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Castle of Várgesztes

The castle of Gesztes or Várgesztes is part of a chain of medieval fortresses crossing the Vértes Mountains, which consisted of the castles of Csókakő, Bátorkő, Vitány and Csesznek until the end of the Middle Ages. Hidden among the dense forests, the castle used to be a popular hunting lodge of Hungarian kings before the Ottoman wars. In fact, the small Gesztes castle became important when it was functioning as a Borderland castle against the Turks. It was a perfect resting place for the heroes of the Trans-Danubian castles before they set out to raid the Ottomans’ lands around Buda or Székesfehérvár, and it was also a safe point on the way home.

History:

After the Home-Taking of the Hungarians in the 9th century, the Csák clan settled in this region. It is thought that one of them built the first castle in Gesztes after the Mongolian invasion of 1241-42. The powerful Csák clan built several stone castles in the 13th century, their estates were protected by a chain of castles listed in the introduction.

Although the Csák clan supported King Károly Róbert in gaining his throne, the king was busily breaking up the Csák estates so that they would not be too strong. Therefore, in 1326, he exchanged Gesztes, Bátorkő, Csesznek and Csókakő from them. As a result of the barter, the sons of Csák István, Péter and István, became the lords of the castles of Dombó and Nyék. (more in the History section)

What can we see in the castle?

Gesztes Castle is located in the immediate vicinity of Várgesztes village, on the top of the forested Castle Hill. Once upon a time, the castle consisted of two parts: an outer castle wall and an adjoining square tower, and an inner castle with a castle courtyard inside. Today, the walls of the outer castle have been destroyed almost to the ground, just a few stones of them have survived. Its excavation has not taken place yet.

The floor plan of the inner castle is a regular, elongated rectangle with a so-called "three-cell" arrangement; with the remnants of a pillared, draw-bridge entrance on the north side, with traces of a tower to protect the gate nearby. The small inner courtyard is connected on both sides by residential wings. The castle wall was without a roof structure so it has collapsed in some places. The condition of the castle became potentially life-threatening, so in 2013 the tourist hostel and restaurant, which had been operating in it until then, were closed.

How to get there:

Várgesztes is 75 km from Budapest and can be easily reached by car from Tatabánya. Unfortunately, the castle is closed, so it is currently not open to the public, it can only be admired from the outside. The Municipality of Várgesztes and its residents wish to reopen it after the preservation and renovation of the currently state-owned Gesztes Castle. There are annual events related to the castle, they are held in Várrét (Castle-field), last time the 11th Várgesztes Knight's Games were held in the summer of 2019.

Text by Gábor Szántai