Neamt Citadel (Romanian: Cetatea Neamt or Cetatea Neamtului) is a medieval fortress located in north-eastern part of Romania, near Targu Neamt, Neamt County. It was built in the 14th century, during Petru I of Moldavia’s reign and extended in the 15th century. The citadel had a key part in Stephen III of Moldavia’s defense system, along with Suceava, Hotin, Soroca, Orhei, Tighina, Chilia and Cetatea Alba.

Later, the hypothesis on the beginnings of the citadel could be reconsidered. Thus, in the material dating from the lowest layer of citadel, revealed by systematic investigations, were identified coins from the reign of Petru I Musat from 1375-1391 years.

Today is established that Neamt Fortress was built in the second part of the reign of Petru I, during which Moldova has experienced a continuous political and economic development. International travelers can admire the Neamt Citadel like a large building, which required a huge effort and considerable material resources that is made of huge stone bricks.

Neamt Fortress was clearly documented a few years later, approximate in 1395, during the expedition of King Sigismund of Hungary in Moldova. “The Neamt from mountains” is stated in the Russian Chronicle that describes the cities to the east of the Carpathians, dated between 1387-1391, which could refer both to the city and the citadel.

An impressive fact is that the fortress was built on a rocky triangular spur, with height of about 480 m above sea level and 80 m above the level of Neamt River. The citadel has an unequable sides shape, constructed to the configuration of the land. The northern and southern sides are 38.5 and 37.5 m long, the eastern side have a length of 47 m and the western side is 40 m long.

One of the most attractive views of the fortresses is the towers of the four corners which are not placed outside the walls that give a charm to the building. The squares are directly into the frame walls. The natural fortification of three sides permitted their building outside. Moreover, every tourist needs to know that the garrison had currently 300 soldiers which give to fortress the smell of battles and war on its territory.

In the 18th century, it lost its political or military importance and began to deteriorate. During the reign of Mihail Sturdza – prince of Moldavia from 1834 to 1849, the citadel was protected and in 1866 was declared a historical monument. Nowadays, the fortress represents one of the most visited objectives in Romania that can show to every guest the national history.

By rising over the city, Fagaras Fortress protects the  residents of Fagaras city with its magnificent and greatness, being one of the largest and best preserved medieval citadels in Europe. This is one of the reasons why it was always been desired due to its strategic placement.

Fagaras Fortress is one of the most significant monuments of Fagaras area, being an important home for nobles and principles. This Feudal Complex was made on the site of a wooden fortress built in the 12th century. The first citadel was strengthened buy a moat and ramparts. Because of the fire the construction was built of stone. In the 16th century, Michael the Brave takes possession of this fortress. Michael the Brave was Prince of Wallachia (as Michael II, 1593-1601), Prince of Moldavia (1600) and de facto ruler of Transylvania (1599–1600). After that, this fortress was given to Lady Stanca, his wife, as a gift. Thereby the fortress becomes a place of shelter for his family and his possessions.

In the 17th century, Fagaras Fortress became Fagaras’s political and administrative center.

Every leader of the fortress made improvements to this place. This includes Gabriel Bethlen who was the Principle of Transylvania between 1613-1629. During his reign were made open loggias in massive masonry arches. In the fortress corners were built four bastions in Italian style.

Fagaras Fortress was attacked numerous times throughout history, but the extremely well done defense system, the thick walls and location in a marshy area, can entitled it “ the fortress that never have been conquered”, at least not by arms force.

Between Gheorghe Rakoczi II (Principle of Transylvania between 1648-1660) the walls from North and South were filled with ground, creating the resistance of 8 meters thick. Besieged and taken over by Austrians, these building became military and political prison in 1699.

The American Publication Huffington Post ranked Fagaras Fortress on Number 2 among the most beautiful castles in the world in 2014.

After leaving the citadel visitors can walk on the canal and nourish white swans. Also, tourists can cross the lake with water bikes or shop some souvenirs, at specially designed wooden boxes.

Museum of Fagaras “Valer Literat”

It is wearing the name of the man who founded in 1923, Professor Valter Literat.  The museum has mixed profile (history, art, ethnography) and offers 18 rooms to visit. Among collections that can be found inside visitors can see: archaeology, weapons, coins, tiles, old books, documents, glass factory, plastic arts and crafts, folk pottery, costumes, fabrics, custom icons on glass, wood art, crafts.

Fagaras Fortress is an optimal choice for all ages. You can spend here a relaxing day or enjoy the multiculturalism with your family and friends, and learn about diverse cultures which marketed this place from one century to another.

The Poenari Citadel is located in Arges County, 4 kilometers away from the Vidraru Barrage and the Transfagarasan road. It is a ruined castle built at a height of 860 meters, on a cliff of the Cetatea Mountain. The Poenari Citadel is directly connected to the renowned Vlad the Impaler, sometimes even called Vlad’s Castle, and it has been under a great deal of touristic and media attention.

The building dates back from the 13th century and it was under the possession of the Black King. The Citadel of Poenari underwent a series of name and residents changes throughout the years, only to be thereafter abandoned. However, in the 15th century, it was brought back to life, this time by Vlad the Impaler. After his death in 1476, Poenari continued to be in use, but along the 16th century it was left again in ruins.

Besides its connections to Vlad Dracul, the Poenari Citadel has another unique trait. The way tourists can reach it is by going up 1480 stairs. They were built in 1970, when Romanians decided to make the edifice more touristic and to provide an easier access to visitors.

In the present day, the fortress is missing one of its parts due to an earthquake.

Despite this, in the older days, the Poenari Citadel’s position was considered anything but random. The size and the location of this fortress would make it very hard for enemies to try and take control of the Citadel. This defence potential was obviously remarked by the Wallachian Vlad the Impaler, this being the reason he reconditioned it.

Under the reign of Dracula, the Poenari Citadel bears a few legends. One of them implies Vlad’s most known “hobby”, impaling disorderly men. Seeing as some Boyars were plotting against him, Vlad wanted to punish them by making them work for the restoration of Poenari. For this, he impaled the older men on the day of Easter, scaring the younger Boyars to death. So, the Boyars swore to obey the Impaler, who immediately ordered to begin the works on Poenari. It is believed that these Boyars even died from exhaustion, after having worked so hard on the Citadel.

The other legend is that of the Lady’s River, which says that the first wife of Dracula committed suicide here at Poenari, as she was terrified that she would be kidnapped during a Turks’ invasion. Legend says that her body crashed onto the rocks of a river. As the river became red due to her blood, it is now called the Lady’s River.

The legends that adorn the Citadel of Poenari, along with the splendor of the surrounding landscape incite the tourist to a hike and a grasp of Vlad the Impaler’s life.

The cumulation of these six Dacian Fortresses in the Mountains of Orastie is due to the Dacians need of protection against the Roman takeover. They were all created around the 1st century, BC and AC and played a huge part in the wars between Dacians and Romans.

Most of the fortresses are located in Hunedoara County: Costesti-Cetatuie, Costesti-Blidaru, Piatra Rosie, Banita and Capalna, which is located in Alba County. Sarmizegetusa Regia is the most important one. A full article on the Dacian capital can be found on the blog. The well-kept relics of the fortresses represent the Iron Age, and in 1999, they were included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Costesti-Cetatuie Fortress, used to be the home to Dacian kings. Also, it is believed that was the center of a big Dacian settlement. It was destroyed during the Daco-Roman war, quickly restorated and then destroyed in its entirety. The remainings are an earth wall defensive system, a typical Dacian wall, named murus Dacicus and the foundation of a tower.

The Costesti-Blidaru Fortress, located at the 750 meters peak of Blidaru, represents the strongest fortification, spread across an astounding 6000mp plateau. Costesti-Blidaru has two fields. The first fortress has the shape of a trapeze and is situated on the upper plateau. It has 4 towers on each corner. The second fortress was built after, west from the first one.

The Fortress of Piatra Rosie (Red Stone) located near Bosorod village, is a more secluded Dacian monument, for it is built on a cliff. Getting to Piatra Rosie implies a walk in the woods by foot on a road paved by the Dacians, because cars are not allowed. Who gets here is not only a tourist, but a real explorer.

The fortifications from Banita were destroyed during the Daco-Roman wars. The constructions within this Fortress had an obvious military functions: fighting platforms, defense walls and a watchtower. This fortress’ main role was to block the southern access to Sarmizegetusa Regia.

The Fortress of Capalna, the only one located outside of Hunedoara, in Alba County, had a short life, because it was totally destroyed after a fire caused in times of war. Today, a few relic walls and a tower can still be seen. Capalna was heavily dug up by treasure-hunters but archaeologists have also made some authorized searches. They found ceramic objects with geometric ornaments, bronze pots, tools, iron, golden and bronze jewelry and Roman coins. All of these can be seen at the National Museum of Alba Iulia or Sebes Museum.

These UNESCO World Heritage sites, encircling the Dacian core, Sarmizegetusa Regia, makes up a wonderful tour to explore the Dacian heritage of Romania.

The Alba Carolina Fortress, located on the Citadel Hill in Alba Iulia, the city of the Great Unification, is the most representative Baroque, star shaped fortress in Romania and also one of the vastest in the East of Europe.

It was built in the 18th century, between 1714 and 1738. It amazingly encloses two preexisting fortresses. The first one to be erected was the Roman Castrum of the 13th Legion Gemina, in 106AD.  Second came the Medieval Citadel of Belgrade, built between the 16th and 17th century.

The architect who designed the Vauban-type edifice (Alba Carolina, Alba Iulia) was Giovanni Morando Visconti, having 20.000 servants execute his concept. At the same time the constructions started, the work was dedicated to the Emperor Charles VI. After it was finished, it served as the military base of Transylvania and also as a weaponry warehouse, both meant to ban Turkish invaders from getting to Central Europe. By nature, the Alba Carolina Fortress became obsolete in the 20th century.

The wall that embraces the fortification is 12 kilometers long. The seven bastions, each named after a Saint, form Alba Carolina into a shape of a star. Such an impressive aerial view!

The construction of the fortress implied an immense volume of works, adding a sewerage system, a mill, wells, warehouses and all other essentials for 10.000 soldiers.

The fortress has six imposing gates, unique in European military architecture. The gateways are extravagantly embellished with statues and magnificent ornaments, by virtue of which they are considered samples of extreme value.

The First Gate, situated in the East of the Fortress Ensemble, is shaped as a triumphal arch. The facades are adorned with ancient mythology figures, such as Hercules, Aeneas and Perseus.

The Second Gate is made out of two square poles with flowery and leafy decorations.

The Third Gate represents the main entrance in the fortification and is the most important statuesque work of Alba Carolina. The edifice has an abundant decor, illustrating battle scenes, weapons, trophies, coats of arms and other military affairs. On its Eastern part there is an equestrian statue of Charles VI. The interior facade features statues symbolizing abundance, wisdom, moderation and power.

The Fourth Gate is situated on the western side and is decorated only on the inside. The inspiration for this gateway was also of mythological and military sense, displaying weapons, flags and a personification of wrath.

The Fifth Gate is not an ornamental one, but rather a tunnel, not far from the Fourth Gate, to which it’s connected through a wooden bridge.

The Sixth and final Gate, is made out of two adorned stone pillars. It connects to the Fifth Gate through a spectacular narrow passage.

The complexity of each of these gates can be observed during en detail tour of the Fortress’ Gates, from East to West.

Once these gates entered, the tourist will discover that there’s even more to Alba Carolina.

Some of the most meaningful interior buildings are the Batthyaneum Library, Apor Palace, Babylon Building, now National History Museum of Unification, Union Hall, and the Princely Palace.

The Alba Carolina fortress (cetatea Alba Carolina) encloses a myriad of edifices, which give the atmosphere of an actual city, perfectly preserved for centuries on end.

Sarmizegetusa Regia: it was the capital and most important military, religious and political center of the Dacian state before the war with the Roman Empire.

It was the nucleus of a strategic defense system of six Dacian Fortresses of the Orăştie Mountains, used by Decebal for defense against the Roman conquest. The archaeological sites Sarmizegetusa is located in the village Gradistea Muncelului, Hunedoara County.

After the conquest of Dacia and its incorporation in the Roman Empire, the capital was moved to Ulpia Traiana ( Sarmizegetusa) located over 40 km away.

The dacian ruins of the Dacian fortress known as Sarmizegetusa Regia, were included in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is not known certainly the pronouncement in Dacian language, and it is not known the meaning of the word. There are some assumptions, that according which the name is composed with two basic elements: zermi= rock, height and zeget = citadel , so the name will be translated as “High Citadel”.

Since Sarmizegetusa initially was not a military fortification, but a religious and civil settlement, etymology should be considered with certain reservation. It is possible that the name shows the sacredness of the place or that it was a royal fortress at the beginning.

Another theory says that the name has another meaning: “Sarmatians and Getae settlement” from the latin “sarmis et getusa”.

All this attempts to find the meaning of the name Sarmizegetusa generated theory that are only at the stage of hypotheses.

The fortress from the Gradistea Hill is the largest of the Dacian fortifications. Situated on a cliff of 1200 m high, the fortress was the strategic center of defense system from Orastie Mountains and included six citadels.

The fortress, a quadrilateral formed of massive stone blocks, was a construction on five terraces an area of about 30,000 m². Sarmizegetusa also contained a sacred area. Among the most important Dacian large circular sanctuaries is the Circular Calendar.

The walls of the fortress were 3 meters thick and 4 -4 meters high.
Nearby dacian wall, on an area of 3 km lies a large civil settlement, were can be seen many homes, workshops, warehouses, barns and water storage.

At 100 m to east, next to the city gate, are the sanctuaries that have various shape and size.
During the Roman hostilities the sanctuaries were destroyed and we don’t know for sure if it was one large sanctuary of 2 smaller built one next to each other.

Civilians were living near the fortress, on terraces build at the bottom of the hill. Dacian nobility had water in their residences, brought true ceramic pipes.

Archaeological inventory shows that Dacian society had a high standard of living.
The Dacian capital reached its peak under Decebal, Dacian king was defeated by the Roman Empire during the reign of Emperor Traian. After defeating the Dacians, the conquerors established a military garrison there and began to tear down the city.

The new Roman capital, Ulpia Traiana Augusta Sarmizegetusa was built at a distance of 40 km Sarmizegetusa. Emperor Hadrian wanted the new capital built by Traian to be perceived as a continuation of the Dacian one, and this is why he named it the same: Sarmizegetusa.

Today on the spot of Ulpia Traiana is the city Sarmizegetusa, from Hunedoara County.

All 6 fortresses from Orastie Mountains ( Sarmizegetusa Regia, Luncani – Piatra Rosie, Costesti – Blidaru, Castesti – Cetatuie, Capalna, Banita) that formed the Dacian fortifications defense system are now part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

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Built in the middle of the XVIII century, on the Fortress Hill, at the altitude of 378 meters. Due to its strategic position the fortress guarded among centuries the exit and entry in Transylvania true Mures valley.

Deva fortress is considered one of the most important fortification in Transylvania. It was mastered by princes and princesses, lords and duchesses, it was given as a gift, sold or bombed, and every event let its mark on the fortress: a new wall, a new room, and even a new floor.

The owners wanted to use it as a luxury home, not only as a defense fortress.

Today its ruins are visible from far, thanks to its strategic location on the top of the hill that dominates the Mures Valley.

The fortress was built in the thirteenth century, but traces of occupation are much older: there are discoveries that date back to the Neolithic or Bronze Age.

The first documentary referring to the Deva Citadel dates from 1269.

Legends with fairies and golden-haired girls, who have mastered the most beautiful places in Hunedoara County, haven’t spared Deva Citadel. But that was in bygone times. And their deeds were told by grandparents to grandchildren during winters next to the fireplace.

Testimonies about the fact that people lived in the hill fortress we have from Neolithic and Bronze Age. But for sure Dacian people had here defense fortifications and a strategic point from where they could supervise the whole Mures valley.

Roman conquerors recognized the potential of the place and they strengthened the fortifications . It’s no wonder they invested in the citadel, because the trade route that connected with the rest of the empire, also called the Road of Salt , was at the foot of the hill. In this period the Mures Valley has experienced a maximum economic prosperity.

Migratory people destroyed everything on their way, disposed the inhabitants and no one new anything about Deva, until the second half of the XVIII century.

In 1269, Deva fortress in mentioned in a donation act of the young king Stephan, son of Bela IV, who makes a donation to a Wallach Count for his bravery in the battles under the city walls of Deva.

Than in 1444 Iancu de Hunedoara receives the Deva Citadel, with all his riches :56 villages and gold mines. Also is this period of time is mentioned for the first time in a document, the Deva Fair, a settlement at the base of the hill. Corvin family dominion on the fortress and Deva domain ends in 1504.

From now , Deva Citadel begins to occupy an important place in the history of Transylvania.
Transylvanian voivodes and princes actually lived here or were guest of the fortress for a few days.

In the second half of the XVII century, Prince Gabriel Bethlen built the fortress bastion that served as a prison and place of torture. At its base, raises a real Renaissance palace: Magna Curia Palace.

May 2, 1773 Joseph, the future emperor of the Habsburg Empire, visited the fortress Deva in his wanderings through Transylvania. Ten years later, he returns to Deva as a sovereign, to find out what is the atmosphere among the locals.

One year later, in 1784, starts the revolt lead by Horia, Closca and Crisan, and the fortress will be the safe place for the nobility in this area, run away from their fields scared by the peasants and miners.

In 1817, the Emperor Francisc I and his wife visited Transylvania and they were impressed by the beauty of the place, they ordered the restoration of the citadel. During 12 years they had worked to rebuild the fortress with a lot of money and sacrifice.

But on 13 August in 1849, a big explosion at the gunpowder warehouse, mostly destroyed the fortress. Once with the walls, aslo died part of the soldiers guarding the fortress.

Since then the citadel that dominates the city was the attraction for locals and travelers, who have climbed the hill on foot to discover what is hidden inside the walls of stood or attracted by extraordinary panoramic view over the Mures valley.

Today, access to the Citadel possible by foot on the old road or trails beaten by locals, but also by using a cable car, actually a mono-liner elevator unique in this part of Europe.