In 1396, Mukachevo fell to Prince Fedor Koryatovych of Podil. The new owner rebuilt the castle, surrounded it with a moat and turned it into his residence. And under the old tower, the prince ordered to dig a well in the rock. We had to dig 85 meters to the water! Over time, this event has become overgrown with mythical details. It is said that the impure himself helped Koryatovych in the construction of the well – for a bag of gold promised by the prince. When it came time to settle, the prince gave away a small bag: they said, but we did not agree on the size! The evil devil jumped into the well and still sometimes makes noise there, gets angry… And they also say that a huge secret passage leads from the well to the Latoritsy River. According to legend, once in order to check the existence of a secret passage, a duck with painted feathers was thrown into the well. After some time, the duck swam alive and unharmed in the Latoritsa River, a few kilometers from the castle.
A bronze statue of the legendary lord now stands in the castle yard. People believe that she can grant wishes: you only need to hold the prince’s finger, polished by thousands of hands.
Even during the reign of Fyodor Koryatovych, Palanok was impressively impregnable: walls five meters thick, a large permanent garrison, 164 guns, 60 barrels of gunpowder, food reserves in case of a long siege. And during the time of the Transylvanian princes Rakotsi, the castle became almost the most fortified fortress in Central Europe. At that time, the castle was surrounded by as many as eight lines of defense.
Palanok was most famous in the world by two women – Sofia Bathory and Ilona Zrini – mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, who ruled the castle and were at odds with each other.
Ilona went down in history as a brave defender of the fortification. Incredibly, for three years, from 1685 to 1688, the fragile owner of the castle, Ilona Zrini, the widow of Ferenc I Rakocza, fought against the huge army of the Austrian Emperor Leopold I, who besieged the fortress. Turkish Sultan Mahmet IV, impressed by her courage, awarded the princess with a special certificate for courage. This is the only case in history when a woman was awarded this award! Now the wise princess, together with her son Ferenc II Rakoczy, look at the city again from the central bastion: in 2006, their sculptures were installed here.
Sophia Bathory brought the castle a mystical, terrifying glory. The woman could not live without human blood and not only killed for it, but also took blood baths, sacrificing 13-year-old virgin girls. She believed that in this way she could become immortal and forever young.
Maybe this is a big exaggeration, but no one disputes that Sophia was extremely cruel. It is said that in the dungeons of the Mukachevo Castle in those days there were special torture rooms, the walls of which were polished with human bodies. Palanok was for some time a stronghold of the anti-Habsburg struggle of the Smokers (that was the name of the rebels against the Habsburg Empire, who were led by the son of Zrini Ferenc II Rakoczy), and the capital of Transylvania (1705). In those days, there was even a mint here. For a long time (1782-1897), Mukachevo Castle housed an Austrian political prison. From December 1805 to March 1806, the most important treasure of Hungary – the Hungarian Holy Crown – was hidden from the Napoleonic troops in the castle walls. In Soviet times, the castle was a school for mechanics, a school for heads of collective farms and even a vocational school. From 1960 to the present day, a historical museum is located here, and the former barracks of the garrison housed a picture gallery, an art salon and cozy cafes. Be sure to get acquainted with all three terraces – parts of the fortress: the lower, middle and upper castles.
Palanok Castle is located on Pidzamkova street. Minibus No. 3 goes from the center of Mukachevo to the castle. On weekends, the castle is full of tourists, so it is better to come here early in the morning, when there are not so many people. An unforgettable panorama of the awakening city opens from the bastions at this time.