Medieval fortresses

Deva fortress

Deva fortress dates back to 1269, when it was documentarily mentioned as Castrum Deva and it is located on Dealul Cetății [The Fortress Hill], at the foot of which lies the town of Deva, at an altitude of 371 m. Deva fortress is considered to be one of the most important mediaeval fortifications in Transylvania. The particular strategic position of the height overlooking Deva made for its habitation as early as prehistoric times, traces of habitation since the Neolithic and the Bronze Age having been discovered. The fortress was turned by Iancu de Huneoara into a nobleman’s castle, later on successively extended and becoming one of the most powerful strongholds in Transylvania. The fortress guarded the entrance into and exit from Transylvania along the Mureș valley, one of the most important roads to the center and West of Europe. In 1848, it was the headquarters of the imperial troops that took action against the Hungarian revolution. In 1849 the ammunition depot was blown up, which badly affected the fortress. At present, one can see several wall belts going along the contour, square or round towers and stately gates, as well as the ruins of the palace, restoration works being in course. The access to Deva Fortress is possible both on foot, starting from the town park (The Fortress Park) and by means of a cable car starting from the square at the foot of the hill.

Orăștie fortress

Orăștie fortress dates back to the first millennium A.D.. It was a smaller fortification, simply called by the Hungarian migrants ”Város” (meaning ”town”). Between the 11th and the 12th centuries, the first Christian stone edifice was built, the Rotunda of Orăştie. The town of Orăştie was first attested documentarily in 1224, as an important architectural and military objective. After 1300 when a stone enclosure was built, reinforced after 1347 and protected by a moat. In the same period, the entrance tower was built, while the rest of the bastions were built right after 1400. In 1572, the prince of Transylvania, Stefan Bathori entrusts the Saxon University of Sibiu with the maintenance and defense of the fortress, complaining about the disrepair state it was in. The authorities made the necessary reinforcements so that the fortification could stand a long siege. The documents testify the functions of this fortress, by means of its bastions: in one of them, gun powder was kept, another one was used as evildoers torture room and others were used as barns and storehouses for foodstuff, in one of these there was even an oven for baking bread. The fortress was rectangular in shape and had special gates, with drawbridges. The last restoration of the fortress was done in 1735, after which it has lost its military role. The moat disappeared, being filled with earth, and in its stead, the inhabitants of the town built houses, attached to the walls of the fortress.

Colț Fortress

Colţ fortress dates back to the beginning of the 14th century, when it was built by prince Cândea. Later on, Cândea embraced the catholic religion and changed his name into Kendefy. The fortress lies on the territory of Suseni village. It was raised on a crag, around a square tower around which was added an enclosing wall, reinforced with other towers. Its layout is irregular, being adapted to the relief. Although built with a defense purpose, it never fulfilled this role, the three fortifications being too small to face large armies, so, most likely, the fortress was used a refuge in case of conflicts between princes. At the foot of the cliff there is a fortified church, built in the same period by the Cândeas. Small parts of the original painting are still preserved on the walls of the church. Next to the church a monastery for monks was established. The fortress was ruined by the crushing down the valley of some defense walls, and at present just remnants of these walls are still visible. Legend has it that the famous French writer Jules Verne visited the fortress accompanied by a mysterious woman and, later on, the fortress was the source of inspiration for the novel “The Castle of the Carpathians”. In order to find the ruins, one has to climb up through the woods for 30 minutes.

Mălăiești fortress

On the outskirts of Mălăiești village, in commune Sălașu de Sus, on a rock ridge, was built at the end of the 14th century a mediaeval fortress whose ruins can still be seen today. Built by the princes of Sălaşu de Sus, Mălăiești fortress consists of a strong castle-tower whose 1.5 m thick, 12 m high walls are made of rough stone and boulders, and a square enclosure with four towers, out of which just an 11 m long piece of wall was preserved. The walls of the enclosure were in the beginning 4-5 m high, but they were later raised to 6 m, once the fire guns appeared.

The Red Bastion

The Red Bastion, nowadays a museum, is located in Ilia, Hunedoara County. As early as the year 1468, historical documents mention the appearance of a castellum – a small, square of rectangular self contained fortification, similar to the towers of the Roman military camps. After the Turks occupied in 1552 the fortress of Lipova, Ilia became a border fortress. In order to meet the requirements of this new function, the fortress was reinforced with a bastion-based defense ring. This much smaller and less exposed bastion was meant from the very beginning to be inhabited and it was adorned not only with carved stone frameworks, but also with an exterior painting. The Red Bastion is a one of a kind piece of Hungarian architecture in Transylvania. Here was born, in 1580, the future prince of Transylvania, Gabriel Bethlen. Solid and imposing, with its over half a meter thick walls, The Red Bastion rises in the middle of a splendid park. The building was altered in the 19th century, due to a romantic-style extension. At present, the Red Bastion has been refurbished and it hosts an exhibition in the memory of prince Gabriel Bethlen, being the property of St. Francisc Foundation of Deva, and it is looked after by the students of high school „Teglas Gabor” of Deva.

Crivadia Tower

Crivadia Tower is located close to the village of Crivadia, on the road to commune Băniţa. It is said that it was built on request of the aristocrats from Haţeg County, who were complaining about the smuggling going on between the inhabitants of Haţeg and those from Oltenia. The tower was a customs point in the 16th century, supervising the old road connecting Ţara Românească to Transilvania. It is not known how efficient it was, as no document mentioned its name in the years to come. It was built of limestone extracted from the nearby zone, its walls being really high at places. The tower is circular, with a diameter of 13 m, and the exterior is plastered. It was endowed with a wooden watch way, now disappeared.

The tower of Răchitova

The tower on the volcanic Răchitova hill lies in the Southern part of the village. At first, just a stone tower dwelling was built at Răchitova. In time, although other fortresses of the Haţeg County were reinforced with enclosure walls, the aristocratic family of Răchitova, financially weakened by inner struggles, could not afford it. This is why this tower dwelling was surrounded by a ditch and an earth wall with a palisade. What is still preserved nowadays is part of the tower walls, 15 m high. One can even notice the traces of the ditch and of the earth wall. In the basement of the tower there was a shelter, built alongside the tower, which probably was meant to hide the people from the danger of the Turkish threat. From the sightseeing point of view, one can admire the surroundings and the ruins of the mediaeval fortress.