Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains
Dacian Fortresses Of The Orastie Mountains
Cultural Romania Europe And North America Counties Of Alba And Hunedoara, Region Of Transylvania

The Geto-Dacian kingdoms of the late 1st millennium BC attained an exceptionally high cultural and socio-economic level, and this is symbolized by this group of fortresses, which represent the fusion of techniques and concepts of military architecture from inside and outside the classical world to create a unique style.

The civilization of the Getes and Dacians can be distinguished in the Thracian world long before Herodotus first referred to them in the 7th century BC. The Getes inhabited the Danube plain and the Dacians the central and western part of the region between the Carpathians and the Danube. It was a typical Iron Age culture, practising agriculture, stock-raising, fishing and metal-working, as well as trade with the Graeco-Roman world. When Greek colonies were established along the northern shores of the Black Sea, the Geto-Dacian rulers established close links with them and extended their protection.

The system developed by the Dacians to defend their capital, Sarmizegetusa Regia, was composed of three distinct fortified elements: the oldest is represented by fortified sites on dominant physical features, which consisted of palisaded banks and ditches. The second group is that of fortresses. The final category is that of linear defences, which blocked access from certain routes and linked two or more fortresses.

There are three components of Sarmizegetusa, the capital of Dacia: the fortress, the sacred area, and the civilian quarter. The Grădiştea plateau is dominated by the fortress, which was the centre of secular and spiritual government. The sacred area is situated to the east of the fortress. Access is by means of a paved path on the west and a monumental stone stairway on the east.

Costeşti-Cetăţuie, a small plateau on a hill overlooking the left bank of the river Apa Oraşului, was terraced to form a strong fortress. Its fortifications were laid out in three concentric bands, erected in successive stages of the fortress's life. The ramparts are constructed from stone, wood and rammed earth, a different technique being used for each enceinte. A number of towers survive.

Costeşti-Blidaru is the strongest and most spectacular of the fortresses erected to defend Sarmizegetusa. It is rectilinear in plan and is located on the levelled summit of a small hill. There are two enclosures. The walls have corner bastions, through one of which access is gained to the interior, where there are the remains of a square building that would have housed the garrison. A second enclosure, also rectangular in plan, was added later, extending the fortress to the entire summit of the hill.

The Luncani Piatra Roşie fortress consists of two fortified enclosures on the eastern slope of a rocky massif. The earlier and smaller of the two has corner bastions. In the interior there is an apsidal timber-framed barrack block with two rooms. To the north and outside the defences there were two buildings on the site of an earlier sanctuary. The second enceinte dates from the late 1st century AD.

The Băniţa fortress was constructed on a steep conical hill in the Jiu valley. The only side on which the summit was accessible was on the north, and this was defended by a strong stone wall in murus dacicus style. The fortress itself was entered through a gate leading to a monumental limestone stairway with andesite balustrades. The plateau above has three terraces at different levels.

The Căpâlna fortress was constructed at the summit of a steep hill which was terraced and surrounded by ramparts following the natural contours. There is an imposing square structure built using the murus dacicus technique. The enceinte was entered by a fortified gateway on the south-east, close to the military building. There was originally another entrance in the north-east, but this was blocked between the construction of the fortress and the Roman conquest in AD 106.