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Count Mercy’s Castle from Carani

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Starting halfway through the road between Timişoara and Arad, on the DN69 / E671 (and then DJ692, see map) and until the Carani village, you are delighted by signs that lead to the Castle of Count Mercy. The disappointment starts from the moment you arrive in front of the historical building and realize that you can not visit it because of several different reasons: there is a fence that limits that access to the castle (also because of the rich vegetation surrounding it) and because the castle is on the property of a local cereal company. More so, because of its current advanced state of degradation, visiting the Castle of Count Mercy is not recommended.

Short history

It is said that in the Middle Ages, in the south part of the current Carani village there was a settlement named Surduk, usually remembered by the German locals. In the same time period, in the north part of Surduk there was a village named Károly, which was mentioned in 1717 with the (probably wrong written) name of Kayragn.

In 1733, the Engelshofen baron builds the Mercydorf (Mercy’s village) settlement in the honor of his predecessor, Claudius Florimund of Mercy (1666-1734), the civilian and military governor of the Banat area. Engelshofen continued Count Mercy’s plans to develop the vineyard, the rice cultures and to introduce the growing of silkworms to the Banat area.

Therefore, Mercydorf becomes the settlement with the biggest Italian and Spanish community of the entire Banat area. The Italian colonists were brought here leading with the abbot, Clemente Rossi, the first vicar of Mercydorf and the director of all the silkworm growing enterprises of the region. After 1765, in Mercydorf, French and German colonists also arrive. Meanwhile, because of the plague, the unhealthy climate and the muddy camps specific to the Banat area, the Italians, Spanish and French people disappear again and at the beginning of the 19th century, Mercydorf becomes a German village1)Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands, a Nonprofit Corporation.

The Carani/Mercydorf (German) village was also known as Káran (Caran, after the creek with the same name that passes through the village), Merczyfalva/Mercyfalva (Hungarian), Merţişoara or Cărani.

The Mercy Count’s residence?

The Carani castle was built between the years 1733-1734, by the Italian and Spanish colonists, being one of the oldest buildings in Banat. Some say that the building, “The Castle of Count Mercy”, as it appears even on the list of Historical Monuments from the Timiş county2)WikipediaLista Monumentelor Istorice din judeţul Timiş, never belonged to the Banat governor, Count Florimund of Mercy. Or, at least, he would have never lived here, dropping dead in the same year in which the castle construction was finished (1734).

The Mercydorf and Jădani domain (Hung. Zsadányi, today Corneşti) had several owners. In 1780, the Janos Saurau count buys the domain from the Treasury. Between 1805-1870, it belonged to the Spanish family Lo Presti de la Fontana D’Angioli and, between 1870 and 1874, to the Janos Saurau count. The last noble family to lived here was the Ferencz Feger de Mercyfalva es Zsadanyi. The last descendent of this family was Oskar Feger (1865-1931). After his death, the fortune was inherited by his wife and children. Then, the same as most of the noble residences of Banat, the Carani castle was nationalized and transformed into a communist APC, function kept until 1989.

If it’s a historic monument, someone has to take care of it. You can’t just leave it like that, to waste away, right?

What events has the castle been through after 1990, we found out right from the cereal company guard, in whose yard the historical monument stays.

Here, on both sides of the castle. were the stables. They’re gone, demolished. Here, the APC headquarters functioned until 1989. The upstairs offices were there, inside the castle. The stables were used as warehouses. After that, it was given back to an heir who now is in Austria.

After the land was bought, in ‘91. The mill director wanted to built the company offices also in the castle. He wanted to renovate it, took off the plaster, connected it to electricity but he didn’t got along with the heir and had to leave it like that, he couldn’t do anything else with it. This (the castle) doesn’t belong to him anymore. No one knows what or whose is it now. I mean, I don’t know!

When he wanted to build the offices here, the castle was still in good shape. He could have fixed it up and it would be at least still standing today. It all collapsed. The basement has collapsed. Everything. If it rains, do you realise? All the water goes inside and the wood roots! That corridor has rotted almost entirely, you can’t even step around there. You can risk to have something fall on your head. A tile can fall and kill you.

Being curious about the first owner of the castle, the guard told us that, as it is said on the signs that lead to the building, the Carani Castle was owned by Count Mercy. That’s what you hear around the village: Merţişoara. After that, the communists changed it to Carani. It is a shame, a real shame. When the communists wandered around here, they also helped with its degradation. No one touched it and, in just a few years, it (the castle) wasted away, just like it happened to those stables. In the ‘90s they were still standing. Here, there used to be an auto shop and oil deposit. After they scared them away, that was it!

Useful information

In Carani village you can still visit the Roman-Catholic Church of “Exaltation of the Holy Cross” (1734), which is located in the vicinity of the Mercy Count’s Castle. Also, only 18 km away from Carani is the Roman-Catholic Church of Vinga (1890).

Written by Alexandra Palconi. Translated by Doiniţa Spuză.

Photo credit: Cristian Sitov/Flavius Neamciuc


1 Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands, a Nonprofit Corporation
2 WikipediaLista Monumentelor Istorice din judeţul Timiş
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