Among the most scenic and impressive landmarks in the Transylvania (in Romania) are refuge castles, also known as peasants castles. These are a castles, that were not permanently occupied but were acts as a temporary retreat for the local population when threatened by war or attack. One of the most impressive castle is located in a town of Râșnov in the immediate vicinity of Brașov.
The citadel was built in 14th century by Teutonic Knights as part of a defence system for the Transylvanian villages exposed to outside invasions and was later enlarged by the local population. Strategically located on the commercial route linking the provinces of Transylvania and Walachia, Râșnov differs from other fortresses in that it was designed as a place of refuge over extended periods of time. As such, it had at least 30 houses, a school, a chapel and other buildings more commonly associated with a village.
The defensive system included nine towers, two bastions and a drawbridge. Citadel is surrounded by 500-foot-slopes on the north, south and west sides. The citadel is composed of two courts. The exterior court is located in front of the eastern wall, edged by a fortified wall, and fitted with a square tower. The interior court represents the inhabitable area, having a better protection by walls and towers. It has a simple architectonic style, similar to the ordinary houses of the time and adapted to the fortification requirements.
Castle remaining unconquered in 1335, during a Tatar incursion, as well as in 1421 during the first siege of an Ottoman army. The citadel was conquered only once, in 1612. The fall was caused by the lack of water due to the discovery of the path to a secret spring by the enemy troops. Thenceforth the need for a water source inside the fortress became a must, so in the first half of the 17th century 146 metres deep well was excavated in it.
According to legend the inhabitants forced Turkish prisoners to dig a well in the centre of the fortress, in order to gain their freedom again. The prisoners dug the well for 17 years and while doing this, they wrote verses from the Koran on the walls of the well.
The last siege of Râșnov Fortress took place in 1690 during the final Ottoman invasion of Transylvania. Citadel were damaged by fire in 1718 and by earthquake in 1802. The fortress was last used as a place of refuge during the revolution of 1848. This was the last mission of the citadel as a place of refugee and defence.
Recently, the old fortress has been restored to its former glory and today, you can visit the impressive remains. There is also a museum here, which briefly presents slices from the local history, the area's habits and crafts, and also gathers pieces and weapons from the inhabitants past.