Once considered the Versailles of Transylvania, Bánffy Castle in Bontida is one of the most beautiful array of historical buildings in the Carpathian Byzantium. Although there was probably once a nobiliary residence in the 14th and 15th centuries, the written documents only date back the 16th century.
Denes Bánffy, a counsellor of the Prince of Transylvania Mihai Apafi I, was the one who initiated the construction of the ensemble at the dimensions it is today, under the guidance of an Italian architect. This first building was designed as a fortified ensemble with bastions in the 4 corners, a high tower at the entrance and a garden at the south of the ensemble.
His heir, Denes Bánffy II started the restoration of the castle in 1745 in Austrian Baroque style. At first the reconstruction focused on the yard in front of the building, behind the main gate, and new spaces were created – the riding hall, the stables, the shed and the servants’ lodges. He also reshaped the castle by building two new wings positioned in a U-form. He created the amusement park on the bank of the river Somes in the same Baroque style with alleys, a lake statues and fountains. His descendent will demolish the gate tower in 1820 and with the materials from the tower he will build a water mill for the villagers.
In 1944, the German troops evicted the owners to use the castle as a military hospital. The building was seriously affected at the end of World War II when the Germans, in their retreat, attacked, plundered and set the whole ensemble on fire. All furniture was destroyed and so was the picture gallery, the famous portrait gallery and the library. The Baron Nicolae Bánffy, the owner of the castle at the time and the last had started negotiations between Hungary and Romania for both countries to take side against Germany, the devastation of the castle being allegedly an act of revenge of the German government against the Baron.