Transylvania – the land beyond the forest: the nest of Gothic tales and blood thirsty creatures of the night or a colorful, traditional, fairytale like place waiting to be discovered?
Sighisoara, Mures County
Sighisoara with its cobbled streets, colorful houses and millennial history is the quintessential Transylvanian town. The medieval citadel is so beautifully preserved that the entire old town was declared a UNESCO heritage site. Best part of it all? There are people still living in the citadel which gives it a unique flavor. Wondering in the citadel is like walking around a town scketched in fairy tale books.
Built by Saxons centuries ago, Sighisoara takes pride in having the most impressive tower out of all the Transylvanian burgs: The Watch Tower. Dracula fans: next to the tower you’ll find the house where Vlad Dracula, the one and only, spent his childhood. Other recommendations: Venetian House, Stag House, Student Stairs.
Corvin Castle, Hunedoara
Ok so I am taking you a bit off the grid with this castle but the reason is simple: if there’s one place that portrays the worldwide Gothic and dark image of Transylvania then this is the Corvin Castle.
Set in the little town of Hunedoara this 15th century used to belong to one of Transylvania’s most powerful medieval family: Corvin. The Corvin coat of arms shows a raven so don’t be surprised when flocks of ravens welcome you as you enter the grounds of the castle. Hollow halls, echoing footsteps, dark rooms & bloody legends – this castle is properly equipped with everything that will give you shivers down your spine.
Viscri, Brasov County
Besides creepy legends and medieval citadels, Transylvania is also famous for its countryside and century old fortified churches. Most of these churches are all UNESCO heritage sites, Viscri being one of them.
While getting to Viscri might be challenging due to its rather remote location and a road in terrible condition, once you arrive in Viscri you’ll get your troubles worth: the church and its walls are as thick and impressive as stories tell. Climb the tower on your own judgment!
The Church is not the only superpower of Viscri: the village is all about colorful houses, sock knitting, traditions, friendly people and a slow pace life that let’s be honest, we all crave for! It’s no wonder Prince Charles fell in love with Viscri.
Bran Castle, Brasov
Aka Dracula’s Castle. Need I say more? Bran Castle is, without a doubt Transylvania’s no.1 landmark and Dracula no. 1 brand.
It’s not for no reason: built in the 14th century by the Teuton Knights, the castle stands majestic on its peak and watches over the entire Rucar-Bran Pass. Back in the day it was meant as a border fortress between Transylvania and Wallachia, today this is a must see for visitors and locals together.
What does it have to do with Dracula? „The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further; doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted. In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit.” Described by Stoker himself. I dare you go visit and live to tell the story!
Liars Bridge, Sibiu
One of Sibiu’s most popular site is Liars Bridge. Built in mid 19th century, this bridge is the oldest still open cast iron bridge on the territory of Romania. But that’s not what makes this bridge interesting.
The interesting part is that, according to the legend, the bridge has ears and the power to sense a liar. So when he or she crosses the bridge, it starts to moan and falls down bringing the liar to his doom. Who is ready for a lie detector test made in Transylvania? To soften the image of the Liars Bridge, I have to mention that this is also the place where couples swear true love to each other. But be careful! Should you lie, you know what’s coming!
If there’s one thing that everyone needs to try while in Transylvania that’s the local alcoholic beverage: palinka.
Some have translated it to plum brandy which is not a correct term. Palinka can be made out of different fruits such as pears, peaches, apples, apricots and plums, of course. The palinka has to go through a double distillation until it reaches 40% alcohol, has to be kept for one year in oak barrels and aged 5 years in mulberry barrels. And if you think these are only recommendations then you should know that all of the above are legal requirements to make palinka. Yeah...we don’t take our alcohol lightly.
Palinka is an aperitif drink and even if it comes in shot glasses you are not meant to drink it like a shot but in small sips to get you ready for those big, delicious, fat’n creamy traditional dishes.
Have you been to any of these places or tried palinka? What else should be included in a Transylvania top must do?
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