A few days ago, the new owners of Teleki Castle located in the Maros County village of Sáromberke (Dumbrăvioara, Scharnberg) organized a tour for the press and a few special guests, presenting the refurbished estate and outlining their future plans for the complex, the Székelyhon.ro news portal reported. Doctor of cardiology and medical professor Imre Benedek and his family bought the castle in 2019 from the heirs of the Teleki family, who live in Canada.
As Benedek stressed, he plans to establish a cultural center, a museum commemorating the Teleki family, a conference room and a cardiac rehabilitation center in the castle. The new owner added that the local community welcomed them when they bought the castle, and they wish to serve the best interests of the town. Accompanied by the doctor and his wife, the guests received a thorough tour of the castle, including the cleaned and renovated underground chambers where the owner said a wine cellar will be created.
Prince Dimitrie Sturdza, a descendant of an old Romanian aristocratic family was also present at the event. He compared Transylvania to Switzerland, where several ethnic groups also live together and where one’s nationality or religion is not really a matter of importance. The local parish priest, Levente Porkoláb, stressed that the Teleki family and the Reformed Church always had a relationship of mutual trust and respect, and he hopes this will be the same with the new owners as well.
The Teleki Castle of Sáromberke is located on the western side of the motorway running from the city of Marosvásárhely (Târgu-Mureş) to Szászrégen (Reghin).
The original Baroque-style residence was built by the Transylvanian Chancellor, Count Sámuel Teleki of Szék (1739-1822), in the last few decades of the 18th century. The count was one of the most educated, avid collectors of books and manuscripts of his time; he started collecting rare books while studying at universities in Basel, Utrecht, Paris and Leiden from 1759 to 1763. He founded the famous Teleki Téka Library in Marosvásárhely, one of the richest Transylvanian collections of books from past centuries.
Sámuel Teleki began building his castle in Sáromberke in 1769, on the eve of his wedding held in 1770 with Countess Zsuzsanna Bethlen de Iktár (1754-1797).
The northern wing was constructed between 1769 and 1770, while work on the southern wing began in 1773. The supervisor of the construction was Pál Schmidt, a renowned German master mason from Marosvásárhely. The annexes behind the northern wing were constructed in the following decades. The imposing, U-shaped farm building finished in 1782 was the work of famous Baroque master mason Johann Hoffmann.
The present-day castle is dominated by the central wing, built in Neo-Baroque-style in the early 20th century by the Hungarian explorer Sámuel Teleki (1845-1916), the chancellor’s great-grandson.
The architect, István Möller (1860-1934), consciously used the elements of Baroque architecture in his design and harmoniously connected the 18th-century parts of the castle with the new wing, which has an attic as well. The new Neo-Baroque details perfectly fit the old façades. The originally mansion-like residence thus became similar to the castles of the Baroque era, with the building wings surrounding an interior yard (similar to a cour d’honneur or court of honor) in a U-shape.
The furnishing of the rooms in this central wing could not be entirely finished, as in the period between the two world wars, the family’s finances went downhill. Nevertheless, in the interwar period, the castle was described as one of the most beautifully furnished mansions of the Transylvanian nobility.
After the depredations that followed World War II, there was almost nothing left of the original furniture and decor. But the 18th-century furnishings and functions of the interiors can be reconstructed based on contemporary inventories. According to historical sources, the great hall and living quarters of the lord and lady of the house, as well as the chambers of all family members, were located in the northern wing of the castle, while the southern wing housed the laundry room, kitchen and chambers of the cook and bailiff. After a side building behind the north wing parallel to the motorway was completed, the personnel were moved here, while the southern wing was used to house guests.
Until the beginning of World War II, behind the south wing, there was also a large riding school with a semi-cylindrical plan and a shingled roof, with the date of construction – 1825 – written on its façade. A family crypt was built by the explorer Sámuel Teleki as well. The castle, like all other noble mansions, was nationalized during communism. The heirs of the Teleki family later asked for its restitution and finally received the property back in 2005, but they decided they would rather sell the estate. The castle had been on the market for 10 years before Dr. Benedek bought it in 2019.
Title image: Detail of the castle constructed by the founder of a great Transylvanian library, Sámuel Teleki, and his great-grandson, the explorer of the same name.