The Şofronea Castle

Şofronea is a commune in Arad County, Romania, lies in the Arad Plateau and it is located at 15 km from Arad. It consists of two villages: Şofronea and Sânpaul. The first documentary record of Şofronea dates back to 1437, while Sânpaul was first mentioned in 1235. Its most attended touristic sights are the springs of thermal water with therapeutic effect in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and the complex of the Purgly Castle with its park and households, registered in the national cultural patrimony.

According to documents kept in London, Lisbon, Budapest, Vienna, the Şofronea Castle was built in 1789. In 1889, the owner of the castle exchanged properties with Purgly Janos, the owner Gurahonţ Castle. After he established in Şofronea, Janos Purgly has renovated the castle in Secession style and bought an important area of agricultural land. He was one of the well-known barons of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. His youngest daughter, Magdolna Purgly de Jószáshely, married in 1901 with Horthy Miklós, a young officer. The wedding took place at the Reformed Church in Arad. The exact involvement of Horthy in maintaining of the Şofronea property is not known. Horthy was concerned about its military and political career; during World War I he became the commander of the Austrian-Hungarian fleet in the Adriatic, then in 1920 he became regent of Hungary until 1944, when he was arrested.

Purgly Janos donated the property to his son, Purgly Laszlo: 860 acres of land, the castle, an animal farm, a plantation of fruit trees and a vineyard. Purgly Laszlo's one of the main concerns was the financing of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (The Red Church) in Arad, which he was the main sponsor. In 1922, the baron's wife, Margit, committed suicide because of her husband's infidelity. He buried she in the courtyard of the castle and remarried his wife sister. In 1949, the Communist authorities deported him to Târgu-Jiu, then he returned to Arad in 1951 and died of starvation in the basement of the parish which belonged to the Red Church.

The castle was nationalized by the Communists and became the headquarters of the local agricultural association. After the Revolution of 1989, it was leased to the Humanitas Gura-Popii Foundation, that renovated it according to the original design. The facade is richly decorated and provided with medieval-style projections and towers. The interior maintained its original shape. The main entrance conduce to the central body, in the reception room where the ceiling provided with wooden boxes is a remarkable artistic work. The ground-floor dining room, lounge and the great room are very spacious and decorated with specific ornamentation. The staircase is richly carved, there are many other artistic works made of wood and stained glass windows. In the courtyard are the Roman baths with thermal water, visited by thousands of tourists.

Photos from Wikipedia.