Coltesti Everything Visit

Trascau Fortress

Nestled 3 km west of Coltesti village and about 5 km south-west of Rimetea (Alba County), Trascau Fortress rises stately on the 740 m high hill, being the oldest architectural monument preserved to this day in Transylvania. Even though the villagers have this interesting historical heritage to be proud of, they still don’t know how to relate to it, given the troubled history of the fortress and the names that are associated with it.
Trascau Fortress & Sekler’s Stone
The Thoroczkay Legacy
The noble Thoroczkay family ruled the lands in Trascau Valley for hundreds of years and their names are closely related to the construction and posession of Trascau Fortress. The noble family settled in Coltesti after the mongolian invasion in 1241-1242. At first, they built a refuge fortress on the high rocky mountain of Sekler’s Stone (1128 m), whose ruins can still be seen today. Eventually, this fortress was given by the Thoroczkay family to the seklers from Aranyos Seat, in exchange for the protection of the noble family and it’s posessions.
The construction of Trascau Fortress near the village of Coltesti, dates back to the second half of the 13th century. Unlike the fortress on Sekler’s Stone, the new one was a habitable and sheltering fortress.
The Construnction of Trascau Fortress
The location of the fortress was strategically chosen, being built on a rocky hill, with two steep slopes. Limestone, the material used for the entire building construction, was easily found in the area. All architectural components of the fortress were built on the rock. Archeological research made in 1996, revealed that the fortress was built in three pahses.
southern and eastern facade
The Northern Dungeon
First phaseThe northern Doungeon
As a characteristic of the medieval period, the construction of Trascaului Fortress begun with a 20 m high dungeon, on the northeren side of the rocky hill. The thickness of the wall, at the base, is aproximately 3 m. The dungeon had 5 levels, separated with wooden beams. The entrance was at the 1st level, as a defence system. The ground level was used as a storage chamber. Today, this part is under debris, but some documents indicate the existence of a reservoir (tank) inside the storage room. Also, it is belived that the ground level had a vaulted ceiling.
Inside the dungeon, at the 4th level, few steps from the old stone staircase faced the course of time and they still can be seen today near the wall. On the last level, the south wall keeps traces of a fireplace. The tower also had windows, unfortunately, none of them mentained their original shape to this day. On the upper floors (levels) were the living rooms and on the top, around the dungeon’s roof, was built a watch area.
remainings of the stone staircase
The Northern Dungeon
the fortified wall between northern and southern towers
The Northern Dungeon

Later on, a second tower was built on the highes rock of the hill. By the end of the 14th century, between the two towers was built a 7 m high fortified wall, to set up the enclosure of the fortress. The western wall still has the entrance in the fortress, with small wood pieces inside the wall wholes, where the gate was.

This first phase in the construction of Trascau Fortress was initiated by Ehelős Thoroczkay and was continued by Elek Thoroczkay.
Second phaseThe Pallace, The Upper and Lower Fortresses
The Fortress in Coltesti was enlarged by the mid 15th century, this phase is considered to be the second in the construction of the fortress. A new part was attached to the existing fortress, so “The Palace” arised on the southern end of the rocky hill.
A document dated 1470 refers to the newly built part of the fortress as “the new building” or “the pallace”. It had bigger rooms with large windows, a knight hall, a porch and a small interior yard. For that period, the yard’s interior design was considered to be a luxury.
interior yard and the room windows
The Pallace
access in the pallace through the porch
The Pallace
In 1467 Trascau Fortress was partly confiscated by King Matei Corvin, as the Thoroczkay nobles were involved in the rebellion against the king. Since then, for about 50 years, the sequestred half of the fortress and a part of the noble family’s domain (lands and belongings) frecvently changed it’s owners. Nicolae Csupor, János Kis, Péter Derzsi, Ioan Pognác are just few transylvanian voivodes to mention, who posessed the Thoroczkay noble family’s vast domains in the years that followed.
During this time, the fortress was enlarged and modified. The old Dungeon (the first built one) was named “The Lower Fortress” and the the pallace became “The Upper Fortress”.
entrance to one of the three rooms in front of old dungeon
The Lower Fortress
access in the Pallace from the new tower’s yard
The Upper Fortress
At the south of the 5 level old dungeon, right in front of the entrance, a new part was built. This part had 3 rooms, from which only one stood against the course of time and it’s walls are still recognisable today. The Upper Fortress (the pallace) was improved with a southern tower (bastion) and a new yard.
It was only in 1511, that Ferenc Thoroczkay, son of László Thoroczkay, managed to regain the posession of Trascau Fortress and the family’s lost domains.
Third phaseUnion of the two fortresses
The Upper and The Lower Fortresses were unified after the Thoroczkay noble family fully regained the ownership of the whole fortress and it’s vast domain. This was accomplished in 1516 by Ferenc Thoroczkay as he claimed new property documents after the old ones perished during the peasents’ uprising. The fact that the title of property over the fortress near Coltesti burnt in the fire was not true, but Ferenc Thoroczkay was given new ones by Ludovic II. The new title of property proved that Thoroczkay noble family and his descendants were the rightfull posessors of the entire Trascaului Fortress and the lands in Trascau Valley.
During this third phase in the cosntruction of the fortress, the building didn’t change too much. The upper and lower parts were unified and the western side of the fortress was fortified with ramparts.
Lower and Upper Fortress
The forgotten fortress
In the 16th century, a new period started for all the noble residences. As there weren’t so much fights anymore, noble families slowly started to move into villages and build their residence in more accesible spots. The medieval fortresses were also abandoned, only few of them were kept for special situations.
Trascau Fortress from Coltesti dind’t make an exception. Thoroczkay family moved into the village, not into a fortified fortress but in houses built for making everyday life easier.
During the independence uprising lead by Francisc Rákóczi II (1704), the habsburg troups bombed and destroied the fortress, as István Thoroczkay was against them.
After this, the Thoroczkay noble family was not interested anymore in restoring the fortress because by that time, most of the family members have already moved into the village.
In the 18th century, the fortress lost it’s protective function once had and it was ultimately abandoned.
ruins seen from the Northern Dungeon
The South Tower
the Thoroczkay Fortress memorial plaque
The Northern Dungeon
As no one cared about it anymore, time and weather conditions have made their mark on the face of Trascau Fortress near Coltesti. So, in 1869, the middle yard tower (the south tower) collapsed almost entirely and only a part of it’s ruins can still be seen today.
In 1892, on the south side of the oldest dungeon, a memorial plaque was placed near the tower entrance, to testify the birth and death of Trascau Fortress.
Being a very well preserved fortress, in 2010 it was inscribed on the list of historical monuments in Alba County by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Romania.
Today, Trascau Fortress is the main tourist attraction in Coltesti. It’s outstanding panoramic view over the village, Sekler’s Stone and Trascau Valley rewards the hiking effort of anyone interested in the past and present alike.
View over Trascau Valley from one of the Pallace’s windows in old Trascau Fortress
Romanian name: Cetatea Trascăului (Trascau Fortress) or Cetatea Colțești (Coltesti Fortress).
Hungarian name: Torockovár (Trascau Fortress) or Ilona Vár (Fortress of Ilona)
Colțești (romanian), Torockoszentgyörgy (hungarian), Sankt Georgen (german)
Rîmetea (romanian), Torocko (hungarian), Eisenburg (german)