Today required over four hours of driving to get to and from the places of interest, but it was well worth it. I got to visit two interesting historical locations in what turned out to be a good day.
First I drove about an hour and a half west from the campsite to the town of Hunedoara, the site of the Corvinesti Castle. And a very impressive castle it is! It dates back to the early 1400’s and has undergone a number of updates and restorations since then – some of them not very sympathetic. But it looks the part and it is easy to imagine how impressive and imposing it must have looked a few centuries ago. You only have to look at the front gate and the high bridge to imagine how difficult a task it would have been to breach the castle
A large section of the castle is open to tourists, so I was able to wander around and take some photos. I paid the ‘photo tax’ this time. The interior was nowhere near as impressive as Peles Castle, but it was an interesting place to visit.
From the castle, I drove south for 45 minutes to the town of Sarmizegutsa to visit one the six Dacian Fortresses – that jointly form a UNESCO World Heritage site.
As per the UNESCO website: ‘Built in the 1st centuries B.C. and A.D. under Dacian rule, these fortresses show an unusual fusion of military and religious architectural techniques and concepts from the classical world and the late European Iron Age. The six defensive works, the nucleus of the Dacian Kingdom, were conquered by the Romans at the beginning of the 2nd century A.D.; their extensive and well-preserved remains stand in spectacular natural surroundings and give a dramatic picture of a vigorous and innovative civilisation.’
With 33 hectares between the walls and a further 60-80 hectares outside the walls, the Sarmizegetsu fortress is one of the medium-sized cities of the empire. The Sarmizegutsu fortress is still in the process of being excavated, so more of the ruins will eventually be viewable. As it is, the ruins stretch back from the road in several distinct areas.
One of the first areas I visited was the Amphitheatre where gladiators would have provided entertainment, as well as shows of drama, mime and sport. The amphitheatre would have held 5,000 – 6,00 spectators who would have occupied their seats in a very strict social order.
Another major section was the Domus Procurator, or the palace of the financial procurator of the province Dacia Apulensis. It was one of the most important edifices at the entrance to the city. The building included two thermal systems (thermal baths) as well as a temple.
The next section was the Forum, or the centre of the city. This is where the two main roads intersected – the north-south road and the east-west road. On three sides, the yard of the Forum was surrounded by porticos and marble colonnades. The entrance was through a large monumental gate.
Another part of the ruins is a temple that is currently undergoing further excavation work.
After visiting the Dacian ruins, I had a two hour drive back to the campsite, arriving just before 6.00pm, so it was a pretty full day. I still haven’t visited the nearby town of Sibiu which is supposed to be quite interesting, so I’m going to stay here for one more day before I drive south to Bucharest.
On the drive to and from today’s sightseeing, I saw lots of signs for further historical sites. It is amazing just how many historical sites and buildings there are in Romania.