Photo: Cristian Chirita

The Renaissance castle of Gyalu (Gilău, Julmarkt) is located in Transylvania, Romania. It is 17 kilometers from Kolozsvár (Cluj, Klausenburg) to the west.

The first captain of Gyalu was mentioned in 1439. The castle belonged to the Bishop of Várad and then to the Bishop of Transylvania. In 1556 it became the property of the Chamber of Transylvania. The Kendi family owned it at the beginning of the 16th century. It was here that Prince Báthory Zsigmond had Kendi Ferenc and Bornemissza János executed for conspiring with the Ottoman Turks in 1594. It was a bloody business of Báthory because there was no trial. He wanted to prepare for his war against the Ottomans, which ended with the defeat of Mezőkeresztes in 1596.

You can read about this battle in my book:

“33 Castles, Battles, Legends”

Finally, Prince Báthory returned the castle to the Bishop of Transylvania. Nobody liked Prince Báthory Zsigmond, especially not the Székelys. He ruined his country. In April 1598, Zsigmond resigned as prince of Transylvania in favor of the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II (who was also the king of Hungary); he reversed his decision in October 1598 and then resigned again in favor of Cardinal Báthory András, his cousin. Not much later, the Wallachian Voivode Vitez Mihail attacked Transylvania and, with the help of Emperor Rudolf, briefly seized the throne.

Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Gyalu, along with other settlements, was destroyed by Voivode Vitez Mihail in 1599. Later, Michael, allied with the emperor’s general Basta, defeated the Hungarian army in the battle of Goroszló in 1601. A few days later, Basta, who wanted to control Transylvania himself, ordered Michael’s assassination.

Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Prince Báthory Zsigmond resigned and left Transylvania forever. As for Gyalu, he had given it to Bishop Naprágyi Demeter before his departure. Naprágyi became an outcast in 1601 and the new owner of Gyalu became Kamuthi Farkas, who managed to get it from Báthory Gábor. Then Prince Bocskai István, once the strong general of Prince Báthory Zsigmond, took the castle of Gyalu in 1605. The heyday of Transylvania came only after the consolidation carried out by Bocskai and a few years later it became the fairy garden of Europe during the reign of Prince Bethlen Gábor.

Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Prince Rákóczi György II was defeated and killed near Gyalu in the battle of Szászfenes against the Ottomans in 1660. Later the village became the property of the Barcsay family. The next owner of Gyalu was Count Losonczi Bánffy Dénes of Doboka. Gyalu was the place where Bánffy György, Governor of Transylvania, held his splendid wedding in 1702. During the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II (1703-1711), the rebel Hungarian “kuruc” troops besieged the castle of Gyalu, but they could take it only after a long time.

Gyalu castle

The second floor of the castle was demolished in 1836, and in 1861 there was a big fire that destroyed the roof. After the fire, the moat was filled in and a park was created around the building. The Bánffy family got the castle back after 1850. In 1911 they made a big reconstruction. Then Tamás Barcsay married Bánffy Katinka, and so the Barcsay family owned Gyalu Castle until 1948. The castle was reclaimed by the members of the Barcsay family, but its return has been hindered since 2002.

You can read more about Prince Barcsay on my page:

We have an update from December 2023: The technical handover of one of the largest listed castles in Transylvania, Gyalu Castle, has been completed. The castle will be open to the public after the inauguration ceremony scheduled for next spring. You can find the latest pictures in the Gallery. (Photos: Kiss Gábor, source )

Gyalu, 2023 December Photo: Kiss Gábor

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My books "33 Castles, Battles, Legends" and "The Ring of Kékkő Castle"
My books “33 Castles, Battles, Legends” and “The Ring of Kékkő Castle”

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Many pictures are from the Castle Coalition page where you can learn more about Transylvanian castles:

Here are a few more pictures of Gyalu: