|1937, 1st Edition; John Murray, London
Brasov & Sighisoara
Brasov is the second largest city in Romania. Located in the south-eastern part of
Translyvania, it was first built byGerman settlers (known as `Saxons') who were invited
here by the Hungarian princes 700 years ago. The Germans built seven towns, including
Brasov (called Kronstadt by the Saxons), Sighisoara (Schassburg) and Cluj-Napoca
(Klausenberg), and hence the German name for Transylvania - Siebenburgen ("Seven
Towns"). The German presence enriched the cultural and economic life of Transylvania
but their presence has declined since the 1989 Revolution, after which the Germans were
given the freedom to leave Romania. Most of the 300,000 Transylvanian Saxons have since
left for Germany. Seven hundred years of German presence of Transylvania had thus come to
an end. Their only legacy were the many German medieval cities in the middle of an Eastern
(I met a German tourist in Brasov who told me about his great love for Transylvania (&
the great hiking routes) and that it saddens him that the Saxons are now leaving here. I
sympathised with his sentiments - until he started saying that the Holocaust didn't occur
and so on...)
Brasov is one of those German towns that has retained its German mediaeval architecture.
The Black Church (Biserica Neagra - so named because of its soot-blackened walls) and
Saxon Town Hall (1420) at the central city square - Piata Sfatului had a distinctively
German air. Having a meal at a good restaurant at the Piata is cheap, at about US$2.50 per
meal, and with a bottle of local wine thrown in at less than US$4.
Vlad Tepes "Dracula" ; Castle Bran
Brasov is a good base to visit southeastern Transylvania, the most famous of which is the
Bran Castle, better known as Dracula's Castle. For all its fame, it was neither eerie nor
huge. But the surrounding hills were beautiful and untouched, and a good place to hike.
Sighisoara was the birth-town of Vlad Tepes, Prince of Walachia, better known as Dracula.
He was a Romanian national hero who fought bravely against the Turks, Germans and
Hungarians. Also known for his cruelty (he once invited a number of noblemen to a state
banquet, and then had all of them slaughtered), his German enemies spread rumours
about his being a vampire. In the 19th century, the British writer Stoker turned him into
Also an old German town like Brasov, Sighisoara is full of twining little streets and
sitting in the village squares were old Hungarian ladies in traditional dresses. It's like
travelling back to history.