Deva Citadel

Deva’s fortress is one of the most important fortifications in the middle ages and one of the best touristic objectives in Hunedoara county. Due to the hill on which it is built, which now carries its name (the Fortress’ Hill), it was a strategic point of defence on Mureșului Valley which is situated between Transylvania and Banat.

From neolithic, to Salt’s Road

With a spiral architecture, a specific feature of hill fortresses, Deva's citadel was built in the 13th century firstly dated in 1269. On the other hand, the traces of habitation in this place, where now lay a dormant volcano, are now much older. They go back to the neolithic or the bronze age, followed by Dacian fortifications, further improved by the Romans after conquering Dacia, to defend their resources because of Sării's road that was going right near the hill. Plus, it offered a strategic point for a big part of Mureșului valley, Streiului valley, until Pădurenilor's land.

Property of Iancu de Hunedoara

Since the invasion of migratory tribes until the 2nd half of the 13th century, there is no information about the citadel. However, in 1269, it is firstly mentioned in a paper belonging to King Ştefan, son of Bela the 4th. In 1444, Iancu de Hunedoara will claim ownership of the fortress along with all its riches: 56 villages and goldmines. According to, the Corvinilor family owned the fortress and its lands until 1504. 

Deva Citadel, a refuge for Hungarian nobles during uprisings

During the 2nd half of the 17th century, Gabriel Bethlen builds a bastion which served as a prison and a torture place to which at its base he decides to build a palace with a Renaissance influence: the Magna Curia Palace (Latin for Grand Court). Nowadays, the palace is used as a museum called, the museum of Dacian and Roman Civilisation, which we recommend you to visit. Why it should be visited? We will tell you in a separate article dedicated to itself.

An important moment in the citadel's history is when Emperor of the Habsburg Empire, Joseph, visited Deva twice. In 1784, a year later after his last visit, the uprising led by Horea, Cloşca and Crişan would start. At that moment, the fortress is used as a refuge point for the Hungarian nobles. The chronicles mention many fierce battles between the imperial garrison and rebellious Transylvanians.

Rehabilitated by the emperor

In 1800, the military commander of Transylvania, Mitrowsky, decides that the fortress is no longer usable in military scopes. Following this decision, the gates, doors and many other things have been put up for auction. In 1817, Emperor Francisc the First and his wife visit Transylvania and upon seeing the beauty of the place they order the restoration of the citadel donating a rather large sum.

The restoration took more than 12 years and was finalised in 1830. However, in august 1849, a large explosion which started at the gunpowder stash killed a portion of the soldiers and a big part of the fortress as well. Today, the fortress is rebuilt through European funds.

A citadel 700 years old!

Along its time, the construction included many rooms, a levelled palace, bastions, many garrisons, towers, buttresses, curtines, carriageable gates and a gunpowder stash. Just the same as Corvinilor Castle, Deva’s citadel had many stages of design, in this case, 5. Along with the extension work, there has been a plan to build a Vauban fortification system, however, that only remained a plan. From 1869, the Society of History, Archeology and Natural Sciences from the Hunedoara committee ordered the arrangement of the access paths and the hill’s forestation. In 1950, the ruins were conserved and the access was further improved.

During all its 700 years, Deva’s citadel represents an architectural evolution, placed 378 metres high on a volcanic cone. It attracts thousands of tourists, to see the splendid view of Mureșului valley, Streiului valley and so on.

Artisan Kelemen and the explosion

There are two legends tied to the citadel. One of them is heard on the Hungarian lands and is very much alike to “Artisan Manole”. The tale talks about a stonemason who was trying to build the citadel along with 12 other people. However, everything he built, would collapse right the very next day. To finish the construction, he thought the fortress needed an offering. And so they decided to sacrifice the first wife that will bring them food the next day, her ash to be placed in the plaster. It turns out that Ana, Kelemen’s wife, showed us first and was sacrificed.

The second legend talks about how the citadel was destroyed from the inside. The administrator’s wife was said to be very beautiful but just as “adventurous” as well. Upon learning this, blinded by jealousy, the administrator decides to blow up the munitions cache. Thus, the citadel was destroyed, awaiting its restoration.

How to get to Deva Citadel?

Today, you don’t have to put in a lot of effort to see what the citadel can offer. One is its beauty, and the other one being the beautiful view.

With the lift

It is the only inclined lift in Romania, its height (158 m) and length ranking (278 m) it the first in Europe as well.

Route no.1:

Once you leave the park at the foot of the fortress, next to the Magna Curia Palace, which houses the Museum of Dacian and Roman Civilization, you cross the street and you can see a series of steps. If you dare to reach the end of them, you can continue climbing, through the right side, passing through the tunnel, to the historical monument.

If climbing stairs is, perhaps, a little more difficult for some, as later, the climb is winding, through the forest; there is the possibility to go on the route where you can stop to admire the city or the Mureș Valley. As soon as you reach Gate 1 (after 15-20 minutes at most) you are in the fortress, and from there you can freely explore the historical monument.

Route no.2

The second route starts from the end of the same steps, in front of the tunnel, to the left. After passing through the forest, you reach a meadow, and then continue the road to the same Gate 1. On this route, in a maximum of 10 minutes you arrive to your destination.

Route no.3

The longest route, but perhaps the most beautiful, is the one that starts behind the Perla Restaurant, in front of which there is a parking lot, located in the same area. Following the beaten path, you will be able to enjoy the tranquility of the forest and admire the special landscape that is revealed to you. This route which also leads to Gate 1 can be completed in about 20 minutes.

On route number four you are able to reach Gate 1 by car

On route number four you are able to reach Gate 1 by car. However, any driver who decides to access this route must be aware that once you reach the end of the road, about 50 meters from Gate 1, there is no an arranged parking lot.

Moreover, drivers have to take into account the fact that the slope is quite steep, and the road to the destination is narrow, with very few sections where two cars pass to pass each other. Thus, tourists who dare, however, to choose this option, must start on the road between the Central Park and the Sports High School and keep going straight until the forest.

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