1. Overview
  2. From the Romans to the Renaissance
  3. A Royal and Princely Residence
  4. Property of the Banffy Family
  5. Barcsay-Banffy Property

From the Romans to the Renaissance

Gilau castle is built on ancient ground: Remains of a Roman camp were discovered in the garden a few decades ago. Centuries after it was built, the Romanian chieftain, Gelou, apparently used its ruins to make a last stand against the invading Hungarians during the 10th century.

Some three hundred years later, in 1246, King Bela IV of Hungary granted vast estates in and around Gyalu to the Catholic bishop of Transylvania. A castle was most likely built in the centre of their domains during the early 1300's, for Bishop Andrew Szechy issued a decree in1345 from Gyalu, where he must have already possessed secure quarters appropriate to his rank. The castle itself is first mentioned in 1428; eleven years later - in 1439 - its commander ("castellan") appears in documents.

Located in the west wing of today's building, the medieval castle faced a large square, enclosed by high stone walls with a fortified tower at each corner. Described by one bishop as, "commodious," the residence was embellished during the 1480's in the new Renaissance style by an Italian-educated successor, Ladislas Gereb. Not much remains of his building activity, however, save fragments of a finely carved coat of arms, some stone reliefs in a fireplace and a few cornices walled into the arch of the eastern gate.