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Sárospatak-medieval Castle

Sárospatak, Hungary


Sárospatak-medieval Castle

Sárospatak is situated in the northeastern corner of Hungary, at the foot of the Zemplén Hills and on the edge of the Great Hungarian Plane. The town, spread on both sides of the river Bodrog, is known for its famous schools and hence sometimes is referred to as the Athens on the river Bodrog. The attractive natural environment of the town, its history and historic monuments, and its closeness to three foreign borders make it an ideal destination for tourists. The territory of the town belonged to the crown from the eleventh century on, with a royal manor-house, chapel, and a market place at the shallows on the Bodrog, as the centre of the estate. There is knowledge of earlier fortifications with reference to Patak in their name, these, however, did not stand here. The present castle was built when the estate went into the possession of Peter Perényi, keeper of the crown, after the battle of Mohács. He had the centre and the southern section of the mediaeval town fortified by walls, a moat, and bastions. His new residence with a donjon was built in the southeast corner of the new fortification. Between 1534 and 1537 Péter Perényi had the Red Tower and the adjoining fortifications built(inner court) and by 1541 the town walls were also finished. The evidence of certain stoneworks finds suggesting that east palace wing was started by him in 1540 and finished by his son Gábor Perényi in 1563. The latter with the late Renaissance carved stoneworks and ornaments is an outstanding and unique architectural example of that era in Hungary.
In the course of time, the castle was repeatedly rebuilt, and redecorated, thus yielding to new demands and the change of taste. The golden age of the castle was the seventeenth century. At this time it became, as part of Zsuzsanna Lorántffy’s dowry, part of the Rákóczi estate, and as such, the centre of political resistance. By the beginning of the seventeenth century members of the Rákóczi family were among the leading politicans of the country. They possessed vast estates in Transylvania and northern Hungary. For five generations they were Princes of Transylvania and for almost a hundred years they ruled over Patak. Under György I. Rákóczi, and his wife Patak was the seat of the principality. In 1642 the reception room with the Turkish ceramic tile decoration was built, a year later the principal rooms on the second storey of the south wing were finished, while the Lorantffy loggia was completed in 1646, and the outer fortifications were strengthend. István Bocskai, Gábor Bethlen, Comenius were guests here, and important historic events took place within its walls. Among others, zhe Wesselényi conspiracy in the Sub Rosa room, the wedding of Zsigmond Rákóczi and Henriette of Pfalz should definitely be mentioned, but the Kurucz uprising in the Tokaj region, or the 1708 national assembly of the Rákóczi war of independence are also closely related to the castle. The present appearance of the building was formed during nineteenth century renovations carried out by the Betzlheim family, owners at the time, in the Romantic-Historic style of the day. The last proprietor was the Windischgraetz family who used the place till 1945. After 1950 the building was turned into a museum, and has become the number one Rákóczi shrine in the country.

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