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The Banffy Castle was a jewel of Transylvanian architecture, being located in Bontida commune, Cluj County, but unfortunately in an advanced state of degradation.
Bontida Commune is located about 30 kilometres North-East from Cluj, and in order to get there you go on DE 576. Only the last two kilometres to the castle represent a county road, without pavement, except here and there.
In order to enter the castle you must pay a fee to a guard, quietly mowing the grass in the yard, who will not give you a ticket, but a postcard with the old face of the noble residence from the days when it was not only a ruin.
Dating back to the 1400s, despite the pathetic state it is in, the castle is unique thanks to a combination of styles that have left their mark on the building. Initially, the Hungarian noble family Banffy built it during the Transylvanian Renaissance period, and then the residence expanded with buildings and statues in Baroque style, while in 1800 the English romantic influences appeared.
Like any medieval castle, the Banffy family initially wanted their residence to provide safety as well, therefore bastions were built in the four corners of the building.
Subsequently, the noble residence was rebuilt in the U-shape on two levels – ground and first floor. Unfortunately, if you enter the present building you risk a piece of wall falling on your head or you’ll disturb a dog and its puppies, having found shelter in the middle of the castle.
Each new heir to the castle wanted to leave a mark on the building, by adding new elements: a mill, a riding school, a park with paths, but unfortunately, in the years of World War II, the owners were evacuated and the Germans made a military hospital of the beautiful castle.
It was the beginning of the end for the centuries-old building, when at the end of the war, before escaping, the Germans burned the entire place. The interior furniture, the family portraits gallery, the library were irreparably destroyed then.
But the worst part of the castle history was during the communist era, when a part of the ensemble was turned into … an Agricultural Production Cooperative. Moreover, no one has taken care of the castle any longer, since there was no master, so it decayed, and the villagers have stolen bricks from it to use them in various constructions, while the yard became a landfill.
However, some of the superb statues of the baroque park on the shores of Somes were saved, currently being preserved at the Museum of History in Cluj. Presently, animals are grazed near the castle and the chickens run free in the yard; at least the garbage has been taken away.
Images from Banffy Castle
- 1 “Mihai Viteazul” (Michael the Brave) – rural celebration
- 2 “La fântâna dorului” (At the Sorrow Fountain) – folk festival
- 3 The Onion Festival
- 4 Negreni Fair
- 5 The Grapes Ball
- 6 Folklore and folk art afferent to the tradition of Beius Fair
- 7 The Slovakian Potatoes Holiday
- 8 Aeternus Maramorosiensis – Medieval Festival of Sighetu Marmatiei
- 9 The “Salajean Village” Festival – Porolissum
- 10 Autumn on Ierului Valley