I am not sure what we were expecting to see in Transylvania, but a Royal Saxon city was certainly not high on the list. The beautiful city of Brasov was once a royal city in the Austria-Hungarian empire. It architecture and beauty far surpassed what we would have expected.
One of the most unique things to do in Transylvania is to visit a fortified Saxon church. As part of the Austria-Hungarian empire the Germans, who all came to be know as Saxons whether they were from Saxony or not, were invited to colonize and farm the Romanian countryside. They build fortified churchs to defend themselves from the frequent Ottomans and Tartars invasions. We visited Prejmer fortified Saxon church and this was especially meaningful to Mandy and John in our group, as John’s mother was a Romanian Saxon who immigrated to the US after WWII. There is a lot more to her story, and Mandy along with her Sister In Law and another friend of her Mother-in-Law collected and published her autobiography which tells her story growing up in a Saxon Village, being sent to forced labor camp in the USSR as reparations after WWII, and then her immigration to the United States. Mandy gave me a copy of the book, My Three Countries, which can be purchased through Amazon by following the link in the title. I read it in a day when I was on a flight. I bit of history and tells her story which many may not know. With Mandy and John along, it was fascinating to explore history of the fortress and the church to which they had this familial connection. The guide told us about the ways that they would have defended the church fortress from invasion.
I’ll start this paragraph by saying that I am total “Goof Ball”. We visited Bran Castel and I brought a whole party pack of 20 vampire teeth to give out. A local dressed as Vlad the Impaler even appeared in costume to add to the fun. I took a few pictures in my Vampire coat with my vampire teeth. You need not be a goofy as me to enjoy this castle. During the times when the Ottomans frequently and violently invader and terrorized the area, Vlad the Impaler was actually a local hero because he would capture and impale invading forces in order to frighten the invaders from attacking his castle. There are also stories of him inflicting the same fate during his conflicts with the Saxons, which may have lead to his terrible reputation in other parts of Europe. Those stories provided the inspiration for the Dracula stores of Bram Stoker. However this association with Vlad the Impaler and the Dracula Legend might just be all marketing. The current castle and museum was restored by Queen Marie. The Braun Castle is located on a picturesque hill top, the castle was restored by Queen Marie, was the last Queen of Romania as the wife of King Ferdinand I. As we walked through the castle, her legacy treats visitors to her restorations. There is also plenty of legend of Dracula memorabilia. After our tour of the castle, we enjoyed a nice dinner is the restaurant below and the chance to take night time photographs of the impressive castle.
Our last day in Transylvania was perhaps the most beautiful as we headed in to the mountains to visit Peles Castles, a royal residence of the Austria-Hungarian empire. This impressive Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains, near Sinaia, rivals any of the beautiful palaces we have visited over the years traveling in Europe, including Germany. There was an impressive arms collection and lovely art through out. The local people told the communist leaders that the building needed to be boarded up during the communist times because the extensive wood was causing mold and rot. This was a lie to keep the art and beauty out of the hands of communist and now the beautiful building is the number one tourist attractions in the area. It beautiful museum of a different time and era.
This was our last day in Transylvania, and we headed off to Bucharest for our last night in Romania.This entry was posted in My Cruise History