The castle of Bálványos belongs to the village of Bálványosváralja, it is situated in Kolozs county of Transylvania, Romania. In Romanian, it is called Unguraș, in German: Schlosswall. The castle was most likely built after the Mongolian Invasion of 1241, and it was first mentioned in 1269 as “Balwanus” in a document issued by King István V. In this letter, the king gave the castle to Mikud Comes, along with the village of Németi. It was also confirmed in 1270. The castle had an important function as it was defending the salt mines of the area. You can read more about salt mining in Medieval Hungary here:
The place was called “Balvanus” in 1270. According to a document from 1291, the settlers of Désakna did not pay taxes for the mined salt in “Balwanius”. According to a local legend, Voivode László imprisoned Otto, the Bavarian prince in 1307, and the Sacred Crown of Hungary was stored there for a while, too. The settlement was mentioned as “Varallya” in 1308 when it was in the hand of the mighty oligarch Kán László and his sons until 1315.
Later, it became the property of the king around 1321, we meet the settlement’s name in a document as “Waraka / Waralya” in 1332. The place was mentioned as a Hungarian village in 1333 which had a church, too. As for the church, it was founded by the Cistercian monks at the end of the 1200s.
King Zsigmond gave the castle to Voivode Losonci László of Transylvania who owned it between 1387 and 1391, When János, the Voivode’s son died without an heir, the castle returned to the Treasury. Bálványos castle was given to the Szántai Laci brothers in 1406 but we find it in the hand of a man called Dávid in 1409. When his family was discontinued in 1456, King László V. gifted the castle to Losonci Dezsőfi László and Várdai Aladár. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)
King Matthias Corvinus gifted the castle in 1484 to the Voivode of Moldavia who had fled to Transylvania because of the Ottoman Turks. We know the name of the local priest from 1492, he was Bideskúti Mihály. The castle was reinforced in 1529 by the Bishop of Transylvania, he wanted to give it to King Habsburg Ferdinand. However, Bálványos castle was taken in that very year by Farnosi Márton who was the man of King Szapolyai János. It was soon retaken by Gerendi Miklós, though.
The Voivode and his family had owned it until 1536. In 1537, the Voivode of Transylvania, Majláth István laid siege on the castle on behalf of the Hungarian King Szapolyai because the castle was on the usurper King Habsburg Ferdinand’s side. Having taken it, the new owner reinforced the castle. Two years after taking the castle, Majláth sold it to the bishop of Várad, the great statesman called Fráter György for 8,000 gold Forints and in exchange for one more castle called the castle of Borberek at Alvinc.
It was the bishop who used the castle of Bálványos’ stones for building the castle of Szamosújvár aka “Új (New) Bálványos”. This bishop, also called Fráter György, was the man without who the Principality of Transylvania wouldn’t have been born. Later he was assassinated by King Habsburg Ferdinand in 1552 in his palace at Alvinc. After this, the people of Bálványosváralja embraced the Reformed faith.
The place was mentioned as “Varalja” in 1584. Later, the name of the settlement appears in 1808 as Bálványosváralja, Schlosswall, and Ungurás. We know, that the Reformed church of the village was rebuilt in 1643, and renovated in 1761. Misztótfalusi Kis Miklós, a renowned printer, and typographer had a property in the settlement in 1692. He left behind fame and wealth and returned from Amsterdam to Transylvania to help his people. His goal was to give a small, affordable Bible to everybody: he found a wife (Székely Mária) in Bálványosváralja who supported his plan from the income of her water mill.
In 1910, there were 1672 inhabitants in the village, mostly Hungarian people. In 1996, the Reformed Church of Bálványosváralja placed a marble Memorial Plaque and a carved wooden pole called “kopjafa” on the site of Bálványos castle. There was an archeological excavation on the castle hill in 2000 and in 2001, with the help of the Boyscouts. They discovered the stone pavement of the castle yard and a few sections of the wall, and the cellar of the tower. They found pieces of pottery and a bronze coin minted by King Lajos II of Hungary in 1524.
Source: Wikipedia and http://www.balvanyosvaralja.hu
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Here are a few pictures of Bálványos: