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About Transylvania

Transylvania is home to some of Europe’s best-preserved mediaeval towns, most notably Brasov, featuring Old Saxon architecture and citadel ruins; Sibiu with its cobblestone streets and pastel-coloured houses, and Sighisoara, adorned with a hilltop citadel, secret passageways and a 14th century clock tower. There are many tiny shops offering antiques and fine handmade products by local artisans across the region. 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 south-eastern Europe. The 15th century Corvinesti Castle, the most beautiful in Transylvania, located nearby Hunedoara, has a sumptuous Knights Hall (frequently used for functions or parties), as well as towers and buttresses reminiscent of mediaeval times.

Transylvania’s multi-ethnic heritage (including German and Hungarian) is delightfully apparent in the folk costumes, architecture, cuisine, music and festivals. Colourful centuries-old traditions are alive and well in its small villages. People here still make a living as shepherds, weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters.

The Apuseni Mountain range, in the western Carpathians, is a landscape of exquisite beauty and mystery. Here, you’ll 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.

Sightseeing Highlights:

  • Brasov - beautiful Baroque streets, Mediaeval ramparts, traditional cuisine.
  • Hiking in the wide variety of mountains - Busteni, Fagaras and Apuseni amongst the best.
  • Sighisoara and Sibiu - quintessentially Transylvanian with cobbled squares, mediaeval skylines and fascinating festivals.
  • Wildlife encounters - such as Carpathian bears, lynx, chamois and wolves - local guide essential.
  • Rasnov Fortress – built in the 1300s by the Teutonic Knights to protect Transylvania from the Tartars & Turks.
  • Saxon fortified churches are typical of the countryside scenery; seek out Biertan as a great example.
  • Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle), built in 1377.
  • Hunedoara with its 14th century Gothic Corvinesti Castle.
  • The Moti Land (Tara Motilor) on the Ariesi Valley - Moţi 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 centuries-old traditions and lifestyle.
  • The Apuseni Mountains with Scarisoara and Focul Viu glaciers, Chiscau Bears’ Cave and Vartop Cave.

National Parks:

  • Apuseni Nature Park – a 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).

Food & Wine

Transylvania's cuisine displays a variety of flavours such as dishes spiced with thyme, red pepper or tarragon. Meats, such as pork, mutton and 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 homemade pasta. Make sure you don’t leave the region without trying the delicious "Varza a la Cluj" – the Romanian version of lasagne - 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 are not only artisans in producing fragrant, pleasant and light wines, but also sophisticated double-distilled liquors. Palinca, Horinca and Rachie are varieties of brandy made from fruits, particularly plums, apples, and pears, aged in mulberry tree barrels, acquiring a golden colour and a taste often rivalling whisky. There's also a tradition of wine making in some of the Saxon villages in this region.

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