Corvin Castle (“Castelul Huniazilor” in Romanian, “Hunyadi vár” in Hungarian) or Hunyadi Castle is a late Gothic and Renaissance fortification in Hunedoara County, Romania, one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.
The construction of Corvin Castle began in the 1440s, on the orders of John Huniade (Romanian: Ioan/Iancu de Hunedoara, Hungarian: Hunyadi János), the father of the future king Matthias Corvinus (Romanian: Matia Corvinul, Hungarian: Corvin Mátyás), who was subsequently elected as regent-governor of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1446. Hunedoara was granted to the Huniade family by king Sigmund of Hungary in 1409 and was the site of a former 11th century royal fortification which by that time had fallen into destitution. Initially, it was designed as a defence fortress and a prison. The towers often held captive war prisoners as well as ordinary criminals. Nevertheless, as one of the most important properties of John Hunyadi, the castle was transformed during his reign. It became a sumptuous home, gradually losing its military and strategic role. Following the death of John Corvin, the illegitimate son of king Matthias in 1504, the castle’s ownership passed to other families, changing hands repeatedly over the next centuries.
The castle was thoroughly modified during the 17th century, when it changed owners numerous times over a short period. Its proprietors included the Bethlen and Báthory families, famous for providing some of the most important princes of Transylvania. In 1854 a devastating fire destroyed large parts of the castle, prompting large-scale restoration works in 1868, which lasted for decades. Further restoration works were carried out between 1956 and 1968, resulting in the current appearance of the castle.
With the passing of the years, the masters of the castle had been modifying its appearance, adding towers, halls and guest rooms. The gallery, the keep, the last defence tower which remained unchanged from John Huniade’s time, and the Capistrano Tower are some of the most significant parts of the complex. Other significant parts of the building are the Knights’ Hall (a reception hall), the Club Tower and the White bastion, which served as food storage. In the wing of the castle called ‘the Mantle’ one can see a painting that portrays the legend of the raven from which the name of John Hunyadi’s descendants, Corvinus, was derived. Today, the castle receives hundreds of tourists every day, many of them unaware of the fact that they are treading in the footsteps of some of the most important rulers of medieval Europe.