Ok, let’s be honest, what do you know about Romania? That it’s a country in Europe? The birthplace of a vampire? The land of beautiful castles? Or that you might don’t know anything about Romania?
Today let’s talk about a country that managed to make a brand out of blood-sucking lord of the shadows and make the whole world come over to check it out. But beware, Romania has much more in store.
And Transylvania might be the most underrated destination in all of Europe.
BRASOV – SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW.
Romania is not all about vampires. Brasov is a small city in Transylvania and once you are in Romania, make sure you don’t miss it. Small and tucked in, in a carefully planned line of streets and squares, Brasov will instantly charm you.
Narrow, cobblestoned streets, warm-hearted people and the feeling of the time gently slowing down, will immediately make you dive into the romance and peace of this place.
It is one of the oldest medieval cities in Romania and for sure one of the most beautiful ones.
Start from the heart of the city, from Piata Sfatului, Council Square, and try not to think how back in the middle ages, this was a place to execute people. The same place which is now so peaceful, a kind gathering place for locals and visitors to admire the surrounding architecture.
Nearby, your eye will catch glimpses of the tall gothic building,
The Black Church named so as a memory to the fire that once captured the church and made its walls darken from the smoke.
Brasov is one of the best places in Transylvania to continue travelling through this amazing region. Bran and Peles Castle are nearby as well as popular Rasnov, many skiing resorts and access to incredible natural sights of Romania.
And how to get to Brasov? It’s quite simple. Take a train from Bucharest, and it will only take about 2.5h to reach Brasov. You can also try to take a bus from Bucharest to Brasov, which will take between 4 and 5 hours.
Once you arrive, you can quickly go anywhere else around Transylvania. Transylvania is one of the most beautiful and enchanting regions of Romania. Richly decorated with thick forests, steep mountains, and scary cliffs, Transylvania is home to many legends, myths and scary stories out of which the one about Dracula stands out the most.
First, stop Bran Castle also called Draculas castle.
BRAN CASTLE AND DRACULA – HOW DID IT BEGIN.
The Count Dracula. The main character from a famous book written by Bram Stoker, a movie featuring Gary Oldman and Keanu Reeves, and day to day threats made at Romanian young ones ‘If you don’t eat that, Dracula will eat you’. A famous guy, indeed.
Dracula was real, sort of. It was a name, rather than a title given to the former ruler of Walachia (one of the old Romanian regions). Dracula could be translated as “dragon” or “devil”, and it used to be a name given to rulers or noblemen who are members of The Order of Dragon.
The Dracula that served as the inspiration for a vampire was actually Vlad III Tepes Dracul translated as “Son of Dragon/Devil” meaning that his father, Vlad II Dracul, was a member of the Order of Dragon. Nothing scary so far, right?
But there was something tiny bit scary about Vlad III, or Dracula as they eventually named him. He was a ruler in the 15th century and even for these times he was merciless and quite sadistic. His primary life purpose was to fight the Osman Empire by all means.
He was ordered to put enemies on stakes and kill them in all sorts of ways. He thought he was doing it for the sake of people. And the funny thing is the people kind of understood the urge. Even today in some parts of Romania, vicious count Tepes is remembered as a hero and protector of the people.
Bram Stoker, the man who helped Romania to brand its myths, found inspiration in Count Dracula and created him together with a castle that looks much like the Bran Castle in Romania.
Bran Castle, in reality, has little to do with the actual Dracula, i.e. Vlad III. It is thought that he only spent one night in the castle, or a week at most according to some historians who claim he was imprisoned here.
But for the life of the fictional character of blood-sucking Dracula, the Vampire, it was a perfect place. The Bran Castle fits perfectly into the imagination of Bram Stoker, who had actually never himself been in the castle. Regardless, this monumental building, set on 200m high cliff was a perfect spot for the stories about Dracula to happen.
Today, Bran Castle is a must-see in Romania, and it is estimated that almost half a million people a year come to see the imaginary home of Dracula. To be honest, imaginative or not, Bran castle is worth visiting.
About 16km away from Brasov tucked in on the high cliff; Bran castle consists of numerous peaky towers, open balconies and innumerable rooms and hallways that are hard to check out all. The interior of the castle is decorated with wooden furniture carefully carved and painted in black. Heavy massive wooden tables, shelves, beds, dominate almost every room you can enter and give a bit ominous feeling.
Pictures of people who were once residing in the castle, decorate the walls, alongside with Bram Stoker who never actually even stepped in Romania.
Take your time to get lost around the castle and imagination, and try not to stay up late.
RÂȘNOV – ON THE CROSSROAD OF TRANSYLVANIA AN WALLACHIA.
Râșnov is a small town almost at an equal distance from Brasov and Bran castle (about 16km away) famous for its landmark. Râșnov citadel. The citadel and buildings within the walls are well preserved as a memory of important role these buildings used to have in the lives of the people living by.
It was built by Germans in the 14th century, high up at the top of the hill to serve as a ‘safe house’ in case of attacks. And it did. During many wars that were taking place in the region, many times people flocked to the walls of Râșnov fortress for protection. Sieges, wars and earthquakes only partly tampered with the beauty of the fort, which still calls for attention.
Some say it has much more character than the popular Bran Castle, mostly because of lack of tourists, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
PELEȘ CASTLE – ROYAL GEM OF ROMANIA.
For the end of this story, here is shiny old Romanian castle Peleș. It used to be the home of the royal family and based on its appearance; one can easily believe that. From afar, with its pointy towers and richly decorated elegant façade, it looks like a candidate for a castle from Disney movies. It is indeed a splendid piece of art.
From exterior to interior, it seems like every piece of this place was built with the utmost care and wished to charm with its beauty and splendour.
Built-in the 19th century, it included famous artists into the finalising of the monumental rooms and decorations. One of them was the well-known Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. The moment you enter the castle, you will easily see why it is one of the most beautiful castles in the whole of Europe.
Splendour and obvious wealth displayed everywhere are proof that the builders of the castle were not at all stingy at the time of construction. Not only that but its also one of the most advanced castles of its time. It’s famous for having electricity, the flow of hot water and heating even at that time.
Decorations, high-quality furniture, details, paintings, all are witnesses of the shine Peleș castle had kept for all these years and one of the main reasons why you should visit this monumental building.
Getting to Peleș castle is quite simple as there are many lines of busses and trains going to nearby Sinaia and from Sinaia, there are taxies which you could hire if you don’t prefer hiking. Whichever way you chose, rest assured you will not make a mistake.
Romania is the right travel destination for people enjoying mountains, beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and immersing into history to take you to some long-gone times. It has a lot to offer and to keep you well taken care of during the whole travel. Furthermore, if you are located in Europe, it’s super cheap and easy to reach. So what are you waiting for? If you are heading to neighbouring Moldova next, check out this post.
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