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Transylvania Castles around Brasov

Adventure travel tales in Eastern Europe:
Vilnius, Lithuania
Prague, Czech Republic
Cesky Krumlov, Bohemia
Sighisoara, Romania
St Petersburg, Russia
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Budapest, Hungary
Other European Tales:
Oktoberfest, Munich
Peloponnese, Greece
Venice, City of Water
Ruins of Pompeii, Italy
Cappadocia, Turkey

View over Brasov

Our second destination in Transylvania is Brasov. This is another medieval walled city, full of beautiful old houses and churches around a central square. But it is also a good starting point for a tour along the Transylvania Castles, including Bran Castle, which stood model for Dracula’s castle.

In the train from Sighisoara to Brasov we meet a Dutch man who works for Amnesty International on a project for the gypsies. This large ethnic minority group is suffering from poverty and discrimination. We are often confronted with begging gypsy children on the streets. It appears to be very difficult to help these people, because of the large cultural differences.

Nicholas church Brasov, with statue of Deacon CoresiAt the railway station of Brasov we are approached by a tout from Villa Elvis hostel. We decide to join him in a taxi, and receive a warm welcome at the hostel. After settling down we start exploring the city. The sun is shining as we find St. Nicholas Church. It’s a beautiful Romanian Orthodox church in baroque style. It is situated in Schei, the oldest part of the city, where the first Romanian School can also be found, and where the first printed books where printed. There’s a statue of the printer of those books, Deacon Coresi, in the yard of the church.

We walk on through a gate to the walled part of Brasov, to sit down for a drink on the central square. It is surrounded by the old city hall, and many old buildings and churches. Most remarkable is the Black Church, which got it’s name when it’s walls where blackened by a fire in the 16th century.

The old city is squeezed in between two hills, and one of them has a cable car up for a nice view over town. A walk tour with steep descends through the woods brings us back down. We walk some more through the medieval streets before we search and find a good restaurant to end our day in.

Castle Tour

Outside wall of Rasnov fortressOur hostel arranges a castle tour around Transylvania. With ten people in a minivan we leave the city for the Transylvanian countryside. Our first stop is Rasnov fortress, the oldest on today’s tour. After a steep walk uphill from the parking lot we arrive at the castle walls. Once inside we get an explanation in the mini museum before we can explore it for ourselves. Actually, there is not much to be seen. Apart from the surrounding walls there are a few small buildings on the site, the rest are ruins. The large church which was once situated on the highest point is entirely gone, but it gives us a chance to enjoy a good view over the surroundings.

Bran castle from the central courtyardOur next stop is Bran Castle. This classic castle stood model for Dracula’s castle. Around the castle are therefore several souvenir booths with all kinds of Dracula trivia. In reality, Vlad Tepes, who stood model for count Dracula, never lived in this castle, although he might have been a visitor once. His castle was located in the west of Romania. Bran castle has been the summer residence of the Romanian king in the beginning of the 20th century.

A tour in Bran castles leads us through narrow stairways an passages to the beautifully decorated rooms. The castle is just as you would imagine a castle to be, including a central courtyard with a wishing well.

Our third stop brings us in Sinaia, a mountain resort. Here we have lunch in a typical wintersport setting, but without the snow. Romantic Peles castleWith a full stomach we set out to visit nearby Peles castle. This romantic castle is argued to be the most beautiful in the world. While this is always a matter of taste, it is indeed lovely, both from the outside as on the inside. But the tour we get inside the castle is stiff and dull. So we hurry outside to enjoy the sun in the nice castle gardens.

Brasov Citadel Fortress

Back in Brasov we decide to stay another day in this charming town. We set out for a walk to the other side of the city, where we search for Brasov Citadel Fortress. City wall around Brasov old townThere are no signs to it, but when we follow a path uphill we finally find it. It is well preserved, and nowadays serves as a luxurious restaurant with a few beer pubs. We walk around it before we return.

Back in the old center we find a narrow street leading to a route around the city wall. With a stream on one side and the wall on the other, it’s a favorite walk for joggers and pedestrians. There is also a path uphill for another nice view over the city. It’s a nice end to a great stay in Brasov and Transylvania.

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