Uzhgorod Castle is one of the best preserved medieval fortifications on the territory of Ukraine. It is located in Zakarpattya. The castle was built in the Middle Ages by the magnates Druet, and then rebuilt several times.
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The fortress is located in the heart of the city of Uzhgorod on a hill of volcanic origin in a very convenient location: at the junction of mountains and lowlands.
Today the halls of Uzhgorod Castle house museum exhibitions: a collection of firearms, a collection of coins, household items, bronze jewelry, etc. Visitors can also see Uzhgorod Castle in miniature. It is a model of a castle protected by a glass sarcophagus. It is said that foreigners wanted to buy it and offered a lot of money to the museum. The museum administration refused.
In addition to the architecture itself, the paintings of the former chapel of the theological seminary, made by Ferdinand Vidproy in 1857, are also noteworthy.
To the southeast of the palace are visible ruins of the Catholic Cathedral from the 14th century, where on April 24, 1646, the Uzhhorod Church Unia was adopted.
The basement of the cathedral for a long time served as a burial place for members of the Drugeth family. And later – the families Barkovtsy, Shenney and Orosi.
In the courtyard of the castle there are beautiful works of local ironwork from the mid-19th century: “Hercules and the Hydra of Lernaeus” and “Hermes the Resting Man”.
The history of the castle is closely intertwined with the history of Uzhgorod. Slavic Croatian tribes founded the first settlements here. In the IX century, there was already a wooden fortification. The ancient written sources tell about it, in particular the “Acts of the Ugric”. The Tale of Bygone Years tells about the attack on the local inhabitants by the Hungarians (Ugric). In the beginning of X century, Ugry pass through the Carpathian pass and defeated the army of the Slavic prince Laborets in the territory of the present Slovakia. The prince died not far from the river, which was later named after him – Laborets.
Since that time the Hungarian crown took possession of Uzhgorod lands and the fortress. The construction of a sturdier stone fortification instead of the wooden one was caused by the desire to strengthen the borders in the unstable war times. Thus, the new Uzhgorod Castle appeared.
In 1322 the Hungarian King Karl Robert presented the castle with the adjoining areas to the noble family Drugeths as a sign of gratitude. The Drugeths helped to put down a rebellion against the king. For more than 360 years Uzhgorod Castle was their residence. Above the arch that leads to the courtyard of the castle, there is the Drugetes’ coat of arms, four thrushes. The Drugeths repeatedly strengthened and reconstructed the Uzhgorod castle in order to strengthen its defense capacity. Large-scale construction works were carried out in 1598. At that time more powerful walls were built at a certain distance from the castle and bastions in the corners, where the cannons were installed.
In 1653 the castle was fortified again. The defense system was very well thought out. The Uzhgorod castle was surrounded by an earthen moat, and the territory was accessible only through a lifting bridge. Even the walls of the citadel itself were impressive. Their thickness reached 3 meters! As a result of all the fortifications, Uzhgorod Castle became a mighty, invincible fortress. Under the Drugeths, it was never captured.
The last of the Drugeth family married Miklosh Bercheni, who became the new owner of the castle in 1692. Bercheni was a fellow thinker of Ferenc Rakoczi II, who led the anti-Habsburg rebellion. Under Bercheni, the Uzhgorod Castle became a stronghold of the rebellion. After the end of the rebellion Miklosh Bercheni began rebuilding the castle. It was he who gave the formidable stronghold a certain elegance and luxurious look. The Uzhgorod Castle became a center of social life in the city.
By the end of the 1770s Uzhgorod Castle finally lost its defensive purpose, and was transferred to the Greek Catholic diocese. In 1947, a museum was opened there.
Uzhgorod Castle has an irregular quadrangle, because of the relief of the Castle Mountains. From three sides the construction was surrounded by a ditch, 8-10 meters deep, through which an elevating bridge was thrown to the entrance gate. Even now we can see the depressions for the chains, which were lifted in case of necessity. The palace is located opposite the entrance gate, in the northeastern part of the complex, above the precipice of Castle Mountain. Palace is a somewhat stiff word for this austere two-story building with four corner towers. The walls are 2.5-3 meters thick, and there are loopholes here and there instead of windows. And it seems that it is not a palace, but a donjon, a citadel, a castle within a castle, the most fortified part of Ungvar’s fortifications. The palace has a courtyard with a well hollowed out in the rock. There are secret passages in the walls of the structure, by which one could pass from one floor of the palace to another.
Uzhgorod Castle Legends
The legend of the White Maiden. In the XVII century the castle was owned by Captain Drugett. The fame of the beauty of his daughter spread throughout Zakarpattya and reached even foreign lands. The Polish armies of Prince Lubomirski were sweeping across the region, approaching Ungvar. One of the Polish nobles headed to the city with a secret mission. It is not known how it happened, but the young daughter of Druget fell in love with a Pole and gave him all the secrets of the castle. When the furious father found out about his daughter’s betrayal, he ordered her to be walled up alive in the castle wall. Ever since, there has been no rest for the soul of the maiden. She wanders the castle corridors at night as a white shadow, seeking salvation.
The second legend is also about a girl who fell in love not with a Pole, but with her father’s servant. As fate would have it, he ended up in the rebel camp against his master. Unable to bear the separation, his beloved, neglecting the danger, told him where they would meet in the evening – near a lonely oak that grew in the middle of a clearing near the castle. Why there? Because there was a secret passage leading to it. But his father found out about it, and the lad, instead of his beloved, saw before him three servants loyal to the lord, who managed to track down the girl as she made her way to the meeting. In the castle, in front of the girl, her lover was executed, and the unfortunate woman was walled up alive in the castle wall. Since then, the girl’s ghost has been searching for her lover every night.
Address: 33 Kapitulna St., Uzhgorod city, Transcarpathian region Tel: +38 (03122) 3-45-42, 3-44-42 Opening hours: 10.00-17.00 Holiday: Monday.
Uzhgorod Castle in Uzhgorod, description and photo
|Uzhhorod Castle – the main building|
|Interior of the castle palace Uzhhorod castle|
The most valuable exhibit of the Transcarpathian Regional Museum of Local Lore of the Transcarpathian Regional Council is undoubtedly the Uzhhorod Castle of the XV-XVIII centuries, which is the oldest and most valuable historical and architectural structure of the city of Uzhhorod. Mentions of the existence of the Gung fortification at the time of the Hungarians’ passage through the Carpathian passes to the Tisza-Danube lowland at the end of the IX century are found in the Hungarian chronicles of the XIII century, which also describe the courageous Slavic prince Laborets. The prince’s wife was defeated by the Hungarians, and Laborets himself was killed in eastern Slovakia near the river, which is now called Laborets. The Uzh flows into the Laborets river. At the end of the XIII – beginning of the XIV century Uzhhorod castle was significantly strengthened, the construction of a stone fortress began. Perhaps it was then that a church was built in the courtyard of Uzhhorod castle, the foundation of which can be seen now. At least from 1284 there is a document that mentions the priest of this church Stefan. Later, in 1646, the Uzhhorod Union was adopted in this church, and in 1996, great celebrations were held in the castle to mark the anniversary of the Union.
|Uzhhorod castle – engraving|
|the beginning of the exhibition on the history of religion and spiritual culture of Transcarpathia Transcarpathian Museum of Local Lore|
|gallery of the castle palace Uzhhorod castle|
During its existence, the fortress has undergone numerous reconstructions. In 1653, the outer defensive walls were strengthened, in 1658 the entrance to the fortress was built, as evidenced by the inscription above the entrance arch “A.D. 1658”. Apparently, at the same time an open fireplace was built on the left side of the entrance, near which the guards warmed themselves. On the right side, at the base of the inner arch, there is a large stone with a hole carved in it, where torches were extinguished. A little earlier, in 1598, the entrance to the main building and the main building of the castle palace was built. Above the entrance gate of the building there is the date 1598, when one of the reconstructions was completed. Above the date, four starlings are depicted – the Druget family coat of arms. On both sides of the coat of arms, as well as in the basement tier from the side of the moat, loopholes can be seen.
|Four starlings – the coat of arms of the Drugets Uzhhorod castle|
|Competition of knights – tournament during the “Day of Museums” Uzhhorod castle|
|Statue of Hercules in the courtyard of the castle Uzhhorod castle|
|Uzhhorod Castle – bird’s eye view|
At the end of the XVI century the castle finally acquired its modern look. On three sides the fortress was surrounded by a dry moat cut into the rock 15-20 meters wide and 5-10 meters deep, and from the northeast it was protected by a steep cliff. The fortress encloses an area of two and a half hectares. The palace itself stands on the edge of the steep northern slope of the Castle Hill. It is a massive two-story building in the Renaissance style. Its forms repeat the outlines of the fortress. In case the enemy captured the fortress walls, the castle could defend itself further. It, like the outer fortifications, was also surrounded on three sides by moats, through which a bridge was thrown from the east. At first it was suspended, nowadays instead of it an ordinary wooden bridge on supports was built.
|Castle wall in winter – Uzhhorod castle|
|The pentagonal shape of Uzhhorod Castle|
|The main entrance to Uzhhorod castle|
Externally, Uzhhorod Castle looks like a powerful defensive structure in the form of a trapezoid, at each corner of which there are bastions, slightly extended towards the moat and connected by a fortress wall. Artillery was installed on the corner towers, which kept under fire all the approaches to the castle. The fifth bastion, keel-shaped, is located on the northern facade of the castle. Next to this bastion there was once another gate leading to the castle, its traces have survived to this day. It connected the castle with the outer, so-called “hussar” castle, built of wood. Inside the Uzhhorod castle there is a patio measuring 25 by 25 meters with a well that supplied the garrison with water. It is hollowed out in the rock more than 40 meters deep, of which 17 is the water trunk. Under the ground there are spacious cellars-casemates that served as storage rooms. In the right wing of the castle there was a prison with a torture chamber. An outbuilding adjoins the castle from the east. It was built as a one-story building, later the second floor was added. A residential superstructure was also built on the southeastern bastion. Of the outbuildings, the stable in the southwestern corner of the courtyard survived.
|Towers of the Uzhhorod castle palace|
|Bastions and castle wall with a moat in front of them Uzhhorod castle|
There are more than 40 rooms in the palace. The largest hall of the castle, the so-called knight’s hall, located on the second floor, was turned into an inner chapel. In 1857 it was painted by Ferdinand Vydra. Around the same time, the neighboring halls were decorated with molding, painting, gold leaf. Now this decor has been partially restored.