The Fortress of Râşnov is the most well-known touristic attraction from the city which carries the same name. It is also known as “The peasant Citadel Râşnov”, and it is a national monument belonging to the A class.
The medieval fortress is supposed to be built in 1211–1225, in the time when the Teutonic chevaliers ruled Bârsa County. After the crusaders have left, the wooden fortress was rebuilt or transformed into one made of stone. There is no documentation to confirm this hypothesis , but the fortification of the peek, the military orders received by the German community in Bârsa County in the second half of the XIII century, the construction technique, the foundation and the elevation of the first building, identified by most of the historians in the XIII century, could be solid arguments.
The first documents mentioning the Râşnov Fortress refer to a strong fortification, resistant to an enemy’s siege, dates back from 1335, when during a Mongolian invasion in Transylvania, Bârsa County was completely devastated.
The first Turkish siege is mentioned in documents in 1421. The citadel has heroically resisted, and the Turkish have stopped the siege and headed towards the yet not fortified Braşov, which they have destroyed. The Turkish have also sieged with no success the Râşnov Citadel in their campaigns from 1436 and 1441.
In March 1612, the ruler of Transylvania Gabriel Báthory, an enemy of the Germans, trying to restrict the freedom of the Transylvanian Saxon community, has organized a military campaign in the south of Transylvania. The Citadel of Râşnov has been protected by the inhabitants of Râşnov, Ghimbav, Cristian, and a draft of Romanian troops, which have been part of the army of Muntenia’s ruler, Radu Şerban. The siege has become extremely efficient after a part of the enemy’s troops have occupied the eastern gradient, blocking the defenders’ access to the spring.
The battles in 1612 have proved the necessity of a fountain. The citadel’s fountain has been delved in 1623 – 1640, until a depth of 76 fathoms, meaning 146 meters. Despite the legend of the fountain delved by two Turkish prisoners, who have been promised the freedom when the work has been done, the fountain was actually completed by German masters hired by the mayor of Râşnov.
In the XVIII century, the changing of the political and military situation in the South-east of Europe towards the Habsburg Empire, allowed a continuous economic development of Râşnov, but also due to the diminish of the military invasions’ danger, a decrease in maintenance of the medieval citadel.
On August 2nd 1923, decided to give the Citadel of Râşnov to the Eire Prince Carol of Romania, hoping that the future king Carol II will transform the citadel into a resting residence. Carol however has never shown interest in living in a medieval citadel.
In 1937, after visiting the Fortress of Râşnov, the writer Octav Şuluţiu has left a beautiful description, but also a wise suggestion: “It would be a pity for this historical confession to be destroyed. A reconstruction of it should be necessary. But not a renovation which would fake it, by bringing new elements. To be remade everything there is, and that’s it”.
The earthquake on November 11th 1940 has strongly damaged the citadel. The renovation has become absolutely mandatory. Delayed by the war and the confusing years of instauration of the communist regime, the restoration of the Citadel of Râşnov took place only in 1955 – 1956.
In 2000 – 2007, the medieval fortress has been damaged by the illegal interventions of the citadel’s renter. The Town Hall of Râşnov, the owner of the citadel , has canceled in 2004 the concession contract and starting the summer of 2008 it has completely overtaken the administration of the historical monument.