Romania – Brasov

This beautiful city, nestled near the southern Carpathian Mountains, was founded by the Teutonic Knights in AD 1211.  Romania was once part of the Roman Empire and the town’s Roman name was Corona (Crown).  That part of history is still evident from the crown that is on the town’s coat of arms today.  It was once an important city for trade linking the Ottoman Empire with western Europe for trading.

The city was fortified by the Saxons merchants. Many of the towers were maintained by private craft guilds, as was the custom of that time.  It was during this time that the Saxons merchants lived within the city walls and the Romanian people lived outside in the Schei neighborhood.

After spending 5 nights in Bucharest, we rode the train 2 hour and 45 minutes to Brasov. It was a rather gloomy, rainy day.  I will remember that it was on Saturday, May 19th the day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding at Windsor Castle in England.   I was kind of bummed that I wasn’t going to be able to watch the wedding.  Through the wonders of technology; I was able to stream it on my cell phone and share it with the elderly Romanian lady sitting next to me while texting with my mom and sister in Maine who were watching it on television!

Once in Brasov and checked into the Airbnb apartment.  We walked the 20 minutes to the center of the old town to explore.  The next day, Sunday, we spent exploring before making a couple of day trips outside of Brasov.   Here are some of the many landmarks of  Brasov’s:

The Council Square (Piata Sfatului)

This is the center of the old city and is dominated by the Council House that was built in 1420.  The square was known to the Saxons, who built the walls, many churches and buildings of medieval Brasov, as Marketplatz.

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Looking down on Council Square with the Council House in the center.  The Council House or City Hall was where the town council would meet.

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Today, the square is lined with shops and restaurants.  The tower on the Council House is known as Trumpeter’s Tower.  This was used as a watch tower during the middle ages to alert of impending danger that might be approaching.

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Not far from the square, is the Black Church that can be seen in this photo.

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Some of the pastel-colored buildings that house restaurants and shops.

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The Black Church

Black Church

This church was built between 1385 and 1477.  This German Lutheran church is Romania’s largest Gothic Church.  Due to the Great Fire of 1689, the church was called the Black Church for the blackened walls on the outside of the church. Restoration of the Black Church took close to 100 years.  It was intended to build two towers but as you can see, only one was added.

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I passed this church on several different occasions and most of the time, it was closed.  When I did find it open, I had visited another Gothic church in a neighboring town and the pictures I saw of the Black Church looked very similar to the Church on the Hill. I decided not to go inside.

Strada Sforii

This street is a short walk from The Black Church and is one of the narrowest streets in Europe.

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Only about 4 feet wide, it was originally an access street for firefighters.

Tampa Mountain

Just outside of the ancient fortified wall of Brasov is Tampa Mountain.

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To get to the top, you can ride the cable car or hike.  We chose to hike up and ride the cable car down.  Notice the Brasov sign.  Our hike ended at the sign.

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There are several trails that you can hike on both sides of the mountain.  The trail that we followed was wide and the climb was very gradual.

Behind the Brasov sign on the side of Tampa Mountain

This is behind the Brasov sign that stands over the city.

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The hike took about 45 minutes and this was our reward.

Riding the cable car down Mt Tampa

The cable cars we took back to the bottom of Mt Tampa.

The Fortified Wall around Brasov

Near the base of Mt Tampa is a lovely park that is along the remains of the wall which was built to protect the city of Brasov.  Most of this wall was built between 1400 and 1650 by the Saxons.

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In the background of this picture, you can see the Black Church.

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This is an example of the once two-mile long wall.  Originally, it was 40 ft high and 7 ft thick.  Much of it was torn down in the 1800s for city expansion but fortunately, some of it survived.

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This is the Linen Weavers Bastion. It was built in 1421-1432 and expanded in 1570-1573.  It is the best-preserved part of the wall today.

Relatively close to the Linen Weavers Bastion is Catherine’s Gate.  The original gate was built in 1526 and destroyed by a flood.  In 1559, the Tailor’s Guild rebuilt the gate for defense purposes.

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This is the only gate to survive since medieval times.  The only original part of the gate is the center tower. I really think it should be called the “fairy tale gate!”

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The wall that is still standing after all this time is very impressive!

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I love these towers!
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My last night in Brasov, I was running around taking last minute pictures and came across this Street Food Fair.  Lots of tempting goodies to choose from!

Schei District

When the Saxons had rule of Brasov, the Romanians were not allowed to own property within the walled city.  They lived outside and were only allowed to enter through one of the gates.  This is located in the southwest corner of Brasov and the gate is called the Schei Gate.

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This gate was built in 1828 to replace the older structure that had been heavily damaged by fire.

My last day in Brasov, I made it a point to visit the Schei District and the various sites mentioned in my guidebook.  St Nicholas’ Cathedral is located in a lovely setting framed by the wooded hills in the background.

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St Nicolas’ Cathedral was first constructed with wood in 1392 and later rebuilt in 1495 with stone.

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Done in a mixture of Byzantine, baroque and gothic styles, this church is one of Brasov’s prettiest.

Unfortunately, it was closed when I got there and I wasn’t able to see the inside of the church.  I wish it had been open because the pictures I have seen of the inside are beautiful.  It is decorated very ornately.  Nearby the church is a small cemetery.

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The walls around this cemetery are decorated with murals of Romania’s last king and queen.  During the communist era, the murals were covered with plaster to protect them against the communist government.  They were uncovered in 2004.  I saw these murals but was unable to get a photo due to the lighting.

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This artist was working on the murals on the outside of the cemetery walls.  I am not certain if they were covered in plaster as they have a religious theme which was against the communist beliefs.

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Regardless if they were covered or not, the restoration that this man is doing is beautiful.

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You can see he has really brought the frescos to life with the vibrant colors that he is using.

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I passed this pretty church walking around the Schei Neighborhood.  The sign said it was an Evangelical Church and a historical monument built in 1790 to 1793.

Central Park

Near the old section of town is a lovely park.  fullsizeoutput_2b30

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Men playing chess, checkers and dominos near the park fountain.

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A peacock with the tail to hold flowers.

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Flower baskets

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Heroes’ Cemetery – A memorial to those who died in 1989 fighting for freedom from Communism.  There are 69 names on the plaque below the cross and….

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These are 30 graves behind the cross of the protesters fighting against communism and for freedom.  One of the first public oppositions to the communist regime happened in Brasov in 1987 when angry workers took to the streets to demand food.  Communism didn’t end until December 22, 1989.

 

Out and About in Brasov

I just wanted to share some of the photos that I took while wandering around the streets of Brasov.

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This is Republic Street, a pedestrian mall, that leads to Council Square.  It is a busy spot for locals and tourist.

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These shops were common throughout Romania.  You could get a snack of pretzels, sweet or savory pastries.

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A quiet side street in the old section. I like the pastel colors of the buildings.

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Looking back at Trumpeter’s Tower on the Council House in Council Square.

Post Office

The buildings that were built in the early 1900s, in most of Romania, are beautiful.  This is the post office.

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The Central Administration Building

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The Municipal Council Building

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Then you had these austere buildings that were built during the communist era.  How depressing and ugly are they?  True to form, no decorations or color of any kind.

 

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Throughout our wanderings in Brasov and Bucharest, we came across what some call “street art” and others call it graffiti.  I read in another person’s blog that street art started showing up in the early 90s as a form of protest against communism.  Even though the communist government was ousted in 1989, it took much longer for the changes to be felt by the people.

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I am not certain how old this Orthodox Basilica is but it was built in the traditional style that we saw in Bucharest at the open-air Village Museum.

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This is a close-up of the roof.  Such craftsmanship!

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Brasov Train Station, I thought it was kind of depressing.

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A Romanian Train

Parting shots…..

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It is always interesting to buy a local wine.  This was a red wine and had a little sweetness to it but not too much.  It was very good for only about $5.00.

 

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I saw these cuties in the Schei district and commented to the father that the ice cream was as big as the small boy!  He agreed and had said that to the little boy.  The boy’s reply was, “I am big!”

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Watching the world go by!

 

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This sweet couple was walking home from church.  I just love this picture.  David and me in the next 20 years?

Wishing you blessings, joy and sparkles……✨✨✨

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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