Welcome to TRANSYLVANIA: "the land beyond the forests"!
An alluring and mysterious place, where the Carpathian Mountains have always provided natural protection for this Eastern European hidden gem, Transylvania can be considered one of the most picturesque regions, alongside Provence (France) and Tuscany (Italy).
Transylvania is also the largest region of Romania and it is abundant in mountains, untouched forests, archaic villages, hearty food, warm-hearted and hospitable folks.
Photo Source: Balate Dorin
Photo Source: Biertan Village – © Mihai Raducanu
With around 100 castles and fortresses and about 70 fortified churches, Trasylvania is a go to place for adventure lovers.
Quick chronicle check-up
Transylvania has a long-standing multicultural history. The current population consists of mainly Romanians and other ethnic groups: Hungarians, Roma, Ukrainians, and Germans.
100 A.D.: Dacia was conquered by the Roman Empire, giving birth to Romanians (ruins of Dacian citadels are now part of UNESCO heritage)
9th century: Transylvania is established as a principality under Hungarian rule, becoming Kingdom of Hungary in 1000, despite the Romanians having an overwhelming majority.
12th century: German merchants arrived to help defend the region against the Tatars and Turks. They built 7 fortress towns, known as the Siebenbürgen, and hundreds of fortified churches, all UNESCO heritage sites.
13th century: Now famous Bran Castle was built to protect the city of Brașov from foreign invaders.
Photo Source: Bran Castle Cge2010 / Shutterstock.com Source: link
15th century: Ruling of the Wallachian prince named Vlad III Drăculea Ţepeş.
Associated with Bran Castle, the present pop-culture mythology Count Dracula, said to have been inspired by the 15th-century noble descent and military governor, famous for impaling his enemies (estimated to be around 80.000) on long stakes (nicknamed Vlad the Impaler). Also during this time period, the Banffy Castle, the beautiful residence of Sigismund of Luxemburg had been donated to the Hungarian noble Losonc family. The well-known location (near Cluj-Napoca) is now the site of the annual Electric Castle music festival in the summer.
For more infomation about the History of Transylvania, check out this link.
Other interesting facts:
Half of the Carpathian Mountain range is in the heart of Transylvania. The highest peak is Mount Moldoveanu (2,554 meters), in the Fagaras Mountains.
The Carpathian Mountains are home to wolves, lynxes and Europe’s largest population of brown bears. Around 5000 bears roam the oak and beech forests (60% of Europe’s entire brown bear population).
Photo Source: © Joanne Hedger / Getty Images
‘The road to the sky’ or The Transfagarasan is a snaking road that stretches 56 miles between Transylvania and Wallachia. It took 6,000 tons of dynamite for it to be carved out of the towering Transylvanian Făgăraş Mountains, being built at an enormous altitude of over 2,000 metres during the 1970s. It was named the world's best road by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
Photo Source: © Federica Grassi / Getty Images
It’s got a far scarier secret than Bran Castle: Hoia-Baciu Forest near Cluj-Napoca is the Bermuda Triangle of Eastern Europe, being considered one of the scariest forests in the world.
It has forgotten, yet majestic villages that offer a beautiful traditional living space, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites and are well worth a visit. King Charles, for example has bought some of them with a view to renovate the buildings and rent them out to increase tourism, helping the local economy.
Transylvania has the real-deal four seasons! Summers are hot, with temperatures between 25-36 degrees Celsius (F 80s or 90s) so that’s the season for hiking, and swimming. It’s very likely that July will be no different, around 25-30 degrees Celsius, perfect weather for a conference you could say.
How to prepare for your trip to Transylvania:
- Bring hiking boots, and if you go to the mountains take with you a guide or learn about wildlife and what to do when you encounter a bear for example.
- Always carry with you cash (local currency is the RON, 1 RON is about 22 U.S. cents, or 20 euro cents)- currency exchange offices are less common in smaller villages and paying with your credit or debit card can be quite difficult as well.
- Upon arrival we recommand you to eat goulaş or sarmale (if you are vegan or vegetarian you can eat zacusca or salată de vinete) and if you like alcoholic beverages, give it a try to the famous schnapps palinca.
Transylvania’s official language is Romanian, but there are many towns where Hungarian is often spoken, for example: Miercurea Ciuc, Gheorgheni, Brasov, Odorheiu Secuiesc, Cluj-Napoca. Romanian is an Eastern Romance language, and Hungarian a Finno-Ugric one (closer to Estonian and Finnish).
Here are some essential expressions you can use to get around:
Good day! - Bună ziua! [ˌbu.nə ˈzi.wa] in Romanian - Jó napot [ˈjoːnɒpot] in Hungarian
Thank you. - Mulțumesc [mult͡suˈmesk] in Romanian - Köszönöm [ˈkøsønøm] in Hungarian
Yes. - Da in Romanian - Igen in Hungarian
No. - Nu in Romanian - Nem in Hungarian
Cheers! - Noroc in Romanian - Egészségére in Hungarian
If you want more about what to do in Transylvania, you check out our Social Programme page (coming soon).