Jewels and clothing of Transylvanian nobles on exhibit at Fagaras Fortress

The Valer Literat Museum in Fagaras (Făgăraş) Fortress is hosting a temporary exhibition of spectacular pieces of clothing and jewelry that belonged to members of Transylvanian nobility. The objects presented give a fascinating insight into the dress styles of the past. Most of the pieces belong to the Late Medieval and Early Modern Times collection of the National Museum of Transylvanian History in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), with some of them dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

The exhibition entitled “The horn of plenty” was opened at the end of last year in Kolozsvár and was then taken to several other museums in Transylvania. Over 200 beautiful pieces of jewelry and clothing are on display, as well as ornate weapons, which once were accessories to the gala outfits of Transylvanian nobles and aristocrats. Some of the costumes and jewels were the funeral outfits and ornaments of the late nobles.

The most precious items are part of the so-called “Treasure of Küköllővár (Cetatea de Baltă, Kokelburg),” which was discovered at the end of the 19th century in the crypt of the Reformed Church of Küküllővár. Out of the three coffins found, one was intact and belonged to a young noblewoman, Sofia Chendi, who passed away around the year 1600. She was buried with several precious pieces of jewelry and dressed in a sable coat with tinsels of gold and a bonnet woven with gold thread and adorned with gemstones and pearls.

The historical objects are arranged in Thomory Tower of Fagaras Fortress, and the exhibition can be visited until January 2021.

The fortress of Fagaras was built at the beginning of the 14th century on the site of a 12th-century wooden fort that had been burned down by the Mongols in 1241. The medieval structure was then enlarged between the 15th and 17th centuries and served as one of the strongest fortifications in Transylvania, with three floors and five towers.

The fortress was also surrounded by a deep moat which, in times of war or social unrest, could easily be filled with water from a nearby creek.

Throughout the centuries, Fagaras Fortress functioned mainly as a residence for princes and their families. Transylvanian Prince Gabriel Bethlen (1613-1629) commissioned architects and artists from Italy who refurbished the fortress. During the rule of Prince György Rákóczi (1630-1649), the castle’s fortifications were doubled and the moat enlarged.

According to historical sources, the interior must have been luxurious in the 17th century, but the former grandeur is long gone. The castle was turned into a military garrison in the 18th century, and in 1948, it was nationalized and functioned as a political prison until it was turned into a museum in the 1950s.

Title image: The exhibition can be visited in Thomory Tower of Fagaras Fortress. The photo shows the Valer Literat Museum in the fortress

Source: Muzeu Făgăraş/Facebook

Author: Éva Zay