Piatra Șoimului Fortress … a nest of eagles

This fortress, also known as Şinteu Fortress is situated in the village of Peştiş, which belongs to the city of Aleşd from an administrative standpoint. According to the documents from 1306, the Piatra Șoimului Fortress was apparently a refuge and it already existed during the period of the Tatar-Mongol invasions (1241-1242). Geregye Pal (Paul), a Hungarian nobleman, the judge royal of King Bela IV, was the one who first wanted the walls built. It was believed that no one but those, whose soul is brave, can climb on Piatra Șoimului. For centuries, the fortress was the center for noblemen of the region called Ţara Bistrei, which lies over a territory that can be found in Bihor and Sălaj counties today. In time, the lords of the fortress have ruled over 47 villages up until Huedin. Over time, the fortress belonged to Romanian and Hungarian noblemen who have owned the territories in its vicinity. Important families like Borşa, Dragffi, Bánffy, Báthory, Rákóczi, but also Movileştii or Constantin Şerban, ruler of Ţara Românească and then of Moldova have linked their names to this impregnable “nest of eagles”. During the time when Oradea was under Turkish ruling (1660-1692), the fortress was a Turkish garrison. In 1771, the Habsburgs have blown up the fortress that was used as a refuge for the opponents of the Empire. Today a romantic holiday destination, the fortress on the top of the cliff seems to have been cursed. Although it had been important enough to be owned by noblemen from various countries, Piatra Şoimului has not had a single master for too long. The arches, tunnels and little caves carved by nature at the base of the rock have given birth to many legends about treasures and troubled destinies.