Bánffy Castle, built in 1543, is located 30km from Cluj-Napoca, in the village of Bonţida. Called the Versailles of Transylvania, the castle is part of an exquisite architectural ensemble and one of the main Baroque attractions in Transylvania and Romania.
The complex was initially built in Renaissance style, but restorations dating from the 18th and 19th centuries added important Austrian Baroque, Romantic and Neo-Gothic architectural elements. The first documented mentioning of the castle dates from 1680, when a military report describes the fortifications system surrounding the manor. Designed as a fortified ensemble, the complex presented bastions in its corners, a high tower at the entrance and a garden, situated south from the buildings’ complex. Works from the 1745 and 1820 added new buildings, such as the stables and the servants’ dwellings, reshaped the castle, created the park and demolished the gate-tower.
During the Second World War, the castle was used as military hospital and then burnt. The increasingly dramatic situation was maintained during the communist regime, when some statues were saved from destruction and taken to the Art Museum in Cluj-Napoca.
Starting with 1999, after the castle was included on the list of historical buildings, a series of restoration works started. These took place under the high patronage of Prince Charles of Wales, who visits the castle every time he comes to Romania. Nowadays, the castle is used as a venue for concerts, film projections and various cultural festivals.