Corvin Castle

Top choice in Transylvania

Romania, Transylvania, Exterior

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Some castles perch on mountains, others skulk in mist-shrouded hills, but Hunedoara’s juts out from an industrial jungle. Despite being surrounded by steel mills, Corvin Castle is Transylvania's most spellbinding fortress. You’ll be thunderstruck the moment you walk over the drawbridge, with pointed turrets rising above, into the stone courtyard. Visitors aren’t shackled to guided tours, so you can stroll freely and let your imagination run wild. Alternatively, download the app for a self-guided walk (8 lei; buy the code with your ticket).

Built atop a 14th-century stone fortress by Ioan of Hunedoara, new elements and fortifications were later added to Corvin Castle by Matia Corvin and Gabriel Bethlen. Turkish prisoners performed much of this back-breaking work. The castle well is thought to have been cursed by three Turkish prisoners when they were condemned to death in spite of a promise that they would be freed after its completion. Equally chilling is the Bear Pit, where prisoners were thrown to animals after their usefulness expired.

Architectural highlights include the late-Gothic Knights Hall, with armour, cannonballs and a bulky bronze of Ioan of Hunedoara, and the 1440-built Mace Tower. Look out for the faint checkerboard design painted on the tower, and lift your gaze to see a bronze of a medieval knight, placed at the top during a 19th-century restoration.

There are some free parking spaces near the castle, otherwise there is ample paid parking (around 7 lei per day).

From Hunedoara’s bus or train station, the castle is about 1.5km southwest, but it's easier to take the bus to the old centre (2 lei) then walk the short distance from there. Hunedoara’s bus and train stations are off the main road, roughly opposite Str Avram Iancu. Bus connections reach Deva (6 to 10 lei, 45 minutes, regular), Timişoara (32 lei, four hours, one daily) and Bucharest (58 lei, 7¼ hours, one daily). By train, you can reach Simeria (4 lei, 30 minutes, three daily), from where you can catch connections to Braşov, Sibiu or Arad.

Ticket prices drop by 5 lei to 10 lei outside the May to August high season.