As we approached the castle in our dusty station wagon, we were put off by the factories, smoke stacks and large quarry that enveloped this historic oasis. This was no Burg Eltz, tucked between forested hills on a remote outpost. Then, as we walked toward the gates, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. To add insult to injury, instead of real stone and mortar for the restoration effort, construction workers pumped insta-foam between sheets of prefabricated plastic stoneware. It was so obviously fake. It looked like a movie set. Two minutes later, I was relieved to find out it was.
This 14th century castle is unfortunately set on the edge of the industrial zone of Hunedoara, an encroachment that can probably be attributed to poor urban planning and the communist inattention to preserving historic sites for the influx of tourists that might come once the regime has also gone the way of history. Nevertheless, Corvinilor (as the signs in town read in Romanian) is a spectacular castle with a well-developed tourist infrastructure. Torture chambers with tools of the trade, grand halls, narrow passageways, teetering staircases, a cavernous moat, a never-ending drawbridge, a chapel, cellars – this structure was a choose-your-own-adventure dream for us parents and the children. While the carpenters and film crew set up throughout, recreating a medieval village and adding detail (like covering electrical boxes with burlap), no location was off limits. We even had to take care not to step on the ‘tapestries’ (paintings on fabric) that were spread across the courtyard like rugs, waiting to be framed and hung.
As one of Romania’s jewels of history, architecture and tourism, the castle is justifiably displayed on the cover of our edition of the Romania Lonely Planet guide. Now through early May, Universal Studios if filming Dragonheart 4. The castle is still open to tourists, though some areas will be off limits. Visit now if you want to see Corvin dressed up in full film regalia.
Click on a photo below to view in a slideshow with descriptions.