My first encounter with the Banffy Castle in Bontida took place years ago, on a warm April day on the way up to Maramures. Only 30 km away from Cluj Napoca, the castle in Bontida is hidden to the right of the road that leads to Gherla. You can see it from the road, but in order to reach it, you must detour through the Bontida Commune. Once you turn right, the road leads you to the castle, and you can orient yourself by its position. There are no signs of it, except on the national road.
Banffy Castle Bontida – Short History
The castle in Bontida got its name from the family that built it: the Banffy family of Transylvania. In the In the 14th century, the Banffy family came into the possession of the estate in Bontida, whereas the construction of the castle was initiated by Denes Banffy in the 17th century.
During the 18th century, one of his descendants rebuilt the castle in baroque style, the style that it represents to this day. Most of the buildings and the park were erected and established during that period.
During the Second World War, the castle was used as a military hospital. It seems that the owner of the castle at that time was involved in Romania’s decision to turn against Germany. As a form of retaliation, the German troops vandalized the castle, destroying the furniture, the library, and the works of art inside. All of this led to the state of degradation which the castle endured all of these years.
As if that was not bad enough, during the communist period it faced the same fate as all the other castles in the country (here you can find a list of the most beautiful castles in Romania): it was used as a C.A.P. (a collective agricultural centre) and the locals of the time
took whatever they found to be useful from the castle.
Presently, Countess Bánffy Katalin, the current heiress of the castle has ceded the property for a period of 49 years to the Transylvania Trust, who promised the rehabilitation of the estate.
This is the place where the famous electric music festival, the Electric Castle Festival, takes place every year. Bontida has been the official host since the beginning and thus, the castle has become famous among those that did not know that such a jewel existed in Bontida. Apart from the festival season, this place is very peaceful.
Thanks to its beauty, the castle in Bontida was given the grand title of Transylvania’s Versailles. Read here about other places to visit in Transylvania.
This place is woven with legends from the past and some even talk of ghosts of German soldiers that died here in the makeshift hospital. For those looking for haunted castles in Transylvania, Bontida has some interesting stories to tell. Keen to discover other hidden gems in Romania? Here is a list of them.
The Bontida Castle can be visited daily between the hours of 9 AM and 7 PM.
Bontida Castle today
The Banffy castle near Cluj Napoca is great for a day trip. After the short drive from Cluj to Bontida, before exploring the estate you can enjoy a quick stop at the café. On your way to the café, the green meadow in front of the castle seems to urge you to throw off your shoes and to run barefoot through the grass. The sensation is incomparable!
The visit can start with a long moment of relaxation: shade, a cold soda in your hand, and lots and lots of quiet interrupted only by the occasional buzzing of a passing bee. Only after you regain your energy, can the tour of the castle begin.
Partially renovated, partially in ruins, the castle in Bontida only has a few rooms open to the public. There are art exhibits in some, while others keep the traces of degradation, in which it was forgotten for so many years. You can go out through the door opposite the courtyard to a dock that is nicely set up and surrounded by weeping willows.
The most beautiful photos are taken from the direction of the eastern wing and are of the wonderful building framed by lilac bushes.
From the lake’s shore, you can see the castle’s reflection in the water. Surprisingly, you can spend many hours at the castle in Bontida. The visit can also last a maximum hour, but if you want to fully enjoy it and even relax a bit, this is the ideal place.
When the air is heavy and the sky is getting ready for a storm, the welcoming castle also changes the way it looks: it becomes threatening as if getting ready to free itself of all the horrors it has seen and lived through!
At the moment, the Banffy Castle in Bontida is undergoing renovations. You can read here about their status.
It’s uncertain how it will look once it is completely renovated, but in its current state, partially in ruins, it has the allure of a castle in a fairytale. So, hurry, if you want to see it before it’s ready!