A Visit to Dracula Land

Since work brought me to Romania for a year I use my weekends to travel around the country whenever the weather permits. Last weekend was my first longer trip and my destination was Brasov / Brassó / Kronstadt, a beautiful old city on the Southern border of Transylvania. It was a city founded by Transylvanian Saxons who were invited by the Hungarian king in the 12th century to establish crafts and trade in Transylvania and build towns.

Brasov has a wonderful location surrounded by the Carpathian mountains, some of them exceeding the height of 2500m. The very own mountain of the city is called Mount Tampa, which, with its height of 960m seems like a small hill compared to the surrounding peaks.

The Black church, mount Tampa in the background

The Black church is the symbol of the city, it is one of the most beautiful monuments in Transylvania. It was built for 100 years! It received it name after the Austrian soldiers burnt down part of the city in the 17th century. In the flames part of the church were ruined as well and its walls gained their black colour. It was renovated in the 18th century when it received some Baroque elements to its main Gothic style.

The Black church
Medieval feeling

After walking around for hours I got thirsty so I had a “small” beer and one of the most delicious dinners of my life. I could taste the very origins of Hungarian cuisine, it was better than home! I’m sure I will be back!

The city greeted me with fireworks in the evening which I could enjoy from my hotel window.

The next day I went to visit two famous castles nearby. One of them is Rasnov (Bárcarozsnyó in Hungarian) where the medieval castle is built on the top of a hill and watches over the small village. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pics from the village!

Rasnov castle

My next destination was Bran (Törcsvár) which is home for the famous Dracula castle. The castle itself was built by the city of Brasov to protect the important pass through the Carpathian mountains from invaders. But why is this the castle of Dracula? Behind the well-known vampire of this name there is a real historical person, called Vlad Tepes, an exceprionally brutal squire who used to impale his enemies, hence his name, Tepes, which means Impaler. But his original name is Dracula, son of Dracul, which means son of the dragon. His father got the name of Dracul because he was member of the order of the Dragon.

The Dracula castle from its park

The castle was given to the Romanian “mother king” Regina Maria (King Mary, who was English, by the way) for her loyalty to the country (for her efforts to unite the country after WWI – the same reason Hungary lost Transylvania to Romania). It was inherited by her daughter, Princess Ilieana who was chased away by the communist regime. Later her descendants (living in Austria) got it back from the state and they run the museum today.

On my way home I took a beautiful, panoramic road through the mountains so I had to stop several time to take pictures. I offer a prize to the first person who guesses what make the car is on the side of the road!

Oh, and before I forget: the inevitable cat picture!

Dracula cat

As you can imagine, there are some excellent climbing areas around as well as hiking routes so it’s only natural that I will be back (and not only for the food and the beer)!!!