If you live in Bucharest or any other crowded city, you most certainly wish for a city break, somewhere in the heart of the mountains, climbing and exploring or at the sea shores where you can have a long cool bath in the salty waters of the sea, anything to be away from your office and all the sheets standing on your desk.
We took the chance to make our way to the mountains, to be more exact in Brasov, also named as Kronshtadt (German: Krone for “crown” and Stadt for “city”), a city located in the central part of the country, Transylvania, about 166 kilometers (103 miles) north of Bucharest and 380 km (236 mi) from the Black Sea, surrounded by our mighty Southern Carpathians.
The train was our “ship” to Brasov, traveling with InterRegio for about 2 hours and 40 minutes, always a busy train having many tourists going every week to Sinaia, Busteni,Azuga, Predeal and Brasov. A good book and the great view with the mountains that appears right after passing Campina will make the time pass easily. We arrived in the Train Station of Brasov with great enthusiast and ready to be inspired of this wonderful Saxon old town.
When you first step out of the train it’s like the mountains salute’s you and awaits for you to discover even more than they actually show. Seeing the almost slow way of living day by day that the Transylvanians have gives you the feeling that here the time is always in a “on going vacation” and is more indulgent.
We took the bus 4 from the train station and we stopped at the bus station Nicolae Titulesc Park. If you will literally turn your head to right after you step out of the bus, you will see the mount named “Tampa” which has written on it in a hollywood style “Brasov”. The fact that the city is so clean makes you appreciate that there are still some people which really care of our rich cities in great history and tries to conservate it with proudness and joy.
The old town is one of the best preserved old towns in Europe with splendid architecture and old fortifications and is well worth taking a few days to explore. The city has an amazing history with influences from Germany, the Austria-Hungarian Empire and the old communist state.
The fact that our stomach was asking for food so badly didn’t stopped us from standing for five minute in one place admiring everything that was surrounding us. It’s really worthy every single Leu that you spend in this city. We made our way on Republicii Street to find a restaurant with traditional food.
“La Ceaun” is a fancy, non-smoking small restaurant right on the entrance of the Michael Weiss Street. They have delicious traditional goodies which will make your sense of taste explode because of the great ingredients that they mix. We had two Zaganu beers, a plate with tomatoes and some burduf cheese. This was a fresh start after the train travel. The menu was offering beef soup and some “fasole frecata” (beans smashed and mixed with onion, garlic, salt pepper and sun-flower oil). We also have some home made apple pie. This meal made our day! I promise you that will probably won’t need to eat until next morning.
After we finished eating we took our way to Piata Sfatului, the center of the old fortress Brasov. You can visit Casa Sfatului (“The mayor’s former office building”). The administration for Brașov was here for more than 500 years.
We really wanted to visit Biserica Neagră (“The Black Church”), a celebrated Gothic site – the building dates from 1477, when it replaced an older church (demolished around 1385). Its acquired the name after being blackened by smoke from the 1689 great fire. This Church is an amazing mix of architecture, history and religion.
We were lost in the greatness of this church. The inside was very well preserved and had paintings from the 15th century illustrates different action that took place in the church or in the name of the church. Its altar originally featured a single column, but its role in supporting the entire central structure — on the model of German cathedrals built by Hans Stettheimer (a view expressed by researchers such as Ernst Kühlbrandt and Antal Hekler) is under dispute. The naves took longer to complete, and construction was interrupted for various intervals: in 1423, Pope Martin V issued an indulgence for people involved in construction, as a means to reactivate the site; in 1474, a document issued by Sixtus IV acknowledged that work was still lagging. We promised ourselves that we will come again and visit the church because every time there is something new to discover in its beauty.
We then head along back to Republicii Street and went to Mount Tampa, we wanted badly to take the cable car and go up to the hill of the mount, right where it has written Brasov. It takes around 5 minute by cable car to actually be on top of the mount. Plus there is a cafe/restaurant at the top of the mountain which still has the communist look from 26 years ago.
From there you can actually see the entire fortification. The walls of the fortress are showing the exact place on where was the fortress buit. It’s a magic place and it will promise you amazing views of Brasov. This is” must go” place.
After this amazing view, we took the cable cabin back and went on a walk along the walls of the Brasov Fortress. With the fresh air and the historical theme of this town, it can be considered also a romantic place to go. This place caught our attention for next few years.
We also visited:
- The First Romanian School, a museum with the first Romanian printing press among many other firsts.
- The Rope Street, the narrowest street in Romania.
- Șchei, the historically Bulgarian but then Romanian neighborhood outside of the old walled city.
- Catherine’s Gate, the only original city gate to have survived from medieval times.
- Şchei Gate, next to Catherine’s Gate, built in 1827.
- The Orthodox church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, built in 1896.
- Muzeul Prima Carte Românească, a museum exhibiting the first book printed in the Romanian language.
- Tâmpa, a small mountain in the middle of the city (900m above sea level), a sightseeing spot near the old city center.
- The “Brașov Citadel Fortress” – Cetățuia Brașovului
- The nearby Bran Castle, attracting many fans of Dracula and often (but incorrectly) said to have been the home of Vlad the Impaler.
- Poiana Brașov, mainly a ski resort but also a sightseeing spot.
- Râșnov Fortress, above the nearby town of Râșnov, is a restored peasant fortress
- Prejmer Fortress, in the nearby commune of Prejmer
So if you are in a look for adventure, historical places and fresh air, Brasov promises to fulfill all your wishes. Even if it’s summer or winter, you will be amazed with the good food, great view and the architecture of the old city. Of course, do not forget your camera and your energy!