Transylvania Trust

Manor Houses and Castles on the Someș Valley

In 2021, a panel exhibition was created bearing the same title as the project within which it was developed, “Manor Houses and Castles on the Someș Valley”. The exhibition presents the past and present of the featured buildings, showcasing beautiful current and archival photos depicting their current and historical conditions. In 2023, the exhibition was extended with three new historic monuments, and the associated publication was released in August, the material of which we present below in its entirety.

The development of the landscape in the valley of the Someș River was determined by natural conditions, the ancient road system, and the early mediaeval political, economic, ecclesiastic, and military establishments. The settlement of people along the river bank resulted in the creation of densely populated areas. This cultural-historical region encompasses a large number of architectural values: the Someș Valley is rich in manor houses and castles.
The publication titled Manor Houses and Castles on the Someș Valley presents fourteen historic monuments of Cluj County – some more popular, others less so. A few of these serve as positive examples, however, many building histories are unfolding towards tragic ends in front of our eyes. Our goal is to draw attention to this part of our heritage. We would like to encourage decision makers, opinion leaders, civilians, and community members to think together and create strategies for the use of heritage, the cornerstones of which could be preserving the uniqueness of its values and taking into consideration the expectations/ feelings of local communities. In the lack of a comprehensive national strategy for saving our built heritage, its preservation is our shared responsibility.

Transylvania Trust, which has worked for the benefit of Transylvanian historic monuments for the last 27 years, together with its partners, wishes to be one of the driving forces behind the development of the Someș Valley Region. In recent decades, it has been confirmed that cultural and architectural heritage not only enables us to understand our past and to present our values, but, if revitalised properly, it can also bring long-term and sustainable development to communities.


Manor Houses and Castles on the Someș Valley:

The Rákóczi-Bánffy Castle in Gilău – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-a-B-07673

Cluj Castle-The early royal castle in Cluj-Mănăștur (Calvary Hill) – Historic Monument Code: C J-I-s-B-06924CJ-II-a-A-07240

The Mediaeval Fortifications of the town of Cluj – Historic Monument Code:  CJ-II-a-A-07241, CJ-II-a-A-07242, CJ-II-m-A-07271

The Citadel of Cluj – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-a-A-07240

The Teleki Manor House in Jucu de Sus – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-m-B-07686

The Bánffy Manor House in Răscruci – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-a-A-07742

The Bánffy Manor House in Borșa – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-m-B-07536

The Bánffy Castle in Bonțida – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-a-A-07534

The Teleki Castle Ensemble in Luna de Jos – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-a-B-07692

Dăbâca Castle – Historic Monument Code: CJ-I-s-A-07027

The Rhédey Manor House in Dăbâca – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-m-B-07588

The Kornis Castle in Mănăstirea – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-a-A-07704

The Neoclassical Building of the Kornis Family in Mănăstirea – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-m-B-07704.02

The Haller Manor House in Coplean – Historic Monument Code: CJ-II-m-B-07576


Where to next?

 Positive examples

The sustainable development and use of our built heritage is a common and functional model all across Europe. Castle tourism is on the rise, historic monuments are becoming venues for various cultural, educational, economic, and social events, and when framed in a network, they provide quality tourism services.

There are several good examples in Europe, one of the most prominent of which is the revitalisation of the castles, or châteaux, of the Loire Valley. One of the richest cultural heritage areas of France is located near the Loire River: more than 100 castles can be found along the river and its tributaries. The functions of the historic monuments complement each other, many of them are museums, hotels or restaurants, but they also attract visitors as venues for various music festivals and gastronomic events.
The manor houses and castles of our country were in a critical situation for a long time. Following the change of regime, the state continued to neglect for decades the restoration and conservation of historic buildings that had been nationalised at the beginning of communism, after which they were misused and abandoned. Recent years have seen the rise of a slow process, during which investors, non-governmental organisations and institutions have undertaken the restoration and use of some of these monuments. Several historic buildings have also been or are being restored with EU funds, via the Regional Operational Programme (ROP) and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) – Attractive Romania. Among the good examples, we would highlight the Daniel Manor House in Tălișoara (Covasna Co.), which serves as a hotel, the Rhédey Manor House in Sângeorgiu de Pădure (Mureș Co.) furnished as a museum, Hunedoara Manor House or the Mikes Manor House in Zăbala (Covasna Co.). Among the historic buildings under restoration, we count some significant castles and manor houses, such as the Bánffy Manor House in Răscruci, the Béldi Manor House in Jibou, the Kálnoky Castle in Valea Crișului (Covasna Co.), the Teleki Castle in Gornești, the Urmánczy Manor House in Toplița, the Kováts Manor House in Satu Mare and the Szentkereszty-Bethlen Manor House in Câmpia Turzii. Bánffy Castle in Bonțida is considered a separate category, as its revitalisation began already during its restoration process: a training centre for traditional crafts was established in the Miklós Building, but taking advantage of the role that cultural heritage plays in stimulating creativity, it also became a home for contemporary arts. This year saw the opening of a permanent exhibition, The Force Fields of Miklós Bánffy, housed in the main building’s western wing, which has been restored recently with the support of the Hungarian government. The exhibition dedicated to the former owner of the estate and castle ensemble at Bonțida presents the many facets of the Count’s cultural and political activity.

Rimetea Village in Alba County is considered to be a success story of rural tourism: thanks to the support system of the Rimetea Heritage Conservation Project, its traditional villagescape has been partially preserved, and as a result, the tourism and economy of the settlement have flourished. Today, sixty-eight of its three hundred dwellings function as boarding houses; at the same time many cultural and leisure programs have moved to the village.

Saxon villages are gems of slow tourism – a land of fortified churches, traditional architecture, folk customs, and tasty food. The UNESCO protection and international attention have contributed significantly to the survival of these settlements; at the same time local farming and handmade products are also valuable and give the area its local character. An important addition is that the Lutheran Church is actively involved in the promotion of fortified churches.

The protection and care for our surviving heritage will be a challenge for our descendants as well, thus one of our important responsibilities is to help the next generation grow up committed to these values.


Editor: Trasylvania Trust

Text: Eke Zsuzsanna, Ioana Rus-Cacovean

Photo: Lepedus-Siskó Péter

Design & Layout: IDEA PLUS


Partners: Cluj County Council Cluj, National Museum of Transylvanian History, Cluj Cultural Centre

Sponsors: School Foundation, State Secretary for National Policy of Hungary, Cluj-Napoca City Hall and Local Council, Hungarian Academy of Sciences