* The white stripes on the walls separate the original old brick from the newer one. The citadel is undergoing rehabilitation. Restoration work is due in early 2015. *
Suceava fortress was built at the end of XIV-th century by Petru I Muşat(1375-1391), it was fortified in XV-th century by Stephen the Great and it was burnt down (through treason) by Dumitrașcu Cantacuzino. The citadel was both a royal residence and a fortress against foreign armies. Suceava fortress was fortified in such a way that it couldn’t be conquered, despite the fact it was under siege repeatedly by Ottomans.
The fortress was first mentioned in 1388, but it was later transformed into a residence castle by Alexander the Good (1400-1432) and strongly fortified by Stephen the Great (1457-1504) when Suceava became the capital of Moldavia.
At the initial walls (10 m high and 2 meters width) new walls were added, together with a deeper water ditch which was dug all around the castle. The inside rooms belonged to soldiers, the prince and his family; there was also a chapel and a warehouse for food and ammunition. The citadel was accessed through a bridge which could be raised during danger; the bridge was built with a trap especially designed for enemies that managed to cross it. (scroll down for more details about Suceava fortress’ history and for virtual reconstruction)
After 1476, Stephen doubled the exterior walls by adding new layers which were fixed to the existing walls, so that they varied in thickness from 2 meters to 4 meters. The walls were also built in a circular manner so that they can withstand a bombardment.
This is the explanation why Suceava fortress couldn’t be conquered despite the fact it was under siege repeatedly by Ottomans.
The only way that the fortress could be conquered and destroyed was through treason. Under Alexandru Lăpuşneanu’s second reign (1564-1568), the Turks ordered the fortress to be set on fire and the royal residence to be moved to Iaşi (because it didn’t have any fortresses and was easy to conquer). The last flourishing period of the fortress took place during Vasile Lupu’s reign (1634-1653) who restored it.
In 1673 it suffered great damages when Dumitrascu Cantacuzino filled it with wood and set it on fire, under the Turkish orders.
Stephen the Great reenactment
Virtual reconstruction of Suceava citadel (plan highlighted at 0:35)