brasov_romania_viewpoints1

Brasov, Romania – Exploring Dracula’s Transylvania

Nearly 3 weeks relaxing in Brasov, Romania

September 8, 2014 – September 26, 2014

Full Brasov Photo Gallery Here.

After nearly six months of traveling we decided we wanted to stay in one spot for awhile and relax.  To cook our own meals in our own kitchen and not worry about being packed and ready to catch an early bus or plane. The idea came to us in Argentina, and we decided eastern Europe would be beautiful, new and cheap.  We looked up Airbnb places and found beautiful Brasov, Romania.  Brasov, deep in Transylvania was a perfect place to explore ancient castles, such as Dracula’s Castle, and Peles Castle, and just in time for Oktoberfest!

Dating back to the early 1200’s, Brasov (pronounced Brashov in Romanian) is a beautifully well preserved city still surrounded by a fortified wall and defensive towers.  Much of the ancient city still remains just as it has been for hundreds of years.  With many pedestrian lined streets, filled with shops and cafes and low prices, Brasov was a perfect place to relax for nearly three weeks before continuing on with our rapid pace of traveling.

Kronstadt – The Old City

Kronstadt - The city of the crown - The old fortified part of Brasov.
Kronstadt – The city of the crown – The old fortified part of Brasov.

Kronstadt, the old part of the city, is a roughly crown shaped city surrounded by walls and fortifications beginning around 1211, by Germans invited into the area by the Hungarians to develop and defend the area from Turkish expansion.  Kronstadt means – city of the crown.

The Ecaterina Gate, one of the ancient entrances to the city.
The Ecaterina Gate, one of the ancient entrances to the city.

The city is filled with old stone, red tile roofed buildings as well as fortifications, all nicely re-purposed for apartments, hotels and hundreds of shops, cafes and restaurants, all maintaining the ancient feel of the city. There are also many pedestrian only streets making shopping, or just exploring the city very easy.

One of many pedestrian only streets in Brasov.
One of many pedestrian only streets in Brasov.

brasov_romania_oldtown2

The light green home on the right belonged to the mistress of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula).
The light green home on the right belonged to the mistress of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula).
Brasov is also home to one of Europe's narrowest streets - Sforii Street.
Brasov is also home to one of Europe’s narrowest streets – Sforii Street.   Notice Brasov’s Hollywood like sign on the hill over the city.
Built to be wide enough for a fireman carrying two buckets and not an inch wider.
Built to be wide enough for a fireman carrying two buckets and not an inch wider.

Much of the city is still surrounded by the city walls, fortifications and towers.

brasov_romania_oldtown9 brasov_romania_oldtown8 brasov_romania_oldtown7 brasov_romania_oldtown6 brasov_romania_oldtown5brasov_romania_viewpoints6

Views Of The City

The city is settled in a valley between several different hills, each offering a little hiking and of course great views of the city below.

Kronstadt the roughly crown shaped and oldest part of Brasov.
Kronstadt the roughly crown shaped and oldest part of Brasov.

brasov_romania_tampahill3 brasov_romania_viewpoints1 brasov_romania_viewpoints2 brasov_romania_viewpoints3 brasov_romania_viewpoints4 brasov_romania_viewpoints5

The Black Church

The largest and one of the oldest structures in the city is the Black Church, built to impress the Muslim traders who came from Turkey with the power and wealth of Christianity, the church looms above everything else in the city.  It was originally christened the Church of Saint Mary, it caught fire in 1689 and everything not made of stone burned to the ground, leaving blackened stone behind.  The church was rebuilt but renamed The Black Church,  today you can still see parts of the stone which are colored black, but most of the church is actually gray and white with very little true black remaining.  We checked out the interior after attending an organ concert in the church one evening.

The Black Church
The Black Church

brasov_romania_black_church1 brasov_romania_black_church2 brasov_romania_black_church4brasov_romania_black_church3

The Plaza

There is a large central plaza, Piata Sfatului, in the old city as well, in which you can often find farmers markets, arts and crafts on display, as well as large events like the Romanian Music Awards which were going on shortly after we arrived.

The large central plaza in the old city.
The large central plaza in the old city.

brasov_romania_plaza2 brasov_romania_plaza3 brasov_romania_plaza4

Oktoberfest in Brasov

We arrived in Brasov just in time for their Oktoberfest celebrations.  The Oktoberfest grounds were within the old city and just a quick five minute walk from our apartment.  Given the proximity and the cheap beer, we stopped by multiple times.

brasov_romania_oktoberfest6 brasov_romania_oktoberfest5

Fish roasting over a fire.
Fish roasting over a fire.
Inside the Oktoberfest tent.
Inside the Oktoberfest tent.

brasov_romania_oktoberfest2

Enjoying a Ciucas beer (pronounced chew-cawsh)
Enjoying a Ciucas beer (pronounced chew-cawsh), and some roasted pork.

New Brasov

The old fortified city of Brasov, known as Kronstadt, is only a small part of greater Brasov.  The newer more modern city has grown outside the limiting ancient city walls.  Modern conveniences such as shopping malls, post offices, the bus station and train station are all found outside of the wall.  Much of the ‘new’ city of Brasov is still very old and has a similar feel to ‘old’ Brasov.

brasov_romania_newtown1 brasov_romania_newtown2 brasov_romania_newtown3

Bran Castle – Dracula’s Castle

Just a 45 minute bus ride from town you can find Bran Castle, visited by Bram Stoker and part of his inspiration for Dracula.  It is now widely known as Dracula’s Castle, even though it has little to do with the real Vlad the Impaler.

Bran Castle, or Dracula's Castle is just one of dozens of ancient castles and fortification scattered around Transylvania.
Bran Castle, or Dracula’s Castle is just one of dozens of ancient castles and fortifications scattered around Transylvania.
Bran Castle was built right into a natural outcrop of rock.
Bran Castle was built right into a natural outcrop of rock.

romania_bran_castle4 romania_bran_castle5

The inside of the castle has been preserved to look as it did for hundreds of years.
The inside of the castle has been preserved to look as it did for hundreds of years.
The castle is a maze of small rooms and narrow passageways.
The castle is a maze of small rooms and narrow passageways.

romania_bran_castle8 romania_bran_castle9 romania_bran_castle10 romania_bran_castle11

Uncomfortable furniture was provided for prisoners and un-welcomed guests.
Uncomfortable furniture was provided for prisoners and unwelcome guests.

romania_bran_castle13

Just below Bran Castle we found Krista's Villa.
Just below Bran Castle we found Krista’s Villa.

Peles Castle

Around one hour south of Brasov by train, in the town of Sinaia, you can find the even more beautiful Peles Castle.  Set on a large grassy field amongst the trees of the forest, with a backdrop of rock mountains, Peles is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen.

Peles Castle, Romania.
Peles Castle, Romania.

romania_siniaia_pelescastle_outside6 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_outside5 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_outside4 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_outside3 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_outside2 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_outside1

The interior of Peles Castle was also one of most lavishly decorated buildings we had been in as well, all crafted by hand over the last two hundred years.

romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside1 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside2 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside6 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside7 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside8 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside9 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside10romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside3 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside4 romania_siniaia_pelescastle_inside5

We also visited Pelisor Castle, which is only about 100 meters from Peles castle.  The interior was much less lavish than Peles Castle, and some Romanian royalty preferred to live in Pelisor Castle over Peles Castle.

Pelisor Castle
Pelisor Castle

Our little apartment in Brasov

A big part of what made our time in Brasov so appealing was the small apartment we found to rent for nearly 3 weeks.  We found it on airbnb.com a cheap (roughly US$35 per night) but very nice apartment with a large bedroom, small kitchen and bathroom.  When we started off on this trip, I didn’t realize one of the things I would miss the most was cooking our own meals in our own kitchen.  The small place we found just across the street from the central plaza made the experience very easy and memorable.

The small view of the city outside our apartment.
The courtyard outside our apartment.
We could cook our own meals in our own kitchen!
I could cook our own meals in our own kitchen!

 Covrigi

Covrigi are round pastries filled with various sweet flavors, like cherry, vanilla or chocolate, and became one of our daily traditions.

A chocolate filled Covrigi, (pronounced cov-reeg).
A chocolate filled covrigi, (pronounced cov-reeg).

 

The bakery called Gigi, which had the best covrigi, was only 30 meters or so from the entrance to our building.
This bakery called Gigi, which had the best covrigi, was only 30 meters or so from the entrance to our building which made daily visits very convenient.

Brasov turned out to be the perfect place for us to unwind for a few weeks, and we recommend including Brasov on any visit to Romania.  We left recharged and ready to tackle our next destinations in the Middle East and Africa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>