I decided to start this post today with my deepest condolences to all families that have lost their loved ones in the Malaysian airlines crash, yesterday. Even if I have never been into such a situation, I know how it feels to lose someone very and very dear to you.
I have lived and studied in Romania for 4 years, some will say long years and I will say short 4 years.
There’s a generalized idea about this part of Europe and at times not a very positive one, but I have to say that bad people are everywhere and it’s just a matter of luck and entourage that can make a big impact on your overall impression about one place or even a country.
Fringed by the peaks of the Southern Carpathian Mountains and resplendent with gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, as well as a wealth of historical attractions, Brasov is one of the most visited places in Romania.
I have been to Brasov in winter and summer and I have found it beautiful in both seasons and I’m sure that autumn and spring are breathtaking as well.
The old town exudes a distinct medieval ambiance, is compact and this makes it easy to be discovered on foot.
The location of this city, at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and western Europe, allowed Saxon merchants to obtain considerable wealth reflected in the city’s German name, Kronstadt.
One of the streets that you would probably want to see, is Strada Sforii or the Rope Street which is approximately four feet wide and links Cerbului Street with Poarta Schei Street.
As in most of European cities, in the main square in Brasov you’ll see a huge church, called Biserica Neagra or the Black Church. This is the largest gothic church in Romania. Its name derives from damage caused by the Great Fire of 1689, when flames and smoke blackened its walls. The interior is impressive and well-kept and houses one of the largest organs in Eastern Europe and the biggest church bell in Romania. This church is surrounded by contrasting light painted and ornately trimmed baroque houses.
For backpackers and travelers on budget will be a great news to know that FREE walking tours are available. The local guide will take you through Brasov’s medieval section, you’ll learn some more facts about the Black Church, the Town Council Square and the city’s 14th Century fortifications. Then you’ll be taken to one of Brasov’s medieval towers, White Tower, from where you’ll admire the of the Old Town.
This tour starts everyday at 6pm from Piata Sfatului (Council Square), next to the fountain. The whole experience will take about 2 to 2.5 hours.
Other activities in Brasov are discovering the fortifications.
The story says that Saxons built these fortifications to protect the town from Mongol and Turks invasions. Most of the works were done between 1400 and 1650. Some parts of the wall, once 40 feet high, seven feet thick and two miles long, can still be seen today.
There were seven bastions, but only few have survived.
Some of the most important ones are: Graft Bastion, located in the middle of the citadel’s northwest wing. The Blacksmiths’ Bastion is home to the Brasov Archives which hosts more than 100,000 old and rare documents, including 80 valuable 14th – 16th century letters. In the southeast, you’ll find the fairy-tale Catherine’s Gate. This gate was built in 1559 and is the only original city gate to have survived.
If you’re here then you should see the classicist Schei Gate, built in 1827. Weavers’ Bastion is the largest medieval bastion in Brasov and the best-preserved among the seven original watchtowers constructed around the city walls. Today, the Weavers’ Bastion houses an interesting museum (see museum details) that can be visited on the way up Tampa Mountain.
If you’re in Brasov for few days, then a walk in the Schei District is a must. According to the history of this place, between 13th and 17th century Romanians could not own property inside the citade, which was built and ruled by Saxons, that’s why they settled in the Schei district.
Spring comes with a very interesting event : Junii Brasovului. During this time thousands of Romanians gather at Solomon’s Rocks for a massive picnic and sing-along. This festival celebrates the one day a year that Romanians were allowed to enter the Saxon town freely.
If you want to know more about religious life of the city, then visit this page.
As any major city, Brasov is proud to host several beautiful museums and they are:
- the Art Museum – here you’ll have the chance to admire canvases from 18th to 20th century artists and some are being signed by big names such Theodor Pallady, Nicolae Grigorescu, Stefan Luchian and Horia Bernea, Janos Mattis-Teutsch and more.
- Brasov History Museum. This museum displays rare exhibits and collections showcasing Brasov’s history from ancient to modern times.
- Ethnographic Museum exhibits silver jewelry, fur and sheepskin coats and other folk costumes. The museum also presents the evolution of weaving from an old spinning wheel to a mechanized loom. Folk arts and crafts are available at the museum gift shop.
- First Romanian School Museum. You can find it in Piata Unirii 2-3. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00am – 5:00pm
- Muresenilor Memorial Museum. Admission: FREE!
A lot of people know about Dracula, Transilvania and Dracula castle, but not many know where this castle is actually on the map.
Much more information about other sites around Brasov, events, day trips and more you’ll find on the Official Travel and Tourism Information website.
Travel safe and wise!