It’s a well-known fact that the Romanian people are descendants of the Dacians (the people that lived in present day Romania) and the Romans (who conquered Dacia, influencing even the language that is spoken in Romania today). There are two fortresses in Romania with very similar names, both Dacian capitals at different points in time and often confused with one another. However, Sarmizegetusa Regia and Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana are not one and the same. If Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa was the capital of Dacia after it was conquered by Trajan (after the Dacian wars with the Romans), Sarmizegetusa Regia was the capital of pre-roman Dacia.
You can visit Sarmizegetusa, the grand capital of the Dacians before they were conquered, as a day trip from Sibiu. Read here what other things you can do in Transylvania.
Sarmizegetusa Regia access
The first part of the trip to Sarmizegetusa Regia Romania goes by quickly on the highway to Orastie. Driving by the Orastie Fortress (that also worth a short visit) and following the signposts through the mountain villages and then through the forest, you arrive at the fortress parking lot. The walk up to the citadel is not easy, but also not impossible. The fortress is one of the most interesting attractions in Romania, so it’s worth the effort to come here. A large parking lot is available and from here you walk about two kilometers up to the citadel.
Sarmizegetura Regia map:
Visit Sarmizegetusa Regia Fortress
The fortress can only be visited during opening hours and by paying the entrance fee.
See Sarmizegetusa Regia entrance fee here.
See Sarmizegetusa Regia visiting hours here.
Gates close one hour before closing time.
The fortress was used for defense, along with the other Dacian fortresses in the Orastie Mountains, but this one was chosen to be the capital, as it was larger than the others. Initially, it was just a civil and religious settlement, but due to necessity, the Dacians gave it a military role as well. It is built on terraces and it was defended by a wall that was 3 meters thick. In the vicinity of the military area, a civil settlement with houses and water reservoirs was found. In the fortress a ceramic vase was found, with the inscription “Decebalus per Scorilo”. The six Dacian fortresses of the Orastie Mountains are now UNESCO Heritage Sites.
The ruins of Sarmizegetusa are grouped into two important settlements: the Fortress, surrounded by a 3 meter thick wall and the Sacred Area. The Fortress and the Sacred Area were connected by a paved road, of which there are only a few portions left. The road, despite being 2000 years old, is in very good state.
The Sacred Area was composed of several constructions. The andesite alter of Sarmizegetusa was the place where the sacrifices took place. Due to its method of construction, it is assumed that it also played an astronomical role.
There are only a few traces of columns left from the temples of the Sacred Area. The emblematic image of Sarmizegetusa Romania is the circular Large Sanctuary, which reminds one of Stonehenge in England.
People would come here to communicate with the Universe and to feel the sacred energy of this place. To do this, they used to climb on top of the ruins, risking destroying the place. Nowadays, there are guards and signs with the message “Do not climb on the monuments” in order to avoid such problems.
What does Sarmizegetusa Regia mean?
Unfortunately, no one knows the exact origins of the name of the fortress. Many people incorrectly refer to it as Sarmisezetuza Regia, but the accurate name is Sarmizegetusa Regia. Theories state that its name comes from the word zermi (cliff, height) and zeget (palisade, fortress) – the Fortress on the Cliff and regia (regal) or from Latin sarmis et getusa – The Settlement of the Sarmations and Getae. After Roman Emperor Trajan moved the Dacian capital to Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa (Hunedoara county), Emperor Hadrian wanted the new capital to be a continuation of the old one, therefore, he added the term “Sarmizegetusa” to its name.
This place is without a doubt worth visiting, first and foremost, for the landscape surrounding it: it is in the middle of the forest, in between tall, green trees, second of all for its historical significance, and third of all because it does not resemble anything else in Romania.
You can include this attraction in one of our Transylvania tours.