Suceava Citadel – the unconquered fortress of Moldavia

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Suceava is the capital city of the Suceava County, Bukovina, located in Northeastern Romania. The fortress was built at the end of 14th century by Petru I Mu?at (1375-1391), it was fortified in the 15th century by Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare) and it was destroyed by Dumitra?cu Cantacuzino (the Turcs ordered the prince). The citadel was both a royal residence and a fortress against enemies. The fortress was repeatedly under Ottoman siege, but has never been conquered.

The first documentary recognition of Suceava Fortress dates back in February 10, 1388. Later on, it was transformed into a residence castle by Alexandru cel Bun (Alexander the Good) and strongly fortified by Stefan cel Mare (he ruled between 1457 and 1504).

The fortress layout had a regular rectangular shape and on the exterior, in each corner, but also in the middle of each lateral, raised 4 meters towers. The walls were about 2 meters thick, built of regular stone and cemented with mortar and crushed stones. Oak beams have been used to the construction, to avoid cracking walls after compacting. The entrance to the citadel was through a semicircle gate, 1.5 meters range, on the southern side of the walls. The access to the fortress was made through a bridge which could be raised, if necessary. The guard chamber was inside the fortress, on its eastern side.

Stefan cel Mare paid a special importance to the defeating system of the fortress adapting it to the military technique program. He doubled the exterior walls by adding new layers which were fixed to the existing walls which were built in a circle so that they can resist attacks. The defense system made it impossible to enter without the inside’s approval. There are only few battles that Stefan lost to the army of Poland or to the Ottoman invasion.  Accessing the citadel, one can see four defensive elements: the retrenchment, the access bridge, the exterior entrenchment and a trap which historians call it ‘the mouse trap’.

The interior of the fortress was partly restored, so to present us the court life back then and to make a full image about the temporary residence of Moldavia’s rulers. The restoration of the citadel was made accessing European funds.

The Fortress of Suceava is due to reopen its gates as of April 2015 and will have a permanent exhibition.


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