Although Transylvania is mostly associated with vampires, this region offers magical nature and a rich cultural heritage

Transylvania, a region in central Romania, is known for its beautiful landscapes, rich history and diverse cultural heritage.

Multi-ethnic heritage, including Romanian, German, Hungarian and Szekler, is visible in the diverse folk costumes, architecture, cuisine, music and general traditions, and the people in the rural areas are still shepherds, weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters.

Due to the influence of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel 'Dracula' and the many subsequent books and films inspired by the story, Transylvania is associated with vampires in popular culture.

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Vampire legends go back centuries, but few names have struck more fear into human hearts than Dracula. However, the fictional character is actually based on a real historical figure by name Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes in Romanian).

Also known as Vlad III, Vlad Dracula (son of the Dragon) was a sadistic leader known for brutally torturing his enemies. According to some estimates, it is responsible for the death of more than 80.000 people, a large percentage of whom were impaled.

Brasov, Romania, Transylvania
Photos: Zoltan Rakottyai / Unsplash

From untouched nature to historic cities

The name Transylvania comes from Latin and means 'across the forest'. It is surrounded by the Carpathian arc: the Transylvanian Alps in the south, the Eastern Carpathians in the east and northeast, and the Western Carpathians (the only non-continuous chain) in the west.

The Apuseni mountain range, in the Western Carpathians, is a landscape of extraordinary beauty and rare species of wild animals. Here you can find more than 4000 caves and the second largest underground glacier in Europe – the Scarisoara glacier.

The region is home to some of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities and outstanding rural landscapes. The largest Gothic church in Eastern Europe is located in Brasov.

Sibiu – with its cobbled streets and Transylvanian Baroque architecture, and the hilltop citadel of Sighisoara with secret passages and a 14th-century clock tower, are some of the most popular destinations in Transylvania.

Tiny shops offering antiques and handicrafts by local artisans line the narrow streets lined with pastel-colored houses in the historic parts of many other towns in this famous Romanian region.

Brasov and its surroundings enchant with castles and churches

Visitors to Transylvania are likely to see stunning castles such as Bran and Corvin. Bran, not far from Brasov, is a Gothic fairytale building often associated with Vlad Tepes from the 15th century. Although the connection with the Government is weak, the local villagers' deep connection with the legend is not.

The castle can be explored, but it is not possible to spend the night there. But the remote village of Bran has plenty of luxury accommodation available for fans of the legend of the big-fanged creatures.

Castle Corwin from the 15th century, with its towers and buttresses as reminders of medieval times, is considered by many to be the most beautiful in Transylvania. Numerous events are organized in the sumptuous Knight's Hall and can be used for holding parties.

Brasov, Romania, Transylvania
Photos: Alex Person / Unsplash

Brasov has Saxon walls and bastions, as well as the spacious Council Square, surrounded by colorful baroque buildings, the tall Gothic Black Church and cafes. In the immediate vicinity of the city there are several Saxon fortified churches as well as the famous Poiana Brasov ski resort.

Sibiu district, photo: Carina Chen

What to research?

  • Small towns and villages in Transylvania – they are full of charm
  • The old town of Brasov is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Romania
  • Sibiu is the cultural capital of Transylvania and an excellent example of urban planning from the 14th and 15th centuries
  • The Citadel of Sighisoara, probably the most authentic and best preserved medieval city in Europe
  • Bran Castle (also known as Dracula's Castle), built in 1377.
  • Rasnov Fortress - built in the 1300s by the Teutonic Knights to protect Transylvania from Tatar invasions
  • Saxon fortified churches included in the list of world heritage sites by UNESCO
  • Bruckenthal Palace in Sibiu, the best art museum in Transylvania
  • Marginimea Sibiului – 18 traditional villages, northwest of Sibiu
  • Sibiel museum of icons painted on glass, the largest of its kind in Europe
  • Corvin Castle from the 14th century – one of the most spectacular Gothic buildings in Transylvania with impenetrable walls, a drawbridge and a massive dungeon
  • Sarmisegetuza Regia, the remains of the capital of the kingdom of Dacia
  • Tara Motilor (Land of the Moti people) – The Moti have preserved their centuries-old tradition and lifestyle, and live in scattered villages located in the Apuseni mountains.
  • The Apuseni Mountains Nature Park abounds in wild life, untouched landscapes and over 400 caves and underground glaciers
  • Rimetea Village – 138 beautifully preserved traditional houses illustrate the local architectural style of the 1800s
  • Fortifications of Alba Iulia Vauban (18th century), the largest of its kind in Southeast Europe
  • The ancient Turda salt mine, now a museum and amusement park located below the surface of the earth
  • The city of Cluj-Napoca, the largest urban and university center in Transylvania
  • Lacul Sfanta Ana (Saint Anne's Lake), a volcanic crater lake known for the purity of its water and the wealth of adventure opportunities available
  • Sovata - a health resort where there is the only helio-thermal salt lake in Europe, Medvjeđe jezero (Lacul Ursu)

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