The Spooky Castle Ruins of Şoimoş – A Perfect Arad Day Trip

In this destination guide we will visit the castle ruins of Şoimoş on a day trip from Arad, Romania.

Arad day trip

If you ever find yourself in western Romania, the surprisingly beautiful Romanian city of Arad makes for a great destination to visit. Although there is lots to admire in the city (with its neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau architecture it resembles a bit of a small version of Budapest) there is also plenty to see outside the city limits.

From Arad, it is just a short train or car ride to the town of Radna, which is well-known for its lovely Maria Radna Church and Monastery

The church and monastery complex can easily be combined with a visit to the scenic castle ruins of Şoimoş Fortress (Cetatea Şoimoş) which is just a stone-throw away.

saint anthony of padua church arad
A tram running through the city centre of Arad. ©Paliparan
radna station
From Radna’s train station it is just an easy walk to the Maria Radna Church and Monastery as well as Șoimoș Fortress. ©Paliparan
maria radna church
The Maria Radna Church and Monastery. ©Paliparan

Reaching Cetatea Şoimoş

If you are have your own set of wheels, visiting the castle ruins is amazingly simple. The ruins are located on a hilltop directly next to the DN7 (E68) provincial road. When you reach the small settlement of Șoimoș, you just have to find a place to park your car beside the road and you can simply walk up the hill to the actual ruins.

It is certainly possible to visit Cetatea Șoimoș by public transport too. The entire process I already outlined in the previous chapter about the Maria Radna Church and Monastery.

From Radna’s train station, you simply have to walk first to the Maria Radna Church, which is located on the same DN7 road. You then walk along the DN7 to the east to reach the start of the trail towards the castle ruins.

It takes a good 45 minutes on foot to reach the village of Șoimoș from Radna’s railway station. Although most of the route is along the busy DN7 with its heavy traffic of lorries and cars, it is a pleasant walk. As you come closer to Șoimoș, you can already see the fortress ruins looming in the distance on the hilltop!

dn7 radna
Walking from Radna to Soimos along the DN7 road. ©Paliparan
radna cemetery
Passing by a local cemetery in Radna. ©Paliparan
dn7 walk
Walking towards Șoimoș along the DN7. ©Paliparan
soimos romania
The actual village of Șoimoș is located in a quiet, forested valley just off the DN7 provincial road. ©Paliparan
Șoimoș church
The small Orthodox Church of Șoimoș. ©Paliparan

Climbing up

A narrow, unmarked trail leads from the DN7 at the Șoimoș junction to the castle ruins on top the hill. Whether you have arrived at Șoimoș by car or public transport, you have to climb up here on foot.

The path up is quite steep and at times rather uneven, so make sure you bring good shoes. If you are in decent shape, it will take perhaps only 15 to 20 minutes to walk up the hill to the ruins, although it could easily take twice as long if you don’t exercise regularly and need to take a break halfway to gather some steam.

If you have mobility issues, then it is unfortunately not really possible to get up the castle ruins as there are no roads leading up.

Even though the path isn’t clearly marked, it is quite straightforward to walk up towards the castle ruins. Google Maps is a good help for finding the trailhead just next to the access road to Șoimoș village on the DN7.

During the walk up there are some fabulous views back over the village of Șoimoș and the Mureș River valley. If you look far in the distance to the west, you can even spot the spires of the Maria Radna Church and the plains of Arad beyond.

soimos trail
The trail from the DN7 road to Șoimoș fortress. ©Paliparan
soimos village
During the climb up there are some great views over the town of Șoimoș. In the distance you can even see the contours of the Maria Radna Church. ©Paliparan
mures river valley
Looking out over the Mureș River valley. ©Paliparan
mures river railroad
A freight train running along the Mureș River. ©Paliparan
soimos castle
After climbing up the hill for 20 minutes, I finally arrived at Șoimoș castle. ©Paliparan
cetatea soimos castle ruins
From the ruins of Cetatea Șoimoș you have some commanding views over the Mureș River. ©Paliparan

At the fortress ruins

When standing on front of the castle, you might wonder where the actual entrance is as there is seemingly no way in. To get inside the ruins, you have to walk clockwise around the ruins along a path through a dense forest.

After some 5 to 10 minutes, you will find another path leading through a ruined entrance gate into the castle. If you are following your steps using GPS on Google Maps, you have to go roughly to the northern side of Cetatea Șoimoș.

forest path
After the climb up, you will find yourself at the western side of Șoimoș castle. You then have to follow a path clockwise around the castle ruins to its northern side. ©Paliparan
forest hills
From the path, there are some lovely views over the forested hills to the north. ©Paliparan
castle ruin soimos
After a short while, you will find a path leading into the courtyard of the ruined castle. ©Paliparan

A bit of history

While standing in the courtyard of Cetatea Șoimoș, you finally get the image in mind that this must have been a formidable fortress in its heydays.

The castle was built in the late 13th Century and guarded Arad’s eastern approaches through the Mureș River valley. Due to intrigue, local conflicts and politics as well as outright war, the castle changed hands a couple of times between local noble families, as well as major powerhouses who dominated European politics and military affairs at the time.

Among the owners were John Hunyadi (the father of Matthias Corvinus) and the Brandenburg-Prussian branch of the House of Hohenzollern, a Czech Hussite captain by the name of Jan Giskra, as well as lesser known Hungarian and Romanian military leaders.

When the castle was in the possession of Queen Isabella (Isabella Jagiellon, the the oldest child of Polish King Sigismund I the Old), Șoimoș was reportedly at its prime and had magnificent Renaissance-style interiors. Unfortunately, not much is remaining besides some stone carvings and arches.

In 1552, the castle was occupied by an invading Ottoman army after repeated siege attempts. After changing hands a couple of times in the years after, Cetatea Șoimoș was only completely liberated from the Turks in 1688.

The sustained damage from the frequent sieges meant however that Șoimoș gradually fell into ruin. In the 18th Century, the castle lost all its importance due to the advance of artillery and new styles of warfare. In 1788 it was therefore completely abandoned and left to its fate.

What is left now is a spooky, ruined castle. Especially on this gloomy day with threatening storm clouds in the distance, it was an absolutely stunning but eerie sight to visit.

As Șoimoș is relatively unknown, you are likely to have the castle ruins all for yourself, so feel free to explore around. My favourite part is an archway facing west, which is not only the best preserved part of the castle but also has some sweeping views over the Mureș River valley towards Radna and Arad.

Soimos castle
Standing in the middle of what was previously the inner courtyard of Șoimoș Casle. ©Paliparan
Soimos
The ruins of Cetatea Șoimoș. ©Paliparan
cetatea soimos
From a lovely archway, which is one of the best preserved structures at Soimos Castle, there are great views over the wider area. ©Paliparan
soimos forest
An old wall at the northern end of Cetatea Soimos. ©Paliparan

Downhill

Fortunately, getting downhill from the castle proved to be much easier than climbing up. On the way back, I encountered a large herd of goats whose distinctive bells made for a nice little soundtrack during the walk.

Back at the DN7, it was another 50 or so minutes walking until I finally reached Radna’s train station again where after a short wait, my train arrived to bring be back to Arad.

 

goats soimos
A herd of goats is blocking the path down from Soimos Castle to the main road. ©Paliparan
goat
Hello there! ©Paliparan
goats
Goats around Soimos Castle. ©Paliparan
fabulous goat
Goat being fabulous. ©Paliparan
goats
Some more goats roaming around. ©Paliparan
radna street
Walking back to the train station of Radna. ©Paliparan
cat train station
A cat waiting at the railway platform. ©Paliparan
train radna arad
The train back to Arad arriving at the railway station of Radna. ©Paliparan

In short

Cetatea Șoimoș makes for a magnificent day trip if you find yourself in Arad or the wider area around it in Western Romania, especially when combined with the nearby Maria Radna Church.

Although the castle is completely ruined, it makes for a wonderful experience to climb all the way up. The views over the Mureș River valley and the forested hills are absolutely wonderful. Especially on this gloomy day, the sight of the castle ruins made for an unforgettable sight.

Make sure to wander around the fortress ruins to find the entrance to the inner courtyard. With a bit of fantasy, you can get a great idea how magnificent and formidable this castle must have been in Medieval times.

Șoimoș might seem completely forgotten nowadays, but I think it is a top-rate sight which perfectly combines history with amazingly scenic views.

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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