Banffy Castle – the Transylvanian Versailles
7 centuries of history – a castle in the heart of Transylvania not to be missed.
Banffy Castle from Bontida is one of the representative castles for the Transylvanian baroque style. Before becoming a castle, on this place, there is a documented mansion since 1640.
The building we see today was built by Dionisie Banffy the 2nd, county governor of Dabaca and Cluj counties. The building was planned to be in the shape of letter “L” and fortified with house walls in a rectangular shape with high towers at the gates. The cellar’s ceiling is built in brick in the shape of a cylindrical vault, stone walls and Renaissance style wooden doors. The castle has been partially destroyed during several wars back then being often used as a military base.
The rehabilitation of the castle started actually in the 17th century when it got extended and a Renaissance influence. That’s when discussions also started regarding the creation of a magnificent park around the Castle. Denes Banffy was the first who came up with the idea of constructing the castle and he always dreamt to have a French-style park like the Versailles Gardens. And it did. The Castle used to have some magnificent gardens with symmetrical alleys, long terraces and an airy design that made the gardens truly unique. In time, the park lost its splendor, many of the trees being cut down, but there are still visible some architectural pieces in the Romantic style.
The 20th century brought some harsh times to the Castle. In 1944 the castle was transformed into a military hospital. German troops robbed and devastated the castle as a repercussion against Count Miklos Banffy, the owner of the castle back then who was accused of bartering negotiations between Romania and Hungary in order for both of them to fight against The Germans in WWII.
Haunted castle: one of the main attraction for tourists is that of the legend of the castle being haunted. There is said that once, the Princess living in the castle had an affair with somebody from the outside of the court. One day she was noticed by a stable-boy, an in order to keep him silent, the Princess seduced him and then stabbed him. The legend says that even nowadays you can sometimes see the ghost of the young stable-boy haunting the castle.
The castle is open for visiting daily from 9 AM to 7 PM. Entry fee is less than 1 USD/person.
Prince Charles is a great fan of the Banffy Castle and he is lobbying for its full restoration being sure that it would be a great touristic attraction.
Image by: Țetcu Mircea Rareș
In the last few years, The Banffy Castle gained a lot of popularity due to the fact that it hosts one of the greatest electronic dance music festivals in Europe – Electric Castle.