This site is an outcome of the Comenius 2008-2010 multilateral project "European Journey Through Legends".

"Becoming more European does not mean forgetting our national cultural heritage, but sharing it with other European nation".

The legends of the fortresses Șoimoș, Șiria, Dezna

Arad was mentioned in documents for the first time in XI century. The Mongols invasion in 1241 showed that defence positions were needed and in the second half of XIII century there were build stone fortresses at Soimos, Siria and Dezna. Turks conquered the region in 1551 and kept it until 1699 (Peace of Karlowitz).


 Dezna (Hungarian: Dézna) is a commune located in the Dezna River Valley (about 7 km from Sebiş) in Arad County, Romania. The locality is located on the valley with the same name, in the mountain area, where the Codru Moma Mountains have a little deep place, where the people can live. The first documentary record of Dezna dates back to 1318. According to a legend, László Nagy Peretseny (1817) says that the village name derives from the name of Dacian king Decebal.

The most important historical monument in Dezna is the fortress located on the Ozoiu hill (390 m) where one can go in serpentines. The fortress there was ordered to construct by the Hungarian King Bela IV, during the middle age, in the XIII century, after the mongol invasion came, to protect the territory, cause the Tartars destroyed and plundered all they can at their steps. Thus were constructed in the Arad province the fortresses of Șiria, Șoimoș (Solymos in hugarian, 30 kms East from Arad, I have a gallery there below), and Dezna (Dézna in hungarian, NE from Șiria). A legend tells us – Ladislau Nagy de Peretseny (1817) – that the name of the fortress is coming from the Dacic King – Decebal. The fortress dated from the XIIIth century and it was built in the centre of an old Romanian region, towering the region and the main road towards the Codru Moma Mountains. The main importance of the fortress was during XVI – XVII centuries. 

The fortress had a most important role in 16-17th centuries, in 1552 being part of the defense system of western Transylvania as a boundary fortress, especially after the fall of Ineu, conquered by the Turks (1566). Since 1565 belonged to Ioan Sigismund. The citadel was strengthened with new reinforcements, among which the north-eastern bastion; the architecture in Renaissance style is somewhat similar to the Şoimuş Fortress. Probably in this period in the more vulnerable sectors of the citadel were added rows of parallel stone walls, then filled with river stones, bricks and high-strength mortar.

Conquered by the Turks in 1574 and recaptured by 1596, the fortress was between 1599 and 1601 in possession of the captain of Michael the Brave, Gáspar Kornis, who facilitated the passage of the ruler by his way to Prague. Between 1601 and 1658 know had more owners, and in 1619 was donated by Transylvanian Prince Gabriel Bethlen to Marcu-Cercel Vodă. In 1658 it was conquered again by the Turks, together with Ineu fortress, and in coming decades Dezna disappeared as fortification.
The Dezna Fortress is part of a simpler family of fortifications. The remaining walls suggest a simple construction with one tower. The polygon shaped precincts have a single tower, still standing, seemingly the only outstanding feature of this fortress. Over the years have survived three major walls of the main bastion. Equally, can be distinguished the footsteps of the other walls, the contour of the inner court and fragments of the city ditches. In spite of the modest construction type it was owned by royal and important noble families.
One story says that the Turks had gathered in the citadel a large number of girls, for the harem of a military leader. Unable to escape, one of the girls to avoid the sad fate waiting them, managed to blow up the deposit of gunpowder. Recent research does not exclude an essence of truth of this legend, because some signs shows that the destruction of the citadel by explosion is very probable.


The old residence of the voivodes in the middle eve, centre of an important and expanded feudal area, Siria passed in its rich history flourishing periods, as well as sieges and military conflicts.
Şiria (Hungarian: Világos, German: Hellburg) is a commune in Arad County, Western Romania, near Zărand Mountains. Documentary certified for the first time in 1169, the village of Şiria was the residence of local landlord (mid 14th century). In the next century belonged to a vast area held between 1444-1445 by Ioan (or Iancu) de Hunedoara (aka Ioan Corvin or Corvinus, English: John Hunyadi, Hungarian: Hunyadi János). The fortress and the area belonged along the centuries to Iancu of Hunedoara, Matei Corvin or to the Bathory family.

The ruin of Şiria's fortress is one of the most important touristic sights of the commune. Located on the Fortress Hill (496 m high), the citadel dates from the 13th century and was enlarged in the 15th century. The citadel is built in Romanesque style, with a massive dungeon, provided with 2-3 floors and to the top has battlements. It was considerated to be an important strategic and economic point of the region, with 110 villages subordinated. 

The Fortress (documentary certified in 1331) raised on a hill next to the commune, still keeps between its walls Roman bricks. Being part of the fortification system that defended the western part of the Transsylvanian. 

A particularly important role in its life had the Romanian voivodes and cneaz (princes, rulers of a large area). For example, a document of 1440 speaks of a certain prince Ştefan of Şiria. Corvinus's possession at the start of the second half of the fifteenth century, passed in the years 1461-1464 under the rule of the Báthory family. During the revolt of Gheorghe Doja (Hungarian: Dózsa György), the city is temporarily occupied by its peasant bands. Under Ottoman rule (17th century), the fortress was conquered and was Mihai Viteazu's (Michael the Brave) military garrison between 1599 to 1600. Subsequently, the city was occupied again by the Ottomans in 1607 and held by them until 1693. For strategic reasons, Hapsburg troops destroyed the citadel in 1784.

The Şoimoş Fortress is situated in the village of Şoimoş, now part of the city of Lipova, Arad County, Western Romania. It was raised on the right bank of Mureş River, on Cioaca Tăutului Hill, that dominates the valley of the Mureș River .

The fortress was built by the end of the 13th century by a noble family. It is assumed that the first owner was Paul, Ban (marquis) of Severin, between 1272-1275. Documentary, the fortress is certified in 1278.  After 1315, in the time of King Carol Robert of Anjou, it become a royal citadel, associated with the dignities of count or viscount of Arad. Towards the middle of the 15th century, the fortress was donated successively. The fortress is rebuild by leader Iancu of Hunedoara (1440 – 1446) and later on it is fortified and changed into the style of the Renaissance, becoming temporary residence of the prince of Transylvania (1541).  The citadel belonged then to Ioan Corvin, natural son of the King, then came to Gheorghe Hohenzollern de Brandenburg by his marriage with the widow of Ioan, Beatrix of Frangepan. In peacetime, the number of soldiers was only 12. In the citadel lived Hungarians, Germans and Romanians, all in the service of George of Brandenburg; around the fortress were about 95 settlements. In June 1515, after the conquer of Lipova, the city was besieged by the rebels of Gheorghe Doja. Details of the siege are well known because of the investigation carried out subsequently, after suppressing the peasants' uprising. After defeating the rebels under the walls of Timişoara, the prince of Transylvania, Ioan Zápolya, held the fortifications of the Mureş Valley, and give the citadel into possession to palatine Perenyi. Around the middle of the 16th century, it became the princely residence of the widow of Ioan Zapolya, Izabella. In 1551, the fortress was given to Andrei Báthory, who represented the King Ferdinand of Hapsburg. It was occupied by the Turks in 1552, then released in 1595 by Borbély György, a captain in Ştefan Bathori's army. It was finally gave to the Turks by Prince Gabriel Bethlen, and remained under Turkish occupation by March 26, 1688. The fortress had a military role in the early 18th century, without being involved in any major military event. It was officially abandoned in 1788 and subject to demolition, but the difficult access and the relative remoteness were the reasons for the stopped destruction. In the 19th century the monument was protected by law and the last repair occurred in the early seventh decade of next century. 


The legend of 3 fortresses

The three castles were built by three sisters. The three maidens met in Șiria. The first said: "If the good Lord help me, my city will be ready tomorrow." The second maiden said too: "And all my fortress will be ready tomorrow". The third yield: "Even if the good Lord help me, my city will be ready tomorrow."
After finishing the construction of the three fortresses, they all have collapsed. The 3 maiden were transformed into three white snakes, each one bearing the golden crown on his head and a golden key of the fortress in his mouth. The story said that each spring, the three whites snakes are waiting for their liberator to take the crowns and keys, after which they will again turn into maidens and the cities will reappear in all their splendor.

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