Secrets of Uzhgorod Castle. Lost Druget family crest

In the very center of ancient Uzhgorod, there is the Castle Hill with the legendary Uzhgorod castle on top.

This oldest and most valuable historical and architectural monument of the city is its main attraction. The castle is almost one thousand years old, has been well preserved to this day and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

For almost four centuries, the history of Uzhgorod and the Hungarian state was closely associated with the family of Count Drugets. They came to Hungary at the beginning of the fourteenth century from Neapolitan kingdom together with the contender for the Hungarian crown Károly Róbert.  The first Hungarian Druget was Philip Druget, who received the Uzhgorod castle and the surrounding territory as an honor, and in 1322-1327 he served as the royal palatine (the first minister).

The only entrance to the palace was through a single gate, which was closed by a draw bridge. The entrance, like some of the windows and doors, was decorated with a white stone portal in the Renaissance style. On the framing of the main gate of the palace (inner castle), there is the date – 1598 (in some sources 1592). That is, the main construction work was completed by that time. A stone with a carved Druget family crest was mounted into the wall above the gate.


In 1884, well-known ethnographer, founder of the museum business in Transcarpathia Tivodar Legotsky reported in the Hungarian scientific journal “Turul” about the old family crest of Drugets, which was preserved above the main entrance to the castle palace. The heraldic shield was located above the cornice, practically standing on it. The scholar not only provided a detailed description of the crest, but also made an accurate drawing of it. It was a square-shaped stone slab with a skillfully embossed relief. Strips with three buckles divided the central composition into two halves. The upper part depicted four birds, the bottom one – three birds. They all faced the right heraldic side. At the head the composition, there was a plant ornament with decorative stylized leaves. The crest resembled other well-known crests and stamps of the Drugets family in XVI-XVII centuries. T. Legotsky noted that even at that time the stone slab was already cracked, and the bottom part was almost completely lost.


Scholars are still debating about which birds are depicted on the crest of the Drugets – starlings or blackbirds. Interestingly, when describing the crest, the scholar repeatedly used the word birds, without saying their specific name. And only once, in parentheses, perhaps as an assumption, he wrote “seregéli”, which is translated from Hungarian as starling. Without going deep into this issue, I would like to note that blackbird is a rare figure in European heraldry. It was mostly used in the territorial heraldry of France and less frequently on family crests. Meanwhile, the starling is a non-heraldic figure and is used mainly in the territorial heraldry.


In the photo from the 1930s, the surviving upper part of the crest with four birds and buckles below is still clearly visible. The lower part of the heraldic shield was already lost at that time. Perhaps the reason for this was the installation of a metal canopy over a stone cornice. Recall that at that time, the castle hosted Uzhgorod theological seminary of the Mukachevo Greek Catholic Diocese (1778-1944).


And in the picture from 1968, we see only a large hole in the wall where the heraldic shield used to be. It is not known when exactly during those 30 years the old crest of Drugets, which served as the guard of the castle gates for almost three centuries, was finally lost or dismantled. During the restoration work, they did a reconstruction but, unfortunately, it is not quite accurate. Because only the upper part of the heraldic shield with four birds and stylized leaves was reproduced


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