The Castle of Diósgyőr’s road to restoration

ACTIVITIES, STAFF, EUROPE, Historic/Museums — By on February 17, 2017 at 23:23

Text & photos © Estrella Azul

AS MENTIONED in my previous travel article about the European city of Miskolc (Visiting Miskolc, Hungary during the winter holidays), I first visited the Castle of Diósgyőr in 2005, and it so happened that I revisited it every five years after that.

Not much visible change from 2005 to 2010

Not much visible change yet (2005 to 2010)

The Castle of Diósgyőr is a medieval castle in the historical town of Diósgyőr, which is now part of the Northern Hungarian city Miskolc. Unfortunately, this once-beautiful wedding gift for the queens of Hungary was in ruins by the 17th century.

King Louis the Great, greeting tourists at the Diósgyőr Castle

King Louis the Great greeting tourists at the Diósgyőr Castle (2015)

The restoration of the Castle of Diósgyőr began in 1953 and, at the time, only in the areas which were about to collapse. Archaeological excavation only began in the 1960s, and in the 21st century the plan to rebuild the castle was finally made.

Full-body armors on display in Central Europe's largest Great Hall

Full-body armors on display in Central Europe’s largest Great Hall

I loved it from the very first time I visited the castle, and that love only grew along the years as I saw it transform from ruins to a beautiful and functioning museum.

King Louis the Great in Diósgyőr grants the city of Košice the first city in Europe to be honoured, thus its own coat of arms, 7th May 1369

King Louis the Great in Diósgyőr grants the city of Košice the first city in Europe to be honoured, thus its own coat of arms, 7th May 1369

The most impressively furnished and luxurious interiors on display in Diósgyőr Castle are at the first floor level and include Saint Hedvig’s Chapel, the Great Hall, and the Queen’s Dormitory. Much of the reproduction furniture can be sat on, and the walls showcase impressive arches, murals, carpets, royal armored flags, swords and dresses for women.

Saint Hedvig’s Chapel, the Queen's Dormitory, and the most impressive furnace I have ever seen

Saint Hedvig’s Chapel, the Queen’s Dormitory (insets), and the most impressive furnace I have ever seen

It would beat the purpose of a museum, but I would go as far as saying that—as opposed to only a couple of small cold rooms standing in 2005—in present day one could almost take their belongings and move into one of the spacious, furnished and heated rooms.

The Great Hall of King Louis the Great

The Great Hall of King Louis the Great

Aside from descriptions of each room and their use back in the day, most of the rooms on the lower level have touch screen activities, which can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Exhibitions of old photographs of the castle, painted tiles and maps of the area adorn certain rooms and hallways, and a short film on the history of the castle can also be viewed.

Details of a medieval castle

Details of a medieval castle

On the lower level the alchemy, a small mint, metal workshop, pottery studio, powder room, war and hunting weapons exhibition, crops storage room, a collection of taxidermy, and the vine cellars can be found, which are more modestly decorated, yet highly representative of the castle’s medieval times living.

Medieval times living

Medieval times living

The inner courtyard more or less did not even exist when I first visited the castle as the walls now enclosing the space were merely ruins.

In warm weather the Castle Café welcomes customers on the now-existing castle terrace near the last unrenovated tower, and in winter it operates in the heated room of the Wine bar.

The difference five years make (2010 to 2015)

The difference five years make (2010 to 2015)



An evening glimpse at the inner courtyard

An evening glimpse at the inner courtyard

Among the first and constant displays in the castle is one of the largest waxwork exhibitions of Central Europe which shows six scenes of everyday life in medieval Diósgyőr. One can enjoy it by walking through the long corridor of the outer castle.

Waxwork scenes of medieval life

Waxwork scenes of medieval life

Its surrounding grounds were not lush-green and filled with life when I last visited the castle in December, but it was fun to discover staircases leading nowhere in particular, great detail in the stonework, terraces with cannons waiting for tourists to take pictures with, and walking on old paths imagining what the remaining stone-wall ruins will turn into when they’re rebuilt.

Exploring the castle grounds

Exploring the castle grounds

The view from the top of the looking-tower is gorgeous in any season! In present day, the newly constructed Arena for Jousting Tournaments and a related marketplace can be spotted across from the castle.

Arena for Jousting Tournaments

Arena for Jousting Tournaments

Even though it’s surrounded by modern concrete buildings instead of a historical town, the events and open air plays organized there—The Castle Plays, Reviving the Middle Ages, jousting tournaments, equestrian sports events, musical events, horseback riding opportunities and the medieval fairs next to the castle—all make the Castle of Diósgyőr a highly popular tourist destination.

A view of Misckolc city from the looking-tower

A view of Misckolc city from the looking-tower

When I was there in 2010 and stopped by the castle to take pictures of it at night, I even got to watch most of the István a király (Stephen, the King) rock opera as a bonus for arriving on time.

If you fancy a listen, here’s a 2003 version of István a király on YouTube performed by the theater group Honvéd Táncszínház in Csíksomlyó (Harghita County, Romania).

Scene from "Stephen, the King" rock opera

Scene from “Stephen, the King” rock opera

As a parting note I’d like to mention that after visiting Hungary over the course of twenty years, both as a child and as an adult, I still find it wonderful that the country began and finished the restoration of many castles, churches, fortresses, bridges and old buildings throughout its large cities and cute small villages.

The Evangelical Church of Diósgyőr

The Evangelical Church of Diósgyőr

Hungarians have really put an effort to attract tourists with beautiful scenery and architecture, and the change from the 20th to the 21st century is evident most everywhere one looks.

———

Estrella in the Greek Amphitheatre ruins, Taormina, Sicily

Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, she currently serves as the photo editor here at Milliver’s Travels, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©. Read more of her stories on Milliver’s Travels by visiting Estrella’s story index.

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