Beneath the Apuseni Mountains, in western Transylvania, hidden between hills, guarded by cliffs and set above a forest covered valley, we find the ruins of the old Lita Citadel. This terrain adapted fortification dates back from the 14th century. Since then, it has continuously changed its owners and has been scared by many attacks.
The way to the citadel. First you must reach the village of Liteni, in the district of Cluj. Even then, it’s not very easy to get around. There are no sign posts to show you the way. But the locals are more than glad to give you directions, since it’s the only attraction they have. First you must drive your car behind the houses until the dirt road gets worse. Then you continue with a relaxing walk through fruit orchards and forests. After passing a hill, the landscape changes and in the distance you can have a short glance of the ruins. As you continue along the path you lose them, only to see them again behind the tree branches.
The ruins are very well hidden and several nature built towers watch over them. A long time ago, soldiers would climb on these cliffs and from there protect the whole valley. In present time, most of these rocks are now bolted with sport climbing routes. As we get closer we can see the remains of the old bastion, together with some rounded stone walls, ground by time. A narrow path climbs up. We enter through a hole. Centuries ago, the access to the citadel was made on a latter going up to a tower. All of these are now gone. We can barely recognize the two levels on which The Upper Citadel and The Lower Citadel were built. The two followed the abrupt terrain. The western side is built over a steep cliff. Mother nature took care of the defense. In the upper part there is an old well, now plugged with rocks. Was there really water up there, coming out of all that stone? Or maybe it was yet another gateway to the underground warehouses? Who knows what treasures they used to hide down there? History did record a big explosion in these pantries during an attack in 1562, which led to the destruction of an important part of the citadel. For a century after, it was uninhabited. Then it was partially restored and occupied again. Still, there are no trustworthy records of how, why or when it was abandoned.
The Lita Citadel is considered one of the most picturesque fortifications in Transylvania. On old maps it appears as The Old Castle. It is probably worth the name, because it best describes what is out there, behind hills and forests, a mysterious place, trapped in time. Just rest up there for a moment, look around and imagine ladies strolling behind the walls, lads courting them, secret tunnels and heavy battles…