Tuesday, July 23rd 2019

Transylvania

There may be many reasons to visit Transylvania. For me it was curiosity in 2004 and 2005. This time (May 2012) it was a family visit as Mara’s mom lives in Sighisoara.
Founded by Transylvanian Saxons during the 12th century, Sighisoara (Schassburg in German) still stands as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Sighisoara’s citadel was built in the 12th century, when it was known as Castrum Sex (Fort Six), and was further strengthened and extended in the 15th century.
Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this perfectly intact 16th century gem with nine towers, cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches rivals the historic streets of Old Prague or Vienna for atmospheric magic. 
The name must have existed long before, as the Saxons built their walled town on the ruins of a former Roman fortress. In 1298, the town was mentioned as Schespurch, while in 1367 it was called Civitas de Seguswar. It is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), ruler of the province of Walachia from 1456 to 1462.The name of Sighisoara was first noted in a written document issued by Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Impaler’s father, in 1431.
Transylvania Sighisoara

Sighisoara

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the economic growth recorded by Sighisoara’s industrious craftsmen and tradesmen ensured financial means for the construction of a strong defense system provided with 14 towers and several bastions provided with gunnery directed to all four cardinal points. Each tower was built, maintained and defended by a craft guild. Among the most striking is the 14th century Clock Tower. This tower controlled the main gate of the half-mile-long defensive wall and stored the city’s treasures.

Transylvania Sighisoara

Wooden stairs tunnel built in 1692 leads to the university hill

Sighisoara was not the biggest or richest of the seven Saxon walled citadels in Transylvania, but it has become one of the most popular. A walk through the town’s hilly streets with their original medieval architecture, magical mix of winding cobbled alleys, steep stairways, secluded squares, towers, turrets and enchantingly preserved citadel, is like stepping back in time.

Sighisoara Transylvania

Tower clock in Sighisoara

Transylvania is often associated with Dracula and horror scenes. Besides that it is well known for the scenic beauty of its Carpathian landscape and its rich history. The region is full of castles and ruins, cathedrals and monasteries. Many of them date back to 14-16th centuries.

Sibiu is one of the most important cultural centres of Romania and, in tandem with Luxembourg, it was designated a European Capital of Culture for the year 2007. Formerly the centre of the Transylvanian Saxons, the old city of Sibiu was ranked as “Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live” by Forbes.

Transylvania Sibiu

Liars bridge in Sibiu

Transylvania Sibiu

Everything around Transyvlania reminds you of Hungarian rule, Principality of Transylvania times, Ottoman invasion or the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Sibiu

Sibiu

But the beauty of the regions is that If you get tired of cities and historical sights you can escape up into the Carpathian Mountains which go through the south of the region. There you can enjoy one of the most amazing views of mountainous Romania.

Locals call the area Ardeal and Transylvania is a historical name. It looks and feels similar to cities in the Czech Republic as both were parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The city was first attested in 1235 AD under the nameCorona, a Latin word meaning “crown”, a name given by the German colonists. The current Romanian and Hungarian names are derived from the Turkic word barasu, meaning “white water”. The first attested mention of Brașov is Terra Saxonum de Barasu (“Saxon Land of Baras”) in a 1252 document.

 

Transylvania Brasov

The central square of Brasov

The German name Kronstadt means “CrownCity” and is reflected in the city’s coat of arms as well as in its Medieval Latin name,Corona. The two names of the city, Kronstadt andCorona, were used simultaneously in the Middle Ages.

From 1950 to 1960, during part of the Communist period inRomania, the city was called Orasul Stalin (StalinCity), after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Transylvania Brasov

The townhall of Brasov

Targu Mures town was first documented as ‘Novum Forum Sicolorum’ (The New Market of the Seklars) in 1322. Beginning with the 16th century, Targu Mures excels as an important cultural and education centre. The first school appears in 1492.

In 1786, the first printing shop is established and in 1802 count Teleki Samuel, chancellor of Transylvania, lays the foundations of the documentary library that bears his name to this day. The city received a major boost to its social and economic life in 1754 when it became the seat of the supreme court of justice of the Principality of Transylvania.

Transylvania Targu Mures

Targu Mures

During medieval times, guilds, made up of groups of craftsmen, played an important role in the evolution of the town. Artisan guilds had their privileges recognized since 1493. In 1620, members of the guilds took part in the building of the town fortress. Two of the most important guilds were the shoemakers and tanners ones. In 1800, the shoemakers’ guild had the most members, namely 254. The guild system lasted until 1872.

Targu Mures became a modern town in the second half of the 19th century, along with the expansion of the railway line. Today its centrally located Piata Trandafirilor (Roses Square) is lined with modern streetside cafes and restaurants, churches, and monuments. Targu Mures’ top attraction is located at the south end of the square: the Culture Palace(Palatul Culturii), a flamboyant early 20th-century city hall with an outstanding stained-glass hall, housing some of main local museums.

 

Transylvania Targu Mures

 

For exploration of Transylvania you can choose as a base either Brasov or Sighisoara. From the former you can easily visit the Bran castle (wrongly advertised as Dracula castle), Poenari ruins (actual Dracula’s castle), the most famous Romanian ski resort Poyana Brasov, wonderful mountains around Sinaia. From the latter you can reach Sibiu, Targu Mures and Brasov.

 

Transylvania Sibiu

Picturesque streets of Sibiu

My top list to visit in Transylvania (in no particular order):

1.      Sighisoara

2.      Sibiu

3.      Brasov

4.      Targu Mures

5.      Peles castle in Sinaia

6.      Poyana Brasov

7.      Ruins of Penoari castle

8.      Mountains around Sinaia, Azuga and Busteni

 

 

 

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