Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Bethlenszentmiklós (Szentmiklós, Sânmiclăus, Betelsdorf or Miklosdorf) is in Transylvania, Romania. It is 15 km from Balázsfalva (Blaj, Blasendorf) to the northeast. The place originally belonged to the Küküllő Castle. It was a Saxon settlement and it was first mentioned in 1309 as “villa Sancti Nicolai” Its priest was a Saxon man who was mentioned among the Saxon priests who denied paying taxes to the Catholic church.  

It was called Miklosdorf in 1332 and paid 40 denarii as a tax to the Pope. The settlement (Zenthmyklos) was gifted to Lord Bethlen Gergely in 1390 by Hungarian King Sigismund. At that time, it was called Zenthmyklos. Later, the name gives us a hint about its inhabitants: it was called Zaz (Saxon) Zenthmyklos and Olah (Wallachian) Zent Myklos in 1491.  It was Lord Bethlen Farkas who built a fort at this place in the 16th century but the fortifications cannot be seen now. Note, that I am intentionally using the Eastern name order for Hungarians where family names come first.

Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Now, there is only a ruined and abandoned Renaissance palace standing proudly in the middle of a field. The building can be described as a late Renaissance or an early Baroque palace. It was planned and built by the Hungarian aristocrat Bethlen Miklós between 1668-1683 and it was allowed to crumble down between 1945-2016. Bethlen Miklós had traveled to Italy and to western Europe where he was inspired. Later, he was the Chief Captain of Udvarhelyszék and he lived in the palace between 1642 and 1716. You can read more about the Hungarian Székely people of Transylvania here:

The building is a nice example of how the local Transylvanian tradition was mixed with Italian Renaissance architectural elements and early Baroque styles. The castle used to be surrounded by two lines of walls and five bastions but now they are gone.  The last major renovation after 1760 took place in 1806. After the Bethlen family, the Brukenthal family inherited the property in the 19th century, then the Saxon Evangelic Church owned it.

Even today 70% of the village next to the fort is Hungarian-populated. The building became state property after 1945 but the Romanian state didn’t really care about it: it served as a pigsty, and later as a kindergarten and what’s not. Hopefully, it is to be renovated since it has become private property.

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Here are more pictures of the Bethlen Palace of Bethlenszentmiklós: