The Șiria Citadel

Șiria (Világos in Hungarian, Hellburg in German, “Enlightened Fortress” in translation) dates from the thirteenth century (it is mentioned in the years that followed the Tatar invasion of 1242). An important role in its existence was held by the Romanian princes and princes (voievozi and cneji). For instance, a document of 1440 talks about a certain prince called Stefan in Syria. Matei’s possession at the start of the second half of the fifteenth century, it passes under the dominion of the Bathory family. During the uprising of Gheorghe Doja, the city is temporarily occupied by its peasant armies. Under Ottoman rule at the middle of the eighteenth century, the fortress serves as a garrison for Michael the Brave in the years 1599-1600. Subsequently, the city is again occupied by the Ottomans in 1607 and held by them until 1693. Due to strategic reasons, the Habsburg troops destroyed the city in 1784. Over the centuries, the Syria Citadel was occupied by rulers like Iancu of Hunedoara, the regent of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus or Andrew Bathory. In the erection of the defense fortress of Syria, the builders used, among other materials, bricks that came from the Roman occupation of these territories and which bore the seal of the XII Gemina Legion.

The role of the citadel is a strategic, defense and economic one, having 110 subordinated villages. The architecture of the city has several parts: the central body is built on a rock of irregular ovoid form with level differences. On the west, the wall is 24 m long, tall and with holes. To the north the remains of a tower can be seen. It had rooms and in the underground it communicates with the exterior door through a door that is closed as needed.

The courtyard is of 36-38 m in size with intact walls. The wall’s thickness is of 130 cm and they are 3.5 m tall. To the north there is an opening that was one of the gates of the citadel. Over the ditch in front of the castle there was a drawbridge. The dungeon, or the tower, and the surrounding wall are the oldest parts of the city. The dungeon, with its ruined tip, is 109 m long and 18 m wide. In front of the central body there is a protective wall at a distance of 2.5 m, closing a small retreat courtyard. The surrounding wall has a length of 28 m, with an entrance only from the west. The ditch the city, located in the outer court, had in some portions a depth of 10 m and a width of 14 m but some portions were less steep.

The underground tunnels have a height of 1.9 m and they are 1.8 m wide at the base, with four gates. The main gate on the northeast side, of 2.9 m at the base, features two openings – one large and one small pedestrian road. The gate on the vertical side of the protective wall offers an access over the ditch, which is more than 12 m wide and 6m deep. There is also a gate on the western side of the wall of the outer court and the last gate (uncertain) is in the central body. The construction materials used are stone from the Galșa career, brought from a distance of 3.5 km, directly slaked lime stone (hot mortar). It originated from Agrișul Mare, located 12 km away over the hill. There were three successive levels of execution of the building:

  • The dungeon with its associated structures: the surrounding wall and part of the central body (after the Tatar invasion in 1241 and the second half of the thirteenth century).
  • The central body and the thickening of the walls with buttresses (during the reign of Iancu of Hunedoara).

The citadel remained almost intact until the year 1784, when it was destroyed by the imperial armies, who were afraid that the feudal fortress might be occupied by the rebel armies of the Moti in the Apuseni Mountains, led by Horea, Cloșca and Crișan. Inside the Bohuș Castle, built at the foot of the hill on which the city is situated, the act of capitulation of the Hungarian revolutionary army by General Arthur Gorgel, the commander of the insurgents and the supreme commander of the Tsarist armies, the Russian General I.F. Paskievitsch, was signed on the day of August 30, 1849.