TRANSYLVANIA – General Information
The name of `Transylvania` comes from the Latin expression -Trans Silva – which means `the land beyond the forests`, due to the forests which covered the mountains in the area. Transylvania is one of the most important regions of Romania and of Europe as well. It is one of the provinces of medieval Romania which experienced difficult moments along the centuries. Transylvania is the place where the Romanian nation was born, and an important economic and cultural centre of this country.
And last, but not least, it is a region rich in natural and historical tourist attractions, being situated inside the arch of the Carpathians.
The main form of relief is the plateau, surrounded by hills, depressions and crossed by numberless rivers. The population in the area is over 3 million inhabitants who live in cities, towns or villages, each having its own specific architecture.
The climate is continental-temperate, in summer the temperature reaches 30 degrees Centigrade and in winter it sometimes reaches -23 degrees Centigrade.
The history of Transylvania is very old, starting from the Stone Age since when the first human vestiges were discovered. At the beginning of the Iron Age, inside the arch of the Carpathians, the Dacians` civilization reached a high level of material and spiritual culture, proved by the archaeological discoveries from Cioclovia, Ohaba-Ponor, Pecica-Cucuteni or Ariusd. After 1 A.D., the proofs about the Dacians` astronomic, medical knowledge, and spiritual life as well are more and more numerous (due to the archaeological discoveries and the written sources which show a level of culture similar to that of the ancient Greeks` or Egyptians` civilizations).
At Tartaria in Alba County archaeologists discovered some clay plates whose writing dated long before the famous plates evoked by N.D. Kramer in his work `History Begins From Sumer`. These plates date from the period between the Iron Age and the beginning of our era. It is more obvious than Transylvania gave the first writings to the world.
The ancestors of most European nations left towards the west from Transylvania as well. The Thracians (the great family of people the Dacians were part of as well) greatly contributed to the formation of the nation of whom the Italians` ancestors belonged to. These facts and many other proofs show that Transylvania was not only the area where the Romanian nation was born into, but also the one where many other European nations were born into as well. It also contributed to the development of writing, of astronomy, or of medicine. Many medicine plants used here in the ancient times are still used worldwide.
Later on, during the Middle Ages and the modern area as well (the 19th and the 20th centuries), Transylvania continued to be a promoter of culture and an important economic factor for the people here and for the Romanians in the other two provinces, Walachia and Moldavia. Due to its economic importance and its natural riches (gold, silver, salt, coal, wood, and grazing lawns), Transylvania has been an important strategic objective for the neighbouring nations in the neighbourhood since the Middle Ages. Around the year 1000 the Hungarians conquered Transylvania after the battles against the Romanian population and whom they mastered for almost nine centuries. During all this period, the Romanians fought incessantly for their rights for their independence and for the reunion with Walachia and Moldavia.
TRANSYLVANIA – TOURIST POTENTIAL
An important tourist attraction associated to the name of Transylvania is the legend about Count Dracula. The legend tells about the existence in Transylvania at the beginning of the Middle Ages of a prince, a bitter enemy of the Turks. Left for the battlefield, his enemies spread the news he might have been killed. Hearing that, his wife commits suicide. Back from the battlefield, the prince finds his wife dead and furious about God, he makes a covenant with the devil, becoming an immortal vampire forever looking his beloved wife`s figure and soul in every woman.
This legend has its origins in the old history of Romania in the times of Prince Vlad Dracul (the Devil), also called Tepes (the Impaler), as he punished his enemies or those who committed small crimes by impaling them. Using such harsh and bloody measures, he managed to make order in the country and he was not only loved, but also feared by the people.
His enemies who were not content about his policies, spread all sorts of untrue stories about him, considering him a blood-thirsty vampire, a real devil. So a legend was born.
Bran Castle is nowadays visited by thousands of tourists who consider it Dracula`s Castle. They do not know that Prince Vlad lived in the castle for a very short period. His real castle was not at Bran but somewhere else, in the south of Transylvania on the banks of the river Arges in the village of Poienari. He was not the Prince of Transylvania, but of Walachia.
It is true that he passed through Bran and Brasov, having commercial liaisons with this area which he also attacked several times in order to punish the Transylvanian Saxon merchants for their enemy trade policy. Bran stood for the commercial customs of Transylvania with Walachia.
This legend has its origins in the old history of Romania in the times of Prince Vlad Dracul (the Devil), also called Tepes (the Impaler), as he punished his enemies or those who committed small crimes by impaling them. For this reason, people travel safely in Walachia without fearing they might be robbed. Prince Vlad Dracul was also a feared enemy of the Turks, being the one who stopped their invasion towards the centre of Europe either alone or making military alliances.
The tourist potential of Transylvania does not stop at Dracula`s legend. In Transylvania there are numberless tourist and thermal resorts, wonderful nature landscapes, architectural or archaeological vestiges.
Among the places where one may spend one`s holidays, relax or practice winter sports one must mention Predeal, Poiana Brasov, Stana de Vale, Sovata, Baile Felix, Baile 1 Mai, Baile Bazna, Paltinis, Moneasa, Lipova, Borsa and many more. The hills, mountains and the plateau of Transylvania make the soul happy and relax the body. The waters which cross the land are rich in fish and they offer various opportunities of spending one`s free time: fishing, rafting and so on. The wines produced in the centre of Transylvania in the area of the Tarnava rivers are famous all over Europe and they have been served at the tables for all the kings and princes which came to this country.
Winter sports can be practiced no matter in what resort, but the best-known are of course Predeal and Poiana Brasov where, every winter, the modern hotels and the lighted ski slopes wait for the tourists to enjoy the Romanian winters.
Due to the multitude and the variety of its areas and its tourist attractions, Transylvania offers not only an attractive alternative of spending the holidays, but you will also experience the discovery of unique places in the world, of legends and stories, delicious food, good wines, high mountains to climb or do bungee-jumping, rapid waters to go rafting. You will also have the privilege to travel around a famous and legendary county not only due to Bram Stoker`s descriptions, but also to the history and the beauty of these places.
If you do not walk on this land, you will never understand those who have come and remained here for a while, have come back again and again or have never left at all.