About the name Transylvania or Transilvania (from Latin – “the land beyond the forest”)
Location Central Romania – surrounded by the arc of the Carpathian mountain chain
Main cities Alba Iulia, Bistrita, Brasov, Cluj Napoca, Medias, Miercurea Ciuc, Sebes, Sibiu, Sighisoara, Targu Mures
Transylvania and the surrounding Carpathians are among the last remaining unspoiled natural environments in Europe. The largest historical Romanian provence lyes in the middle of the country and is surrounded by the Carpathian mountains. It’s name “Transylvania” aswell as the other old romanian names describe the region very well: “the region between the forrests”.
Transylvania’s history is strongly connected to the Hungarian and the Austrian Empires as german settlers arrived in this area already 800 AD and Transylvania was included in the Hungarian and afterwards in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire until the end of WWI when it united with the other Romanian provences to forme the state of Romania.
But it’s history is much older, as several regions and towns of Transylvania are attested more than 2000 years ago and bear latin or greek names. Inspite the german influence for over 1000 years, the territory preserves it’s romanian / latin character and culture, which makes Transylvania even more interesting.
Saxon heritage – main cities
Transylvania is home to some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, most notably Brasov, featuring Old Saxon architecture and citadel ruins; Sibiu with its cobblestone streets and pastel-colored houses, and Sighisoara, adorned with a hilltop citadel, secret passageways and a 14th century clock tower. Tiny shops offer antiques and fine hand-made products by local artisans and artists.
Visitors to Transylvania will also encounter stunning castles such Bran, near Brasov, – a Gothic fairy-tale structure, often associated with 15th century Walachian Prince Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While the connection with Vlad is tenuous, the deep bond of local villagers with the legend is not.
Attractions to be explored in Transylvania:
- Some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns: Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara
- Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle), built in 1377
- Rasnov Fortress – built in the 1300s by the Teutonic Knights to protect Transylvania against the Tartars and the Turks
- The Saxon fortified churches at Biertan, Calnic, Harman, Darjiu, Prejmer, Saschiz, Valea Viilor, and Viscri – all designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites
- Transylvania’s finest art museum – the Bruckenthal Palace in Sibiu
- Marginimea Sibiului, an area northwest of Sibiu home to more than 18 traditional villages
- The Museum of Glass-Painted Icons in Sibiel, the largest of its kind in Europe
- The city of Hunedoara with its 14th-century Gothic Corvinilor Castle
- The Dacian Fortresses at Sarmisegetuza (UNESCO World Heritage List).
- Transylvania is also home to St. Anna Lake which is the only volcano lake in Europe that is still intact. Enjoy great views from the tree lined shore and then head over to any one of the numerous parks that are free to the public.
- If you’re planning to visit in the winter, be sure to check out Poiana Brasov, a ski resort that’s popular with the locals because of it’s pristine powder and fantastic mountain views all around. Also, the Saxon Villages located all throughout the area are home to people who still live like their modest ancestors and are very willing to show you how they conduct their daily lives. The two largest villages are Viscri and Biertan.
- The wineries in the countryside offer a look into the fabulous wines produced daily. Tarnave Vineyards offer tours, free taste testing and are open for visitors almost year round. Jidvci Winery has wine tastings every day and allows you to gain insight on the production and fermentation of their local wines.
Although Transylvania is home to the beloved Dracula, the sights and land around it is makes Transylvania truly unique.