A Travellerspoint blog

Romania

Sighișoara.

The Birthplace of Dracula.

sunny

View towards Sighisoara Citadel - Sighisoara

View towards Sighisoara Citadel - Sighisoara

Sighisoara.

We decided to visit Sighisoara as a day trip from Brasov. It was quite a long trip for a day 3 hours to get there by accelerat style train and just over 2 hours back. We choose this style of train due to convenient departure times; leaving after 9am and returning after 7pm. We had ample time to see Sighisora and have a meal there, because the old citadel of Sighisoara is small and all the sights are close together. We did not realise that we would arrive in Sighisoara during its festival. Due to the festival we had to pay 10 Ron to enter the old part of the city, but when we got in, there was lots of festival related activity: people wandering around in medieval costumes, battles, music, food cooked in large cauldrons suspended over open fires etc. It was interesting but crowded. Sighiosara is a fortified Saxon town. Its old town is located on a hilltop and is still partially surrounded by towers, gates and walls. Its most famous building is its lovely old clock tower. Its claim to fame is that it was the birth place of Vlad Tepes; Vlad the Impaler on whom the Dracula legend is based.

Clock Tower.

The most famous building in Sighisoara is its beautiful old clock tower which dominates the town. You can climb up inside it for the view (though we did not do this). The tower itself dates from the 14th century; the clock was added in 1604. Figures emerge from the clock at midnight each night apparently.

Clock face - Sighisoara

Clock face - Sighisoara

Clock tower - Sighisoara

Clock tower - Sighisoara

Vlad Tepes' Birthplace -Casa Dracula.

In Romania Vlad Tepes or Vlad the Impaler is a national hero who helped stem the invasion of the Turks as they expanded the Ottoman Empire. Bram Stoker is believed to have based his character Dracula on Vlad Tepes mixing vampire legend and Vlad Tepes reputation for brutality. Vlad's father was given the title Dracul meaning dragon or devil. Dracula means son of the dragon or devil. Vlad Tepes was born in Sighisoara around 1431. The building is now a restaurant.

Vlad Tepes' Birthplace

Vlad Tepes' Birthplace

Vlad Tepes' Birthplace

Vlad Tepes' Birthplace

Vlad Tepes' Birthplace

Vlad Tepes' Birthplace

Casa cu Cerb or house with a stag.

The house with the stag is on a corner overlooking Citadel Square. It dates from the sixteenth century and is now used as a pension and restaurant. The houses name comes from the picture of a stag on its corner.

The House with the Stag - Sighisoara

The House with the Stag - Sighisoara

Walls, gates and towers.

Sighisoara was originally a Saxon town known as Castrum Sex Fort Six. In the fourteenth century the town was controlled by craft guilds. Each guild was required to build a defensive tower for the town and help defend the town during war time. Remaining towers include: Shoemakers' Tower, Tailors' Tower, Furriers' Tower, Butchers' Tower (now home to the custodian of the Saxon cemetery) and Tinsmiths' Tower. It is quite pleasant to stroll from one tower to the next.

One of the old towers - Sighisoara

One of the old towers - Sighisoara

Festival Musicians - Sighisoara

Festival Musicians - Sighisoara

Butchers - Sighisoara

Butchers - Sighisoara

Typical Sighisoara street - Sighisoara

Typical Sighisoara street - Sighisoara

Flowers

Flowers

The Church on the Hill.

You can climb up to this church by roadway or by climbing the covered Scholars' Stairs a steep stairway of around 175 steps dating from 1642 and so called because it leads to the old Sighisoara school. The church on the hill is open daily from 10am to 5pm. It costs 2RON to go in. The church is a beautiful cool and peaceful place with patches of wall paintings and stairs leading down to a dingy crypt. It was built between 1345 and 1525. Opposite the church is the green and peaceful Saxon cemetery open daily from 9am to 4pm; free entry. The custodian of the cemetery lives in an odd little house located in the Butchers' Tower near the church.

The Church on the Hill - Sighisoara

The Church on the Hill - Sighisoara

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral.

When you walk from the railway station to the old town you will pass a beautiful orthodox church located on the river. The church dates from 1937. We did not go inside. It is quite impressive from the outside.

The Orthodox Cathedral

The Orthodox Cathedral

Posted by irenevt 23:47 Archived in Romania Comments (8)

The Land of Dracula.

Brasov, Bran and Rasov. 2011.

sunny

Mediaeval goings on in the town square - Brasov

Mediaeval goings on in the town square - Brasov

Brasov.

We spent a very happy four days in Brasov. The train journey there from Bucharest was very scenic especially around the Sinaia area. The town of Brasov was known as Kronstadt to the medieval Saxons and Brasso to the Hungarians. It currently bills itself as probably the best city in the world who knows they may be right; it was certainly very beautiful.

History:

Brasov was an important and wealthy trading town in Saxon times. More recently in November 1987 and December 1989 it was the scene of violent riots sparked off by the economic collapse during these turbulent times. You can still see bullet holes in some of the beautiful old buildings on Strada Republicii. Nowadays Brasov is much more peaceful and a major Transylvanian tourist destination.

Sights:

Brasov has a lot of beautiful sights: its main town square, the beautiful black church, its colourful park, its citadel, its old city walls, towers and gates with their spectacular view points, its cable car, the Schei Valley with its beautiful fairytale church. It is also a wonderful base from which to visit Bran Castle, Rasnov Fortress, Sinaia and the ski resort of Poiana Brasov.

Piata Sfatului or the Old Town Square.

There was always something going on in the old town square: be it armed guards in medieval costume escorting the trumpeters for their serenade from the old town hall tower at 6pm (no idea if this happens daily or not), concerts with bands and choirs (occurred from 7pm Saturday not sure if it is daily), the produce market - Saturdays, or just the general comings and goings of locals and tourists. There are many beautiful buildings on the square: the old town hall, the black church, the orthodox cathedral, as well as many hotels and restaurants. There was also a lovely fountain and some great views towards some of the city's towers.

Piata Sfatului or the old town square

Piata Sfatului or the old town square

Piata Sfatului or the old town square

Piata Sfatului or the old town square

Piata Sfatului or the old town square

Piata Sfatului or the old town square

Behind the city walls.

Near the Schei gate on the right hand side as you face the Schei quarter there is a lovely walkway which passes some of Brasov's old towers, walls and gates. You can cross the stream and climb up to the Black Tower and White Tower for spectacular views over Brasov's old town and its huge black church. The views from here were one of the main highlights of Brasov for me.

Behind the city walls

Behind the city walls

Behind the city walls

Behind the city walls

Behind the city walls

Behind the city walls

Towers,gates and walls - Brasov

Towers,gates and walls - Brasov

The Schei Quarter.

During Saxon times the Romanian speaking population had to live outside Brasov's city walls in the Schei Quarter. They could only enter Brasov through the Schei Gate and had to pay a toll to do so. The Schei quarter has a beautiful church the Church of St Nicholas which reminded me of Sleeping Beauty's castle. There is a war memorial in the main square. The museum of the first Romanian school is here, too but we did not visit this.

The Schei Quarter

The Schei Quarter

The Schei Quarter

The Schei Quarter

Str. Sforii or Rope Street.

Str Sforii is the narrowest street in Brasov and in Romania. It is a short walk east of the main square just off Str. Porta Schei near the synagogue. It is just 1.3m wide. You can reach out and touch both of its walls at the same time.

Str. Sforii or Rope Street

Str. Sforii or Rope Street

Cable Car.

You can take a cable car up Mount Tampa for views over the whole of Brasov. The cable car runs from Tues to Fri 9am 5.30pm and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 6pm. You can go up and walk back down, apparently it takes around an hour to walk down and is rather slippy (we were told by some fellow tourists) though we were lazy and just paid 15RON to go and come back by cable car. There is a little cafe at the top of the cable car. When you reach the top you must walk off to the right for about 10 minutes to reach the viewing platform, located just behind the V of the Brasov sign. The view was scenic but the viewing platform was really small and got very crowded so we did not feel we could linger long.

Cable Car

Cable Car

Citadel.

It is worth doing the short climb up the zigzag path, near the orthodox church, on the far side of Central Park up to Brasov's citadel. The citadel is now a restaurant. We stopped for a drink here and the surroundings were calm and relaxing. There are good views from the citadel's viewpoints. You can just look at the views without having a drink or food if you prefer.

Citadel

Citadel

Citadel

Citadel

Central Park.

This park is a beautiful flower filled place. It is a great place to sit and relax, or watch the old men playing chess, or look at the lovely nearby orthodox church. It is really very peaceful and quiet here.

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park

Central Park

Brasov wedding procession - Brasov

Brasov wedding procession - Brasov

Strada Republicii.

This street has some lovely old buildings and is filled with restaurants, cafes and bars. Hard to believe it was once the scene of riots and fighting during the 1987 and 1989 economic collapse of Romania.

Strada Republicii

Strada Republicii

Bran.

Bran Castle - Bran

Bran Castle - Bran

Bran is a small town located 28KM southwest of Brasov. We went here on a day trip from Brasov. We got there by taking a bus from Brasov bus station number 2. The ticket cost 6RON. Buses leave at 9am, 10am, 11am; then at half hourly intervals finishing around 7 (I think). The front of the bus will say Bran, but its final destination is the little village of Moeciu. Our bus to Bran was horribly overcrowded but it was fine coming back. The bus also passes through Rasov with its lovely fortress on a hill.

Traditional Life

Traditional Life

Bran Castle.

Most people visit Bran to go to its famous castle which is sold as Dracula's castle, but this is probably not true. The castle has only slight links with Vlad Tepes, the person on whom the Dracula legend is based. It is billed as Dracula's castle to make money from tourism and because of its secret passages, windy staircases etc. The castle was built between 1377 and 1382 by the Saxons of Brasov to protect their trade route with Wallachia. The most famous occupant of the castle was Queen Marie of Romania. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She married Prince Ferdinand of Romania in 1893. She was a much loved monarch. The castle is built around a central courtyard with a little wishing well. It is a beautiful building with furnished rooms, spiral stairs, secret passages and good views. The castle is open May to Oct: Mon noon 6pm,Tues to Sun 9am to 6pm; Nov to April: Tues to Sun 9am to 4pm. Entry is 10 Ron for adults.

Bran Castle

Bran Castle

Bran Castle

Bran Castle

Bran Castle

Bran Castle

In Bran Castle - Bran

In Bran Castle - Bran

Bran Castle

Bran Castle

Bran Castle Grounds.

There is a pond and some old Romanian buildings in the grounds of Bran Castle. A tourist had actually dropped her bag in the pond and some locals helped her to fish it out. No easy task in that murky water. Still she was delighted. It probably had her passport and money inside.

Bran Castle Grounds

Bran Castle Grounds

Bran.

The town of Bran has a souvenir market and several restaurants and cafes. It is a good place to spend half a day. The souvenir market is just outside the entrance to Bran Castle. It is quite interesting to browse around in with its traditional and colourful souvenirs. We did not actually buy anything here. One of the joys of living in Hong Kong is that you really have no room for any form of souvenirs.

Masks at Bran Market - Bran

Masks at Bran Market - Bran

Bran Market

Bran Market

Bran Market

Bran Market

Photographing Bran Castle.

It is hard to get a good shot of the outside of Bran Castle from the grounds of the castle as it is mainly blocked by trees. We got some good shots by exiting the castle, passing the market, going left and left again past the bus stop down the hill past some restaurants, over a little bridge and into a field with an old tower. When you cross the field and look back, you have a good view of the castle.

Photographing Bran Castle

Photographing Bran Castle

Getting to Bran.

We got there by taking a bus from Brasov bus station number 2. The ticket cost 6RON. Buses leave at 9am, 10am, 11am then at half hourly intervals finishing around 7 (I think). The front of the bus will say Bran, but its final destination is the little village of Moeciu. Our bus to Bran was horribly overcrowded but it was fine coming back. The bus also passes through Rasov with its lovely fortress on a hill.

Rasnov.

Rasnov Fortress - Rasnov

Rasnov Fortress - Rasnov

If you travel by bus from Brasov to Bran Castle you will pass through the town of Rasnov. It has a beautiful ruined fortress perched on a hill top high above it. Bran and Rasnov can be visited on the same day. The fortress was built around 1225 by Teutonic knights. It is now partially ruined. The town of Rasnov also has a large church and some pleasant restaurants and cafes. There is a camp site there and caves nearby but we did not visit them.

The main reason to visit Rasnov is to go to the fortress. You get to Rasnov by taking a bus from Brasov bus station. You can get to the fortress by walking up the main road towards it from the bus stop, then passing through an archway with a little cafe inside. There are steep stairs going up the hillside near the cafe. These stairs disappear in part and on some patches you are walking on steep slippy rocks. I had slippery sandals on and was all over the place. If you don't fancy that route you can walk along the side of the main road. First go to the church turn right, then off to the left (there are a couple of sign posts). You will eventually reach a gasthaus near a camp site. From the far side of the camp site you can walk up to the fortress from near the camp site. Or you can pay to take a little train pulled by a tractor up if you are feeling tired or lazy. We came down by this road route as our way up was slippy. The fort has a museum inside which we did not visit. My guide book tells me it is open from 8am to 8pm and costs the equivalent of 1 Euro 50 to go in. We were happy just to enjoy the views and look at the fortress walls. The fortress was founded around 1225 by Teutonic knights.

My husband enjoying a beer in Rasnov - Rasnov

My husband enjoying a beer in Rasnov - Rasnov

The fortress high above the town - Rasnov

The fortress high above the town - Rasnov

Rasnov Fortress

Rasnov Fortress

Climbing the Fortress.

You'll be fine taking the roadway up on foot, but if you take the steep route through the archway, wear sensible non-slippy shoes. It is easy to turn your ankle on this route. We choose not to come back down this way as it was so slippy.

Bus To Rasnov.

The bus to Bran passes throught Rasnov first. We went by this bus. We got to Rasov and Bran by taking a bus from Brasov bus station number 2. The ticket cost 6RON. Buses leave a 9am, 10am, 11am then at half hourly intervals finishing around 7 (I think). The front of the bus will say Bran, but its final destination is the little village of Moeciu. There was the choice of several other buses from other places coming back from Rasov, just get on anything that says Brasov.

Posted by irenevt 23:13 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Bucharest, Romania.

2011.

sunny

Hand painted eggs, Bucharest - Bucharest

Hand painted eggs, Bucharest - Bucharest

Bucharest.

Well we finally made it! I say we finally made it, because our trip to Bucharest was supposed to happen last year. What went wrong? Simple, I started reading about it. From what I read we were sure to be fined by ticket inspectors, have our passports stolen by false policemen, be robbed blind by gypsies, and all prior to being torn apart by marauding packs of wild dogs. Last year we made a sudden switch to Bulgaria (which has a similar bad press minus the dogs). The reality: we were occasionally asked for money by beggars who took no for an answer and did not pester us again, there were stray dogs, all of which totally ignored us, we encountered several ticket inspectors who just checked our tickets then went away, we did not encounter any gypsies or fake policemen. A genuine policeman helped us find our correct train in Brasov. Most of the people we encountered were friendly, pleasant and lovely. We had one or two minor negative moments but these can occur anywhere. Overall, I would give Romania a big thumbs up and would happily return.

Things to do:

We had limited time so could not possibly see everything. We lived in north Bucharest and spent our first evening looking at the Charles De Gaulle statue, the Arc de Triumph and Herastrau Park, next day we looked at University Place, Revolution Square, Part of the Calea Victoriei, Lipscani, Cismigiu Park and the Casa Poporului. Final day boat trip in Herastrau and the Village Museum. Many things left undone but that is what the future is for, isn't it?.

This visit:

This visit to Romania involved visiting Bucharest, Brasov, Bran Castle, Rasov Fortress and Sighisoara. For future visits I like the sound of Sinaia, Sibiu, Maramures and Constanta whether we ever get there or not remains to be seen.

Piata Revolutiei.

Revolution Square was quite fascinating to visit because it has experienced so much of recent history. It was from the former Communist Party Headquarters here in 1989 that Ceausescu made his famous speech that went out live on Romanian TV. During his speech he was booed and heckled by the busloads of miners he has bused in to support him. You can look at the balcony he made this speech from. On the opposite side of the square is the former royal palace ­ now the art museum. In the centre is a monument to those killed in the revolution - which is irreverently called the olive on the stick by locals. There is also the university library, the former securitate building which was rebuilt after the revolution with its original stone bottom and a modern glass top. In addition there is the beautiful Cretulescu Church.

Former Communist Party H.Q. with olive on stick - Bucharest

Former Communist Party H.Q. with olive on stick - Bucharest

Cretulescu Church - Bucharest

Cretulescu Church - Bucharest

Former Securitate Building - Bucharest

Former Securitate Building - Bucharest

Monument Revolution Square - Bucharest

Monument Revolution Square - Bucharest

Shower bus shelters.

Beat the summer heat by strolling through one of Bucharest's shower shelters. I think this is a great idea and am surprised I have never come across it before in other hot countries. We saw people roller blade through it as well as walk through it.

Shower bus shelters

Shower bus shelters

Charles de Gaulle Statue.

Have a look at the Charles de Gaulle statue on Charles de Gaulle Square outside Herastrau Park near Aviatorilor Metro Station. It is quite an interesting one and shows Romania's interest in all things French.

Charles de Gaulle Statue

Charles de Gaulle Statue

Calea Victoriei.

This road has many beautiful buildings and monuments. We only walked one stretch of it (from just above Revolution Square to the end of Lipscani) the rest will have to wait for future visits. Highlights for us were the Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel, the Atheneum, the buildings of Piata Revolutiei, Cercul Militar and the Odeon.

The Atheneum - Bucharest

The Atheneum - Bucharest

The Circul Militar - Bucharest

The Circul Militar - Bucharest

Old Town.

The old town area, otherwise known as Lipscani, is a total mess, yet fascinating. Many of the streets were ripped up years ago; then due to a dispute were left ripped up rather than repaved. Some are currently being repaired. There are wonderful buildings, beautifully restored, right next to derelict buildings, falling down where they stand. The whole area is covered in restaurants and bars and despite everything is a great place for a drink or a meal. Highlights include the Old Court (Curtea Veche) once the palace of Vlad Tepes aka Dracula, the Old Court Church, the Hanul Lui Manuc ­ a former inn. From the outside this looks derelict and a mess. From the inside it is a lovely posh restaurant/hotel. There are also several churches such as the Russian Church and Stavropoleos Church. There are many beautiful bank buildings. You will also find the famous Caru cu restaurant) here. Well worth a stroll, just watch out for the bulldozers! Address: Lipscani street and around.

Stavropoleos Church - Bucharest

Stavropoleos Church - Bucharest

Elegant eateries - Bucharest

Elegant eateries - Bucharest

Inside  Hanul Lui Manuc - Bucharest

Inside Hanul Lui Manuc - Bucharest

The old princely court of Vlad Tepes - Bucharest

The old princely court of Vlad Tepes - Bucharest

Cismigiu Gardens.

This is a pretty park in the centre of Bucharest. The park centres around a large lake. Even on the hottest day there are shady places to rest here. Watch the old boys playing chess or other board games; hire a boat and go for a row; have a drink or meal in one of the park's restaurants or cafes; enjoy the flowers; take a look at the park's many statues or just enjoy a leisurely stroll.

Bucharest has beautiful parks - Bucharest

Bucharest has beautiful parks - Bucharest

Pretty flowers and lakes - Bucharest

Pretty flowers and lakes - Bucharest

Fountains and boats. - Bucharest

Fountains and boats. - Bucharest

The Palace of Parliament.

This building is testimony to Ceausescu's madness. It is the second largest administrative building in the world and led to Ceausescu razing large parts of Bucharest to build it. It was still not finished at the time of his execution. We did not go inside as we did not want to pre-book and hang around waiting for an organized tour. One thing you can say is it is certainly big.

My husband outside the Palace of Parliament - Bucharest

My husband outside the Palace of Parliament - Bucharest

Street based on Champs Elysee leading P of P - Bucharest

Street based on Champs Elysee leading P of P - Bucharest

The Arc de Triumf.

Located on Soseaua Kiseleff. This is worth having a look at when you visit either Herestrau Park or the Village Museum. Quite impressive.

Triumph Arch - Bucharest

Triumph Arch - Bucharest

Herastrau Park.

Beautiful Park in northern Bucharest with lakes and flower gardens and statues and restaurants. Hire a rowing boat here or go on a circular cruise for 5 RON. The cruise gives you good views towards the Casa Presei Libere. Get here by taking the metro to Aviatorilor Station.

flower gardens - Bucharest

flower gardens - Bucharest

More flower filled gardens - Bucharest

More flower filled gardens - Bucharest

View towards Casa Presse Libere - Bucharest

View towards Casa Presse Libere - Bucharest

The Village Museum.

The Village Museum borders Herastrau Park, but its entrance is on Soseaua Kiseleff. You cannot enter it from the park. Entrance is 6Ron. It is open on Mon 9 to 5, Tues to Sun 9 to ­7. The museum contains buildings from all over Romania including different styles of houses, windmills, farms, water mills, fisheries, churches and even an old merry go round. You can buy craft items here. Children can try to make some of the craft items. There is a lot to see. We spent a happy 3 hours here. There is a gift shop and snack bar here, too.

Old wooden church at the Village Museum - Bucharest

Old wooden church at the Village Museum - Bucharest

Merry-go-round - Bucharest

Merry-go-round - Bucharest

Interesting old houses. - Bucharest

Interesting old houses. - Bucharest

View towards Village Museum - Bucharest

View towards Village Museum - Bucharest

Romanian clay figures. - Bucharest

Romanian clay figures. - Bucharest

Orthodox Church.

We discovered a beautiful church on Bdul Marasti near the Arc de Triomf. We think it is the Manistirea Casin. There was a rugby stadium nearby, too. We did not get a chance to look inside, just observed from outside.

University Square.

This area saw fierce fighting during the 1989 revolution. The graves of some of the revolutionaries are located on a traffic island next to the square. The square contains the university and a theatre currently undergoing renovation. It is a traffic clogged nightmare of a place but has a useful metro station. We saw this odd sculpture there. Not entirely sure what it is but it was quite intriguing.

Sculpture, University square - Bucharest

Sculpture, University square - Bucharest

Posted by irenevt 18:41 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]