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Gyula Castle

Gyula CastleGyulaGyula region

Gyula is an 800-year-old town in south-eastern Hungary, on the Hungarian-Romanian border. This multinational and religiously diverse region has always been an important part of the country, as the gatekeeper of Transylvania.

Gyula Castle was built in the 15th century and is the only lowland Gothic brick castle in Central Europe that has remained intact. Its relative completeness as seen today is the result of the protection provided by the aristocratic family that owned the neighbouring Almásy Castle. Unlike many Hungarian castles, this building escaped destruction because it was used as a design element – a ‘romantic ruin’ – in the garden of the Almásy Castle.

From fort to garden jewel

Let’s go back in time a little to the 15th century, a period in Hungarian history that was full of adventures. What we know about the construction of the castle for sure is that the chapel in the castle was consecrated in 1445. Later, the castle was given to and expanded by John Corvinus, the illegitimate son of legendary Hungarian King Matthias. In 1566, constable László Kerecsényi managed to prevent the invasion of the Ottoman forces for nine weeks, but was ultimately forced to surrender. There then followed 129 years of Ottoman rule in the castle, which the invaders only left in 1695. Its strategic importance slowly faded, although it still had some role in the 18th century, during the Rákóczi War of Independence, and after the repression of the War of Independence of 1848-1849 against the Habsburg rule. The slowly decaying castle was given a different function in the 18th century: it was used as a pálinka house, a county meeting hall, a prison, and then gradually becoming a romantic decorative structure in the garden of Almásy Castle, which had been built in the meantime, until renovation works commenced in the 1950s

Where did the lady of the castle sleep?

The castle’s 24 exhibition halls recount almost seven centuries of history: there is a pantry, a bake house and a smithy, but you can also visit the rooms of the lady and lord and the offices of the constable, and explore how the office of the Ottoman governor differs from them. The armoury and the halberdier room contain contemporary weapons, and in the dungeon you can take a peek into the torture chamber. The consecrated chapel is still used for weddings and christenings, and the tavern is a perfect venue for the ensuing celebrations. The knights’ hall is used to host receptions and conferences, and in the summer you can watch plays performed in the Castle Theatre.

Visit Szanazug and the Hundred-Year-Old Confectionery

After you have completed your tour of the castle, take a day off to enjoy the services and have fun in the pools of the Gyula Castle Spa & AquaPalace. If you want something more active, visit the banks of the Körös Rivers: you can roam the river and beautiful Szanazug, the land where the Körös Rivers meet, on bicycle, canoe or boat, and you can even rent an airboat. Local specialties are an excellent addition to these fun activities: you must try Gyula’s famous meat products, such as its sausage. The Hundred-Year-Old Confectionery offers delicious cakes and pastries that children will enjoy, while the grown-ups can taste the local craft beers and the pálinka specialties of Békés County.