On the route linking Rosia Montana to Sarmisegetuza, an ancient Dacian fortress stands proof of a prosperous community that lived in the area 2000 years ago. Built by the same model as other fortress in the Orastie Mountains, the site is lesser known and not included in the tourist circuit, even though it is more accessible. After climbing a steep hill and around 250 steps, the visitor reaches the fortress surrounded by stone walls, built to control the access to the old gold mines on the Aries Valley.
Archeological digging revealed traces that confirm human living in the area since the 1st century BC. The oldest traces belong to the Cotofeni culture. Later, in the Bronze Age and during the first period of the Iron Age new communities settled here. Archeologists say that 2000 years ago the Ardeu fortress had defense walls, a tower that served as a residence, a smith shop and many housing spaces. During the second Dacian-Roman war, a fire engulfed the fortress and the building’s south side fell down, covering most of the interior yard. During the Middle Ages the fortress started being inhabited again and a new fortress emerged, on a smaller surface, protected by walls made out of mortar.
The Ardeu Fortress and the gold mines in the vicinity are often linked to a legends saying that a treasure was hidden in one of the caves in the area. The treasure was guarded by giants who bricked up the cave so nobody would know where it is hidden, hence the interest in exploring the area.
The fortress still accommodates an archeological site and open-doors days are organized here by the Dacian Civilization Museum in Deva, making for a good opportunity to visit the place in case you don’t decide for a self-planned trip.
How to get there:
The fortress is located in the Ardeu village, Balsa commune in Hunedoara county. It is 44 kilometers away from Deva, and can be reached by car by following the county roads DJ107A and DJ705.