The Castle of Magyarozd in Transylvania

Magyarózd Castle: Secrets Of History in Transylvania’s Countryside

The tiny Castle of Magyarózd is not one of the better-known castles in Transylvania. Chances are, most people who live in its vicinity don’t know about its existence. I know I didn’t while growing up in Ludus, the closest town.

I don’t remember even hearing about it as a child, and certainly I haven’t visited it. Of course, there is a reason for it. During my childhood, the castle was closed for visitors. At the time, it was property of the Romanian state. Since it was built and owned by Hungarian noblemen, it was left in disrepair during the Communist era.

In fact, the first time I visited the castle was when I returned to my homeland as a US resident. Not because I wouldn’t have been interested in an old Hungarian castle before. But besides the fact that I didn’t even know about its existence, I never even thought of visiting the tiny village of Magyarózd.

Somewhere off a dirt track in my town’s vicinity, the village was so tiny, its school only had elementary grades. The few kids in the village came to my school in town past 4th grade. I had a classmate who took the bus in from there every day, but she never talked about her village. She wished she lived in town instead.

When I finally visited Ózd and its castle, as an adult, I absolutely fell in love with it. It looked like a village out of a fairy tale, a village time forgot, a place out of my dreams…

Visiting the Castle of Magyarózd in the late 1990s

During one of my first visits home with my young children, my parents mentioned that we should take them out to the Ozd castle.

“Is there a castle in Ozd?” I asked, surprised. “How come I never knew about it?”.

“It was in ruins, closed, unsafe to be even around it. But they are renovating it now, and it’s open for visitors now”, my dad answered.

Taking them to a medieval castle in the vicinity of my hometown seemed the perfect way to impress my American husband and children.

So, we took my then four, – and two-years-old children to the old castle of Magyarózd. They had a blast exploring the old castle, only parts of which were renovated. In several places, they almost fell through the rotten wood floor, but at last minute they always realized which pieces they had to avoid.

Although they were too young to understand the castle’s story and significance, they did have a great experience. As about me, I learned that the castle was once home to the first Hungarian female poet, Petrőczi Kata Szidónia.

But before I get to her story, here is a bit about the village.

The Village of Magyarózd

On the road to Ozd
On the road to Magyarózd, with view of the castle and the church.

As we got off the pavement and turned onto the road to Magyarózd (Ozd for short), it felt like we were venturing into a land that skipped the last few centuries of development. It was a pastoral landscape, a land I wish I could go back to, I could live in. We passed a forest, and rolling hills, cornfields, and green pastures, but no other vehicle in sight.

We were alone on the narrow dirt road, going towards the village. Getting close to the village, we passed a few old-fashioned wells; they seemed to stand as lonely sentinels in the countryside. Now and then a lone cow would walk over to get a drink from the adjacent trough.

Old well on the way to Ozd, Transylvania
Old well on the way to Ozd, Transylvania

As soon as we entered the village, a young man driving a horse-drawn carriage waved to us.

“One of my old students,” my dad told me, as he waved back.

I knew he taught in the tiny village for a few years after I moved away from home. Seeing the village and its people brought that period in his life closer to me.

Tiny Ozd in the land forgotten by civilization dates from the 1200s, and it is one of the oldest villages in the region. As Orbán Balázs points it out in his monumental work, The Description of Székely Land (A Székelyföld leírása), the first written document talking about a church in Magyarózd dates from 1227. By 1332 all the official documents of the time included notes about this settlement.

During the communist years, when I was growing up in the vicinity, the village was barely surviving. Now, however, we noticed the church and the school renovated, and looks like new. The narrow main (and only) road of the village is paved.

The school and church of Magyarózd now.
The school and church of Magyarozd now. View from the castle.

The Castle of Magyarózd

In contrast to many of the castles in Transylvania, where the village grew up around them, here the castle dates later than the village.

Built in the Renaissance-style, with a square floor plan and four corner bastions, common in Transylvania, the small two-story castle dates from the 15th century. Its origins are shrouded in a bit of mystery, since historians couldn’t pinpoint the exact date it was built. Nor its original owner. However, they all agree that either Ádám Radák or Lőrincz Pekri built it, sometime before 1695.

Most stories about the castle date from the time Pekri owned it. Many of these stories sound like he got it built on the property he got from Radák.

Pekri was somewhat of a historic celebrity, a well-known Kuruc (read kurutz) leader in the army of Ferenc Rákoczy II, during the Hungarian uprising against the Habsburg Empire in 1703-1711.

The Castle of Magyarózd, Transylvania
The Castle of Ozd, Transylvania

Being in the revolutionary army, Pekri was rarely home, though he spent some time at his castle now and then. During the war, in 1709, while he was there, the Imperial troops besieged his castle. Since he had no troops with him, only a handful of his men, Pekri couldn’t fight them off.

His men persuaded him to flee while they stayed behind, fighting the enemy long enough to give him an advantage. Eventually, they all left. Finding the castle empty, the enemy troops set it on fire before leaving. The castle burned down, only its four bastions survived.

Home to the First Known Hungarian Female Poet and Writer, Petrőczi Kata Szidónia

Pekri’s wife, was Kata Szidónia Petrőczi (1659-1708), known as the first Hungarian female poet and writer. Daughter of Baron István Petrőczi and Erzsébet Thököly, and cousin of Prince imre Thököly of Transylvania, she came from a family of high rank. Like Pekri, her father also fought in the revolutionary war against the Hapsburgs.

With strong patriotic beliefs of her own, Kata Szidónia admired Pekri, falling in love with him, and eventually marrying him. The couple was deeply involved in the political life of Transylvania and Hungary during the war. However, after the birth of their four daughters, Kata Szidónia spent most of her time at the castle of Magyarózd. With her husband still involved in war and politics, she was often alone, raising their daughters.

An Educated Woman

One of the few educated women of her time, Kata Szidónia Petrőczi knew how to read and write. She was fluent in Latin and German. Even during her childhood, she translated religious texts from German and Latin. While living in the castle of Magyarózd, she started writing texts and poems of her own.

Though her husband was often in battle, it wasn’t the only reason she was so often alone.

A good-looking men, Pekri was a bit of a womanizer, and had plenty of affairs. In the small countryside, his wife naturally found out about them. Instead of confronting him or leaving him, she chose to stay quiet and remain a devoted wife. Not only for the sake of their daughters and because she was a devoted, religious wife, but she was truly in love with her husband.

She Expressed Her Loves And Sorrows In Poems

Heartbroken, she expressed her sorrows in poetry, creating some of the most beautiful pieces of Baroque literature. Though she wrote both poetry and prose, her poems are the ones that stood the test of time. Her prose consisted mainly of religious writings, but her poems had true value. Unfortunately, no one even knew about them until long after her death.

She died far from the castle of Magyarózd, during the revolution she fought for and believed in. So she didn’t witness the defeat of this revolution. However, with it, Hungarian literature went through a decline. No one wrote or read poems, at least not in Hungarian.

But even if thy did, no one knew about Petrőczi’s poems, hidden in a tiny castle in Transylvania. Found long after her death, they were published in 1874, along with her biography.

Changing Owners of the Castle

After it burned down while Pekri fled the Austrian army, the castle of Magyarózd lay abandoned for a while. Eventually, its original owner, Ádám Radák got it back. He eventually restored it in 1732, and the castle stayed in his family until the end of the nineteenth century.

The last owner and inhabitant of the castle before the Communist era was Countess Ilona Teleki. She lived in it from 1918 until the Romanian and Russian troops took the area at the end of WWII, in 1945.

The castle, along with all of Transylvania, became part of Romania after the war. During the country’s communist era, the castle became government property. During this time the village used it as an agricultural center, kindergarten, cultural center, and community center. They even used it as housing for teachers at some point. But mostly, they left it to deteriorate.

The Castle of Magyarózd in Modern Times

After the fall of Communism, the Romanian state offered to give back all state properties to their rightful owners. At that point, the current heir, Baroness Teleki ‘s daughter, Baroness Maria Konradsheim reclaimed it.

However, living in France, she had no use for it. So, she donated it to the Bonus Pastor Foundation that intended to use it as a rehabilitation center for recovering addicts.

As far as I can tell, the Foundation still owns the castle today. They started reconstructing it, and between 1998 and 2001, they added new roofing, and worked on conserving as much as possible of the old walls. During the conservation work, they found valuable decorative paintings on the walls, under the crumbling plaster.

The surrounding property was easier to reconstruct, so the Foundation used it as a rehabilitation center during the summers, while still working on reconstructing the castle.

When I last visited, in 2017, the castle was still only partially restored. It seemed abandoned, though it had a lock on the door.

The Castle of Ozd. Entrance
The Castle of Ozd. Entrance. Renovated side.

I am not sure what is going on with the center; I have not seen any signs of them during my visit, and couldn’t find any information about their activity in the past few years.

For now, the castle still sits alone and abandoned, partially restored, on the hill overlooking the village.

Travel Planning Resources to Get To Transylvania (Romania)

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  • Book your flight with CheapOAir to fly into Bucharest or Sibiu, the closest international airports to the castle.
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