We all like legends as they are based on historical facts but, at the same time, include such fable-like elements which make them memorable for us. As time passed, old legends have become more polished incorporating newer and newer elements over the centuries. The charming legends of Kisnána Castle dating back to the 1400s are amongst these.

A dragon guards the dreaming lovers

One of the troops of the Hussite movement (a religious movement led by John Huss originating from the Czech lands) under the leadership of Commander Tomás took over Nána. István Kompolti asked the King to retake the fortress. King Sigismund arrived at the castle under the pretext of opening negotiations. His troops stayed outside the castle while the king entered to meet Tomás. King Sigismund was welcomed with a lavish dinner where he poured a narcotic potion into the wine of Tomás’ sweetheart, Katka. The potion made the woman obey the king and get the key from Tomás. The sleeping guards took no notice of Katka and when she opened the castle gate, the King and his army sneaked into the castle and slaughtered everybody there. The now-sober Tomás was the one who held out the longest in the tower. Finally he was captured and cast out of the tower. Katka jumped after him, and their bodies fell on a large stone each. The stones immediately bulked up where the lovers’ bodies landed. Sigismund laid a dragon over the dead bodies to guard them for a thousand years and to prevent heresy from resurrecting. The location of the tomb was marked with a stone tablet forming two human figures so that nobody would disturb the dragon. A thousand years from then, Sigismund and his knights will return, the dragon will awake from its dreams and together they will keep the faith and peace.

The legend of the sleeping dragon

Locals believe that once a luck-bringing dragon lived in the woods of the Mátra Hills. The village people and landlords both cherished and respected it. When the last male member of the Kompoltis died, the dragon mourned the family and as the lord of the village was laid to rest in the castle church the dragon descended into the castle well to be next to him. Then it went into a thousand-year-long sleep. As the legend goes, after a thousand years the dragon will awake, the castle walls will be rebuilt, the knights will return and they will protect love and peace. Until that day, the dragon will still bring good luck to those who inhale its breath when it yawns. How could you do that? Throw a coin into the castle well and if you can’t hear it land, it means that the dragon has been yawning and the coin has fallen into its mouth. If you hear the coin hit something, it means that the dragon is asleep and the coin has fallen onto its scales.

King Matthias and the legend of the lion

Matthias Hunyadi once visited the Castle of Nána and was Kázmér Kompolti’s guest. After going hunting, they had a great feast which was also attended by the lords from the nearby castles. Lieutenant Orbán took advantage of the occasion and visited Lady Magdalene, the wife of the Captain of Sirok. When the guards revealed the secret rendezvous, Orbán had to flee without a horse or weapons. On his way he met an Italian man who was wandering in the countryside, going from castle to castle to display his lion and his stone-carving skills. When he returned to the castle, Orbán lied that the lion had attacked him and had eaten his horse. When the Italian man arrived at the castle later, Lord Kompolti sentenced his lion to death. The king’s jester, however, noticed the lion’s dented stomach and Orbán’s lie was revealed. As a test, they made the beast eat an ox so they could prove that it could not have possibly eaten the horse. Thus the lion’s mouth “told the truth”. Because of the unjust sentence, Matthias ordered Kompolti to obtain the truth from the mouth of another lion. The problem was finally solved by Lady Ilona Kompolti who had the Italian man carve a lion-shaped gargoyle from marble. A year later at the dinner party after the hunting, wine poured from the marble lion’s mouth into Matthias’ cup. So the king’s request was fulfilled as according to the old phrase “In vino veritas” that is “In wine there is the truth”. The great king ordered that from that day and only in Nána the phrase should be cited as “In Leo veritas” that is “In the lion there is the truth”.

The treasure of Móré

In 1542, when Hungary had already been torn into three parts, László Móré, the one-time Lord of Southern Hungary and Queen Mary’s former minion but now a debauched robber knight, took refuge in the Castle Nána. He hid his treasures in the secret cellars of the castle. He lurked from that hideaway watching every step of the Turks and waiting for the moment when he could rob the caravan of Bali, the Pasha of Buda. The pasha sent troops to punish Nána and his ultimatum was delivered by Móré’s old deputy captain. As a response, the captain of the castle stuck the head of the envoy on the castle wall. The Turks then launched a siege but the army of Móré held their own. When the captain went to sleep, the triumphant soldiers broke into the cellar and tapped the wine barrels. The Turks heard the drunken soldiers’ singing and started another siege. Seeing the peril, the awakened Captain Móré threw golden coins amidst the besiegers. While the janissaries were picking up the coins, Móré and his sons fled in disguise. They, however, could not get very far and were captured by the Turkish Spahis. The dreaded captain became the prisoner of the Seven Towers in Istanbul. Since then the Castle of Nána has been keeping the secrets and hidden treasures of Móré.

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