It is recommended to crown your trip in the Kőszeg Mountains with the discovery of Jurisics Castle in historic downtown. Its origin dates back to the 13th century, however, later remodeling works added signature features of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture to its character. Various exhibitions, unique performances and concerts in the castle theatre, family programs as well as the view from the western tower guarantee a complex experience.
The castle was built by the Héder clan. As usual for fortified buildings, the possession of the castle changed hands several times. In 1289 it was occupied by Prince Albert and nearly 40 years later by King Charles Robert. In this period it was extended by building numerous towers and walls. By the end of the 14th century the Garay family took possession of the castle, who were later succeeded by the Habsburgs. The next owner was King Matthias Corvinus for a short time and the Habsburgs again.
Unusually, bells in Kőszeg toll at 11 a.m and not 12 to commemorate the victory over the Turkish troops besieging the castle in 1532 by heroic defenders led by Miklós Jurisics. In 1695, the castle and the lands around were acquired by the Esterházy family who could keep them for 240 years setting a record in the length of the castle’s ownership. Currently, it is under the management of the local municipality and the Museum of Vas County.
Over the recent years large-scale developments have been made in the castle applying modern technology, such as interactive exhibition areas, air-conditioned display cases.
The castle of Kőszeg is among the few ones in the country that provide a rich source for fans of culture and history. Walking through the exhibition entitled „The castle of Kőszeg throughout the centuries” we can gain an insight into the history of the town and the castle, medieval weaponry, a historic portrait gallery by Győző Somogyi and a stone collection. The video presentation in the Knights’ Hall, vendors, a snack bar or the spice garden may all help to take a break in the historical journey. Creative programs for kids and family quizzes are also alternative forms of discovering the castle. The Castle Theatre of Kőszeg opened in 1982 and has been the home of various performances, such as comedies, concerts, operas and dance shows.
A visit to the castle may be complemented by a range of hiking options. Following the Blue Trail or the Red (P) markers we can reach Írott-kő, the highest peak of Transdanubia (882 meters). Yellow (S) and Green (Z) markers also lead into the surrounding mountains. You may visit the most elevated spring in the Kőszeg Mountains called Hörmann Spring named after Castellan Mihály Hörmann, or Óház lookout at 609 meters, the former site of the Upper Castle of Kőszeg. Along the Blue (K) Trail or through Királyvölgy (King’s Valley) you can get to Seven Springs named after the seven chieftains of Hungarian tribes invading the Carpathian Basin. Hike exciting educational trails, such as the Route of Giants to discover rock formations and small caves. Feel like biking? Take a ride along the great biking routes in the area. Would like some more adventures? Visit Holdfény Liget Adventure Park halfway between Szombathely and Kőszeg. Facilities for horse riding, paintball, tennis, bowling or angling are also available nearby.
Discovering the town itself is a lengthy and memorable program as well. Outstanding attractions include the Sacred Heart Church representing Gothic Revival architecture or the decaying but still impressive synagogue. As part of Kőszeg Landscape Park you may take a walk in Chernel Garden Arboretum and István Bechtold Visitor Centre with exhibitions introducing regional wildlife and researchers as well as with a hedge maze. The town is famous for its annual cheerful events such as the Concordia Ball, the Crescent and the Full Moon Siege Days of Kőszeg commemorating the Turkish siege of 1532 closed with the História Run.
The castle is located in the northwestern corner of downtown surrounded by a wall and a moat. It is made up by two parts: the outer castle and the inner castle. The buildings next to the outer castle used to function as the quarters for guards and servicemen. The statue of Castellan Miklós Jurisics, the leader of handful of defenders during the siege of 1532 was erected in the yard. The brick bridge over the moat takes you to the inner castle with a trapezoid yard that provides great acoustics for theatre plays in the summer.
The Late Gothic/Early Renaissance corridor of the castle is one of the most beautiful heritages of castle architecture.