Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Nagyvázsony is in Hungary, it is north of Lake Balaton. It houses Kinizsi Castle, a 15th-century fortification donated by King Matthias Corvinus to Kinizsi Pál in 1472. Kinizsi was his ingenious general who was also famous for his immense physical strength. As for Vázsony castle, the area used to belong to the Vezsenyi Clan, as they were mentioned in the documents of the 12th century. It is assumed that they had the tower of the castle built. We know, that Vezsenyi László was granted by Queen Maria in 1384 to build a castle on the Szabad-hegy (Free Hill). However, a high priest, the Chapter of Veszprém had it stopped in 1386 so a few years later the landlord began to construct the tower at Vázsony instead of it. 

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The oblong fort with its once 25-meter-high tower was built on a low mound above the Séd Stream. As usual, the tower was the dwelling place of the lord of the castle. A stone wall surrounded the tower, with an additional tower that was guarding the gate on the Eastern side. One could enter the lord’s tower via a stand-alone drawbridge as the door was on the second floor.

In the tower, a winding staircase led to the well downstairs and to the higher floors. Later, a terrace for a cannon was built next to the tower. The knightly hall was on the third floor while the lady of the castle lived a floor higher. She had access to a necessary room that was projecting above the southern wall. It was not lucky walking under it.

We cannot find Vázsony castle in the list of castles made in 1437. We find its name mentioned as “Castrum Wasonkew” only in 1467. Its castellan was Udvary Pál at that time. Vezsenyi László was the last male heir of Vázsony castle, a faithful man of King Matthias Corvinus. He has several times acted as the king’s envoy to Rome and Venice. When he died in 1472, his king inherited his lands and his castle. 

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Then, Matthias gave it immediately to his famous general, Lord Kinizsi who became its owner in 1472. In fact, Kinizsi Pál was the one who had the simple fortification built into a knightly castle. We have to mention the moat that was fed by a source that sprang into the town. This spring provided the water for the castle’s cistern, too. Kinizsi also had a two-story-high palace built at the old tower. There were 4-6 larger rooms on each floor.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The knightly hall was relocated into the palace and there was a chapel as well. Now, Kinizsi’s sarcophagus can be found in this chapel. Four-meter-wide ramparts ran around the inner walls and loopholes were cut for the firearms. Kinizsi had four small round towers built on the corners of the castle and also enlarged the fort with outer walls. After 1490, a horseshoe-shaped bastion was erected to guard the gate while a palisade was added to the outer walls.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Kinizsi had taken part in the king’s campaign against Moldova and took the castles of Nyitra and Hubina back from the Polish in 1471 so he must have deserved the castle of Vázsony from Matthias. Later, he was with the king at the retaking of Szabács castle from the Turks in 1476, and he was one of the heroes of the Austrian campaign during the next year.

He became the Chief Captain of the Southern Region of Hungary as well as the Chief Comes of Temes County in 1478. He defeated the Ottomans at Kenyérmező (Breadfield) who were thus forced to ask for terms of peace in 1483. He died in 1494 and was buried in the Pauline church of Vázsony. You can read more about him here:

 Kinizsi’s widow, Lady Benigna half a year later became the wife of Kamácsáci Horváth Márk but he died in 1508. The next year, she gave her hand to Kereki Gergely who was a real robber-knight. Lady Begina has had enough and she had his husband killed in 1519. She was sentenced to death and all her properties were confiscated but King Louis II pardoned her, out of respect for her late husband, Kinizsi’s deeds.

After the Battle of Mohács, Vázsony castle stood abandoned but King Szapolyai soon gave it to Kinizsi’s former castellan, Bodó Ferenc in 1527. A year later, King Ferdinand seized control over the area and he gave Vázsony to the Horváth brothers.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

During the years of Ottoman expansion, Vázsony became an important Borderland castle. It was under the command of the Captain of Pápa castle. The castle itself was neither modern nor strong but it guarded two important roads. When Veszprém castle was taken by the Turks in 1593, the soldiers had the monastery blown up, fearing that the Turks might use it as a fort, and fled. 
(Nagy)Vázsony was a town with weekly markets; the Turks frequently took it and lost it during the 16th century. It was finally liberated in 1598.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The Hajdú soldiers of Prince Bocskai István marched in Vázsony in 1605 and the guards opened the gates before the troops of Prince Bethlen Gábor of Transylvania in 1620 as well. As for the castle’s rebuilding, one more floor was built on the top of the large tower in the 17th century, and the walls were reinforced, too. The castle went to the Zichy István in 1649 and it was attacked once more by the Ottomans in 1663 and the enemy managed to put the fort on fire. However, the castle had Imperial guards in it. The rebel “kuruc” troops of Prince Thököly Imre, led by Barkóczy Ferenc took the castle away from the Imperial soldiers in 1683.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

 The castle still had some military role in the War of Independence led by Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II but after 1711 it had no more function. Its tower was used as a prison, then a gin producer rented it. After the fire in 1857, only the battered tower was standing. The still habitable rooms were given to old servants. The last family moved out in 1955. Now, the castle is being renovated (with lots of concrete, sadly) and many festivals are held there.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

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Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Here are more pictures of Nagyvázsony Castle, from 2022: