Stunning 600-year-old Transylvanian castle restored to glory

The renovated castle in Gilău (Gyalu) was inaugurated and will now serve as a cultural centre. The Rákóczi-Bánffy castle near Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár) was renovated with EU funds and support from the Romanian and Hungarian governments, according to Daily News Hungary.

The first written record of the castle dates back to 1439. Located 20 km from Cluj-Napoca, the 60-room square castle of Gyalu, with its four corner bastions, was owned by Countess Katinka Bánffy before nationalisation. Until 2002, it was used as an auxiliary school, and the Countess’s grandson, Tamás Barcsay, took possession of it after seven years, before the castle was bought from the Barcsay family by Hungarian businessman Elek Nagy ten years ago. Hundreds of guests were present at the opening ceremony of the Transylvanian castle, which is now in its former splendour.

The Romanian state secured EUR 5 million in EU funding for the renovation, but this proved insufficient, so the Hungarian state matched this with a grant of HUF 850 million (EUR 2,2 million). The cultural centre has multifunctional event halls and plans include furnishing them and renovating the garden and castrum. The castle gardens will also host major events. Elek Nagy, the founding president of the Transylvanian Traditions Foundation, recalled at the opening ceremony that ten years ago, the castle had almost fallen into disrepair, and he felt it was a mission worthy of his ancestors to save it for the benefit of the wider and narrower community. Gelu Vasile Topan, mayor of Gilău, expressed his delight that the restored castle would put the village on the tourist map.

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