Places of interestSunday 03 December 2017

Râşnov Citadel– a must see destination in Romania

One of the oldest and best preserved citadels in Romania, built in the 13th century in order to protect Transylvanian villages from foreign invasions

Rasnov Citadel - Brasov County

Râşnov was built with stone, brick and mortar, materials that proved very resistant. It was considered a second home by Râşnov inhabitants, and so, its defenses were constantly improved until the 19th century. The villagers took refuge here so often that they had to build a school and a chapel so as to be able to carry on their daily activities.

The citadel had everything it needed except for its own water source. When they ran out of water, he refugees snuck out of the citadel at night and got some from a spring only they knew about.

However, this makeshift solution would cost them the fight against Gabriel Bathory, prince of Transylvania. The inhabitants of Râşnov were compelled to surrender the citadel when the prince discovered their secret spring and blocked their access to it.

This defeat showed them the need for a well inside the citadel. And one was created between the years 1623 and 1640. It was dug directly in stone, legend has it, by two Turkish prisoners, in exchange for their freedom. However, it is much more likely that the well was the work of specialists hired by the town hall.  

Râşnov is preserved almost perfectly. The inner courtyard is paved with stone roads that connect the houses: the blacksmith’s house, the carpenter’s house and the glass blower’s house. They are still standing, but nowadays they only function as souvenir shops or museums. In front of the citadel, there is an outer courtyard where the cattle were kept.

Between 1658 and 1661, the inhabitants of Râşnov had to retreat inside the citadel on many occasions due to Turkish invasions. After each attack, they had to rebuild their homes. In 1718, a severe plague epidemic hit the village and 1.161 people died. In the same year, a fire destroyed the entire village and reached the citadel as well, burning a few houses and the chapel. Then, in 1802, an earthquake brought down a few of the citadel’s towers.

Râşnov was last used during the 1848 revolution. When Hungarian and Austrian troops crossed the village, the people retreated to the safety of the citadel.   

Sources:

“Cetatea care apără trandafirii”, Evenimentul Zilei, June 22nd 2009, Available at: http://www.evz.ro/cetatea-care-apara-trandafirii-854710.html, Accessed: 11.16.2015.

“Cetatea Râşnov”, Wikipedia, Available at: https://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetatea_R%C3%A2%C8%99nov, Accessed: 11.16.2015.

“Cetatea Râșnov, o istorie a învingătorilor”, Spiritul Transilvaniei, Available at: http://spiritultransilvaniei.evz.ro/index.php/spiritultransilvaniei/index/7/1, Accessed: 11.16.2015.  

Andra Mihaela Cimpean

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