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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.