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Aloof from everyday bustle of the southern Turnu Magurele city, sitting in the open field on the bank of the Danube River, the Turnu Fortress (whose name translates as ‘tower’) stays since the oldest times witness to major events. The fortress has a controversial history and is shrouded in legend webbing. Today, the ruins of the fortress are covered by wild vegetation, which, as the locals say, provides an ideal shelter for scorpions.

Photo credit: (c) Luiza ABU-SALEM / AGERPRES PHOTO

The 5 km of the road exiting Turnu Magurele quickly introduce the traveler into the misty atmosphere of the times of the 15th century, when the wilderness of this place was a major trump in the defense strategy against the Ottoman threat. From the port to the fortress, the cobbled, sometimes rugged and cumbersome path leads one directly to the site reigned by history.

The thick stone and brick walls of the Turnu Fortress were largely preserved to this day: the surrounding vegetation confers it an air of mystery, that is also an invite to explore and get to know it. It was built by voivode Mircea the Elder as defence against the Turks, but at the end of his reign it came under Ottoman rule.

The Turks left the Turnu fortress turned into a Turkish garrison only in 1829, when the structure — or more precisely what had been left of it after having been through a destructive fire — was returned to the Romanian Principality.

The Turnu Fortress is often confounded with the Turiss citadel, but the truth is that the two stand in no connection to each other.

The version according to which the Turris citadel would be Turnu results from the writings of historian Procopius of Caesarea, who in his ‘De Bello Gothico’ written in the sixth century said that it was founded by Roman Emperor Trajan.

Photo credit: (c) Luiza ABU-SALEM / AGERPRES PHOTO

“It is a theory that did not get the validation of reality. It starts from the book ‘De Bello Gothico’, based on which some historians assumed it would be this citadel. The Turiss citadel is mentioned there as being the same with Turnu. There is another theory according to which the fortress dates from the time of Constantine the Great, namely from the fourth century AD. Finally, a third theory that got validated by reality is related to archaeological evidence, as archaeological research produces the best proof. The oldest archaeological layer dates from the late fourteenth century. The Turnu Fortress, which is located near nowadays Turnu Magurele city, was built with certainty at the end of the 14th century. It is known that it already existed in 1397,” head of the Teleorman Directorate for Culture and National Heritage Constantin Tintariu told AGERPRES.

According to him, the fortress was part of a fortification system built by ruler Mircea the Elder to fend off the Ottoman danger.

“It was erected as part of a plan of Wallachian voivode Mircea the Elder, in a move intended to strengthen, actually create a chain of fortifications with a defensive role against the Ottoman Empire. Mircea the Elder wanted to strengthen this fortification system in the current Teleorman County. Apart from the Turnu Fortress, there were another two hill forts that backed this defensive plan — the Zimnicea and the Frumoasa citadels,” said Constantin Tintariu.

Preserved to this day of the old fortress is a keep with diameter of 17.40 m, circular and polygonal enceinte walls, a curtain wall and a counterscarp.

The construction walls had a thickness ranging from 4 to 5 meters, were built of stone mixed with brick and reinforced with wooden beams.

According to the locals, the ruins of the fortress and the unspoiled wilderness of the landscape are a real tourist attraction. AGERPRES

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