Facts about Transylvania
About the name: Transylvania or Transilvania (from Latin poethe land beyond the forest);
Location: Central Romania – surrounded by the arc of the Carpathian mountain chain;
Area: 34.177 sq. miles;
Population: Approximately 5 million;
Main cities: Alba Iulia, Bistrita, Brasov, Cluj Napoca, Medias, Miercurea Ciuc, Sebes, Sibiu, Sighisoara, Targu Mures.
Transylvania is home to some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, most notably Brasov, featuring Old Saxon architecture and citadel ruins; Sibiu with its cobblestone streets and pastel-colored houses, and Sighisoara, adorned with a hilltop citadel, secret passageways and a 14th century clock tower. Tiny shops offer antiques and fine hand-made products by local artisans and artists.
Visitors to Transylvania will also encounter stunning castles such Bran, near Brasov, – a Gothic fairy-tale structure, often associated with 15th century Walachian Prince Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While the connection with Vlad is tenuous, the deep bond of local villagers with the legend is not.
In close proximity to Brasov and Bran are the fortified churches at Harman, with its massive 13th Saxon towers, and Prejmer, the largest fortified church in Southeastern Europe. The 15th-century Corvinesti Castle, the most beautiful in Transylvania, located nearby Hunedoara, has a sumptuous Knights Hall that can be used for functions or parties, as well as towers and buttresses reminiscent of the medieval times.
Colorful centuries-old traditions are alive and well in the small villages of Transylvania. People here still make a living at such time-honored occupations as shepherds, weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters.
The Apuseni Mountain range, in the western Carpathians, is a landscape of exquisite beauty and mystery. Here, you will find ancient legends of mountain spirits and rare species of wildlife, along with 4,000 caves, many of which can be explored.
Scarisoara Glacier, a national monument, shelters the second largest underground glacier on the continent.
Places to explore in Transylvania
– Some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns: Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara;
– Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle), built in 1377;
– Rasnov Fortress built in the 1300s by the Teutonic Knights to protect Transylvania against the Tartars and the Turks;
– The Saxon fortified churches at Biertan, Calnic, Harman, Darjiu, Prejmer, Saschiz, Valea Viilor, and Viscri – all designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites;
– Transylvania’s finest art museum: the Bruckenthal Palace in Sibiu;
– Marginimea Sibiului, an area northwest of Sibiu home to more than 18 traditional villages;
– The Museum of Glass-Painted Icons in Sibiel, the largest of its kind in Europe;
– The city of Hunedoara with its 14th-century Gothic Corvinesti Castle;
– The Dacian Fortresses at Sarmisegetuza (UNESCO World Heritage List);
– The Moti Land (Tara Motilor) on the Ariesi Valley – moti is the name given to the inhabitants of this region. They live in scattered villages at altitudes up to about 4,265 feet and have preserved their century-old traditions and lifestyle;
– The Apuseni Mountains with Scarisoara and Focul Viu glaciers, Chiscau Bearsâ€™ Cave and Vartop Cave as well as other 400 caves.
Main Museums in Transylvania
– Unification Museum in Alba Iulia;
– Ethnographic Museum in Brasov;
– Art Museum in Brasov;
– Brasov History Museum;
– Weavers’ Bastion Museum in Brasov;
– Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania in Cluj;
– National Art Museum in Cluj – collections of weaponry and Romanian paintings dating from the Middle Ages;
– National History Museum of Transylvania in Cluj;
– Skezely Museum in Miercurea Ciuc;
– ASTRA Museum of Traditions and Folk Art (ASTRA) in Sibiu – original dwellings, workshops, and churches from around the country;
– Bruckental Museum in Sibiu, Transylvania’s finest art museum;
– History Museum in Sighisoara, featuring the Torture Room.
– Brasov: Gheorghe Dima State Philharmonic, National Opera, Puppet Theater, Sica Alexandrescu Drama Theater;
– Cluj: National Theater, Hungarian State Theater & Opera;
– Sibiu: Radu Stanca National Theater, State Philharmonic;
– Targu Mures: Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hall of Mirrors;
Transylvania Outdoor Adventures & Parks
– Apuseni Nature Park, caver’s paradise;
– Gradistea Muncelului-Cioclovina Nature Park, site of the Sarmisegetuza archaeological ruins.
– Piatra Craiului National Park, spectacular rocky steep walls, virgin forests, and one of the world’s deepest underground abysses (Coltii Grindului shaft, – 1771 feet);
Biking, Camping, Caving, Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Nature walks, Rafting, Skiing, Wildlife and Bird Watching
Food & Wines of Transylvania
Transylvania’s cuisine displays a variety of flavors with dishes spiced with thyme, red pepper or tarragon. Meats, such as pork, mutton, veal, are among the most popular ingredient in Transylvania’s cuisine. The soups, to which sour cream and egg yolk are ofted added, also include flour dumplings or
Romania is one the world’s leading producers of cabbage (varza). Make sure you don’t leave the region without trying the delicious “Varza a la Cluj” the Romanian version of lasagna – prepared from several layers of finely shredded cabbage (fresh or sour) and minced pork or veal mixed with rice and bacon and baked in the oven.
Transylvanians – among whom the Saxons make their particular contribution – are not only artisans in producing fragrant, pleasant and light wines, but also sophisticated double-distilled liquors: palinca, horinca and rachie (varieties of brandy). These are made of fruits, particularly plums, apples, and pears, aged in mulberry tree barrels, acquiring a golden color and a taste often rivaling whisky.
The vineyards in Tarnave area: Blaj, Jidvei, Medias, Tarnaveni, Zagar and Valea Nirajului are known for their excellent white wine producers. With its cool climate and vineyards on slopes that stretch from the Tarnava Mare to the Tarnava Mica rivers, Tarnave is ideal for fruity white grapes with a very good acidity.
The area has a long tradition of producing excellent dry, and medium-dry flavored wines such as Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Traminer.
Even if wooden tools have been replaced by modern winepresses and state of the art technology, grape picking, the control of fermentation, clarity, stability, the storage and maturation of wine are all carried out according to a special set of rules handed down from generation to generation. There are also traditions of wine making in some of the Saxon villages in this region, with small vineyards producing must for the larger wineries.
Source data: http://www.romaniatourism.com.