Pursuing Antique Trails

Today’s journey is going to take us to the ancient world of Dacia, the province that used to exist here 2000 years ago and was attacked and conquered by the Romans, mainly for the huge resources it had to offer. We are going to visit the two ancient capitals of the province (the Dacian and Roman one) and the unusual church of Densuş, one of Romania’s oldest.

Departing from Sibiu in the morning, we will drive on the western highway to reach the Orăştie Mountains. This is region where the Dacians used to have their strongholds: an impressive system of fortifications and paved roads, which made them a very strong adversary for the Roman Empire. Because of the local gold, silver, iron and salt mines, they were able to reach a very high degree of development, both social and military. Their complex fortification system was built around the capital city, Sarmisegetusa Regia, probably one of the most evolved cities in that time in this part of Europe. We will enter through the main gate and walk next to the old paved road to reach the center of the fortification. The view is spectacular: very well preserved ruins of a solar calendar, of religious temples (used for human sacrifices) and of other administrative and private buildings can be visited. The ancient city can be seen in Rome, on the “Column of Trajan”, which was built after the Romans managed to conquer Dacia and turn it into a Roman province.

Departing from the sacred mountain of the Dacians, we will travel to the Roman capital of the province, built right after the bloody and brutal war and named after the conquering emperor, Sarmisegetusa Ulpia Traiana. Here we will get the chance to see a very well preserved Roman complex, with ruins of an amphitheater, a forum, many temples, a gladiator school and many civil and military houses.

In the afternoon we will drive to one of the oldest and most bizarre churches in the country. It is situated in Densuş, a small village, close to the antique Dacian and Roman settlements. This is the reason why most of the material used to build this church comes from an antique pagan temple. The interesting fact is that the old Roman gods and tombstones are standing right next to Christian icons and frescoes… It really is an interesting experience…
In the evening we will return to Sibiu.