While looking for things to do at my hostel in Sibiu, I saw a picture of a castle that immediately stood out. Corvin Castle looked like it belongs in a fairy tale book cover! I added it to my Romania (Balkan) itinerary via Google My Maps and booked a train ride to Deva, the closest city the next day. Corvin Castle (Castelul Corvinilor in Romanian) lies 17 Kilometers south of Deva, in a town called Hunedoara.
I wanted to get to Hunedoara during the golden hour but there weren’t any trains or buses bound for Deva at a reasonable time. There were a few at 8:30 and then some at 4pm – I’m perplexed at Romania’s transportation system. The schedules are ridiculous and don’t seem to have any logic as to why it’s done the way it is.
The trains and buses tend to be late as well, they get there when they get there and they’re often late 15 minutes are more. So by the time I got to Deva the Sun was already beginning to set so I hailed a taxi hoping to get there before nightfall. By the time I got there the castle was closed. I explored around outside and found the castle intriguing so I booked a hotel nearby hoping to explore it the next day.
An awesome castle
The Corvin castle turned out to be one of my greatest find in Romania. Bran, Dracula Castle, did not impress me but Corvin was everything I had expected and then some. Corvin Castle stands as the Castle I’ve read about in my childhood, Sir Thomas Mallory’s Knights of the Round Table novels.
Corvin castle is your quintessential fairy-tale castle, complete with a drawbridge over a rushing river serving as a moat and 30m thick stone walls built on old Roman fortifications. Its Renaissance-Gothic style flows with the small Zlaști River right below. It’s an imposing structure with tall towers, bastions, dungeons, courtyard, colored roofs, and many windows and balconies embellished with fine stone carvings.
This fantastic site stands as a symbol of Hungarian rule and an excellent example of gothic architecture in Transylvania. Built in 15th century by Iancu of Hunedoara (also known as John of Hunedoara), in the town of the same name, it’s an imposing and creepy castle that stands out over an otherwise bland and industrial landscape. Iancu of Hunedoara was the Ruler of Transylvania around 1441 – 1456 and acted as Regent of Hungary around 1446 – 1452.
He was a brilliant military commander who fought against the Ottoman Empire and a mentor of the infamous Vlad the Impaler (aka, Dracula). There are rumors that Vlad, imprisoned in Corvin Castle for months, became the insane despot he is known for. You can see the dungeon (complete with a medieval stretching machine) where he might have become insane.Corvin Castle might, in fact, have served as the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula according to some theories. It’s a much grander and creepier castle than Bran Castle!
Oh well, oh well
The castle’s courtyard has an interesting 100-ft. well, dug deep into stone during the 15th Century. Legend says it was dug by three Turkish prisoners and they took 15 years and 28 meters deep before they got to the precious water. Promised freedom if they completed the task by the king who died prior to the well’s completion. The king’s wife, Elisabeth Szilagyi, decided the agreement annulled and executed the Turkish prisoners.
Given the last wish, the prisoners asked if they could write an inscription on the wall (in Turkish). You can still see this inscription today and it translates to: “You may have water, but you have no soul! – The one who dug here is Hassan, prisoner to the giaours in the fortress next to the church.”
On the western side of the castle lies the Knights Hall (Sala Cavalerilor). A row of octagonal columns divide the sections. A small collection of armors and weapons and one of Iancu of Hunedoara’s bust are found here. This room also served as a place of trials and sentencing for the enemies of the royal court. Prisoners are sometimes tortured during questionings.
The hall served as a room for festive occasions and parties for when they got bored of torturing hapless prisoners. Below this hall is the creepy dungeon, complete with fake rubber or wax prisoners made to look even creepier with contorted facial expressions.
Other noteworthy spots are the Capistrano Tower and the Bear Pit. You can climb up the Capistrano Tower for a greater view of the town of Hunedoara. I wish the view up there was of a never ending haunted forest but that’s not the case. Hunedoara is a very industrial town.
If you bear with me
The Bear Pit is directly outside the walls. Condemned people were supposably fed to those bears according to legend. What an interesting and scary situation it must’ve been for prisoners awaiting sentencing at the Knights Hall; “You have door number 1: Dig a well for 15 years or door number 2: Disappear into the Bear’s Pit and door number 3: Get stretched out like spaghetti on a medieval stretching machine. Go ahead pick your poison!
Corvin Castle is the first castle I’ve ever been in where it felt medieval. I wanted to don some chainmail armor and run around brandishing a mace and scare off hapless tourist out of the castle. But the tale of the Turkish prisoners had me rethink that thought. Digging a well for 15 years only to get executed at upon completion will not be my fate. Or become stretched thin like spaghetti in one of the medieval torture machine!
VISIT CORVIN CASTLE!
The Visiting Hours
- Monday | 09:00 – 15:00
- Tuesday through Sunday
- During 1st of November through 29th February | 09:00 – 16:00
- On the 1st of March through 30th April | 09:00 – 17:00
- At 1st of May through 31st August | 09:00 – 18:00
- 1st September through 31st October | 09:00 – 17:00
Entry Tickets: Adults – 20 RON (about 4 bucks), Students – 5 RON (about a buck), Photo Tax – 5 RON, Video Tax – 15 RON, Guide Tax – 30 RON.
Getting to Corvin Castle
- The closest city is Deva. There are trains and buses that run from Bucharest. It’s slow, so you might consider a car or staying a night or two in a city nearby such as Sibiu or Alba Iulia.
- From Deva, you can take a taxi or a bus. Buses are cheap, a taxi not so much (40 RON).
- It might be worth it to stay at one of the pensions/hotels in Hunedoara so you can explore the castle at your leisure.