Sarmizegetusa Regia: the legendary capital of the Dacians
We are in Romania. Hidden in the dense forests of the Carpathians, Sarmizegetusa Regia is one of the oldest, most surprising and mysterious historical attractions in the country.
From the second century B.C., until the first century A.D., the kingdom of Dacia could be found west of the Black Sea and north of the Danube River. When the Romans conquered Dacia in 106, they destroyed its capital, Sarmizegetusa Regia, and established a new city some 40 kilometers away to serve as the capital of their new province.
However, in the 20th century, the remains of the older city were discovered in what is now Romania.
Before Dacia became a province of the Roman Empire, Sarmizegetusa Regia served as the center of the kingdom’s religion, military and politics. The city was built on top of a 1,200-meter tall mountain hidden deep in the Carpathians, and was, in addition, a core of strategic defense. Even to this day, accessing the ruins is relatively difficult.
Serving as the Dacian capital for well over a century, the capital was from the start an urban space, strongly fortified and with direct access to vast iron resources.
Sarmizegetusa Regia reached its peak during the reign of the mythical King Decebal, but were Rome’s relentless assaults that put an end to its prosperity. The city’s fortress, which was constructed for defense against enemies including the Roman Empire, was composed of six citadels. The walls were destroyed by the Romans after the wars and the abandoned city was left to waste.
After the wars, the Romans extended the fortifications that surrounded a surface three time larger than before, before building their new capital at Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa.
Excavations in the 20th century unearthed the fortress, sanctuaries, and remains of civilian housings along with scores of archaeological artifacts, including an enigmatic sundial known as the Andesite Sun. Three distinct structures were discovered during the archaeological works: the sacred area, the fortifications and the civil housing area on the eastern and western terraces. While the artifacts brought to light, water supply systems, ceramics, thousands of iron objects, indicate the life of a flourishing ancient city, few ruins remain today from the ancient Dacian capital.
Many of the artifacts discovered at the site are now housed at the Deva History Museum in Deva.
In 1999, the ruins were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Located among the dense forests of the beautiful Șureanu Mountains, the isolated site of Sarmizegetusa Regia is a lovely place to visit and a must-see for enthusiasts of ancient history.
You can still see fragments of the fortification walls from the Roman time and a 200 meters segment from the paved road that linked this part to the sacred area. The ruins of seven temples, two circular and five rectangular, and one monumental altar for sacrifices create a very interesting view of the rich spiritual life of the Dacians.