Romania was once split into three smaller principalities, The Romanian Country, Transylvania and Moldova, each having its own ruler. But they faced the same enemy. The main threat came from the Ottomans. That is why both peasants and lords built citadels and fortresses to protect themselves, many of which are still standing today. They endured terrible battles and witnessed history being made.
Suceava is a town in northern Romania. It was once the capital of the principality of Moldova and the center of the most important affairs concerning the country. That means that it was also a target. At the end of the 14th century, the Moldavian ruler Petru Muşat began to build a fortress. The future voivodes all contributed to reinforcing the defensive systems and the citadel became a temporary residence for the Moldavian rulers. During Ştefan cel Mare’s reign the citadel was adapted to the newest battle conditions.
Centuries passed and close to the now crowded city, the fortress is still standing. After being abandoned at the end of the 17th century, it suffered major damage. Part of what we see today has been renovated. Surrounded by a defensive ditch which was actually never filled with water, the 4m thick walls, bastions and ruins reveal themselves. The only way to get inside is on a massive bridge, which was once part fixed, part mobile, making it pretty hard for intruders to get in. The citadel is surrounded by two layers of walls which form separate yards. First we get acquainted with the exterior and we pass by the Powder Depot, an underground room transformed into a small museum with some useful information about what we will be seeing next. Then we stop in front of the execution place. There are bolted entrances, ruined towers, old columns, broken pieces of stone decorations. We finally enter the main citadel and go through the rooms of the prison. This is one way of saying it, because there is no roof anymore. But we are doing our best in trying to imagine how it was like here half a millennium ago. We get to the inner yard and in front of the chapel. There is an icon of the Moldavian ruler Ştefan cel Mare, who was canonized in 1992.
The Crown Fortress of Suceava is not your typical fortification. While most lie on hill tops, following the terrain, well, this one was carefully thought and in the end adapted the terrain to the citadel. So much stone put together to rise rows of walls, so many bastions to protect them. It took centuries of hard work to make it powerful and only one order from the Turks to abandon and destroy it.
While you’re here you could also check out the Bucovina Village Museum.