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The Medieval Citadel of Severin that overlooks the Danube has three possible origins attributed to its name, the first being associated with the name of Roman Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus, another coming from the Slavic word ‘severnai’ that translates into ‘northern’, and the last being religious, alluding to Severin of Noricum the patron saint of the medieval Latin church discovered within the ruins of the citadel.

Photos taken by: (c) Cristian NISTOR / AGERPRES ARCHIVE

The fortress was raised on the bank of the Danube, 500 metres away from the Roman castrum and the Roman bridge built by Apollodorus of Damascus. In the 19th century the area was discovered to also host a previous Dacian citadel that was depicted on Trajan’s Column in Rome. Archeological digs done over time have established as fact the citadel’s construction in several stages. Its heyday lasted from the 13th century until the year 1524, when the Ottomans under Suleiman the Magnificent destroyed the citadel. Its history is also tied to that of the Knights Hospitaller that name it Castrum Zewrini on the diploma issued in 1247 that granted them the right to settle in Severin.

History notes that in order to keep its status as a strategic point of defence on the Danube border, ruler Litovoi died in battle against the forces of Ladislaus IV of Hungary and later on, in 1330, Basarab I humiliated Charles Robert of Anjou in the battle of Posada.

The citadel of Severin would play, over time, an important role for Wallachia. When the Hungarians attacked Oltenia they would organise here the Banat of Severin, the first Ban (e.n. — High Steward) known to history being Luca who, it appears, had continued the construction of the citadel on top of the ruins of the citadel-colony of Drobeta. In 1259 the Knights Hospitaller retreat and the walls of the citadels remain in the sights of the Tatar, Bulgarian and Ottoman cannons.

‘The first citadel on the Danube, in 1524, when it was in the care of ruler Neagoe Basarab, was so devastated by the Turks that only the Tower of Sever, measuring 22 meters high, 9 meters long and 2.5 meters wide, was left standing. Within, in 1406, Mircea the Elder (…) signed a treaty of alliance with Sigismund of Hungary, Pippo Spano being the one chosen to restore the walls of the citadel’, said the Mayor of the City of Drobeta Turnu Severin, Constantin Gherghe.

The plan of the citadel was reconstituted, in 1936, by Professor Al. Barcacila who was executing archeological digs within the ruins, where he found a trove of archeological materials (iron bars, stone cannonballs, the bronze barrel of a cannon, etc.).

The citadel was rectangular in shape, the walls being built out of raw river stones bound by mortar. In the center of the citadel a chapel built using materials taken from the Roman castrum of Drobeta was discovered, as well as several graves, a forge, an Orthodox church, a Catholic Church and a fountain.

‘After its destruction at the hands of the Turks, the Citadel of Severin is attributed the emblematic mourning name of Cerneti (e.n. — blackened). The people of Severin built another settlement that was more protected from Turkish incursions about three kilometers north-east, across the Topolnita River. As such, the locality of today — Cerneti, that around 1602 was an estate of the Buzesti brothers, will become the commercial and administrative capital of the Mehedinti region, being used both by the Austrians and the Russians. In the years that followed, the walls of the citadel would crumble, covering up, in a sense, the history and memory of those who have sacrificed themselves for their defence’, said Gherghe.

Through a project financed by the Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013 of the European Union, the Drobeta Turnu Severin received 14 million euro to restore the Citadel of Severin and the Teodor Costescu Cultural Palace.

‘The reconstruction and preservation works, started nearly three years ago, will be finished by 2015. Then, the Citadel of Severin will regain the glory bestowed upon it, over time, by its builders. It is known that they were many, given that for 300 years, after each battle fought here against the Turks and Hungarians for the defence of Wallachia, the Citadel’s ?body’ was torn apart.

The Citadel of Severin is visited, daily, even now when it’s a construction site, by nearly 300 tourists coming from all corners of the world’, added Gherghe.

sources: agerpres

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