The castle on Chorna Hora (Black Mountain) was built over the ancient settlement of the Stanovo Culture (14th – 12th Century B.C.). When the Magyars, the predecessors to the Hungarian nation, first arrived in the Tisa and Danube River basin in the 9th Century AD they recorded a fort on this spot by the local Slavic chieftain. Eventually the Hungarian Arpad Dynasty gained control of the land and left it in the hands of the feudal lords.
In the early 14th Century a struggle for the Hungarian crown resulted in much damage to the castle as it sided against the eventual winner Charles Robert (Charles I of Hungary).
After securing the crown of Hungary, Charles I restored the castle and gave it as a gift to his wife Maria who died shortly after in 1315. The castle eventually became in the possession of the influential Pereni family in the 15th century who would keep control for the next four centuries. The fortress defended the strategic Salt Road.
The Pereni family built a royal palace nearby and invited the Franciscan Order to turn the fortress into a monastery where the castle derived its name. The outer woolen clothing of the monks was called “canco”. St. John of Capistrano, the namesake of the California and Texas towns San Juan Capistrano, is buried in the ruins of the monastery next to the castle. St. John, the patron saint of jurists, was called the Soldier Saint after leading a crusade in 1456 against the Ottoman Empire at the Siege of Belgrade at the age of 70. This battle is another of the great battles that saved Europe from Islam. The Ottomans had just taken Constantinople (Istanbul) and were now moving to take Hungary before they were stopped at Belgrade.
As the Reformation Movement was spreading through the region it claimed as one of its important converts F. Pereni who forced the monks out of the castle in 1556 and turned it into a knight’s stronghold. The monks left after placing a formal curse on the fortress. The fortress was shortly afterwards destroyed by Austrian Emperor Ferdinand when Pereni joined the other Transylvanian lords in their failed rebellion against the Habsburg Empire.