A visitor’s guide to Corvin Castle, Transylvania, Romania


Cláudia Carvalho

The medieval castle of Hunedoara, Transylvania, Romania, also known as the Corvin Castle, is one of the most remarkable monuments of Gothic architecture in Romania, and among the top ten mythical destinations in Europe.

The castle was built in 1446 by John Hunyadi, who was a leading Hungarian military and political figure in Central and Southeastern Europe during the fifteenth-century. On the site of an old rampart on a cliff near the Zlaşti River. The former keep was originally given to his father by King Sigismund of Hungary, and John Hunyadi wanted a more imposing transformation when he was elected regent of the kingdom.

The Corvin Castle coat of arms is represented by a raven with a golden ring in its beak. Legend has it that John Hunyadi was the bastard son of Sigismund of Luxembourg, the King of Hungary, with Elisabeta Szilagyi, a beautiful woman from Țara Hațegului. Not wanting to make her unworthy, the king had her marry one of his champions, Voicu, and gave her a golden ring for his unborn son to recognise him when he had grown up and come to the court. Several years later, during a royal feast at which Voicu’s family took part, the ring is forgotten on the edge of a table, and a raven, drawn by the left-overs and the glitter of the ring, steals it in its beak. The young John Hunyadi, seeing the raven, took a bow and shot it, thus recovering the family ring. Years later, when he came to the court and told the story, he was ushered in with the new coat of arms showing the raven with the golden ring in its beak. The name ‘Corvin’ originates from the Latin word “corvus,” meaning “raven,” which in the Middle Ages used to symbolise wisdom and longevity.

The legend of the Corvin Castle’s well tells of three Turkish prisoners held by John Hunyadi in the castle’s dungeons, to whom he promised freedom in exchange for their effort of digging a well with good water. For fifteen years they have dug and after twenty eight meters they found water. By this time, John Hunyadi had passed away, and the castle was ruled by his widow, Elisabeta Szilagyi, who did not keep John Hunyadi’s word and had the prisoners killed. As a dying wish, they had the well inscribed with the words “Apă ai, inimă nu” (translated to: you have water, but you do not have a heart). In truth, the inscription reads “He who wrote this is Hassan, prisoner of Ghiaurs (Turkish slang for Romanians) in the fortress near the church.” According to experts, the characters date since the fifteenth-century.

Corvin Castle is built in the Renaissance-Gothic style and it features elements of strong defence. Besides the towers, bastions, the inner courtyard, and the drawbridge, the wall is actually doubled and flanked by round or rectangular towers, an innovative feature for Transylvanian architecture. The rectangular ones have larger openings, for larger weapons. Some towers were built solely for defence, such as the Buzdugan Tower (literally meaning the Mace Tower), while others, like the Drummers’ Tower, the Deserted Tower, and the Capistrano Tower were used as prison cells.

Corvin Castle is divided into three main areas: the Diet Hall, the Knights’ Hall, and the circular stairway. The halls are rectangular and paved with marble and were used for feasts and ceremonies.

Following the death of John Hunyadi, the construction of the castle stagnated – with the exception of minor modifications – until the seventeenth-century, when esthetic and defensive additions have been made: the White Tower and the Artillery Tower, an external yard, and the Large Palace. After a large fire and several decades of being neglected, the castle has been completely restored to its current state. Since 1480, the castle has been regarded by modern architects as one of the biggest and most important Gothic structures in Western Europe.

To reach the Corvin Castle, take the DN7 (E15) to Sântuhalm, and from there follow DJ 687 all the way to Hunedoara. Following the boulevards Traian, Republicii, and Libertății will get you to the castle, located at the southwestern end of the town.

The closest attraction to Hunedoara is the Scărişoara Cave, located 170 kilometres south-west, so if you have a car, you should not miss it. Another impressive medieval castle, Bran Castle, made popular by Bram Stoker as Count Dracula’s castle is located farther east, 200 kilometres away.

The castle can be visited every day between 09:00 and 17:00. Ticket prices are $6.00 for adults, $1.00 for students, $2.00 for seniors. For groups of thirty people and above, prices are $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and $1.00 for students. The photography fee is also $1.00.

We previously gave a tour through France’s Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, and now we introduce you to Corvin Castle, located in the dreaded Hunedoara, in Transylvania, Romania. Nevertheless, we intend to continue to bestow other attractive and inspirational places throughout our pages, and as always, your viewpoints are more than esteemed by leaving your response, suggestions for further articles, or constructive criticism in the comment section. Plus, you may prefer to subscribe to our newsletter by filling out the form below in order to keep yourself refreshed with our most contemporary publishings.

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October 2, 2016 16:32

Hi Claudia, these type of guides are very useful for those willing to discover new places to visit. May I suggest another Romania castle? Peles Castle belonged in the past to the Romanian Royal Family and it is still their resience to this day, but part of it is open for visitors.

Alex de Borba
Alex de Borba
Reply to  sky
May 19, 2017 14:13

Hello Sky, and yes, those kind of guides are excellent if people are into travel, and most importantly, explore the eerie side of the landscape.

Peles Castle has been added to our list, for further publishing, our gratitude for sharing and suggesting this to our staff. It does seem interesting.



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