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Szarvaskő Castle (Döbrönte)

The village of Döbrönte is a small village of 280 inhabitants near the city of Pápa. It is situated on the gentle slopes of the Northern part of the Bakony Mountains of Hungary. The place is famous for the ruins of its scenic castle: nobody would say that it used to be the nest of robber knights in the 15th century who were terrorizing the countryside. Later, during the Hungarian-Ottoman wars, it served as a castle in the second line of the Military Frontier.

History of Szarvaskő castle

The name of Döbrönte derives from the Slavic word Dobrete that was a name of an individual. The settlement with this name was born most likely in the 11th century but there are archeological findings from the Roman age as well. It was first mentioned in a document in 1240 then in 1330, it was called Debrenthe.

The area of Döbrönte village used to belong to the powerful Csák Clan, and the settlement was controlled by the Castle of Ugod. However, the powerful Csák family was not on good terms with King Károly Róbert. Gradually, the king forced the Csák Clan to sell or barter their lands.

Móricz, the last member of the Csák family of the Ugod branch became a monk and sold his property to Tördemici Fehér Pál before 1320. The Himfy family of the Szalók Clan purchased the lands from him in 1330. (more in the History section)

What can we see in the castle:

In the last decade, several sections of the wall have been preserved. We can see the remains of the castle on a cliff-top rising above the village. The castle has an irregular plan and an inner tower. Around the tower, the remaining sections of an inner and an outer castle can be seen.

There is a wall of a two-story building with remnants of windows in it standing on the northwestern edge of the steep cliff-top. It used to belong to the inner castle. This section is supported by a huge buttress at the corner. It may have been the palace and the residential building.

The castle could be easily approached from the south, so here several ramparts were built to strengthen the defense, and then a huge cannon dome was built behind them. The trapezoidal outer castle with the round bastion was built by Essegvári Ferenc in the 16th century.

The lower, sloping plane of the round bastion is closed at half-height by a cylindrical belt ledge, above which a vaulted cannon guard can be seen. On either side of the round bastion, we can still find some of the walls of the outer castle, the rest presumably was carried away by the villagers to build their houses.

How can we get there:

Döbrönte is 162 km from Budapest and it can be reached by car via Highway M7 and Road 8. If you do not have a car, you have to take the train from Budapest to Győr, then to Pápa from where a local bus can take you to Döbrönte. From there, Szarvaskő Castle can be reached within a few minutes walk from the main road of the village, just follow the tourist path starting from the playground. It can also be reached at the end of the settlement by a dirt road heading towards the ridge. Szarvaskő Castle can be visited freely all year round, and it offers a pleasant family program. In the Szarvasház Tourist House and Training Center under the castle (8597 Döbrönte, Street Fő 31.), publications related to the castle can be purchased, and the guides presenting the castle also start from here. Presentation of the castle (guided tour) can be requested from the Captain of Szarvaskő who is Mrs. András Sós. Her telephone number is +36 30 282 8961.

Text by Gábor Szántai