Romania: A journey to Medieval times
Long before the Twilight series came along, vampires were not seen as romantic, good looking, sparkling men. Vampires were horrific, blood sucking monsters that could turn into bats. And the most famous vampire of all was none other than Count Dracula. First introduced in 1897 in Bram Stroker’s eponymously named novel, Dracula’s character is said to have been inspired by Prince Vlad III, also known as The Impaler, who lived in Romania in the 15th Century. Dracula’s home is widely thought to be the Bran Castle, located in Transylvania, Romania. This Castle was probably built sometime before 1377 and was initially used as a defence against the Ottoman Empire. At the turn of the 20th Century, it became the official residence of the Kingdom of Romania. Reigning Queen Marie considered it her favourite home and to this day you can see the art and furniture she collected over the years. The castle was also used as a hospital by Queen Marie’s daughter during the Second World War. This 60 metre marvel situated on a hilltop is a popular tourist destination for old and young alike. From Bran Castle, tourists further trek across the Romanian wilderness to experience the splendour of the Carpathian Mountains.
That’s Romania for you. Located in South-Central Europe on the shores of the Black Sea, Romania is scattered with medieval castles with fascinating histories, enthralling legends of gallant Princes who fought against the Ottoman Empire, centuries of peasant culture, scary yet fascinating folk tales and superstitions. This, coupled with friendly and welcoming people who love you for showing up at this offbeat tourist destination, makes Romania an explorer’s paradise.
Bran Castle at night
Source: Guidetrip.com http://www.guidetrip.com/s/Romania/Cluj-Napoca/Transilvania-cluj
Bran Castle might be the most famed, but Romania has several grand castles and fortified churches that are worth a visit. Fortified churches in Biertan, Viscri, Darjiu, Prejmer, Saschiz, Valea Viilor and Calnic villages in Transylvania have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Several of these fall under the administration of the medieval town of Sighișoara. For several centuries, Sighișoara served as an important commercial as well as strategic point for Central Europe. It is a fine example of the rapidly fading culture of the Saxons of Transylvania and is full of cobbled streets and colourful, delightful constructions.
Old Street in Sighisoara
Travellers usually fly into the country through the capital city of Bucharest or the second largest city of Cluj-Napoca (Cluj). There are several guides who can take you on excursions through the country while vividly describing the rich history. One such favourite guide trip includes a visit of the sculptures of Constantin Brâncuși. Constantin Brâncuși is a famous 20th Century Romanian sculptor who is considered the pioneer of modernism. He has dotted Romania with fascinating creations such as The Endless Column, The Table of Silence, Stool Alley and the Gate of Kiss.
Romania also has several remarkable monasteries, some perched precariously on hilltops and some one of a kind monasteries with elaborately painted exterior walls with frescos of heaven and hell. One of the most striking ones is the Horezu medieval monastery, a Brâncovenesc art work of genius which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Famed for its richness of detail of sculptures, painted works and religious compositions, the Horezu monastery is at the top of every travellers list.
Black Vulture Monastery
Romania is not only rich in history, it is also a nature lover’s paradise. The Danube River flows through a large area of the country and forms marvellous landscapes along its way. The river forms the second largest and one of the best preserved deltas of Europe as it joins the Black Sea. A smorgasbord of marshes, reed-islands, lakes the delta is a bird watchers paradise, with birds coming in from the distant lands of Africa and China. In all, it has over 3450 species of animals and it listed as a biodiversity World Heritage Site.
So, if you’re tired of being hounded by emails and WhatsApp messages, tired of keeping up with the pace of modern life, pack your bags and head over to Romania to get lost in this cultural and natural dreamland.