Corvin Castle was laid out in 1446, when construction began at the orders of John Hunyadi (Hungarian: Hunyadi János, Romanian: Iancu or Ioan de Hunedoara) who wanted to transform the former keep built by Charles I of Hungary. The castle was originally given to John Hunyadi's father, Voyk (Vajk), by Sigismund, king of Hungary, as severance in 1409. It was also in 1446 when John Hunyadi was elected as the regent-governor of the Kingdom of Hungary by the Diet.
Built in a Renaissance-Gothic style and constructed over the site of an older fortification on a rock above the small Zlaști River, the castle is a large and imposing structure with tall towers, bastions, an inner courtyard, diversely coloured roofs, and myriads of windows and balconies adorned with stone carvings. The castle also features a double wall for enhanced fortification and is flanked by both rectangular and circular towers, an architectural innovation for the period's Transylvanian architecture. Some of the towers (the Capistrano Tower, the Deserted Tower and the Drummers' Tower) were used as prisons. The Buzdugan Tower (a type of mace after which it was named) was solely built for defensive purposes and it had its exterior decorated with geometric motifs. The rectangular shaped towers have large openings to accommodate larger weapons.
The castle has 3 large areas: the Knight's Hall, the Diet Hall and the circular stairway. The halls are rectangular in shape and are decorated with marble. The Diet Hall was used for ceremonies or formal receptions whilst the Knight's Hall was used for feasts. In 1456, John Hunyadi died and work on the castle has stagnated. Starting with 1458, new commissions were being undergone to construct the Matia Wing of the castle. In 1480, work was completely stopped on the castle and it was recognised as being one of the biggest and most impressive buildings in Eastern Europe.
The 16th century did not bring any improvements to the castle, but during the 17th century new additions were made, for aesthetic and military purposes. Aesthetically, the new Large Palace was built facing the town. A two level building, it hosted living chamber and a large living area. For military purposes, two new towers were constructed: the White Tower and the Artillery Tower. Also, the external yard was added, used for administration and storage.
The current castle is the result of a fanciful restoration campaign undertaken after a disastrous fire and many decades of total neglect. It has been noted that modern "architects projected to it their own wistful interpretations of how a great Gothic castle should look".
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