The impregnable Fortress of Drugets
Over the years, Uzhgorod Castle was lucky to, as never did it stand without a considerate master, so that is why it is safe and intact now. Nevertheless, it had often been subject to reconstructions, with account of the newest know-hows of the fortification art. Its main buildings have been created in the times of Drugets, the noble family who owned the castle since 1322 until 1691. The place received its present-day appearance in the end of 19th century thanks to Miklosh Bercheniwho inherited the castle from his wife, the last offspring of the Druget family. Together with his second wife, Kristina Chaki, Bercheni turned the stern fortress into a hospitable palace later becoming the center of social life. After Bercheni, the castle was occupied by a Greek Catholic episcopate, and for the last 50 years it houses the Transcarpathian Historical Museum.
The castle of Uzhgorod stands on a 30-meter-high hill and it had been designed to take advantage of the surrounding relief; in plan view it is an irregular quadrangle with protruding bastions in the corners, once equipped with cannons.
Behind the bastions, there’s a castle court with a 6-hectare park. In the yard, archaeologists discovered foundations of the oldest church of Uzhgorod, the church of St. Yuri. The park is decorated with ancient sculptures, the most interesting of them representing Heracles fighting the Lernean Hydra, and a bronze sculpture of a turul (a Hungarian name for a steppe falcon).
Despite the mighty bastions with sophisticated fortifications, the Uzhgorod castle itself is a citadel designed with defense of mind. This is a stern two-storied building with square towers in the corners, with walls three meters thick and arrow-loops in the top of each tower. In the castle cellars there are vast dungeons, next to them – a prison and a torture chamber. There are also secret tunnels inside the walls, which allow walking from one storey to another. Legends say there was a secret tunnel that led from the castle to the town.
Uzhgorod castle is engirded by a moat, once crossed with a lift-bridge: you can still see the holes in the wall cut for the lifting chains. These days people walk over the stone bridge leading to an arch, which is the entrance to the inner court of the building. Above the arch there’s a bas-relief representing four trushes, which is the coat of arms of Drugets.
From the court you can go to expositions of the museum occupying 30 halls. The most unique collection features many items made of bronze, among them weapons, articles of everyday use and sophisticated bronze ornaments and decorations. In some of the castle rooms, the old interiors have been restored.
Uzhgorod castle on the map