Marienburg, Földvár, Feldioara - the citadel

Feldioara: Visiting a Medieval Citadel in Transylvania

On my recent quest to visit the castles of my homeland near Brasov, I finally stopped at the small citadel of Feldioara. Surprised, I noticed that it was reconstructed, the rooms were set up as museums, and overall it had a “new” feeling. Maybe not exactly what I expected but on this trip, it wasn’t the first new-looking medieval castle I saw; I had a similar experience at the Citadel of Rupea.

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The Citadel looks quite new, since it was recently renovated. View of the Inner courtyard from one of the towers.

White walls and red roofs surrounding a perfectly manicured inner courtyard – beautiful, for sure. But I had trouble imagining medieval knights, or even people from a century ago, living in this citadel. I couldn’t feel the history here.

I was also wondering how many of the citadels, castles, fortresses would they reconstruct? Transylvania had one in just about every village; how would they decide which one is worth reconstructing? I’m guessing, it depends on the location; if it’s easy to access, they get the treatment, so they attract tourists. Both Rupea and Feldioara are off a major road crossing all Europe…

But I’m not being fair. It was actually fun to visit the reconstructed castle. Földvár, as we call it in Hungarian, Marienburg in its German name, and Feldiora in Romanian was a fun little stop. We even got to chat with local school kids who were volunteering as guides.

The citadel is beautiful, I wonder if it was really this pretty when it was first built. Regardless, the views are much the same as they were centuries ago…

Location of the Citadel

Like citadels in general, the Feldioara Citadel sits on top of a hill above the village of Feldioara. It is overlooking a beautiful fertile valley with rolling hills at the foot of the Carpathians. Called Barcaság in Hungarian, Burzenland in German and Tara Birsei in Romanian, the area got its name from the river Barca (Birsa).

View from the Citadel of Feldioara
View from the Citadel of Feldioara

Though inhabited from ancient times, the area is mostly known as the home of the Transylvanian Saxons. Back around the turn of the first millennium, around 1100, it was part of the larger Hungary. Sitting at the farthest Southeast edge, at the border, it always needed protection. So the Hungarian Kings invited the German-Saxons and their Teutonic Knights to settle here, around 1211.

The German-Saxon knights and their people received large areas of land to build fortresses and homes on. In exchange, they were required to help defend the Southern border from the constant attacks of the Kuns (Cumans), later the Tartars and the Turks.

These knights and the civilians accompanying them built most of the citadels in the area, including Brasov, Fagaras, Bran, Rasnov, Sighisoara, Rupea, and even the smaller Feldioara.

The Citadel of Feldioara

This was another citadel I knew of as a kid, saw its ruins from afar during our travels to Brasov. Even closer to Brasov than Rupea, once we saw it, we knew we would be free from the constraints of the back seat of our car in a short time. On this stretch of road, we used to pass at least a few castles that we knew of: those in Radnót (Iernut), Vásárhely (Tirgu Mures), Segesvár (Sighisoara), Kőhalom (Rupea), Földvár (Feldioara) and just a few minutes later we would get to Brasov, a city that also had its own citadel. This is just off a 200 km stretch of road. Transylvania was indeed filled with castles in older times, built by the Hungarians and the German-Saxons. Some large, other smaller. Like Feldioara.

The oldest mentions of this citadel call it Castrum Marie and Mergenburg and it was the home of Teutonic knights, built to protect not so much a village, but people traveling on the nearby Olt river.

Inside Feldioara Citadel

As I mentioned earlier, the Feldioara Citadel is much smaller than most in the area. It consists of a few interconnected buildings, surrounding an oval-shaped inner courtyard.

The building around the courtyard
An oval building with two towers surrounds a small courtyard.

Two four-story-high towers, the tallest structures, sit on the opposite ends of the castle. We entered through the third tower, called the entrance tower, leading through a short corridor into the inner courtyard. An old well sits in the center of the courtyard, common to most citadels, to assure water supply.

The walls are taller on one side, and we could walk up to a long balcony, where we had the most beautiful view of the countryside I mentioned earlier.

The Feldioara Citadel - view from the Inner Courtyard
The tower and higher wall with the long balcony.

The towers were open, and all their rooms are set up as museums.

Museum-Rooms in the Castle

We could walk through all the rooms in these towers, set up as museums, though with more recent objects, most no older than a century or even less. I remember my great-grandma had an iron like the one I saw in one of the rooms. She didn’t use it when I knew her, she had a newer one, but she still had it at her house… (and I’m not that old).

Old tools displayed in the citadel.
Old tools from the countryside, displayed in one of the rooms in the Feldioara Citadel.

The objects represent traditions more than anything else. Some of the decorative objects, pillows, and tablecloths are so recent, I even own similar ones, handed down from my grandma. They represent the Barcaság, tara Birsei, a mix of German-Saxon, Hungarian and Romanian traditions.

a museum-room in the Feldioara castle
Objects in a museum-room…. no, they are not that old; you’ll still find the same design in homes in Transylvania today (I even own a pillow with the same design, from my grandma; and a mini-tablecolth just like the one in the photo; sewn using traditional Hungarian design).

Is It Worth Visiting Feldioara Citadel?

Sure, if you are in the area, it makes a great stop. Transylvania has plenty bigger and nicer ones, but they put all this work into reconstructing it, so all we can do is stop for a short visit. It’s not expensive at all (though I can’t exactly remember the price). It’s cute and the views from it are worth it. I also suspect that in a few years, when it looses its “newness” it might look closer to a historical site. They told us it only opened up recently, as in a few months ago, if I understood correctly. It looks it, too.

Besides, if you didn’t grow up in the area, you’ll find it fascinating anyway. Just make sure you don’t skip the nearby Rupea for it; in fact, you could fit both in the same day-trip, even if you visited Sighisoara first. Also, stop at the fortified church in town, on the road to the citadel. You might not be able to enter, it wasn’t open when we stopped by, but it is another great example of Transylvanian architecture.

Travel Planning Resources to Get To Transylvania (Romania)

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        About the Author

        Emese grew up in Transylvania, near the now-world-renowned Sighisoara, and spent several years living in Brasov. Though she now lives in the US, she still revisits the places of her childhood often, with her American family. This gives her several perspectives when writing about places in her former homeland. She can understand them from a local perspective, while also appreciating and noticing things that make these places unique for first-time visitors.

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