Saturday, May 25, 2013

Today's Castle: Boldogkő, Hungary

From Hungary, land of amazing castles with unpronounceable names, comes today's castle: Boldogkő.

Boldogkő is one of a chain of fortresses along Hungary's northern border, placed on hilltops to war off invaders coming from the north and east. The castle was first mentioned in a record of 1282, when it was taken into royal hands by King Andras or Andrew III. The best guess is that it was built by the Tomaj family after the Mongol invasion of 1241.

The castle was damaged and reconstructed may times in its turbulent history, and it is hard to get a handle from here on how much of what survives was built when. The consensus seems to be that the oldest intact sections were built in the fourteenth century, with major additions in the fifteenth century and the late sixteenth. In fell into decay in the nineteenth century and has been restored in the twentieth.

The castle had a bewildering variety of owners. The most-reliable seeming site I have found gives this list:  king László IV, Aba Amádé, Károly Róbert, the Drugeth family, king Zsigmond, Czudar Péter, Brankovics György, king Matthias, Szapolyai János, Báthori István, Martinuzzi Fráter György, the Bebek family, Rákóczi György I., etc. And then there was "Ferenc Bebek, a robber-knight who even minted counterfeit coins, the metal forge of which was later discovered by archeologists." No idea why it changed hands so much.

One of the highlights for modern visitors is the walkway to an old watchtower on a narrow ridge called by tour guides Lion Hill. Looks like a wonderful place to wander, imagining a harvest festival, or attackers gathered in the plain.

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