Élesd (Aleșd ) is a city located in Transylvania, Romania. It is on the northern fringe of the Transylvanian Apuseni Mountains (Munții Apuseni, Szigethegység). Its name coming from the Hungarian word for „éles” (meaning: sharp).
The castle stands on the top of a 60-meter-high cliff. The castle also can be found under the name of Sólyomköpestes. It was first mentioned in 1291 and it is thought that Élesd survived the Mongolian invasion of 1241-42. The ruined castle of Sólyomkővár (roughly: „hawk-stone-castle”) is situated on a hilltop next to the city. It used to be the economic and military center of the surrounding villages of the Réz (Copper) Mountain for four hundred years.
The first owners were from the Geregye clan who derived from the Trans-Danubian Region of Hungary. It was Geregye Pál, son of Écs (1224-1264) who got hold of Élesd and attached it to his castle`s domain.
Geregye Miklós built the Castle of Sólyomkővár along with the castles of Adorján, Körössebes, Alsóvalkó, and Váralmás in the second part of the 13th century. As the family took part in a plot against King László IV, they lost their lands and the king gave the castle to the Borsa family.
Borsa Jákób (Kopasz) rebelled against King Róbert Károly so his castle was besieged and he had to surrender it in 1318. There were many owners during the next 200 years, including the Losonczi, the Bánffy, and the Drágffy families as well as Szántai Lack Jakab in the 15th century.
The castle went to the Báthory family of Somlyó in 1557 but Prince Bocskai István got it in 1599 who significantly improved the conditions of the walls. There came many new owners again, like Prince Báthori Gábor.
Lady Zólyomi Erzsébet was one of the owners in 1631 whose second husband, Gavrilaș Movilă, the Voivode of Wallachia enlarged the size of her domains. The Ottomans could take the castle without a siege in 1660 because the priest of Prince Kemény János surrendered it at the first asking. The Turks owned it until 1692.
When Várad was retaken from the Turks in 1692, there were only 9 people left alive in Élesd city but the place got soon resettled. Prince Rákóczi György II inherited it in 1703. There was a small battle near Élesd in 1709 when the rebel Kuruc captain called Bagossi András and his 500 riders attacked the army of General Kriechbaumm who had 3,000 men. The daring attackers were defeated.
The castle was pulled down in 1711 by the order of Captain Löwenburg. It was the time when all castles were pulled down in Transylvania which had been in the hands of rebelling Hungarians against the Habsburgs. It was how the castles of Kiskereki, Szentjobb, and Sebesvár disappeared, too.
Now, you can see just a few ruins of a chapel near the remnants of the castle. The chapel:
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