Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains (1999)

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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 civilization. 

The six defensive works included in the UNESCO property are: 

Fortress Village Commune Department
Sarmizegetusa Grădiştea de Munte Orăştioara de Sus Hunedoara
Costeşti-Cetaţuie Costeşti Orăştioara de Sus Hunedoara
Costeşti-Blidaru Costeşti Orăştioara Hunedoara
Luncani-Piatra Roşie Luncani Bosorod Hunedoara
Băniţa Băniţa Petroşani Municipality Hunedoara
Căpâlna Căpâlna Sasciori Alba
To the best of my knowledge none of these fortresses have been featured on Romanian stamps, so I will be more than happy to receive information about any such stamps, in case I might have overseen them. 

The closest I can come at this moment is to show these stamps of the fortress Cetatea Alba, located in the Department of Alba. 

In the context it is appropriate to mention that Moldova was once a part of Romania, but is now an independent nation. 

The political history of Moldova is closely related to Romania and the area of Moldavia / Bucovina. 

  • Romania 1928. Cetatea Alba. 
  • Moldova 1995. Cetatea Alba. 


Romania 1928. Cetatea Alba.

Moldova 1995. Cetatea Alba.

Romania 1975. Emperor Trajan.

Romania 1975. Trajan Column, Bucharest.

The territory that is now Romania first appeared in history as Dacia. Most of its inhabitants were originally from the region of Thrace, in Greece; they were called Getae by the Greeks, and later, by the Romans, they were known as Dacians. 

Between ad 101 and 106 Dacia was conquered by Roman emperor Trajan and incorporated into the Roman Empire as a province. Roman colonists were sent into Dacia, and Rome developed the region considerably, building roads, bridges, and a great wall that stretched from what is today the Black Sea port of Constanta across the region of Dobruja to the Danube River. 

In the middle part of the 3rd century the Goths drove the Romans out of much of Dacia. 

In about 270 Roman Emperor Lucius Domitius Aurelian decided to withdraw the Roman legions and colonies to an area south of the Danube; some Roman civilians chose to stay, however. Under the influence of the Romans, the people of Dacia adopted the Latin language. 

  • Romania 1975. Trajan Bridge at Dobreta. 

Romania 1975. Trajan Bridge at Dobreta.

Romania 2003. Souvenir sheet. Old map of Dacia, by Petrus Karlus Calavit (1571- c.1646).

For the next thousand years, the Daco-Roman people were subjected to successive invasions by the Huns, Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars. 

Slavs brought Christianity to the region in the 4th century, and through intermarriage and assimilation, changed the ethnic balance in Romania. Dacia became commonly known as "Dacia Felix" -- "Happy Dacia". 

Its inhabitants developed into a distinct ethnic group, known as the Vlachs, a name designating Latin-speakers of the Balkan Peninsula. 

In the 9th century the Eastern Orthodox form of Christianity was introduced by the Bulgars. 

  • Romania 2003. Souvenir sheet. Old map of Dacia, by Petrus Karlus Calavit (1571- c.1646). 

Here is a modern map that clarifies the location of Dacia at the time of Emperor Trajan. The borders of Dacia are framed in red in the white area in the center of the map. 

Romania: Map of the Roman Conquest of the Mediterranean at the time of Emperor Trajan.

In 1003 King Stephen I of Hungary established control over most of the region of Transylvania in what is now central and northwestern Romania. In the 13th century King Béla IV of Hungary brought Saxons and other Germanic tribes into Transylvania to strengthen Hungary’s position there. In the middle of the 13th century Hungarian expansion drove many Vlachs to settle south and east of the Carpathian Mountains. There they established the principality of Walachia, and later that of Moldavia. Each was ruled by a succession of voivodes (native princes), who were generally under the authority of either Hungary or Poland. Until the 19th century the history of Romania was that of the separate principalities of Walachia and Moldavia.  

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Romania (on this web site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Romania-Section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved