Brasov: a medieval town in Transylvania

Over the Christmas holidays, I took a brief two-day trip to Brașov, where my grandfather was born. Brașov, a city located in the central part of Romania, is a stunning medieval city surrounded by the Southern Carpathian mountains that is part of the mythical region of Transylvania. If you enjoy crisp mountain air, in the close realms of a historical town, then you must take a trip to Brașov.

The most recognizable attraction is the “Black Church” (Biserica Neagră), which some claim to be the largest Gothic style church in Southeastern Europe. Apart from this massive impressive church, most other churches are Orthodox (Romania’s main religion), as two of my pictures reveal.  Its name derives from the damage caused by the Great Fire of 1689, when flames and smoke blackened its walls.

Abundant with gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, Brașov is one of the top attractions in Romania. Widely used as a backdrop in movies (Cold Mountain being one of them), it is definitely a suitable getaway for both winter and summer.

An unexpected fact about Brașov is that it is home to the narrowest street in Europe. At four feet wide, the Rope Street was initially used as an access way for firefighters. It is also the host of the annual Golden Stag International Music Festival.

The city center is marked by the mayor’s former office building (Casa Sfatului) and the surrounding square (Piata Sfatului), which includes one of the oldest buildings in Brașov, the Hirscher Haus.

German colonists known as the Transylvanian Saxons played a decisive role in Brașov’s development. Many of them have eventually moved back to Germany, however a significant number have remained here and mixed with either Romanians or Hungarians.

The city’s name, Kronnstadt in German and Brassó in Hungarian, had throughout history, tremendous German and Hungarian influence.  The German name Kronstadt means “Crown City” and is reflected in the city’s coat of arms as well as in its Medieval Latin name, Corona.

Walking around the city, you will also notice a distinct residential style: the Brancovenesc style of wide round arches, featured not only in residences, but in many churches.

I stayed at the charming Bella Musica Hotel, a medieval style decor that was not only perfect for Christmas time, but very well suited to Brasov.

Next stop, just a few miles outside Brașov lays the infamous Dracula’s Castle, formally known as Bran Castle.

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