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Transylvania, the legend of Dracula, and more – five compelling reasons why you should travel to Romania.
As a family we are ardent travel enthusiasts. In our 6 years stay in Europe, we have traveled to 29 countries within the continent and aspire to cover the remaining as well.
This Easter vacation, we packed our bags and headed over to Romania, a country that is still haunted by stories of a vampire count and the legend of a pompous and self-absorbing dictator.
Ringed by the Carpathian Mountains, Romania is a south-eastern European country known for the forested region of Transylvania. With a remarkable history, breath-taking and unique landscapes, a multifaceted ethnic mix, and a distinctively rich cultural heritage, a travel to Romania is guaranteed to be fascinating.
Romania became a part of the European Union in 2007 yet continues to use the Romanian Lei making it an appealing budget travel destination. When in the country you should definitely try the oven baked sweet, crunchy, fluffy pastry or sweet bread called Kürtőskalács. Be ready to be mesmerized as you see this irresistible pastry twist and turn right before your eyes.
Bucharest, the capital of Romania, is the largest city in the country. Situated on the banks of the Dâmbovița River the city is full of elegant architecture which gave the city its nickname — ‘Little Paris of the East’. Bucharest’s Palace of the Parliament, built by communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, is a colossal monument that reminds us of the dictator’s megalomania. However, in recent years this monument has become an iconic landmark for the city, rejuvenating the once derelict Old Town.
Located in the historic region of Transylvania, Sighișoara is breath-taking with its pastel-coloured houses, stony lanes and Gothic towers. Behind the fortified walls are the affluent merchant houses that have now been converted in to cafes, bistros, hotels and craft shops. Skulking behind the gingerbread roofs and turrets of the UNESCO-protected old town, lies the history of Vlad Ţepeş, the infamous ruler of Transylvania. The house where he was born, now home to a fancy and upmarket restaurant, still draws thrill seekers and history enthusiasts to this day.
Revered by many Romanians for protecting Transylvania from Turkish attacks, Ţepeş is better remembered as Vlad the Impaler. But since, Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, Vlad the Impaler has become Count Dracula – a blood thirsty vampire who is in constant search of victims to suck blood.
The warm, fairy-tale town of Braşov’s skyline is dotted with Gothic spires, medieval churches, Soviet blocks and a huge sign on Mt Tâmpa sporting the town’s name in white – ‘Braşov’. There are a number of medieval watch towers all over the town. Between them are the baroque buildings and churches, while local cafes line the main square – Piaţa Sfatului.
Travelling across Romania is like travelling back in time. The country has many jaw dropping castles. Although we couldn’t visit all of them, here are few that we did.
Peles Castle was the summer residence of Romania’s longest-serving monarch, King Carol I. It is the first European castle to have central heating and electricity. The fairy-tale turrets rising above the green meadows and the grand reception halls of the castle, representing the rich synthesis of Moorish, Florentine and French styles, give visitors a sneak peek into the grandiose of Romanian royalty.
Adjoining to the Peles Castle, is the Pelisor Castle, the summer residence for the royal heirs to the Romanian Throne, Prince Ferdinand and Princess Marie.
Famously known as ‘Dracula’s castle’, Bran Castle is in close proximity to Braşov. It is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the borders of Transylvania and Wallachia.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s castle was based upon a description of Bran Castle by one of his friends. It is said that when seeking an emblematic personage for his novel, Bram Stoker called his friend who told him about the varied Romanian folklore, replete with blood thirsty vampires with super long and super sharp canine teeth, who are in constant search for victims. Thus the famous fictional character of Count Dracula’s was born. The character is often confused with Vlad Dracul, a Wallachian Prince, notorious for his brutal way of punishing the Ottomons.
All images are personal and clicked by the author.