a gold ring for the unborn child; years later, while the new family was traveling, Elisabeth forgot the ring on a towel, and it was stolen by a raven, drawn by the sparkle of the precious metal. Ioan de Hunedoara, who was a child back then, grabbed a bow, killed the raven in mid-flight and recovered the ring. Once back at the palace, he boasted about his achievement in front of the king, who was so impressed with the story, that he decided to make the family symbol a raven with a ring in its beak. The name of the family comes from Latin, where the word “corvus” means “raven” and represents wisdom and longevity.
USEFUL TIPS WHEN VISITING CORVIN CASTLE
Hours and visiting fees:
Monday: 9 AM to 3 PM
Tuesday to Sunday, as follows, depending on the season, noting that the last tourists are received in the castle 30 minutes before closing time at the latest:
1 Nov – 29 Feb -> 9 AM to 4 PM
1 Mar – 30 Apr -> 9 AM to 5 PM
1 May – 31 Aug -> 9 AM to 6 PM
1 Sep – 31 Oct -> 9 AM to 5 PM
Ticket price for adults – 10 RON
Ticket price for students – 5 RON (with a valid student ID for the particular year)
Ticket price for retirees – 5 RON (with pension coupon)
Photo Fee – 5 RON
Video Fee – 10 RON
Guide Price – 30 RON