This is a pack of three different one-day tours about the incredible and sad story of the abandoned Transylvanian built heritage. It is a tour meant to raise awareness about what communist nationalization and ‘post communist’ ignorance has caused. It is a tour dedicated to all those in a Dark Romantic mood, those interested in decline of the built-environment photography and last but not least, those who lust for history, Medieval architecture, heraldic symbolism and local stories.
Departure from Cluj in the morning. First visit will be in Bontida to visit the Banffy castle. Built during the 15th, the castle was modified several times by it’s owners according to the architectural trends of the time (in Renaissance, Baroque, Neogothic styles), partially destroyed during WWII and finally mutilated by the communist regime. The castle’s last owner, before the communist nationalization, was the Hungarian nobleman Miklos Banffy, the very same who wrote the 3 volume novel ‘Transylvanian Trilogy’. In the époque, this would have been one of the most beautiful castles in the area, being often called ‘the Versailles of Transylvania’. It is one of the very lucky castles in Transylvania who are being restored at the moment.
Nest stop will be in Manastirea at Kornis castle. Compared to Banffy Castle in Bontida, here the influence of the communist regime upon the high class architecture is even more visible. Completely abandoned and neglected even by the villagers, the castle still shelters some refined decorations found among the Transylvanian castles. The fairytale castle defended by unicorns will this time tell the sad story of it’s most intriguing owner who, passionate about history and natural science, had built remarkable book and stuffed animals collections famed all over Transylvania.
Continue with the visit of Haller castle in Coplean, one of the oldest Baroque castles in Transylvania, yet one of the most endangered one. The architectural decoration that survived belongs to Rococ style and was realized by an Austrian sculptor very active in the area of Cluj in the 18th century: Anton Schuchbauer. In the 1960’s the castle was used by the communists as the headquarter of the agricultural local association. At the revolution in 1989 when the regime fell, the castle was still standing. Deserted for over 20 years, the castle turned into ruin fast.
Last stop will be at the Josika castle in Surduc. The last owner of the castle was a Hungarian novel writer (Walter Scott style), Miklos Josika of Branyicska. Being a good friend with the Prince of Transylvania, Francis II Rákóczi, the writer accommodated the prince in his 17 rooms castle. As some other castles in Transylvania, the castle is still owned by an agricultural association (not the same as during the communist period) who seems to keep ignoring it’s beauty and importance, even though it is a historic monument.
Arrival in Cluj in the evening.
This tours may partially be subject to traffic jams.
In wintertime, different discount may be applied to this tours.