Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Most Epic Castle I've Ever Seen

To say that Corvin Castle, also known as Hunedoara Castle, is "kind of cool" is like saying that space is "kind of big" - it just doesn't cut it. I've been to castles where I thought that it might have been neat to be a ruler there, or be a wealthy gentlemen who was garbed in only gilded attire during the Dark Ages, but when I got to Corvin Castle...well, this is the type of place that rivals any of the elaborate sets from Game of Thrones. Forget about living there in the past, I'll move in tomorrow.

It was just a few days ago that Bri and I drove hours from Sibui to get a glimpse of this, and my goodness, we were far from disappointed.

The castle stands guard in present day Romania, but at the time of its construction, in the middle of the 15th century, it was a masterful addition to the already powerful Kingdom of Hungary. Even today, it's touted as one of the largest castles in Europe. Due to its strategic position on a hilltop, it was a place of importance for quite some time before the construction of this castle, being the site of a keep commissioned by Charles I beforehand. However, it was really in the Middle Ages that Corvin Castle become the highly formidable, military minded structure that stands today. With just the right mix of renaissance and gothic architecture, it's pretty much what you expect a superb castle in Transylvania to look like.

It's said that Vlad the Impaler (the figure Dracula was supposedly the inspiration for) was held prisoner here for 7 years by the ruler of the castle, John Hunyadi. In general, there are many legends and tales about the castle that lead many to believe it's haunted. Several paranormal/haunted shows have made their way to Corvin to test the theories, and probably for good reason. The impressive exterior of the castle was enough to make me believe just about anything about the castle, and Bri was adept at convincing me that this castle was, in fact, Hogwarts.

Unfortunately, many sights in Romania haven't exactly been restored or kept in superb condition - parts of the city of Braşov come to mind. It's not that they're in poor condition, but compared to the work that countries like Austria, Slovenia, Germany, France, Italy, Czech Republic etc. have done, they haven't been able to attain the same standard. Thus, it was pleasing to see that effort had gone in to keeping Corvin Castle in great condition. Some of the restoration was a touch cheesy in the interior, such as the prisoner mannequin in the prison, but most of it was tasteful, and added to the ambiance. The interior had much to offer, and set my imagination running wild.

Driving there, Bri and I kept on thinking "for all this driving we're doing...this better be something special." And, as I've noted and you can see, it certainly was. After spending a week in Romania, I'm fascinated by how little people seem to know about the country. Frankly, I only knew the name of the capital until I started researching the best way to approach a road trip in the country, and now the names of cities, towns and castles roll off my tongue like I've known them my whole life. Romania seems to be overlooked by the tourist beacons that surround it, and its places like this, Corvin Castle, that prove that people need to seriously consider an attitude shift. My advice? Head to Romania while it's still inexpensive, undiscovered, and full of mystery and adventure.

Don't forget to stop by Corvin Castle; you'll have this image etched into your memory for as long as you live...