The south of Transylvania is home to the strongest fortification across the kingdom of Dacia. Most likely, the fortress was built in two successive stages during the reign of Burebista and Decebalus, to serve first as a defense against the Celts, then against the Romans. First, a tower-house was built on the hill, at the altitude of 705 meters, by one of the local aristocrats, before the reign of Burebista. This king ruled between 82 and 44 BC and was assassinated in the same year as his great rival, Julius Caesar. Burebista turned his small kingdom into an empire that stretched from the Black Sea to current Switzerland. During the clashes with the Celts, he built in Costesti - Blidaru a trapezoidal fortress, reinforced by a defence tower at each corner. The entrance into the city was made through these towers. It was a a la chicane or pliers type of entry, which exposed the flanks to the attackers.
Given the Hellenistic type of architecture, the architects of the citadel came most likely from the Greek cities on the Black Sea, which were vassal to the king, although construction technique used was that of murus dacicus. These elements indicate a very plausible cooperation between Greek architects and Dacian craftsmen. The fortress of Blidaru was fortified by King Decebalus, during the clashes between the Roman Empire and Dacia.
Victorious in the first war with the Romans in the year 87, King Decebalus concluded a treaty which granted subsidies and engineers, which were supplied by the Roman Empire. With their help, he built a second enclosure inside the Blidaru Fortress, united with the first enclosure by a common wall. The second enclosure is pentagonal in shape and is reinforced by two defence towers.
The architecture of the fortification is of Roman type, the best at the time. Stone platforms were built along the walls. On the ground floor they were used as storage, while the ceiling sustained the fighting machines created by the Roman engineers who were serving the Dacian king. The two enceintes included an area of 6,000 square meters. Outside the fortress, the Roman engineers have built a water storage space, given that the fortification lacked its own water source. This tank had a capacity of about 200 cubic meters of water. The walls of the Dacian fortress were more than five feet high.
The defensive system of the fortifications also included a dense network of defence and watch towers, which were designed to detect a possible enemy attack just in time, and also to slow down the attackers. Outside the citadel, which has strict military purposes, there were outdoor sanctuaries where the Dacian warriors worshiped their gods. The fortress of Costesti - Blidaru was conquered and destroyed during the last Dacian War of 105-106, and has not been rebuilt since then. The archaeological research began in 1924 and continues to this day.
Travel info: The distance Bucharest - Costeşti is 391 km and there are 160 kilometres between Cluj-Napoca and Costeşti.
Photo: R. Mateescu