Mikes de Zabola

The Mikes family


The family appears in the political rows of the middle ages related to the National Assembly of Agyagfalva in 1506. Ever since the members of the family stood by the Principality of Transylvania taking part as envoy (ex. the envoy of Transylvania in Venice), general and chancellor for several occasions in the Prince’s matters in the 16th-17th century. By the beginning of the 17th century Mihály MIKES became the commissioner of Háromszék and the family took part in the freedom fight of II. Ferenc RÁKOCZI on the side of the freedom fighters.

The latest developments on the Zabola Estate have been initiated by Count Benedek MIKES (1819-1878) and later by Count Ármin MIKES (1868-1944). The latter built the so called “New Castle” as an office building and guesthouse for his visitors.

Exile, imprisonment, torture and dispossession have always been characteristic of all generations of the family. Two brothers of the (catholic) Mikes family found even their place in Hungarian literature after they had kidnapped the daughter of a well-known (protestant) family in 1634; their properties were subsequently confiscated by the government. ("Özvegy és leánya" "The widow and her daughter" from Zsigmond KEMÉNY).

The grimmest period though started in 1949 when on the night of March 2nd, Shrove Tuesday, noble families were gathered and evicted in the course of several hours from the territory of the whole country. The reckless men came out of nowhere and gave the order to pack a suitcase and leave the estate within half an hour. This was the moment when Countess Katalin MIKES (a little girl at that time) had to leave the Castle on the creaking shards of glass of the broken front door. The following decades continued with labour camps, compulsory homes, impossibility of studying and constant threat of being convicted. The family crypt behind the castle was removed in the late 1950s.

Katalin MIKES was finally allowed to leave the country for her Austrian relatives in 1960. After the revolution in 1989 she returned to Zabola Estate with her late husband Shuvendu Basu Roy Chowdhury of Ulpur and their sons, Alexander and Gregor to fight for the restitution of the properties and rebuild what has been neglected and destroyed for decades.

The restauration works are still in progress…

The Estate

The history of the Mikes Estate of Zabola dates back to the 15th century when supposedly a building, fortified with a gate tower, already stood in the place of today’s castle. That building has been adapted in the 17th and 19th century. The building as it is today is mentioned for the first time in written records in 1629; The bolted ceilings are signs of its Transylvanian renaissance origins. The print in Balázs ORBÁN’s book, entitled “A Székelyföld Leírása” (The Portrayal of Szeklerland, 1868), describe this as well. The old mansion was extended in 1867 by Count Benedek MIKES (1819-1878) and his swiss wife Sophie MOSER of Schaffhausen to include a mansard: that is when the building gained its current shape.

Count Ármin MIKES (1868-1944) constructed a new, two-storied building around 1905, where he accommodated his private guests. The new building is connected to the old castle by a tunnel and a two-storied bridge.

During the Second World War, the estate was plundered. In 1949 the building was nationalized, and the family thrown out. The Castle went through a row of functions starting from being the holiday home of the communist national press association, school and sanatorium. The property was revendicated by the Roy-Chowdhury family (the successors of the Mikes’) in 1999. However, only by 2005 the state finally handed over the buildings. The estate is under constant restauration and construction.

Some of the buildings (The Machine, House, The New Castle, The Old Saddle House, The Garden House and the Old Stables) together with the surrounding widespread English garden currently serves as a boutique hotel.

Former Mikes castles and manor houses in Transylvania: