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Tata Castle

Today, one would say that Tata is but a small town in Komárom-Esztergom County located in northwestern Hungary. However, Tata Castle endured 15 sieges during the Hungarian-Ottoman wars between 1526 and 1685. It was an important fortification in the middle of the 1,000 mile Hungarian Borderland that separated the Christian world and the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. For three days every year, several hundred historical reenactors from all over Europe assemble within the walls of the Renaissance castle to commemorate the famous siege that took place there on 23 May 1597, reenacting the event to the delight of history loving visitors. The remnants of the palace overlook a 700 year old artificial lake that is sometimes called the Hungarian Lake Garda. Indeed, this medieval 220 hectare lake makes the place unique not only in Hungary, but throughout Europe. It is the resting place of tens of thousands of wild geese and other birds that arrive from the steppes of Eurasia in November and stay until March. During the annual Wild Goose Festival, tourists come to see this miracle and enjoy the Old Lake’s shoreline hugged by walking paths with perfect spots with bird watching. The area is part of the Natura 2000, a network of nature protection areas in the European Union.

History of Tata Castle

Tata was first mentioned in a document in 1221. In 1260 it was a village, but by 1305 it had become an agricultural town. The place was owned by the Csák Clan between the 9th century and 1326.

The fortification was originally a rectangular stone building with an inner living tower along with a square bastion at each of its corners. The Csák family lived in the four-story high, three meter thick living tower. In 1326, King Károly Róbert gained the town by barter, and gave it to the Lackfi family who enlarged the castle. They also built a chapel and other buildings in the second part of the 14th century. When King Sigismund was defeated by the Ottomans in the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, Lackfi rebelled against him. However, Lord Lackfi was snared by a trap in 1397 and was killed by Lords Garai and Cillei. And Tata once again came to be under the king’s rule.

Tata became an agricultural city during King Sigismund’s reign (1387-1437). Sigismund was the one who turned the castle into a real royal palace following the design of the Castle of Diósgyőr which boasts the largest knightley hall in Central Europe. (more in the History section)


Tata is less than 70 km from Budapest and can be easily reached both by train and car. As mentioned earlier, the castle is famous for its historical festival, the „Tatai Patara” and for the lake and its „Tata Wild Goose Festival”. Parts of the Polish film „The Witcher” were shot at the castle, too. Presently, you can visit the Kuny Domonkos Museum in Tata Castle. Opening hours: all week long between 10 A.M. – 6 P.M., except for Monday

Text by Gábor Szántai