HUNEDOARA (Vajdahunyad/Eisenmarkt), 16km south of Deva, would be dismissed as an ugly, run-down industrial town were it not also the site of Corvin Castle, Romania’s greatest fortress. Patrick Leigh Fermor found its appearance “so fantastic and theatrical that, at first glance, it looks totally unreal”. Founded in the fourteenth century, it was rebuilt in 1440–53 by Iancu de Hunedoara, with a Renaissance-style wing added by his son Mátyás Corvinus and Baroque additions by Gabriel Bethlen from 1618. A remarkably long footbridge on tall stone piers leads across a 30m-deep moat to a mighty barbican, built by Iancu in 1440–4 and altered in the seventeenth century to replace the castle’s original entrance; below are the dungeon (with a prisoner in a cage) and torture chamber, with the usual replicas of a rack, a chair of nails and execution axes. The castle is an extravaganza of galleries, spiral stairways and Gothic vaulting, most impressively the Knights’ Hall (immediately to the right), with its rose-marble pillars, a display of weaponry and a statue of Iancu. To the southwest a long gallery bridge leads to the isolated Neboisa Tower (from the Serbian nje boisia or “be not afraid”), built by Iancu in 1446–56; to the east the Council Hall is similar to the Knights Hall, divided by a row of columns. To the north, the Mátyás wing, which sports a fine Renaissance loggia, houses a display of costumes and sixteenth-century Florentine cassone chests. Viewpoints outside the fortifications give views of the fifteenth-century rhomboid pattern on the exterior of the Painted Tower, and of the steeple added in 1873, with a bronze knight on top.

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