Râșnov Citadel

Râșnov Citadel
Romanian: Cetatea Râșnov
German: Rosenauer Burg
Location within Romania
Former names Cetatea Țărănească[1]
General information
Type Citadel
Location Râşnov
Brașov County
Country  Romania
Coordinates 45°35′26″N 25°28′8″E / 45.59056°N 25.46889°E / 45.59056; 25.46889
Construction started 1211[2]
Completed 1225[2]
Renovated 2010

Râșnov Citadel (Romanian: Cetatea Râșnov, German: Rosenauer Burg) is a historic monument and landmark in Romania. It is situated in Râşnov, Brașov County, in the immediate vicinity of Brașov.

The citadel was built as part of a defence system for the Transylvanian villages exposed to outside invasions. A decisive aspect for building the citadel on the actual location was the route of the invading armies which were coming from the Bran pass and were passing through Râșnov, on their way to Burzenland. The only chance of survival for the inhabitants of the area, inclusively from Cristian and Ghimbav, was the refuge inside the citadel. Compelled to stay there for decades, the people of Râșnov and the nearby villages turned the fortification into a dwelling.[1]


Archaeological research revealed the existence of fortification traces on the citadel hill since prehistoric and Dacian times.

Râșnov citadel and village on the Josephine Map of Transylvania

The medieval citadel of today is considered to be built between 1211 and 1225, during the rule of Teutonic Knights in Burzenland, although there is no evidence in this respect.

In 1335, during a Tatar incursion that ravaged Burzenland, Râșnov and Brașovia were the only citadels remaining unconquered. This is also the first documented attestation of the fortification.

In 1421 the first siege of an Ottoman army took place on the citadel.

In 1600, Michael the Brave along with his troops and his wife, Lady Stanca, retreated here after the defeat of Mirăslău.

The citadel was conquered only once, during the rule of Prince Gabriel Báthory, in 1612. The fall was caused by the lack of water due to the discovery of the path to a secret spring by the enemy troops.

Because of the lack of a source of water interior to the citadel, between 1623 and 1642 a 146 metres (479 ft) deep well was excavated in it.

In 1718 the citadel was partially destroyed by a fire, and in 1802 it was damaged by an earthquake.

In 1821 refugees from Wallachia (the resurgent movement led by Tudor Vladimirescu) retreated to the citadel.

Between 1848-1849, because the locality was being crossed by the Hungarian revolutionaries and the Austrian imperial troops, the villagers retreated to the citadel. This was the last mission of the citadel as a place of refugee and defence.

In 1850, due to the political situation and the diminution of the citadel's defensive role, the fortification was abandoned, becoming a ruin. There was only one guard left who had to announce the outbreak of fires by tolling a bell.

Because of the two world wars and the set up of the communist regime in Romania, the citadel was restored for the first time, barley, in the years 1955-1956.[1][2]

The legend of the well

The absence of an internal water source led to the limitation of long term resistance during sieges. Because of this lack, it was decided to start the digging of a well in the rocky soil, in 1623.

The mythical well

The legend says that during a siege, the inhabitants of the citadel made two Turkish prisoners dig a well in the middle of the citadel in order to regain their freedom. The captives dug for 17 years, during which time they wrote verses from Quran on the well walls which can be seen even today. The fate of the prisoners isn't known, with some saying that they were released, and others that they were killed.

The well was used until 1850 when a broken wheel in the well windlass caused its abandonment.

The elders from Râșnov believe that deep in the well lies a treasure at least 300 years old. However, recently alpinists have closely explored the well, without finding any trace of it.[1][3][4]


The entrance

The citadel has a simple architectonic style, similar to the ordinary houses of the time and adapted to the fortification requirements. The peasants used stones and bricks for building the walls, and woods for making the gates and platforms. The towers and walls are covered with roof tiles for preventing the fires from besiegers. The walls are 5 metres (16 ft) high and the widest part is constituted by the South wall which in some areas is 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) thick.

The citadel is composed of two courts. The exterior court is located in front of the eastern wall, edged by a fortified wall, and fitted with a square tower. The interior court represents the inhabitable area, having a better protection by walls and towers.

From South, West and North the citadel is protected by sharp cliffs of about 150 metres (490 ft), very hard to climb. The whole superior precinct is defended by exterior towers gathered in the northern flank and western corner. Because of its u-shape, the eastern side of the citadel was more vulnerable due to less natural obstacles. To boost its defensive capacity, the citadel holds in this sector the heaviest fortifications.

The eastern, western and northern sides are protected by a continuous gallery with two ante forts and seven towers. There are only two towers on the southern side which is more abrupt.

The interior courtyard is paved with narrow paths made of stone, which ribbon among the tile-roofed houses. Inside there have been conserved the ruins of a school, a chapel and over thirty houses fated to refuge the villagers and their assets.[1]

The feudal art museum

Inside the citadel there is a museum which briefly presents slices from the local history, the area's habits and crafts, and also gathers pieces and weapons from the inhabitants past. The exhibition contains the following sections: document photocopies, weapons, tools, stamps and period objects.[5]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Râşnov Castle.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 romanianmonasteries.org. "Cetatea Rasnov". Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 rasnov-turism.ro. "Râşnov - oraşul rozelor". Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  3. internetus.ro. "Comoara din fântâna Cetății Râșnovului". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  4. infoghidromania.com. "Cetatea Rasnov - Brasov". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
  5. infopensiuni.ro. "Muzeul Cetatii Rasnov". Retrieved 10 August 2011.
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