On the eastern side of Tapolca Basin, Csobánc, a hill of volcanic origin, rises at the east side of the village Gyulakeszi, made famous by writers and poets. The top of the hill is crowned by Csobánc castle, build in the 13th century. From it’s very top, one has magnificent views of the Tapolca Basin and Lake Balaton.
History of Csobánc castle: The castle was first mentioned in a 1702 certificate, however, construction already began in the 1250’s. The castle was owned by the Rátóti Gyulaffy family until the second half of the 17th century, and originally built by nobles of a distillery. Following the death of King Matthias in 1490, the castle could have become the victim of Miksa Habsburg’s invasion, had it not been turned into a fortress, under Pál Kinizsi’s command. As a result, no Turkish sieges could take the castle by force.
Historian Evlija Cselebi mentions the castle during the losing Turkish army’s retreat. The largest of the castle sieges ended on February 25th, 1707. Emperor General Jean-Louis Rabutin attempted to occupy the castle, again unsuccessfully, despite having an army of a thousand men. During this period, the castle was defended by a half-Finnish captain Wrippinody Károly (for a short time). The castle was protected by about 30 garrisons, some 30 sheltered nobles, women and children, and Lieutenant Martin Sauc’s leadership.
The hostile and sieging armies of Austrians, Serbs, Laban-Hungarian lost nearly 400 soldiers during the battle, including some 52 officers. In 1709, the castle was taken over by the emperor again, starting it’s explosive destruction. An archeological excavation of the castle began in 1953, however, the castle is in a terrible condition today, requiring urgent conservation and renovation work. To this end, a group of friends setup the Foundation for the Castle of Csobánc, in May 2003.
The most beautiful view is from the bare flat top of Csobánc. In the summer, paragliders parade their way on air currents along the hillside. In clear weather, even the 100 km far away Pécs tower can be visible.