The first documentary attestation of the Almașu monastery appears in 1234, when is put on the premontres order monasteries list as a subsidiary for the monastery from Oradea Promontory.
The Almașu village existed before the monastery was built, but there is confirmed in documents a century later, starting with 1335. Thereby, in the “papal reckonings” regarding the Archdeacon of Călata, we can find the mention of “Pavel, the priest from Almașu village”.
After the tartar’s incursion, period when the monastery was destroyed, Almaşu’s estate was attained by The Gergely’s, then by The Borsa’s, who probably raised Almaşu stronghold.
At beginning of XIX century The Csákis build a manor in Almaşu, they used stones brought from the fortress.
The locality’s Reformed Church was built in XIII century, and the Orthodox Church in 1939.
The Almașu Stronghold
Donjon – military monument – 13th century
Overlooking from a hill of the Almașu village proximity, the stronghold with the same name is blending in the landscape, becoming a part of the local history. Even if, from the old building, built in the 13th century, today we’ll see only a few ruins, the Almașu history is strongly related with this stronghold which was supervising all the entrances on the Almașu valley.
In the 1241 spring, going to Hungary, the tartars plundered and destroyed the Almașu monastery. In 1249, the Almașu domain will be donated by the king of Hungary, Bela the 4th, to the royal court jude, Paul from the Geregye family, as a reward for his achievements in the tartars’ and theuton’s fights. To be able to confront the tartars in their new attacks, Paul de Zala starts the fortifications’ process of the territories received, this being the beginning of building the Almașu stronghold, starting from the old monastery.
At the beginning was built only a donjon – which still exists, surrounded by a soil wave and a ditch, forming a protection space like a horseshoe and then was added another building. The fortress was built between 1247 – 1278, as one of the oldest and strongest medieval strongholds from Transylvania.
After 1277, the administrator of the stronghold and of the whole domain was the governor from that period, Desiderius (Desew/Dezso) which belonged to a branch of the Borsa family. Being present on the Almașu domain, he personally coordinated the works on the stronghold site, a good reason for him to remain in the people’s memory and the village was named after him, “Desewfalwa”, which means the “village of Dezso/Dejeu” as it is written in different documents.
Over the years, the village was attacked as the result of the conflicts between the rich people from Transilvania and the Hungarian king. Destroyed and ruined, the fortress was rebuilt in 1627, by the Csáky family, and in 1658 it suffered the last big siege: occupied by the tartars who were coming from Cluj direction going to the Meseșan Gate. The beleaguerers enslaved the people and fired the stronghold. Even if the building is in ruins our days, the donjon tower (the main tower, the best fortified medieval tower), the only over ground building, overlooks the surroundings. It is visible from a long distance.
It seems that the fortification had two distinct sectors: the upper stronghold, which it might be the main core and an external fortification to the North. The access in the building was being made through a bridge over the water ditch which was surrounding the stronghold.
The components are kept in small proportion. The only upper element is the ruin of the donjon tower, with a rectangular base (approx. 9,80m, with an edge thick of approximately 3m).
At the ground floor level, in the thickness of the wall, it indicates a tank and at the second and the third floors, two distinct traces of the remaining’s of two chimneys. You can observe fragments of walls going to the East and South East from this tower, some of them, surely added later. It was deciphered the plan of a chapel nearby. All the curtains (defense walls), like other defense elements disappeared from the soil level.
“The inferior stronghold included a castle, the ladies house, the guests house, the dorobanti house and a kitchen. From the superior stronghold to the inferior one, you could get through a gate. The superior part protected the castle, the lord and the lady’s house, the parish, the chapel, the prison, the washing room, the guests room and the kitchen. Under the stronghold, was a vegetables garden, vineyard, bee hives and an orchard. The stronghold was also the owner of a brewery and of a mill. Today, we can see the South-West wall of the donjon and the bases of the buildings inside. The donjon was built from local stone and had approximately 20 meters highness. The paraments (facing structure) still up, are keeping the traces of the beams that were sustaining the upper floors and the trace of the chimney from a corner callas stove.” Csok Zsolt says.
Today we can see the traces of a tower. The access in the tower was made through a bridge over the water ditch which was surrounding the stronghold. The remains are listed in the List of historical monuments 2004 from Salaj County and in the National Archeological Glossary.
The Almașu Days
On the plateau from the base of the hill, from which the donjon continues to mysteriously stand over time, overlooking the village, in the week between the 16th to 22nd of August, in every year, the people are celebrating the Almașu Days, an event that started being celebrated in 2009, in the first Sunday after the Assumption of Virgin Mary celebration.
The access is being made from the centre of the Almașu village and the road is accessible by car, not closer than 100m from the stronghold. In every year, many people are gathering below the fortress for the two celebrations: the 1st of May and the Days of Almașu, in August.
The Csaky Castle Assembly
Baroque monument – the 19th century
The Csaky castle is a building looking like a mansion, in the Almașu village, Sălaj district. It is listed in the Hystorical monuments glossary from Salaj district. The castle was built at the beginning of the 19th century by the Csaky family. Their ancestors arrived on this parts in 1594 when prince Sigismund Bathory gave the Almașu domain to Istvan Csaky, the commander of the transylvanian troops. In 1808, their descendants started building the castle, which, because of its size and the other annexes, became the biggest mansion from the Calata Country. For building, there were use many stones, even sculpted ones, from the Almașu Stronghold. All the annexes were demolished and the mansion became a ruin. The castle also had an impressive park.
At the left edge of the forest, looking at the stronghold, approximately 500-600m, there is a mausoleum and a crypt. Unfortunately, the mausoleum is demolished. The monument’s pieces are spread around the crypt which is also cast down. It is possible that here, the Csaky family is having the eternal sleep.
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