The impressive castle of Sümeg crowning the Castle Hill invites for discovery from far as being one of the most beautiful medieval castles in the country.
Towering above the town of Sümeg the castle sits on a solitary hill of 270 meters in the western part of Bakony Mountains. The spiraling road uphill not only helps ascending but offers a splendid view over the area. Optionally, castle taxi from the bottom to top is also available, however, the view while hiking uphill and the great photo spots are worth the effort.
After passing the outer bailey gate the inner bailey gate creates a true medieval atmosphere with the trench and the drawbridge. Entering the gate you will arrive in a spacious and well-arranged courtyard. Recent developments contributed a lot to make your visit an entertaining and comfortable experience. Kids can play in a play castle or fight the 7-headed dragon, ride a horse, try stilt walking, look for a needle in the haystack, do archery or pillow fight and pet animals. Brave ones even may get locked in wooden stocks or a cage.
Downstairs you can drop in the smith and wheelwright workshops, the kitchen, the bake house (chimney cake available), the torture chamber with rather funny than terrifying wax figures and instruments of painful creativity. Other points of interest include the stone collection, the soldier quarters, the bishop’s bedroom, the castle chapel, the castle model exhibition, the movie room with historical war movies and a spice garden near the kitchen.
You can have a look at the castle from above walking around the wall walk as well enjoying the splendid view inside and outside the wall. Those who long for a greater excitement may watch a medieval tournament in the arena down at the bottom of the castle hill (summer schedule: Tuesday-Saturday at 17.00, autumn & winter schedule: Wednesday and Saturday at 17.00).
A little history
According to historic records the castle was built after the Mongol Invasion (1241). The lands around Sümeg had been possessed by the Diocese of Veszprém as a royal donation since the early 11th century so the bishop was likely to get the castle built. In the beginning, only a tower house may have been built here as a predecessor to the old tower and was extended in the mid-15th century. Its military importance had grown by the fall of Veszprém (1552) when the Bishop of Veszprém fled to Sümeg from the Turkish troops thus making the town the center of the diocese for 200 years.
The castle could withstand more attacks before falling to the Turkish troops. It played a strategic role in Rákóczi’s war of independence as the headquarters of the Hungarian army. After the war the Habsburgs took revenge by setting it on fire as part of a military exercise and demolishing most of it in 1713. Then it fell into decay for centuries until archaeological excavation began (1957-1965). It has been managed by a private company since 1989 with relentless effort into restoration and development.