One of Antiquity’s strongest fortresses in this part of Europe is Piatra Roşie. It is a fortress which comprises two joined enclosures. The oldest was built in the time of King Burebista to stop the rampage of the Celts, and the second enclosure was added in the time of Decebalus, in the context of the Roman offensive for the conquest of Dacia. The two enclosures measure an area of approximately 1.2 hectares. The first enclosure is built on a rocky peak, at an altitude of 832 metres. The peak is surrounded on three sides by inaccessible abysses. Access is only possible from the east. The old enclosure is shaped like a rectangle with sides of 102 by 45 metres. The city has high walls following the murus dacicus technique. There are four corner towers, plus a fifth, which watched over the gateway. Because there was no water source to supply the garrison, Dacian soldiers dug a stone tank in the northwest corner of the fortress to store the required water.
The fact that this citadel was built during the conflicts between the Dacians and the Celts is also proven by the presence of iron Celtic swords. The hill on which the city is raised, Piatra Roşie, is crossed by a paved road in steps. This road was guarded by three defence towers, which made attacks difficult. Both the city walls and watchtowers were built from reddish stone, unlike other Dacian fortresses, built with yellowish white limestone. In fact, the colour of the rocks gave the fortress its name.
The City of Decebalus
In the context of the hostilities between the Dacian king Decebalus and the Roman Empire, a second enclosure was built and united with the first one in the east. The second enclosure had by ground and stone walls 1.5 - 2 metres thick. These comprise both the three watch towers for the paved road and a series of terraces, which were most likely inhabited by aristocrats and families of the garrisoned soldiers.
The second enclosure was also equipped with a palisade. Near the fortification there were two sanctuaries where the people worshipped their gods. The development of the fortress was interrupted in 106, when it was conquered by the Romans. The buildings were burned and the city walls were demolished.
Travel info: The distance between Bucharest and Piatra Roşie is 410 kilometres and between Cluj-Napoca and Piatra Roşie it is 178 kilometres.