Photo: Andrei Dan Suciu

Fogaras castle (Făgăraș, Fugreschmarkt) is in Transylvania, in Romania. It is situated on the northern side of the Fogarasi Mountains in a strategic location as it is guarding the road leading from Brassó (Brasov, Kronstadt) to Szeben (Sibiu, Hermannstadt). The Olt River flows through the settlement. It was a key fort during the period of the Transylvanian Principality, it had six major sieges in the 16th-17th centuries. As for Brassó, you can read about it here:

The first builder of the initial wooden castle (1227-1233) may have been Master Pós (Pous), the nephew of Comes Bás who derived from the Újlaki line of the Csák Clan. Due to the Mongol invasion in 1241, the local Hungarians were wiped out and people from Wallachia and Moldova began to settle in the area. The town was first mentioned in 1291. The new castle was built in 1310 by the Transylvanian Voivode Kán László. Voivode László (Vlad) of Wallachia was a liege lord of the Hungarian king who awarded him the Prince of Fogaras title in 1372.

Fogaras castle belonged to the Wallachian voivodes in the 14th century until King Matthias Corvinus got it back in 1464 and gifted it to Lord Geréb János. Later it went to Corvin János but after he died in 1505 it was given to Bornemissza János. Lord Bornemissza appointed Tomori Pál as its castellan. As Tomori died in the Battle of Mohács in 1526, Fogaras finally was gained by the Majláth family. (Note, I am using the Oriental name order for Hungarian names.) Soon, it was given to Nádasdy Tamás, however, Majláth gained it again through marriage.

Photo: Bogdan Toma

 Lord Majláth had the former wooden fort pulled down and he was the one who built the two-story-high stone-brick castle between 1535-1540. He had it surrounded by a moat, too. Lord Majláth rebelled against King Szapolyai in 1539 and took himself in Fogaras. Lord Török Bálint laid a siege on it in 1540 and the Ottomans were also trying to get it, in vain. Majláth survived the sieges that occurred almost every year. At last, the Pasha Mustapha lured Majláth out from his eagle-nest and trapped him. The rebelling lord was taken to Istanbul where he died in 1550.

Photo: Sailko

  After her husband’s death, Majláth’s widow, Nádasdy Anna, and later her son, Gábor owned Fogaras castle. Gábor sold it to Prince János Zsigmond of Transylvania, Elected (and not crowned) King of Hungary. The prince gave 300,000 gold Forints for the fort, then he pledged it to Békés Gáspár for the same amount in 1567. Lord Békés wanted to usurp the throne of Transylvania and it was Prince Báthori István (later Polish king) who took Fogaras by siege and beat Békés out from there in 1573. You can read my dramatized short story about the events leading to Báthori’s successful career:

The fort was quite ruined after the siege so Báthori had it restored. After 1588 the castle became the traditional property of the wife of the Transylvanian Prince. Fogaras was a symbolic fort: whoever owned it, was the second most important man in the Principality of Transylvania. The princes heavily relied on the military help of the commander of Fogaras who was many times in charge of the Transylvanian army. Prince Báthori Zsigmond’s cousin, Boldizsár owned the castle between 1588-94. It was Boldizsár who had the double-lined arcades built on the southern wing of the palace. Then, Prince Zsigmond had him strangled and Fogaras with its 64 villages belonging to it became his property.

Photo: Mihai Solom

Prince Zsigmond gave Fogaras to his wife, the Austrian Duchess Maria Cristierna. Voivode Micheil Vitezul took the castle in 1599 and he also gave it to his wife. When he was defeated in the Battle of Miriszló on 18 September 1600, he took himself to Fogaras, then he left Transylvania for a while through the Bodza Pass of the Carpathian Mountains. Upon his leaving, the Chief Captain of the Country, Csáky István took over the castle. Later, during the reign of Prince Bocskai, the German guards opened the gate of Fogaras in 1605 before the Transylvanian troops led by Gyulaffy László. 

Prince Bethlen Gábor had the castle rebuilt in 1623 and gave it to his second wife, Catherine of Brandenburg. She passed it on to Lady Lórántffy Zsuzsanna in 1630, the wife of Prince Rákóczi György I. She was the one who established a school there for the Wallachian (Romanian) people in 1657. Pasha Kücsük Mehmet took the castle in 1661. The Ottomans ceded it to Prince Apafi Mihály I. Prince Apafi held ten Diets in Fogaras.

According to tradition, Prince Apafi gave the castle to his wife, Lady Bornemissza Anna. Then, the fort was inherited by Prince Apafi Mihály II. When he died, the castle returned to the ownership of the Treasury. The Treaty of Fogaras was made here in 1675 when the French and the Polish kings agreed to support the rebel Hungarian “kuruc” forces. Another treaty was signed here, in 1688, in which the Hungarian nobles ceded Transylvania to the Habsburgs. It was Empress Maria Theresia who pledged Fogaras and its lands for 99 years to the Saxons in 1762, for 80,000 Gold Forints.

Photo: Zsolt Deak

The moat of the fort was 50-70 meters wide and 6 meters deep, the Olt River was led into it. The walls were 6-meter-high and the bastions were 10-meter-high. Six cannons were deployed on each bastion. Now, there is a nice museum in the Renaissance castle and a hotel for tourists.

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My books "33 Castles, Battles, Legends" and "The Ring of Kékkő Castle"
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Here are a few pictures of Fogaras: