Sites and monuments from the Dacian period

Piatra Roșie Dacian fortress

It is part of the fortifications and settlements of the Orăștiei Mountains, circling the Dacian capital Sarmizegetusa Regia. It is locatedsouth west of the royal fortress, on an isolated rocky massif within Șureanu Mountains, called „Piatra Roșie” [The Red Rock], three sides being surrounded by staggering precipices. The fortress is located within the area of the National Park Grădiștea Muncelului-Cioclovina and has been included in the UNESCO world heritage in 1999, alongside with the Dacian fortresses from Grădiștea de Munte, Costești-Cetățuie, Costești-Blidaru, Bănița and Căpâlna. It consists of two fortified inclosures, whose surfaces sum up to 1.2 ha, built in different periods, and it probably was the seat of high rank personages of the time. Numerous anthropic terraces, bearing traces of habitation divide the Eastern and the Northern hill slopes, as well as the surrounding hills, which proves an intense habitation of the area in Antiquity.

Sarmizegetusa Regia Dacian fortress

It is located within the area of Grădiștea Muncelului, situated at an altitude of 1,200 m and it is also included in the UNESCO world cultural heritage. It used to be the capital of the Dacian state, and it is the largest Dacian fortification, the strategic center of the Dacian defensive system from the Orăștiei Mountains, which included the fortresses Costești-Cetățuie, Blidaru, Bănița, Căpâlna and Piatra Roșie. The settlement was built on several terraces improved by the Dacians, it extended over about 4.5 km and it consisted of three main elements: the fortification, the sacred area and the West and East civil districts. The Dacian fortification had an area of almost one ha., and it was located in the center of the settlement, being extended during the Roman period. Its shape is that of an irregular trapezoid with a surface of 3 hectares, and the walls are 1-1,5 m high and, generally, 3 m thick. The sacred area was situated East of the fortress gate, being connected with it by a road paved with limestone slates.  Seven temples were discovered (of which two circular and five square ones) and a shrine, all of which were grouped on two large terraces, supported by walls that are at least 10 m high in places. Traces of houses and their annexes, as well as craft workshops and barns were identified in the civil dwelling.

Costești-Cetățuie Dacian fortress

It is located on the “Cetățuia” hill, in the village of Costești, commune Orăștioara de Sus and it is also included on the list of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The fortress is located at an altitude of 561 m, the hill slopes being worked into several terraces.  The fortification is made of an earth wall with a palisade, which was meant to protect the upper area of the hill, the plateau and part of the terraces. Towards the South-East, the fortification was doubled by a massif wall, with three towers, the “ground floor” being built of limestone blocks, with small abutments on the South side and making a sharp turn on the East side. On the plateau, there are traces of two habitation-towers, one in the North side and one in the South.  A monumental, 3m wide staircase made of carved stone, lead to one of these towers. The sanctuaries of the fortress were discovered on the terraces around the plateau; they consisted of rows of limestone discs, similar to those of Grădiștea Muncelului – Sarmizegetusa Regia; the fortress was destroyed during the war of 102 A.D., it was rebuilt, but definitively abandoned in 106 A.D.

Blidaru Dacian fortress

It is located 4 km from Costești, at an altitude of 705 m, and it is included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The upper area of the hill was worked by the Dacians into a relatively flat area of about 6000 m2. The fortress was built in two stages, the first consisting in a relatively trapezoidal enclosure, with strong stone walls and four square towers, the entrance being made through the South-Western tower. At the same time, two other towers were built, one inside and one outside the fortification. During the 1st century A.D., the fortress was extended westwards, including the exterior tower. Square towers were erected on the terraces; their “ground floor” was build of limestone blocks, using a technique similar to that used for the fortress walls. The towers were most likely used as aristocratic residences, but they also represented important surveillance points meant to protect the access to the fortress. The traces of some square temples observing the pattern of column alignments were discovered relatively far from the fortified enclosure. Near the fortress, on the hill slope, there is a paralellipipedic water tank, whose upper part was dome-shaped and whose walls were covered in an insulating layer of lime, sand and crushed brick. The fortress was destroyed during the second war against Trojan, in 105 – 106 A.D..

Fețele Albe Dacian settlement

The settlement at Fețele Albe lies on the Southern slope of Muncel hill, being separated by a narrow valley from the heights where the fortress of Sarmizegetusa Regia was built. The settlement is located on terraces worked by the Dacians and supported by limestone block walls. Large dwellings were discovered, with concentric rooms, barns, workshops, a circular limestone sanctuary and terracotta pipelines. These dwellings were destroyed during the wars between the Dacians and the Romans.

Bănița Dacian fortress

It is located on the uppermost point of Piatra Cetății hill, near the village of Bănița, and it is included in the list of UNESCO world cultural heritage. The fortress, built on an almost conical, 904 m high hill, was meant to defend the Southern access to Grădiștea de Munte, and had a special defense system, adapted to the natural conditions, made of enclosure walls, towers and fighting platforms, as well as a defense wall, located on the Northern side of the hill. The entrance to the fortress was on the North-East side. Several limestone plinths were discovered on one of the terraces, which most likely suggest the existence of a square temple.

The Dacian quarry at Măgura Călanului

The quarry on Măgura Călanului hill was the main source of limestone exploited by the Dacians, despite the great distance between the quarry and the Dacian fortresses. It is 20 kilometers from Măgura Călanului to Costeşti, and almost 40 to Sarmizegetusa Regia. The quarry has an L shape, measuring 600 x 400 meters. Fragments of pottery belonging to the Coţofeni culture have been discovered on Măgura (

The Ponorici wall

Overlooking Cioclovina cave, starting from Mesteacănului hill and going along the ridge that is parallel to the Ponorici valley, there is a vast straight-line Dacian fortification system, consisting of an earth and stone wall, about 2.5 km long. The main wall is connected to over 30 secondary walls that were built in an oblique position, in a “fishbone” pattern, and with semi-circular strongholds from place to place. It was meant to block the access to Sarmizegetusa Regia from the Strei valley. The straight line distance between these fortifications and the fortress of Piatra Roșie is 2.5 km, but the real route is about 6 km.