Built in the 1st centuries B.C. and A.D. under Dacian rule, thesefortresses show an unusual fusion of military and religiousarchitectural techniques and concepts from the classical worldand the late European Iron Age. The six defensive works, thenucleus of the Dacian Kingdom, were conquered by the Romansat the beginning of the 2nd century A.D.; their extensive andwell-preserved remains stand in spectacular naturalsurroundings and give a dramatic picture of a vigorous andinnovative civilization.
The Geto-Dacian kingdoms of the late 1st millennium BCattained an exceptionally high cultural and socio-economiclevel, and this is symbolized by this group offortresses, which represent the fusion of techniques andconcepts of military architecture from inside and outside theclassical world to create a unique style.
The civilization of the Getes and Dacians can bedistinguished in the Thracian world long before Herodotusfirst referred to them in the 7th century BC. The Getesinhabited the Danube plain and the Dacians the central andwestern part of the region between the Carpathians and theDanube. It was a typical Iron Age culture, practisingagriculture, stock-raising, fishing and metal-working, as wellas trade with the Graeco-Roman world. When Greek colonieswere established along the northern shores of the Black Sea,the Geto-Dacian rulers established close links with them andextended their protection.
The system developed by the Dacians to defend theircapital, Sarmizegetusa Regia, was composed of three distinct fortifiedelements: the oldest is represented by fortified sites on dominant physicalfeatures, which consisted of palisaded banks and ditches. The secondgroup is that of fortresses. The final category is that of lineardefences, which blocked access from certain routes and linked two ormore fortresses.There are three components of Sarmizegetusa, the capital of Dacia: thefortress, the sacred area, and the civilian quarter. The Grădiştea plateau isdominated by the fortress, which was the centre of secular and spiritualgovernment. The sacred area is situated to the east of the fortress. Accessis by means of a paved path on the west and a monumental stonestairway on the east.
Costeşti-Cetăţuie, a small plateau on a hill overlooking the leftbank of the river Apa Oraşului, was terraced to form a strongfortress. Its fortifications were laid out in three concentric bands,erected in successive stages of the fortresss life. The ramparts areconstructed from stone, wood and rammed earth, a differenttechnique being used for each enceinte. A number of towerssurvive.
Costeşti-Blidaru is the strongest and most spectacular of thefortresses erected to defend Sarmizegetusa. It is rectilinear inplan and is located on the levelled summit of a small hill.There are two enclosures. The walls have cornerbastions, through one of which access is gained to theinterior, where there are the remains of a square buildingthat would have housed the garrison. A secondenclosure, also rectangular in plan, was addedlater, extending the fortress to the entire summit of the hill.
The Luncani Piatra Roşie fortress consists of two fortified enclosures on theeastern slope of a rocky massif. The earlier and smaller of the two hascorner bastions. In the interior there is an apsidal timber-framed barrackblock with two rooms. To the north and outside the defences there weretwo buildings on the site of an earlier sanctuary. The second enceinte datesfrom the late 1st century AD.
The Băniţa fortress was constructed on a steep conicalhill in the Jiu valley. The only side on which thesummit was accessible was on the north, and this wasdefended by a strong stone wall in murus dacicusstyle. The fortress itself was entered through a gateleading to a monumental limestone stairway withandesite balustrades. The plateau above has threeterraces at different levels.
The Căpâlna fortress was constructed at the summit of a steep hillwhich was terraced and surrounded by ramparts following thenatural contours. There is an imposing square structure built using themurus dacicus technique. The enceinte was entered by a fortifiedgateway on the south-east, close to the military building. There wasoriginally another entrance in the north-east, but this was blockedbetween the construction of the fortress and the Roman conquest inAD 106.