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Sárospatak Rákóczi Castle

Rákóczi CastleSárospatak Tokaj and Nyíregyháza

Sárospatak was the cultural center of North-Eastern Hungary for centuries. The castle – built from the 1500's – was the most important noble center and fortification in the region. The castle successfully survived the historical storms of past centuries; the building gained more than it lost during these times. 

Its owners include several famous Hungarian historical figures. The castle in Sárospatak was in its heyday from 1616, the year from which the Rákóczi family occupied it for around 100 years. The family is one of the greatest dynasties in Hungarian history. The castle, the center of its estate, is also depicted on the Hungarian 500-forint banknote.


A part of Hungary at the time was under the rule of the Habsburg Empire while Transylvania was an independent principality. Several members of the Rákóczi family carried the title of Prince of Transylvania (in Latin: Princeps Transylvaniae). As rulers and powerful Hungarian landlords, they pursued several campaigns against the Habsburg crown. In the 1670's, at the wedding of Ferenc Rákóczi I, a secret conspiracy against the Habsburgs was formed in the Sub Rosa room of the Sárospatak Castle. The room was preserved to this day. Its name originated from the rose shaped stucco in the middle of the umbelliform vault. The Latin expression sub rosa means “under the rose”. It gained an indirect meaning in Hungarian after the above event. It means to do something in secret. 

Ferenc Rákóczi II led the struggle for freedom against the House of Habsburg for 8 years from 1703. In 1708 a notable session of parliament in the era was held within the walls of the castle. The best-preserved Renaissance castle of Hungary also reveals a number of architectural attractions.


Perhaps the most remarkable building of the castle is the Red Tower, resembling an almost regular slab. Each of its floors evoke the everyday and special events of nobles in the 17-18th centuries. You can observe the way in which cereal was stored and the 22-meter-deep well bored through the rock. You can walk around the battlemented pathway of the guard and the “ambulatory”, view the dining palace of the Perényi family and the reception room of the Rákóczi family. The treasury room was converted to a chapel in the 1800's, which was consecrated in the honor of Saint Elizabeth of the House of Árpád who was born in the city. 

In 1642, the Red Tower was connected to the palace wing by building of the Lorántffy Loggia, the most beautiful Renaissance stairway in Hungary, named after the noblewoman of the castle, Zsuzsanna Lorántffy, Princess of Transylvania. The loggia is preserved in its original form.


Today, the Rákóczi Museum of the Hungarian National Museum operates in the Sárospatak Castle. The exhibition in the Red Tower offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of nobles in the 16–17th centuries while the palace wings present the history of the Rákóczi family. The reconstructed gun foundry shop in the courtyard of the castle is an unparalleled relic of technical history in Europe. 

WONDERS OF HUNGARY: RÁKÓCZI CASTLE, SÁROSPATAKWe have launched a mini-series entitled Wonders of Hungary, occasionally presenting our country's beautiful treasures in about a minute to inspire you. Welcome to part 15, in which we show you the iconic Rákóczi Castle of Sárospatak.
Wonders of Hungary: Rákóczi Castle, Sárospatak
WOW Hungary - Tokaj and Nyíregyháza
Wonders of Hungary - Lake Tisza
Wonders of Hungary - Hortobágy National Park - "The Puszta"