Deva Castle

Deva Castle


Location: Deva, Hunedoara County Map

Constructed: 13th century

Be careful and watch your step. Don't stick you hands in crevices if you don't see what is inside.

This viper with rhombus pattern is poisonous and quiet common in the region


History of Deva Castle

Deva Castle is situated on the volcanic hill overlooking city of Deva in the Hunedoara County of Romania. Deva Castle was constructed to protect an important pass in the Poiana Ruscă Mountains. This particular fortification is easy to spot from a distance by the Hollywood - style white letters that mark the location of citadel. The Deva Castle now lays in ruins, but some imagination it is easy to imagine a bustling town that once existed here. With strong towers those remains you can see today and thick walls Deva offered safe haven for the dangerous war torn region.
Unfortunately little is known of the origins of both Deva Castle and the name that was given to it. One theory states that it was founded by the Dacian warriors and the name came from “dava”, Dacian word for “fortress”. Another theory grants the honor of establishing fortified structure to Roman legion, the Legio II Augusta. The unit was transferred here from British province in the third century AD then Trojan, the last great emperor of the Roman, conquered Romania. Legionnaires were previously stationed at Castrum Deva (now Chester, Britain) thus bringing the name to the new location. Some scholars give the origin of the name to the Slavic tribes that formed small settlement a top of the hill since “deva” means “virgin”.
Either theory has its own defenders and opponents, but the first documents that mention the castle’s importance in the area dates back to 1269 then under Voivod (army commander) John Hunyadi it grew to become an important administrative and economical center. The castle was partially destroyed in 1550 by the Turks, but it was quickly recaptured and extended further. In 1621 Prince Gabriel Bethlen reconstructed and extended Magna Curia Palace also known as the Bethlen Castle in Renaissance style. With gunpowder invention and change of military tactics the castle fell in disrepair. By the middle of the 19th century it was completely abandoned by its garrison. Parts of the Deva Fortress were torn down and reused by the local population.



After the Tatar invasion, a new citadel was built by King Béla IV, the first document about the citadel dating from 1269. The Deva Citadel is mentioned in a grant deed of the young king Stefan, son of Béla IV, who makes a donation to the Chyl committee in Câlnic for the bravery shown in the battle fought under the walls of the Deva Citadel. Four years after its documentary attestation, fierce battles against the Tatars took place under the fortress of Deva. At the end of the 13th century, the fortress became the residence of voivodes Roland Borșa and Ladislau Kán, from where they exercised their authority over the Transylvanian voivodeship. The choice of the fortress as the voivodeship residence proves that it was strong and had sufficient constructions to satisfy the demands of the court. After 1315, the fortress returned to the possession of King Charles Robert of Anjou. The castellans of the Deva fortress are in the 14th century and comites of Hunedoara county.

In the 14th century, Deva and the surrounding villages are mentioned as a "Wallachian military district", and the fortress had jurisdiction over four seats (Deva, Ilia, Şoimuş, the Crisene estates and the surroundings of Bradului), which were part of the royal domain and were governed of cnezi. Locals had military duties and obligations regarding maintenance, repairs and construction in the citadel. In 1302, the fortress belongs to the Transylvanian voivodes. In 1580 it was strengthened, here Török János won the fight against the Kasim pasha.

The fortress began to gain military value only in the 17th century. After the Turks conquer Oradea, the Deva fortress remains the only one unoccupied. In 1444, the royal fortress of Deva, which included a vast area, came into the possession of Ioan de Hunedoara, the voivode of Transylvania. Along with it, 56 villages were also taken over, as well as the gold mines in the Apuseni Mountains, which belonged to the domain of the fortress. It was also during his time that Deva's market, a settlement located at the base of the hill, is mentioned for the first time in a written document. The Corvin family ended their rule over the fortress and the domain of Deva in 1504. In the second half of the 17th century, Prince Gabriel Bethlen built a bastion in the fortress that served as a prison and place of torture. At its base, a real residential palace is built in the Renaissance style: the Magna Curia Palace.

In 1579, Bishop Francisc David (1520–1579), the Protestant preacher and founding bishop of the Unitarian Church in Transylvania, was imprisoned in the fortress of Deva. David Francis died there on November 15, 1579, in the prison where he had been imprisoned for heresy. Also in this prison, General Basta wanted to execute the Transylvanian leaders.

In 1657 it was occupied by the Ottomans. During Rákóczi's uprising, in 1704, the fortress falls into the hands of the Kuruts. In 1713, work began to transform the fortress into a bastion fortification. Between 1717–1719, the fortress is strengthened again. In 1752, even though its military importance has declined, the fortress is renewed. In 1784, the fortress was attacked during the revolt of the serf peasantry from Transylvania, among which were the Horia, Cloșca and Crișan estates. From that moment, the Deva fortress no longer had military functionality. The new owner will be Pogány Franciska, emptying the entire fortress which will quickly fall into ruin. In 1817, Emperor Francis I and his wife visiting Transylvania, impressed by the beauty of the place, ordered the restoration of the Deva Citadel. The works lasted 12 years.

During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848–1849, the fortress was in the hands of Austrian soldiers under Commander Kudlich. Fighting took place only after the liberation of Northern Transylvania by the Polish general Bem. In February 1849, the revolutionaries led by Avram Iancu also arrived here, as friends of the Austrians. The Hungarian revolutionaries managed to occupy the fortress, thus becoming one of the three fortresses occupied by the Hungarians, after Buda and Arad.

On the morning of August 13, 1849, the fortress's gunpowder store explodes. The citadel is mostly destroyed, the soldiers from the citadel's garrison also perishing in the explosion. The entire eastern side of the fortress was demolished. On August 18, 1849, General Bem capitulated here to the Habsburg troops.

There are three enclosures of different shapes, occupying the summit and part of the north side of the height:
first enclosure – ovoid shape;
the second enclosure – irregular ovoid route;
third precinct - approximately semicircular route.