Rasnov, the high-pitched medieval fortress winking on the hilltop


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Located on a rocky hilltop in the Carpathian Mountains, nine miles northeast from Brasov in Transylvania, Rasnov Fortress is a wonderful landmark piece of history framed by nature.

Beyond the citadel’s impressive gate, the imagination goes off the track unveiling stories of the old times and one can easily imagine brave knights and young ladies, ridings or even battles.

First mentioned in an official document in 1331, the fortress was built by Teutonic Knights as protection against invading Tartars and was later enlarged by the local Saxon population. Strategically located on the commercial route linking the provinces of Transylvania and Walachia, Rasnov used to shelter at least 30 houses, a school, a chapel and other buildings more commonly associated with a village. The defensive system included nine towers, two bastions and a drawbridge.inside rasnov

And indeed the fortress has been hanging on tight during its existence, as it was forced to surrender only once, in 1612, when invaders found out the secret route that supplied the people inside the fortress with water. With the location of their water supply no longer a secret, the need for a well inside the fortress became a must.

The well target was put into practice eleven years later and works have lasted for 17 years. According to the local legend, two Turkish prisoners were ordered to dig the well through solid rock in the center of the fortress. In exchange, they were promised their freedom once the well was finished. It was in use until 1850 when the wheel broke.

Another legend says that deep in the well lies a treasure at least 300 years old. Yet, alpinists have explored the well, without finding any trace of it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

However, the last siege of Rasnov Fortress took place in 1690 during the final Ottoman invasion of Transylvania. Damaged by fire in 1718, it was rebuilt the next year, but the 1802 earthquake again caused major damages.

Recently, the old fortress has been restored to its former glory, attracting more and more tourists. Inside the citadel there is a museum which briefly presents slices from the local history, habits and crafts. It also gathers pieces, amulets and weapons, a skeleton buried beneath a glass floor, as well as some other interesting artifacts.

Don’t worry, you won’t find there a still place astound in history. The citadel is well alive, sheltering souvenirs and craft shops, a café and a tourist information point. Not to mention the young man with a wonderful horse who is welcoming you at the gate to take pictures and to share with you his knowledge about the fortress’ legends and forgotten treasures.

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