The idea of the existence of a complex system of Dacian fortifications in the Şureanu Mountains (also called Orăştie Mountains in the historical literature) was taking shape as early as the XIXth century. At the same time it was noticed that inside this complex, Grădiştea de Munte occupies an almost central position, all the other fortresses and settlements gravitating around it.
The arrangement of a mountain landscape in order to render it suitable for habitation required a considerable effort. At Grădiştea de Munte the Dacians formed more then 260 terraces, most of them being exposed on the south-eastern slope of the hill, with a maximum sun exposition. Some of them occupied considerable surfaces (terrace no. 11, for instance, has almost 1 hectare) while others have an area of merely dozens of square meters.
The settlement stretched on approximately 4.5 km and it was formed of three main parts: the fortification, the sacred area and the civilian districts, of west and of east, respectively.
The demographic density, the preoccupation for the habitation systematisation and the monumental architecture of the edifices are elements pleading for characterising the Grădiştea de Munte settlement as an urban one.