A fairytale castle for some, a Gothic masterpiece for others, Corvin Castle is simply the most impressive castle in Transylvania.
In the heart of Siebenburgen, one of Europe’s largest castles looks like it sits atop a rocky bluff with naught but a thin bridge allowing access. This is simply Corvin Castle, which looks like something straight out of a fairytale, largely because restorers thought that it should.
And on top of that, Dracula is said to have been imprisoned here.
Built in the mid-15th century, the castle was the work of Hungarian military leader John Hunyadi, who built the tall structure over the remains of a keep built by Charles I. Corvin Castle is split into three large areas: The Knight’s Hall, the Diet Hall, and the circular stairways, and they are surrounded by both circular and rectangular towers, that were used for both defense and as a prison. It is said that the prison also had a bear pit, where the prisoners were thrown after they served their purpose.
The elaborate architecture was designed in a rich gothic style, that accentuates the already impressive architecture. The castle was kept in regal condition during Hunyadi’s lifetime, but after he died, the castle fell into swift decline.
It was not until the 17th century that there was more interest in restoring this medieval castle. As the restoration work began, the workers redesigned the castle to reflect what they considered a gothic castle should look like, which explains much of its currently fanciful look.
A number of legends are associated with the castle, the most prominent among them being that Vlad the Impaler spent some seven years in the dungeons of Corvin Castle, a stay which resulted in his eventual madness. This was not recorded in any chronicle, at least not in the details, but tourists are still told the story.
Even though this is more legend that historical fact, Corvin Castle still seems like just the sort of place where a Dracula might have been held.
In the castle yard, near the 15th-century chapel, there is a well 30 meters deep. According to the legend, this fountain was dug by 3 Turkish prisoners to whom liberty was promised if they reached water. After 15 years they completed the well, but their captors did not keep their promise. It is said that the inscription on a wall of the well means “you have water, but not soul“. Specialists, however, have translated the inscription as “he who wrote this inscription is Hasan, who lives as slave of the giaours, in the fortress near the church”.