Cetatea de Baltă (Küküllővár – Târnava citadel) is a settlement in the county of Alba, located on the banks of the Târnava Mică river. It can be reached by DJ 107, the road which links Târnăveni and Blaj. There are numerous historical references to the site. Even the name of the village suggests the existance of a fortification, which at first glance can be associated whith the castle dominating the surroundings. But today the old citadel is no longer visible and the theory that the actual castle was built on the ruins of the former citatel was proved wrong when the ruins of the former citadel were identified East of the castle.
The castle dates back to the end of the 16th century – the first half of the 17th century. The exact dates of construction, as well as the beneficiary, are unknown.
The construction of the castle ends around the year 1624, when the domain belonged to István Bethlen de Iktár, the brother of Gábor (Gabriel) Bethlen de Iktár – prince of Transylvania.
In 1785 Gábor Bethlen de Bethlen purchases from the fiscal authority the domain of Cetatea de Baltă together with that of Iernut. He sells the first one to his brother Miklós (Nicolae) the same year. The new owner will undertake a vast renovation program.
The last owner of the Bethlen de Bethlen family was Márkus Bethlen. He is said to have either lost the domain playing cards (together with other family possessions) or to have sold it to the Haller family. They owned the castle until the expropriation in 1948.
During the communist regime, the castle was used for several purposes and finally housed a department of IAS (State Agricultural Company) Jidvei. During all these conversions, the original furniture and decorations either disappeared or were destroyed.
Several years after 1989, the castle was given back to the descendants of the Haller family, who sold the castle to the Necșulescu family, the owners of the wine company Jidvei. In 2003, the new owners start restoring the castle, planning to give the building a destination closer to its original one.
Currently, the castle is the image of the Jidvei wine company. It is private property but it can be visited (upon receiving consent from the owners). The castle preserves both the Renaissance architectural elements and a part of the Baroque ones originating from the 1773 renovation. The current owners have added some extra decorations which wish to offer the interior a medieval atmosphere. Overall, the interior offers an eclectic artistic experience, through which the visitors can see evolution of the castle in its four centuries of existence: from the Renaissance window frames and vaults, Baroque decorations to the modern pavements and modern replicas of medieval armors.
The castle was built in the first half of the 17th century. Its plan is typical for Renaissance architecture in Transylvania – a compact rectangular volume, lacking the inner courtyard, with five towers. Four of these are circular and are placed at the corners. The fifth tower, placed on one of the secondary facades, is octagonal and houses a secondary wooden staircase.
The main staircase, made of wood, is placed on the front side of the castle and ends in a closed terrace. These elements were added in a later stage of construction, during the 18th century.
The castle is composed of cellar, ground floor, one story and the attic. The rooms on the ground floor were destined for the servants and the rooms on the first floor housed the noble family.
The rooms in the basement have semicircular brick vaults and the ones on the ground floor have Renaissance style vaults with penetrations. The rooms of the first floor have brick vaults supported by metal beams, a system specific for the 19th century which probably replaced the original Renaissance painted wooden ceiling. Also, some of the original stone door frames, carved in Renaissance style, can be found inside the castle.
The annexes are placed left of the gate. Other former components of the ensemble are the chapel, placed on the edge of the hill, and the granary which today is almost completely destroyed.
Behind the castle, one can see an ornamental element bearing the inscription “Anno 1773. Arcem hane restauri, innovari et adornari fecit excel. ac. Illus. d. Comes Micolaus de Bethlen Sacrae S. Reg. Mai. Camerarius status et gubern. act int. consiliarius et per magnum Tranniae principatum thesaurarius regius 1773'' (Nicolaus Bethlen, illustrious count, regional chamberlain of the state and government, royal counselor and treasurer over the Great Principality of Transylvania, commanded that this castle be renovated and embellished in 1773). Probably, this element was part of the baroque fronton visible in archive images.
Another element that was added during this stage of construction is an ornament containing the coats of arms of the Bethlen and Csáky families. The coat of arms of the Bethlen de Bethlen family shows a snake while the coat of arms of the Csáky family consists of severed Tatar head. This element was initially placed above the entrance gate, on the façade oriented towards the castle.
hist. Irina Leca