Coltesti Fortress: Ruins from a Lost Time

If you’d like to discover Coltesti and other attractions from the region, contact us via

Beyond its traditional villages, wilderness and delicious food, Transylvania also offers you the chance to discover history in the most authentic and least commercial way. Coltesti Fortress is a perfect example, a spectacular ruin in the panoramic landscape of Trascaului Mountains, a few kilometers away from one of the best-preserved villages in Apuseni Mountains, Rimetea, and a short driving distance from Alba Iulia.

Coltesti Fortress

Medieval age

Built more than 700 years ago, in 1296, by the noble family Thoroczkay who owned the surrounding villages, including Rimetea, the fortress is located at over 700 meters altitude, on a steep cliff, only 30 minutes on foot from the village of Coltesti. The fortress was built, destroyed and rebuilt several times, its faith being a solid example for the region’s troubled medieval times. Even its construction was determined, like in the case of most fortresses from that time, by the imminent danger of a Tatar invasion, the one from 1241 destroying many of Transylvania’s villages and cities.

Coltesti Fortress

Combining both a defensive and a daily living function, the fortress reached its maximum glory in the mid-15th century when a second tower was built. By that time, a 20 meters tall tower with five levels and three meters thick base walls already existed on the northern side. A small residence and a surrounding wall were added later in the 15th century, but the members of the Thoroczkay family didn’t enjoy these new features for too long as their properties, including the fortress, were confiscated by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary after they participated in a rebellion against him in 1467.

Coltesti Fortress

Destruction and abandonment

It’s only in 1516, two years after the peasant uprising led by Gheorghe Doja when the fortress was seriously damaged, that the family got back full control of their estates. Nonetheless, by that time this type of fortified residences placed at high altitudes was becoming more and more obsolete, and the members of the Thoroczkay family had already built houses for themselves in the village.

Coltesti Fortress

In this context, Coltesti Fortress was gradually abandoned. It was destroyed again, this time by the Austrian army, at the beginning of the 18th century as a punishment for its owners’ attitude against the incorporation of Transylvania into the Habsburg Empire, being completely abandoned afterward. While only the ruins exist today, it’s a spectacular attraction, inspiring you to imagine a completely different world.

You can easily spend an entire weekend in the breathtaking landscape from Coltesti and neighboring Rimetea. The easy hiking trails, the view of the one a kind Piatra Secuiului, the delicious local dishes and the atmosphere from these villages will instantly relax you.

Travel tips

Follow the blue triangle sign from the village up to the ruins.

Combine a hiking trip to Piatra Secuiului from nearby Rimetea with an itinerary to Coltesti Fortress.

You can go rock climbing in the scenic Valisoarei Gorges, located just a few kilometers away.

If you’d like to discover Coltesti and other attractions from the region, contact us via

About the author

Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer, focusing on sustainable tourism practices and destinations. You can find Diana Condrea on Twitter and Google+

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