Romanian Touristic Attractions


Romania is a dynamic country, rich in history, art and scenic beauty, offering the traveler countless unique travel experiences waiting to be discovered.

 

The Romanian historian, Nicolae Iorga said:

 

“Each place on earth has its own story to tell, but you have to keep your ears wide open and you need a bit of love to understand it”.

MaramureşCounty is situated in the north western part of Romania. It’s one of the few Romanian provinces where people believe that folk costumes are much more valuable than designer clothes. The people from this area are very attached to their land and traditions, passing their folk costumes from one generation to another. Hardworking and talented craftsmen, they have managed to create works of art that are unique in Europe. Among these we count The wooden Churches of Maramures, dating from the 14th century, eight of them being part of UNESCO World Heritage: Bârsana, Budeşti-Josani, Desesti, Ieud, Plopis, Poienile Izei, Rogoz, and Surdesti.

The eight narrow, high, timber constructions we enumerated – with their characteristic tall, slim clock towers – are outstanding examples of a range of architectural solutions from different periods and areas, showing a high level of artistic maturity and craft skills. They were built during the Austro-Hungarian occupation. In those times, the locals were forbidden to build stone churches for fear these might have been used as fortifications like the ones built by the Saxons in Transylvania Transilvania.

People from Maramures also proved also that they are not afraid of dying, on the contrary, they have learnt how to laugh in the face of death – by creating The Merry cemetery.

The idea occurred to the craftsman Stan Ioan Patras in 1935. He painted the first cross in a merry way, accompanied by an amusing anecdote about the life of the deceased.

The cemetery is actually a testimony to the beauty of life and the fact that you should cherish life it and laugh until the end, even beyond.

If you have the opportunity to visit the region, you must take a ride with the train called Mocanita, starting from Viseu de Sus. It will be like stepping back in time by embarking on the steam-powered locomotives. The route in the Vaser Valley passes by hundred years old villages hundreds of years old and sun-soaked mountain meadows.

Maramures is renowned not only for the folk costumes, traditions, craftsmanship but also for the hospitality of its people and the culinary recipes, based on products that people obtain from their households, so you should not hesitate when it comes to sampling the delicacies offered.

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““

Bucovina is another valuable area, also in the northern part of Romania. Crossing this region from one end to the other, you will find a perfect harmony between overwhelming landscapes, and architectural gems, such as the painted monasteries, part of UNESCO World heritage, medieval vestiges, customs, traditions, excellent cuisine and very hospitable people.

Although the monasteries were built in a very unusual style, Byzantine churches having been built with gothic elements, their main attraction consists in the peculiar way the monasteries were covered on the outside walls with paintings. The people, who came in large numbers to the service and did not fit in the church, had to attend the service from the outside even though they could not hear a word from the sermon. Therefore, the outside frescoes on the monasteries, replaced the words of the priests by religious scenes, mixed with day to day and battle scenes as well.

Voronet Monastery, known as „The Sistine Chapel of the East”, was painted by an anonymous painter. The formula of the ”Voronet blue”, used for his paintings on the walls, has remained an enigma and this uniqueness have has turned Voronet into an indisputable symbol of Bucovina.

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Transylvania is a complex mixture of culture, nature, history and myth. As the region is circled by the Carpathian Mountains, there are a lot of National parks, mountain forests and hiking or climbing possibilities. There are also about 100 castles and fortresses, about 70 fortified churches, and many small, traditional villages with old houses.

The Saxons settled in Transylvania in the early 11th century. They started to build fortified cities while the people in the villages fortified their churches against migratory tribes people. The city of Sighisoara is probably one of the most representative among the over 500 German fortifications, of which only a few of are now listed 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 in magic atmosphere atmospheric magic. It is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Ţepeş (Vlad the Impaler), ruler of the province of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. It was he who inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional creation, Count Dracula.

Year after year, on the last weekend of July, Sighişoara is hosting the Medieval Arts and Crafts festival, when the air is filled with a medieval atmosphere more then ever. This event is the perfect occasion to immerse yourself oneself in the lore and legends of medieval Transylvania, enjoying troubadour music, exhibitions, costume parades, handicraft displays, open-air concerts and medieval ceremonies.

 

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Sibiu is another spectacular city. It was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels built in the 12th century by the Saxons. Sibiu’s OldTown retains the grandeur of its earlier days: The Large square, existing since 1366 when the third fortification belt of the city was finalized; the Small square, which slopes under the Bridge of Lies towards the LowerTown; The Evangelic Church, the oldest church in Sibiu, dominates The Huet square.

 

The International Theatre Festivals Sibiu (will take place between 6-14 June in 2014) has become the most important theatrical arts venue in Romania along 20 years of its existence. Only two other festivals in the world can boast with greater performances that the ones in Sibiu.

For one week in June, the Grand Square and the main boulevards of Sibiu become innovative settings for various artistic performances, which may occur spontaneously, in any location.

The first edition was held in 1994 and featured only actors from Romania, but by the year 2007, when Sibiu was nominated the European Capital of Culture, artists from 70 countries attended the festival.

The plays are performed in the most unusual locations, such as the Astra Museum of Traditional Civilization in Sibiu, built on the shores of a lake, among windmills, watermills and traditional Romanian houses, providing a spacious background.

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Few people know that Sinaia, located in a beautiful mountainous region, in thePrahovaValley, was named after Mount Sinai in Egypt. It is one of the oldest and most famous mountain resorts, often referred to as “The Pearl of the Carpathians”.

Peleș Castle, with its fairytale turrets and pointed towers, was built as a summer residence by Romania’s longest serving monarch, King Carol I, who died and was buried here in 1914, just months after the castle’s completion.

The construction of Peleș took 8 years and the king himself supervised all of the works. That is why the castle exhibits so many German Neo-Renaissance elements, both on the exterior and the interior, with sharp lines, irregular shapes and asymmetrical building wings.

After you have visited the castle and the area, you will understand why the royal couple, Carol I and Elisabeth fell in love with the place and its landscape.

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Another famous castle – Bran, was built in the mid-1300s on the edge of the BranPass, considered to be the legendary home of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.

Stoker’s story is based on the life of Vlad Ţepeş/Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476). Known as one of the Turks’ most feared enemies, enemy of the Turks, Vlad he started enforcing the law, by introducing death penalty and impaling all those he considered to be a threat to the state’s security. In reality he was afraid that somebody would try to replace him, such as his step brother, Vlad the Monk or his cousin Dan the Young. People say he was Count Dracula because he used to sign with his father’s name, Dracul “The Devil”, the word alone carrying magic and mystery.

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

Braşov is surrounded on three sides by mountains, being a perfect choice for a medieval settlement. Founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211, the old city is one of the best preserved in all of Europe.

Lined with beautiful red-roofed merchant houses, The Council Square (Piaţa Sfatului), situated in the heart of the old medieval Braşov and known to the Saxon population as the Marktplatz, is one of the finest in the country. The BlackChurch represents another important landmark of the city, and towers over The Council Square as the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul.

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Bucharest, the capital of Romania, celebrates in 2014, 555 years since the City of Bucharest was first officially mentioned in a document. The letter was signed by Vlad the Impaler himself – the legendary Dracula from the Hollywood movies.

It is Known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Époque buildings, Romania’s largest city and capital, is today a bustling metropolis.

Perhaps the city’s charm can be best observed in the residential area, known as Lipscani. Today, the old city center is being refashioned and is home to many art galleries, antique shops and coffeehouses.

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Here are some of Romania’s superlatives:

  • The Black Church in Braşov is the largest gothic church east of Vienna. It has the largest organ in Europe with 4000 tubes, built by Buchholz, Berlin’s famous organ builder, in 1836, as well as the largest bell in Romania, weighing 6.3 tons.
  • Braşov is home to what is said to be the narrowest street in Europe, the Rope Street (Strada Sforii), which is approximately four feet wide and was initially used as an access-route by firefighters.
    • Sighişoara’s fortress is thought to be the best preserved and continuously inhabited, early middle age city in Europe.
    • The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, is, according to the World Records
      Academy, the largest and most expensive civil administration building in the world. It is also considered to be the biggest office building in Europe, having 3.9 million square feet and second-largest in the world, after the U.S. Pentagon.
    • The Merry Cemetery in the village of Săpânța – Maramureş is one of the world’s most unique – in all respects – resting places, well known for its over 800 colorful gravestones, carved in oak and decorated with colorful paintings and funny epitaphs about the deceased.
    • The tallest wooden church in the world, Săpânţa Peri, Maramureş, can be found in the northwestern part of Romania. The 257 feet tall church, dedicated to St. Michael, culminates with a 23 feet cross that weighs 1,000 lbs.
    • Romania is home to the second largest outdoor museum in the world, Astra Museum in Sibiu, featuring more than 300 buildings, as well as watermills, windmills and many village architectural style structures.

[:ro]Romania is a dynamic country, rich in history, art and scenic beauty, offering the traveler countless unique travel experiences waiting to be discovered.

The Romanian historian, Nicolae Iorga said:

“Each place on earth has its own story to tell, but you have to keep your ears wide open and you need a bit of love to understand it”.

Maramureş County is situated in the north western part of Romania. It’s one of the few Romanian provinces where people believe that folk costumes are much more valuable than designer clothes. The people from this area are very attached to their land and traditions, passing their folk costumes from one generation to another. Hard working and talented craftsmen, they have managed to create works of art that are unique in Europe. Among these we count The wooden Churches of Maramures, dating from the 14th century, eight of them being part of UNESCO World Heritage: Bârsana, Budeşti-Josani, Desesti, Ieud, Plopis, Poienile Izei, Rogoz, Surdesti.

The eight narrow, high, timber constructions we enumerated – with their characteristic tall, slim clock towers – are outstanding examples of a range of architectural solutions from different periods and areas, showing a high level of artistic maturity and craft skills. They were built during the Austro-Hungarian occupation. In those times, the locals were forbidden to build stone churches for fear these might have been used as fortifications like the ones built by the Saxons in Transilvania.

People from Maramures proved also that they are not afraid of dying, on the contrary, they have learnt how to laugh in the face of death – by creating The Merry cemetery.
The idea occurred to the craftsmen Stan Ioan Patras in 1935. He painted the first cross in a merry way, accompanied by an amusing anecdote about the life of the deceased.
The cemetery is actually a testimony to the beauty of life and the fact that you should cherish life and laugh until the end, even beyond.

If you have the opportunity to visit the region, you must take a ride with the train called Mocanita, starting from Viseu de Sus. It will be like stepping back in time by embarking on the steam-powered locomotives. The route in the Vaser Valley passes by villages hundreds of years old and sun-soaked mountain meadows.

Maramures is renowned not only for the folk costumes, traditions, craftsmanship but also for the hospitality of its people and the culinary recipes, based on products that people obtain from their households, so you should not hesitate when it comes to sampling the delicacies offered.

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
Bucovina is another valuable area, also in the northern part of Romania. Crossing this region from one end to the other, you will find a perfect harmony between overwhelming landscapes, architectural gems, such as the painted monasteries, part of UNESCO World heritage, medieval vestiges, customs, traditions, excellent cuisine and very hospitable people.

Although the monasteries were built in a very unusual style, Byzantine churches having been built with gothic elements, their main attraction consists in the peculiar way the monasteries were covered on the outside walls with paintings. The people who came in large numbers to the service and did not fit in the church, had to attend the service from the outside even though they could not hear a word from the sermon. Therefore, the outside frescoes on the monasteries, replace the words of the priests by religious scenes, mixed with day to day and battle scenes as well.
Voronet Monastery, known as „The Sistine Chapel of the East”, was painted by an anonymous painter. The formula of the ”Voronet blue”, used for his paintings on the walls has remained an enigma and this uniqueness have turned Voronet into an indisputable symbol of Bucovina.
““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`
Transylvania is a complex mixture of culture, nature, history and myth. As the region is circled by the Carpathian mountains there are a lot of National parks, mountain forests and hiking or climbing possibilities. There are also about 100 castles and fortresses, about 70 fortified churches and many small, traditional villages with old houses.

The Saxons settled in Transylvania in the early 11th century. They started to build fortified cities while the people in the villages fortified their churches against migratory people. The city of Sighisoara is probably one of the most representative among the over 500 German fortifications, of which only a few of are now listed 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. It is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Ţepeş (Vlad the Impaler), ruler of the province of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. It was he who inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional creation, Count Dracula.

Year after year, on the last weekend of July, Sighişoara is hosting the Medieval Arts and Crafts festival, when the air is filled with a medieval atmosphere more then ever. This event is the perfect occasion to immerse yourself in the lore and legends of medieval Transylvania, enjoying troubadour music, exhibitions, costume parades, handicraft displays, open-air concerts and medieval ceremonies.

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
Sibiu is another spectacular city. It was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels built in the 12th century by the Saxons. Sibiu’s Old Town retains the grandeur of its earlier days: The Large square, existing since 1366 when the third fortification belt of the city was finalized; the Small square, which slopes under the Bridge of Lies towards the Lower Town; The Evangelic Church, the oldest church in Sibiu, dominates The Huet square.

The International Theatre Festivals Sibiu (will take place between 6-14 June in 2014) has become the most important theatrical arts venue in Romania along 20 years of its existence. Only two other festivals in the world can boast with greater performances that the ones in Sibiu.
For one week in June, the Grand square and the main boulevards of Sibiu become innovative settings for various artistic performances, which may occur spontaneously, in any location.
The first edition was held in 1994 and featured only actors from Romania, but by the year 2007, when Sibiu was nominated the European Capital of Culture, artists from 70 countries attended the festival.
The plays are performed in the most unusual locations, such as the Astra Museum of Traditional Civilization in Sibiu, built on the shores of a lake, among windmills, watermills and traditional Romanian houses, providing a spacious background.

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
Few people know that Sinaia, located in a beautiful mountainous region, in the Prahova Valley, was named after Mount Sinai in Egypt. It is one of the oldest and most famous mountain resorts, often referred to as “The Pearl of the Carpathians”.
Peleș Castle, with its fairytale turrets and pointed towers, was built as a summer residence by Romania’s longest serving monarch, King Carol I, who died and was buried here in 1914, just months after the castle’s completion.

The construction of Peleș took 8 years and the king himself supervised all works. That is why the castle exhibits so many German Neo-Renaissance elements, both on the exterior and interior, with sharp lines, irregular shapes and asymmetrical building wings.

After you have visited the castle and the area, you will understand why the royal couple, Carol I and Elisabeth fell in love with the place and its landscape.
““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
Another famous castle – Bran, was built in the mid-1300s on the edge of the Bran Pass, considered to be the legendary home of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula.

Stoker’s story is based on the life of Vlad Ţepeş/Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476). Known as one of the most feared enemy of the Turks, Vlad started enforcing the law, by introducing death penalty and impaling all those he considered to be a threat to the state’s security. In reality he was afraid that somebody would try to replace him, such as his step brother, Vlad the Monk or his cousin Dan the Young. People say he was Count Dracula because he used to sign with his father’s name, Dracul “The Devil”, the word alone carrying magic and mystery.

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`
Braşov is surrounded on three sides by mountains, being a perfect choice for a medieval settlement. Founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211, the old city is one of the best preserved in all of Europe.
Lined with beautiful red-roofed merchant houses, The Council Square (Piaţa Sfatului), situated in the heart of the old medieval Braşov and known to the Saxon population as the Marktplatz, is one of the finest in the country. The Black Church represents another important landmark of the city, and towers over The Council Square as the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul.

““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`
Bucharest, the capital of Romania, celebrates in 2014, 555 years since the City of Bucharest was first officially mentioned in a document. The letter was signed by Vlad the Impaler himself – the legendary Dracula from the Hollywood movies.
It is known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, glorious Belle Époque buildings, Romania’s largest city and capital, is today a bustling metropolis.
Perhaps the city’s charm can be best observed in the residential area, known as Lipscani. Today, the old city center is being refashioned and is home to many art galleries, antique shops and coffeehouses.
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Here are some of Romania’s superlatives:
• The Black Church in Braşov is the largest gothic church east of Vienna. It has the largest organ in Europe with 4000 tubes, built by Buchholz, Berlin’s famous organ builder, in 1836, as well as the largest bell in Romania, weighing 6.3 tons.
• Braşov is home to what is said to be the narrowest street in Europe, the Rope Street (Strada Sforii), which is approximately four feet wide and was initially used as an access-route by firefighters.
• Sighişoara’s fortress is thought to be the best preserved and continuously inhabited, early middle age city in Europe.
• The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest, is, according to the World Records
Academy, the largest and most expensive civil administration building in the world. It is also considered to be the biggest office building in Europe, having 3.9 million square feet and second-largest in the world, after the U.S. Pentagon.
• The Merry Cemetery in the village of Săpânța – Maramureş is one of the world’s most unique – in all respects – resting places, well known for its over 800 colorful gravestones, carved in oak and decorated with colorful paintings and funny epitaphs about the deceased.
• The tallest wooden church in the world, Săpânţa Peri, Maramureş, can be found in the northwestern part of Romania. The 257 feet tall church, dedicated to St. Michael, culminates with a 23 feet cross that weighs 1,000 lbs.
• Romania is home to the second largest outdoor museum in the world, Astra Museum in Sibiu, featuring more than 300 buildings, as well as watermills, windmills and many village architectural style structures.

Transylvania, in our opinion, represents an endless tourist destination. There is always something to see, to discover, to feel.

In the last number of Transilvania Outlook, we talked about Transylvania as a region having nearly 200 fortresses, castles, fortified cities, villages, and churches left by the saxons as an interesting historical, architectural and cultural heritage. Many of them are now listed by UNESCO.
We talked about Sighisoara, which is one of the most representative Saxon fortifications; Sibiu, the wealthiest of the seven walled citadels; Brasov, one of the best preserved medieval cities in all of Europe, and Alba Iulia Citadel, an impressive and visible fortification.

Let us invite you again in the very heart of Transylvania, where other several Saxon fortresses and churches of rare beauty can be found, well worth your attention.

Prejmer, a UNESCO world heritage site, is the largest and best preserved fortified church in southeastern Europe. The church, built in a cross-like plan, was completed by the Teutonic knights in 1225, featuring a late gothic vaulting. The powerful 12 m high and 5 m thick surrounding walls of host provide each village family with a room designated for shelter. Endowed with bastions, drawbridges, and a secret, subterranean passage through which food supplies could be transported, the fortress, though it was besieged fifty times over the centuries, was captured only once, in 1611 by Gabriel Báthori, Prince of Transylvania.

The village of Biertan is found between the cities of Medias and Sighisoara. The fortified church at Biertan is placed high on a hill in the middle of the village. For over 300 years (between1572 and 1867), Biertan was the seat of home to the Saxon Evangelical bishops of Transylvania. Its construction is really impressive: high defensive walls, connected by towers and gates which made the church impossible to conquer during medieval times.

The church features late-gothic architecture with a heavy, remarkable wooden door having an ingenious locking mechanism, double exterior walls, an organ featuring some 1,290 pipes and a wooden altar, both built by artisans from Vienna.

Very close to Sibiu, you can find be found two other medieval gems, as beautiful as Biertan, namely Cisnadie and Cisnadioara.
The fortified church of Cisnadie was first mentioned in 1349 as a Romanesque basilica but later in the 15th and 16th century, it was fortified and transformed into a gothic style. Fortified towers were built over the two side entrances and the choir, a moat, and several defensive towers along the walls.
Only 6 km from Cisnadie, The fortified church of Cisnadioara can be found. Though it is found located on a high hill in the middle of a forest, it is worth visiting because it is the oldest roman style monument in Transylvania. The interior still features medieval paintings.

Saschiz is 20 km away from Sighisoara and 100 km from Brasov. It is renowned not only as home to one of Transylvania’s finest fortified churches but also as a carpentry and wood-painting center. It was here that Saschiz blue pottery was born in 1702.
The Evangelical Church of Saschiz represents a combination of roman and gothic elements and is very impressive due to the way the fortifying elements have been adapted to the shape of a church. Built on a hill, far from the center of the village, the building became the main refuge for the inhabitants of Saschiz during invading raids.

One of the best known and visited medieval fortresses in Romania is Rasnov. It is located on a rocky hill in the Carpathian Mountains, only 15 km away from Brasov. Its size is impressive, around 3500 m and is one of the best preserved fortifications in Transylvania.
First mentioned in an official document in 1331, the fortress was built by Teutonic Knights and later enlarged by the local Saxon population.
Rasnov differs from other Saxon fortresses, it resembles to a village with houses, a school, and a chapel, because it was designed as a place of refuge over extended periods of time.
Last but not least, there is also a local legend connected to this fortress. It is said that tTwo Turkish prisoners were put to the task of digging a well through solid rock in the center of the fortress. They were promised their freedom once the well was finished. The work took 17 years to complete.

Recently, the old fortress has been restored to its former glory and today, you can visit the impressive remains, including a museum, where you can find a skeleton buried beneath a glass floor.

Built in 1310, Fagaras was enlarged between the 15th and 17th centuries and was considered one of the strongest fortifications in Transylvania. For many years the fortress functioned as a residence for various princes, each one being strongly influenced by the architecture of their time.

Today, the fortress houses hosts the Fagaras County Museum, displaying Roman artifacts, a collection of medieval weapons, and traditional folk crafts. The museum also hosts a beautiful collection of icons painted on glass.

Hunedoara Fortress, also known as Corvinesti Castle: many names, one destination – an unforgettable one. The fortress is considered to be one of the most important gothic architectural monuments in Europe, built in the 15th century by Ioan de Hunedoara. The international fame of the Corvin Castle is certain: concerts, festivals, and other cultural and artistic events were organized here, also scenes from film productions were filmed in the castle, such as: “Vlad the Impaler”, “Michael the Brave”, “Alexander Lapusneanu”, etc.

The list of the monuments can go on and on as it is very rich and long. We are aware that many other of them would be worth presenting. The examples above served to give you a taste of the long-gone medieval times.

Transylvania is a real treasure to be discovered and is waiting for your, dear traveler!

Fun facts:

Siebenbürgen. The German name “Siebenbürgen” is a direct translation of “seven fortresses”. The Saxons first came to the region during the 12th and 13th centuries building up towns using their own style of architecture. These towns were contained within a fortified wall to protect the city from attacks and helped to limit access to undesirables. They would usually contain a main square along with several smaller squares and meandering streets. The focal point of the whole town would be the main church. The seven Saxons towns that are most commonly listed are: Kronstadt (now Brasov), Schässburg (now Sighisoara), Mediasch (now Medias), Bistritz (now Bistrita), Clausenburg (now Cluj-Napoca), Mühlbach (now Sebes), and Hermannstadt (now Sibiu). Many of the medieval centers of these fortified towns are still largely intact. Expect to see sights like forts, bastions, guild houses, and towers. Walking through the old town of somewhere a place like Brasov can really give you a feel for taste of what life was once like there. Brasov even includes what is claimed to be the narrowest street in Europe, though some searching would tell you that it is beaten by streets in Exeter, England and Reutlingen, Germany.

Viscri rural town: Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. Visiting Viscri, you feel like the clock has been turned back for centuries. Well, apart from the odd car! The emphasis placed on tourism at Viscri is that it is sustainable. The Mihai Eminescu Trust has put in huge amounts of work to transform the life of these villagers by helping to develop local traditions, such as constructing a wood-fired kiln to enable them to make tiles and bricks. Prince Charles has been a regular visitor to the Transylvanian region over the years. He has helped to raise the profile of the villagers’ rural way of life, and has conducted lots of charity work on behalf of the Mihai Eminescu Trust. The Trust is active throughout the Transylvanian region, with particular emphasis on maintaining the Saxon way of life. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, many of the Saxon families decided to emigrate to the west, thus the Trust is focused on trying to ensure that these traditions do not die out in Transylvania.

Sibiu – the only city in Romania which was named Europe’s Cultural Capital. Sibiu was the first city in Romania to be awarded the title of European Capital of Culture. It is a lovely place to meander through with a classy pedestrianiszed upper town full of cafés that line the streets and squares during the sunny months. The lower town is full of cobbled streets lined with traditional housing that wind around inside the old fortified walls. There is a tower in the centrer that you can climb to give you wonderful views of the surrounding roofs, cathedral, and series of inter-connecting squares. Sibiu is also the birthplace of Hermann Oberth, one of the pioneers of rocketry, and he is honoured by with a statue in front of Sibiu city hall.

Interesting places to explore in Transylvania:

– Some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns: Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara
– Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle), built in 1377
– Rasnov Fortress – built in the 1300s by the Teutonic Knights to protect Transylvania against the Tartars and the Turks
– The Saxon fortified churches at Biertan, Calnic, Harman, Darjiu,
Prejmer, Saschiz, Valea Viilor, and Viscri – all designated by UNESCO
as World Heritage sites
– Transylvania’s finest art museum – the Bruckenthal Palace in Sibiu
– Marginimea Sibiului, an area northwest of Sibiu home to more than
18 traditional villages
– The Museum of Glass-Painted Icons in Sibiel, the largest of its kind in Europe
– The city of Hunedoara with its 14th-century Gothic Corvinesti Castle
– The Dacian Fortresses at Sarmisegetuza(UNESCO World Heritage List)
– The Moti Land (Tara Motilor) on the Ariesi Valley – moţi is the name given to the inhabitants of this region. They live in scattered villages at altitudes up to about 4,265 feet and have preserved their century-old traditions and lifestyle.
– The Apuseni Mountains with Scarisoara and Focul Viu glaciers, Chiscau Bears’ Cave and Vartop Cave as well as other 400 caves.
– Transylvanian Outdoor Adventures & Parks
– Apuseni Nature Park – caver’s paradise
– Gradistea Muncelului-Cioclovina Nature Park
– site of the Sarmisegetuza archaeological ruins
– Piatra Craiului National Park – spectacular rocky steep walls, virgin
forests, and one of the world’s deepest underground abysses
(Coltii Grindului shaft, – 1771 feet)
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