Lăzarea Castle

Lăzarea (Romanian: Lăzarea; Hungarian: Gyergyószárhegy) is a commune in Harghita County, Romania. It is one of the oldest settlements in the area, and is now a tourist and cultural centre. It has various local attractions, including the Lăzarea Castle (Romanian: Castelul Lăzarea; Hungarian: Lázár Kastely).

The 100 m long, 75 m wide castle, standing 200 m far from the village centre, appears on the List of Historical Monuments of Harghita County. The Lázár Castle is one of the most beautiful creations of the Transylvanian Renaissance architecture. The Lázár Castle is a battlement Renaissance castle, one of the most attractive 17th century Transylvanian mansions. In its vaulted hall there is an inscription in Gothic letters dating back to 1532 (Cristus Maria 1532). The earliest keep dates from 1450. Three of the bastions are quadrilateral, the fourth (in the northeast) is septangular. In the middle of the southern wall there is a vaulted gate, a so- called storeyed gate-bastion leading into the court of the castle. Ornamental structured battlemented Renaissance wall connects the two sides of the gate to the corner bastions. Traces of former frescoes can still be seen here.

The facade was built by István Lázár (son of András Lázár), friend of Transylvanian prince Gábor Bethlen. Under the coat of arms, on the bastion left to the gate, the number 1632 indicates the year of finishing the construction. In the court, outbuildings in ruins are to be seen against the wall: kitchen, kiln, servants' quarters, soldiers' quarters, well, blacksmith shop and stable. According to the tradition, the small building standing in the middle of the court used to be the prison in which rebels were kept.

Gábor Bethlen spent his childhood in this castle between 1590-1594. The building was burnt as a revenge taken on the Kuruts Ferenc Lázár in 1707 by the Labants soldiers. Ferenc Lázár had the ruined castle renovated. The "great palace" (Knights' Hall) where the meeting of the seats used to be held was probably also built by him. The golden age of Lăzarea ended with his death. Part of the castle burnt down again in 1748, then the whole building fell victim to the fire in 1872. Petru Rareş (between 1527-1538) and Mihnea Vodă (1660), Romanian rulers, were also guests of the castle.

Since 1967, the castle has been renovated gradually. The central part of the main building (the gallery) has been renovated as well as the Knights' Hall (Council Room) at the back and the Storky bastion. The Women's House and the Túrós bastion are still being renovated. Carved furniture, chairs decorated with Transylvanian coat of arms, iron lamps can be seen in the Knights' Hall of which original coffered ceiling has also been restored.

Lăzarea has become the common workshop of the Romanian fine arts. The castle houses today the fine art exhibition of the County Museum. The Friendship Fine Art Gallery (painting exhibition) with 150 paintings occupies the gate bastion, eight large rooms and the Knights' Hall. The gallery presents the cross-section of the Romanian art of the last decades representing three generations. Above the Knights' Hall, a 300 square meter room houses the drawings. There are two creative camps working at Lăzarea: The Friendship Art Creative Camp (since 1974 - painting, drawing, sculpture) and The Folk Art Creative Camp (since 1978).