Szadvar castle project and youth camp, Hungary

by Friends of Szadvar (Szadvarert Barati Kor) Vetted since 2008 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Site Visit Verified
The walls of the Lower Castle
The walls of the Lower Castle

Szadvar is a perfect example of places which bring people together. Although it is just a ruin now, it still has the power of building a bridge between villages, other castles and even countries!

In the Middle Ages two noble castles stood high above this area of the Hungarian Kingdom. Today Szadvar is located in Hungary and Torna (Turniansky Hrad) is in Slovakia. The distance between them is just 10 miles but a borderline was drawn to separate them. But they are not separated anymore.

Both buildings are ruins now and were meant to slowly disappear from the face of the Earth. But just as Szadvar has got its saviors - Friends of Szadvar, the people of Torna have also founded an organization (Castrum Thorna Civil Partnership) and have been working for years to save the remains of that fortress for their grandchildren. This year the international collaboration between us reached the next level: the members of Castrum Thorna Civil Partnership have participated in our ’Save the Caste’ week. Similarly, we have participated in the ’Castles and Castle Ruins Night’ event on the other side of the border in Slovakia.

As we have already proudly reported, our efforts were recognized this year by the Hungarian government by selecting Szadvar to support by the National Castle Program. This led to a longer and more extended excavation in the castle than ever before. This activity of course was controlled and driven by the responsible archeologists of the Herman Otto Museum. The goal of the program is to search, clean and conserve some of the more ‘interesting’ parts of the castle and create spectacular attractions which would bring more tourists to this hidden part of the country.

Due to that, during the ‘Save the Castle week’ this year we had the opportunity to work not only in the upper castle but also in the lower fortress which was a surprisingly huge building and still has 40-50 feet high walls! It was once the fortified lower station of the ’csiga’ – a medieval elevator which had been used to pull water and wood and other supplies to the higher castle. It might have been a wooden ’railroad’ where a horse powered ‘dry mill’ was pulling a carriage from the lower castle. Traces of the wooden rail structure carved in the stone were found on the side of the castle hill.

But most of the volunteers were working uphill, where four new excavation trenches were opened on the northern wall of the outer bailey (this is where the elevator used to arrive). Probably because of the National Castle Program there were many fresh faces among us. We were very happy because many young people became interested in saving a part of our cultural heritage. Everyone had an exciting time finding artifacts such as parts of ceramics, coins, musketeer bullets and other several hundred years old artifacts. The excavation and the conservation works will continue next year. We will keep you posted!

Please see some pictures from the events in Szadvar and in Torna (Slovakia). Both events were wonderful experience and we are sure that this collaboration will be fruitful for both castles and for the people dedicated to save them.

You can find more photos on our website (Hungarian):

https://www.szadvar.hu/2018/08/beszamolo-a-xi-varmento-hetrol/

https://www.szadvar.hu/2018/08/varak-varromok-ejszakaja-tornan/

Thank you again for your help!

Friends of Szadvar
Friends of Szadvar
Volunteers from Torna (Slovakia)
Volunteers from Torna (Slovakia)
Artifacts from the trenches
Artifacts from the trenches
Event in Castle Torna (Slovakia)
Event in Castle Torna (Slovakia)
See you in Szadvar
See you in Szadvar

Links:

Szadvar from the south
Szadvar from the south

Our events, like the ‘Save the Castle’ days (March 16-17th) are of course outdoor activities. You cannot save a castle just sitting inside the living room, can you? But that also means weather is a key factor in the success. And this time it was a disaster. Heavy rains and even snow was forecasted for the weekend. Despite that many of us have travelled to Szögliget to meet the team and to breathe in the fresh air and take some walks in the forest and even up in the castle. But there was no opportunity to do much. We will have to take care of the cleaning of the castle in the summer.

On the other hand, it was great news that Szadvar was selected to be supported by the National Castle Program. This is a great achievement for the Friends of Szadvar, too. Without the hard work made there in the last 11 years it surely would not have got the attention from the politicians - who now decided to help this far and hidden part of the country.

That also means that much more extended excavations will take place this year than ever before. The whole fortification will still not be revealed. That would take much more money and time. But at least certain points of the castle will be dug out and preserved.

The affected parts are the following:

  • The lower castle – which once was the lower point of the horse powered elevator in the castle.
  • The Lisztes (Flour) bastion
  • The gate of the castle
  • The Nemet (German) bastion – with a lookout to the north-east

See the attached layout and pictures showing the places. Of course, we will join to the excavations for one week with volunteers and try to help as much as possible.

It was also made clear that after the Castle Program ends we need to maintain our activities. The status of the castle does not change. This is a significant help in our job, but it does not end here. The archeologists say we still have enough secrets to find in Szadvar for the next 100 years.

We hope you will continue with us on that journey. Szadvar has not been saved yet!

Thank you again for all your help!

Friends of Szadvar
Friends of Szadvar
Planned locations for digging
Planned locations for digging
The Gate & Lisztes and Nemet bastions
The Gate & Lisztes and Nemet bastions
Gate tower and Csonka bastion
Gate tower and Csonka bastion

Links:

Lisztes Bastion
Lisztes Bastion

It is usually an eventless period of the year, but recently we have a lot going on.

The warning signs we had planted around the ruins are important due to the growing numbers of hikers and tourists coming to Szadvar. Unfortunately, these signs wear down quickly. So far we could not find a more permanent weather-proof solution, so we have to replace them every other year. This can be done at this time, when other activities can’t. Of course, the castle is hiding in the fog and covered by snow. It has a completely different atmosphere this time. Please see the attached photos (by Tamas Grecmajer, Janos Dobos).

Our next event, the Save the Castle days (March 16-17th) is under preparation now. The plan is to work on the spots of the castle which will most probably be examined during the archeology week in the summer (July 30th – August 4th). We will clean the area of the weeds and bushes and collect the loose stones from the areas and pile them.

It gets harder and harder to find volunteers to come to far reaches of the country and work hard to save the ruins of Szadvar. But we have some positive examples, e.g. there are students coming regularly from a high school at the city of Gyor - which is very far from the castle. So now we are contacting other high schools in the country, mostly from the region of Szadvar and try to make the teachers and the young people aware that Szadvar is there and we can still save it for the future, for them.

The European Union declared 2018 the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage’. We have submitted our 11th archeology week in the summer as a part of the events. You can find that and other information on this page: https://koee2018.kormany.hu/programmes

We are also updating our publications to re-issue them. It is also essential that we can show the achievements and the results of the hard work and the help we received from our volunteers.

And from You.

Thank you again for your help!

Replacing warning signs
Replacing warning signs
Csonka Bastion
Csonka Bastion
The Kitchen which was examined in the summer
The Kitchen which was examined in the summer
The reinforced south wall
The reinforced south wall
Some Friends of Szadvar
Some Friends of Szadvar

Links:

Our
Our 'Save the Castle Days' label and flag

  Well, Yes! Szadvar needs to be saved every year. Nature has its ways to reclaim the land, the mountains and the castle walls by the army of plants and other living organisms. The growing trees and bushes, and even the weeds are using various weapons to ruin the walls and conquer the area of Szadvar again and again. Take it back from the men who built it then abandoned it for hundreds of years.

  However, the army of women and men are back! But since there is still no regular gardener in the castle, we have to come back and cut those growing weeds and bushes every year from the walls and castle baileys. Using the funds we received, we purchased our own weapons – pruning shears, clippers, saws and axes. Then came the soldiers, the enthusiastic people who offer their time and effort to contribute. 40 people decided to spare their time to come to Szadvar in October from even the far reaches of the country to help. 20 out of this group were high school students, most of them joined us for the first time at Szadvar. Thanks to them!

  And obviously, we are also grateful to anyone who could help to raise the funds to enable this, saving the castle!

  After the exhausting adventure of climbing up to the castle and doing the hard work of weeding around the castle we invited the volunteers to see the exhibition of Szadvar's artifacts down in the village (Szögliget). They were happily waving their caps which they received as a present from Friends of Szadvar (see photos).

  Let me mention another important event for Szadvar: the annual gathering of Castrum Bene association at Visegrad. Our lead archeologist, Viktor Gal had shown a presentation about the results and outcome of the 10th archeological week we had in August. Our members proudly participated on this event. We are glad that the results of our work is presented to the public and to the professional architectures and archeologists.

  Thank you again for your help in all of this!

Saved - Again
Saved - Again
The Chef of Szadvar offers lunch
The Chef of Szadvar offers lunch
Salute to Szadvar Exhibition
Salute to Szadvar Exhibition
Presentation at Castrum Bene event
Presentation at Castrum Bene event

Links:

The dedicated team
The dedicated team

More than 30 exhausted but enthusiastic people climbed the Castle hill again on the last day of July, 2017. They were exhausted because it takes a 40-50 minutes ascent to get to the ruins of Szadvar. They were enthusiastic because it is a lot of fun to return here to dig and reveal the long-forgotten walls from under the ground. And to find treasures.

It may not be a treasure for many people to find a piece of iron which looks like a rusted old nail. But knowing that it was part of the castle and it is buried there for more than 300 years is an unbelievable, breathtaking thought. Not mentioning when you find a medieval coin, stove tile or a part of a glass. Probably a glass from which the guards were drinking wine hundreds of years ago!

Thanks to your help, and other funds we could utilize - including donations from our own members of course -, politics and changes of law did not take away the opportunity to organize this event. Thanks to your donations we could help the volunteers by paying halve of their cost of accommodation. It is an immense help for them considering that they come here in their vacation to work. They would have to pay for their travelling, food and accommodation fully without these funds which retains many people.

So after all, the extremely hot weather was the most unmerciful enemy of the Saviors of Szadvar. The temperature was over 35 C degrees (95 in Fahrenheit) during the whole week even on the top of the hill! But regardless the height, the temperature or the costs, we opened 4 trenches and found many nice artifacts. Although the main goal for the archeologists was to verify that the buried walls are located exactly as they were shown in the known layout drawings. Of course, they usually are not.

But now we know more about a kitchen, a bar (with a probably complete tile stove) and we have started to dig out the walls of the chapel as well where we found a window to the inner bailey. It is still a mystery though, what the house in the last trench could have been. Since we have found walls with different thickness but even after getting deep in the trench there was no window or door leading to this “room”. It will be a hard home work for the archeologists of the Museum to find out what it was.

After digging out the ruins we had to fill back the trenches with large stones which are going to support the old walls. If there will be enough funds to enforce these walls, we will have to come back and remove those stones again. Let’s hope we will have to do that!

Please see the attached pictures about the 10th summer excavation week.

Thank you.

Best Regards,

The "smallest" help
The "smallest" help
In the trenches...
In the trenches...
The treasures
The treasures
Standing in the chapel
Standing in the chapel
Peace of mind
Peace of mind

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Friends of Szadvar (Szadvarert Barati Kor)

Location: Szogliget, Hungary - Hungary
Website: http:/​/​www.szadvar.hu
Project Leader:
Szadvar Castle
Project Leader
San Jose, CA United States

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