Kapuvár Photo: Szibler Gábor

Kapuvár (Kobrunn) is a small but ancient town of some 11,000 inhabitants in Győr-Moson-Sopron County, Hungary. Its name “Kapuvár” stands for “Gate castle” in the English language. Unfortunately, its castle was demolished, and its stones were used in the Esterházy fortified palace of Kapuvár. Let us remark that it is not the same as the other Esterházy palace called Eszterháza in Fertőd, which is situated 20 kilometers (12 mi) from Kapuvár.  

The COA of Kapuvár

In the marshlands of the Fertő and Hanság rivers, a border fortification was built as early as the Árpád era to protect the area from attacks from the west. Archaeological excavations have been carried out on the hills around the town, known as Földvár (Earth castle) or Feketevár (Black castle), but their medieval role in border defense is not entirely clear. At the site of Földvár, for example, Nováki Gyula found only prehistoric pottery.

Old castle site near Kapuvár Photo: Civertan
In the Hungarian chronicles, it is mentioned already in the 11th century that in 1044, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III, who arrived with King Péter, could not cross the Rábca River at Babót (south of Kapuvár) because of the marshes. In the time of King Géza I, it was called Castrum Porta, Kapuvár in Hungarian. In the absence of archaeological finds, it is difficult to determine whether the hill called Feketevár conceals the remains of an Árpád-era castle.
Kapuvár Photo: Civertan
The castle of Kapu (Castrum Copuu) was first mentioned in a donation letter in 1162, and in 1291 its castellan was mentioned. It was a royal castle with castle estates, but its construction is unknown. The walls, probably of the earth and wood structure typical of the period and probably based on the natural conditions of the area, were surrounded by a central brick or clay building.
Kapuvár Photo: Civertan
Kapuvár was in royal hands until 1387 when King Zsigmond (Sigismund) donated it to the Kanizsa family together with several surrounding villages. They did not live here but used it as their manorial center. However, the inventory book of Kanizsai László IV from 1522, in which the serf services in the villages of the manor were recorded, has survived.
Kapuvár, 1680 Photo:  www.kapuvar.hu
With the extinction of the Kanizsai family, the castle and the manor were acquired by Nádasdy Tamás who married Kanizsai Orsolya. In 1542, as Turkish invasions became more frequent, he sent his loyal man, his “founding architect”, Sennyei Ferenc, to Kapuvár, who set about fortifying the castle. His letters to his liege-lord in 1543 show that he had the moat re-dug and a “latorkert” (the simplest wooden palisade wall) built before it. In 1547 he acquired ammunition and rifles and built a storehouse. From his letters, we know that Italian craftsmen were also employed in the building work. Stone carvers cut door and window frames, presumably in the Renaissance style common at the time. Article XXX of the 1559 Diet also provided for the fortification of the gate. The people of the Rába River region retreated here in case of danger and kept their valuables in the tower.
Kapuvár Photo: www.kapuvar.hu
Young noblemen were also educated in the castle, and the texts also mention the acquisition of books and educators. In the inventory of 1587, in addition to the ‘palace’, cellars, a granary, a flour house, a cabbage house, a pickle house, a merchant’s house, a house of the accountant, a chamberlain’s house, a dungeon house, a baking house, and a kitchen were listed. Whether the Turks actually took it in 1594 and occupied it for four years is doubtful, since in 1597 a document listing the names of the guardsmen of the manor who built the houses alongside the palisade in the castle. At that time, 12 houses are mentioned. In 1608, an ‘outer gatehouse’, an ‘inner gatehouse’, a ‘small house above the inner gate’, a forge, and a winery were listed. In other words, the castle was surrounded by a double wall system.
Kapuvár Photo: Mayer Jácint
In 1663, Nádasdy Ferenc permitted Hajdú soldiers to settle in a deserted place a half kilometer from the castle: there was founded Garta, which was annexed to the town in 1922. In 1668, following a firestorm, Nádasdy III Ferenc had major reconstruction work carried out. This was when the bricks marked CFDNIC 1668 (Comes Franciscus de Nádasd in Capu) were made. The long, single-story Baroque building was also completed at this time.
Kapuvár Photo: Mayer Jácint
Nádasdy, who had been involved in the Wesselényi conspiracy, was executed in 1671, and his estates were acquired by Palatine Esterházy Pál in 1681, thus Kapuvár became part of the Esterházy’s vast estate. Esterházy Pál had the picture of the castle painted by his court artist Matthias Greischer. According to this, the towered palace was surrounded by a wall with four old Italian-style bastions and a fifth bastion stood in front of the gate. The castle also had a chapel. In 1683, it resisted the Turkish-Kuruc troops, who captured many fortifications in their march toward Vienna.
Kapuvár Photo: www.kapuvar.hu
During the Rákóczi War of Independence, Kapuvár was again in the way of military marches. In 1705, the troops of Blind Bottyán, draining the waters of the Rábca and filling the ditches with rushes, forced the garrison to surrender. It was soon recaptured by Guido Starhemberg, and in 1707 it was again in the hands of the Kuruc rebels. Finally, in the summer of 1709, Esterházy Antal, having evacuated Kapuvár, had its walls demolished. In the mid-18th century, the remains were used to build the castle that still stands today in the center of the town. The former moat is now a park, an excellent site for reenactors and festivals.
KapuVára Festival Photo: Kustor Réka Photo HoppáRé
The local reenactors of Kapuvár organized the first historical festival in 2016. These very high-quality festivals show us the fights from the Turkish age. The local Kapuvári Hajdúk (Hajdús of Kapuvár) and the Gartai Muskétások (the Musketmen of Garta) invited 10-15 reenactor clubs to participate in the festivities in 2022, and guests are also arriving from Czechia and Poland. The words of Napoleon could be befitting to describe their activity: “We are small, but we are standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Here is a short video (2018):
More about the festival:
Source: Szibler Gábor and Wikipedia

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Here are a few more pictures of Kapuvár and its festival: