Bonchida in 1902 (by Cserna Károly)

The castle and the Renaissance palace of Bonchida (Bruck) can be found in Transylvania, Romania. It is situated on the right bank of the Kis-Szamos River. I found you a nice video about it with English subtitles:

Bonchida in 2014 (Photo: Daria Virbanescu)

Bonchida was first mentioned in 1263 as “terra Bonchhyda” and was mentioned in documents as “Bonchyda” in 1307, too. The place became the property of the Hungarian Bánffy family in the 14th century. It had been their village for 600 years and its castle or rather a fortified Renaissance palace castle used to be the Bánffy family’s fort. It had been often referred to as the “Versailles” of Transylvania. Originally, the basic fort was built between 1437 and 1543 by the Bánffy family.

It is known that there was a larger stately home in the first part of the 16th century, built above a previous fort from the age of King Ulászló. Bánffy Dénes began the reinforcement of the palace in 1650, using the stones of the ruined Doboka castle for it. It was built in the Renaissance style of Transylvania: it was fortified with round towers on its four corners with a Renaissance inner yard. There was a semi-circle-shaped big front yard outside the palace and a tower gate that could be approached by a wooden drawbridge.

Transylvania’s first man, Bánffy György, Chief Governor of Transylvania, continued the construction in 1690. The palace was actively used in the war of independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II, between 1704-1711. As a result of this, it was heavily damaged and was rebuilt in the late-Renaissance style by Bánffy György. (I am intentionally using the Eastern name order for Hungarian names.) However, it was turned into a Baroque palace in 1748-53 by Dénes, the son of György. He was the one who built spacy stables for his famous horses, in the place of old trenches. 

2017 (Photo: Tetcu Mircea Rares)

It was due to him that the palace became a fabulous and renowned building in Transylvania. He had the old tower gate replaced with a new, ornamented gate. Additionally, his sculptor, Johannes Nachtigall created 32 statues on the top of the horseshoe-shaped buildings. The interior of the palace was equally luxurious and it also boasted a rich library. It was quite matchless in Transylvania in the 18th century. 

in 1890

Later, the palace was enlarged with additions in the Classicist and Romantique styles. The last owner of the castle was Bánffy Miklós (1874-1950), a writer who was one of the establishers of the literary magazine called “Transylvanian Helikon” in 1928. During WWII, the Nazis looted and burned the buildings in 1944. Most sadly, the villagers used the stones of the castle as a building material in the 1950s. On top of that, the castle was put on fire intentionally in the 1960s as part of filmmaking. Lady Bánffy Katalin returned to Romania after the 1990s and sued the castle back; she began restoring it in 2001. Now, you can see the old and the newer pictures alike. The palace was put on the list of the world’s 100 most endangered palaces in 1999. Now (2022), you can see major constructions taking place, thankfully.

Photo: Tetcu Mircea Rares

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Thanks to Tudor Mihalca, we have a few more new pictures of Bonchida: