Archive for the ‘Transylvania’ Category

Brasov and Bran

brasov

Brasov, one of the Saxon medieval walled cites, was settled on a place of former Dacian site. Surrounded by one of highest Romanian mountains, with unique atmosphere, is one of most popular places in whole Romania.
Saxon decided to fortify their cities after invasions of Turks and Mongols in 12th and 13th century. Huge part of medieval and renaissance walls was destroyed in 19th century, but few of towers and bastions survived, like Graft Bastion, Black and White towers, or Catherina Gate – one of old city gates.
Inside the walls, on the central Council Square stands former Town Hall, built in 1420, where is now placed History museum. At the southeast corner rise Black Church, the biggest gothic church in Romania. Its name refers to the Great Fire, which blacken the walls of a church. After the restoration walls are gray again, but name remains.
As the opposition to the biggest church, Brasov has also something smallest – the narrowest street, called Rope street. It is less than 1,5 meter wide.

About thirty kilometers from Brasov lies Bran Castle – known as a Dracula Castle. There are no historical evidences, that Vlad Tepes lived in Bran, but its location on a top of the hill, high walls and small windows really stir imagination.

Targu Mures

Targu Mures

Targu Mures, important academical and cultural centre of the region, was fist mentioned in 1322, as a market town of Seklars, Hungarian soldiers. The name of the city means exactly “Market at the river Mures” is also known as the city of roses. The main square of the city is named after those flowers.
On the Roses Square stand the Culture Palace, masterpiece of 19th century architecture. Amazing interiors are now filled with collections of two regional museums – history and archaeology. In the nearby building there is also ethnographic museum.
In the Middle Ages Stephen Bathory started construction of a citadel, which was later rebuild in 17th century. During that time, important power in the city was craftsmen guilds, and prince was dependent on their help. During the rule of Habsburg house, some parts of citadel was destroyed, but many of them was restored in 1960s. We can still admire walls with towers and bastions, an some of inside buildings of citadel.
In 1802 in Targu Mures was opened one of the first public libraries in Romania. Located in impressive building, Library Teleki – Bolyai was founded by a count Samuel Teleki, chancellor of Transilvania. He offered his 40,000 books, some of them absolutely unique, to the public.

Sighisoara

sighisoara

Sighisoara is one of the most popular Saxon cities in Transylvania. With well preserved city walls and towers, narrow streets and steep stairways, is compared with old towns of Prague or Vienna, and placed on UNESCO world heritage list. Sighisoara is also a place of birth of Vlad Tepes – inspiration of Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. House where this famous prince spent his childhood can be visited on the Citadel Square.
On the same square rise the church of Dominican monastery, main Lutheran church of the city, and built in 14th century Clock Tower, which was hosting the city council. On the tower there are two clocks, each with a set of figurines, which move every full hour.
On the hill above a city stand “Church on the Hill”. This masterpiece of gothic architecture was constructed for almost two centuries, from 1345 to 1525. Furniture inside is mostly renaissance, with gothic altarpiece from 1520 and amazing frescos of Last Judgement from 15th century. The painter of the altar was Johan Stoss, son of famous sculptor Viet Stoss. Probably painters of frescos came also from German schools of art.
The best way to the hill is a Scholar’s Stairs – wooden covered staircase. The wood has to protect from the weather boys going to the university, and people coming for mass.

Sibiu

Sibiu

Sibiu is one of most beautiful signs of German settlement in Transylvania. In medieval houses, towers and remainings of walls, it reveal its former magnificence and richness.
Wealthy merchants lived in Upper Town, located on a hill. The centre of social life was Great Square, place of trade, festivals and sometimes executions. Now, between houses from even 13th century, there are also some baroque buildings – Roman Catholic church and Brukenthal Palace, housing Brukenthal museum of arts. Passage close to Council Tower, the oldest building in the city, lead to the Little Square, smaller but worth visiting.
From Upper to Lower Town, the best way leads through narrow, steep stairway. This picturesque passage, finishes at the Goldsmiths Square, where hide the oldest restaurant in the city, which works from the 15th century. Main attractions of Lower Town are the Bridge of Lies, first iron bridge in Romania, and defensive towers. From almost forty of them remained only four – Harquebusiers’ Tower, Carpenters’ Tower, Potters’ Tower, which all origin from 15th century, and 16th century Great Tower.

Cluj-Napoca

cluj napoca

This important Transylvanian city, as a whole region, is a mixture of Romanian, Hungarian and German influences. The first part of its name, came from Latin Castrum Clus – closed city – and relate to its picturesque location between hills. Napoca was a name of Roman colonia, and this name was added to the first part by a communists in 1970s. Fortunately, Ceaușescu did not destroy historical sites, like in many other cities.
Many of them surrounds main square of the city – Piata Unirii. There lay gothic church of st. Michael, eclectic Continental Hotel and a Hungarian monuments – statue of Hungarian king Matei Corvin, who was born in  Cluj-Napoca and a residence of Banffi family, which  is now a museum of Transylvanian art.
Not far from the square are placed cultural and educational institutions of Cluj-Napoca. University Babes-Bolyai, National Theatre, Ethnographic and History museums are only some of them. A little bit farther can be found amazing botanical garden, with Japan-style part and many species of plants, and Habsburgs’ citadel ruins on a top of a Cetăţuia hill.