Sarmizegetusa Regia – The most important military, religious and political center of the Dacian state

Sarmizegetusa Regia

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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Erika Kovari
I am working in the tourism industry for over ten years. Travel writing helped me formulate my core belief about most travel destinations. As Augustine of Hippo said: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.


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