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, wild nature and delicious food, Transylvania also offers to its more curious travelers the chance of discovering history in the most authentic and least commercial way. Coltesti Fortress is definitely on this list, a spectacular ruin in the panoramic landscape of Trascaului Mountains, just a few kilometers away from one of the best preserved villages of Apuseni Mountains, Rimetea, and a short driving distance from the mighty Alba Iulia citadel.

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, 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 at the mid of the 15th century when a second tower, besides the 20 meters tall original one from the northern side, was built. This first defensive construction had five levels, three meters thick base walls and the entrance was done through a mobile staircase from the first floor.

Coltesti Fortress

The second tower, a small palace 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. In 1467, they participated in the rebellion against King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary who in return confiscated the properties, including the fortress, of some of its members.

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 were 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 punishment for its owners’ opposition against the annexation of Transylvania to the Habsburg Empire. Afterwards, it was completely abandoned, but even in ruins 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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