Brasov is one of the most visited cities in Romania, being located at the foothill of Carpathians Mountains, in Transylvania region. It was first discovered by the Teutonic Knights who became the first settlers of the city, in 1211. They lay the foundation of a new settlement, giving to the city the Latin name of Corona, meaning Crown City.Having a tremendous location, at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and western Europe, Brasov became soon an cosmopolitan city.
The legend of Brasov
It is said that in the area of Brasov, long time ago a dangerous dragon made its living in the mountains near the city. He found a little cave on the heights of the mountains, called „Bethlen” cave where used to terrify the community by wreking everything in its path. One day, a young boy was passing through the forbiden area and while learning its prayers, he began to say the words out loud and he got swallowed by the dragon. The community soon find out about the tragedy, and a brave stranger find a way to help the little boy. He went to his father and offered to kill the monster. In exchange of his act of bravery, he was promised a great reward. The solution was simple: the stranger filled a calfskin with burnt lime and put the trap on a meadow, luring the giant dragon who got in the trap and swallowed the calfskin with ravenous appetite. It felt then deeply thirsty so it flew to the nearest water to quench its thirst. But the burnt lime began to absorb the water and engirt so hard that the dragon cracked. This is how it was saved the young boy who was still living inside the dragon. In memory of the miraculous saving of his son, the grateful father ordered his subjects to carve the image of the dragon on the wall climbing Tampa hill, from the eastern corner of the town to the cattle shelter on Tampa heights.
Being a city with saxonic influence, we will find numerous landmarks in a walking tour of the city:
The Black Church – the largest religious settlement in Gothic style from south-eastern Europe, being raised on the ruins of an ancient Roman basilica. The cathedral was built in the XIV century and today it shelters the largest collection of Anatolian carpets in Europe. The name of „Black Church” was given by the community of Brasov, after a a fire in 1689 blackened its outer walls. The exterior of the church has a small detail which hides an intersting legend: on the toop of the roof, there is a statue of what appears to be a small boy. One story goes that, during the church’s construction, the best builder was actually a young boy of about 14. Some of the older men were jealous of the boy and his skills, and he “accidentally” fell off the roof before the church was finished. In his honour, it was build a statue.
The fortified walls of the city – The Old Town of Brasov consists of what used to be the Saxons’ fortified town. The walls and watch towers have been restored (partly using UNESCO funds) in recent years, and a real nice experience is to get up at least on one of the towers. We are sure that you will not regret this action, because the view from the Black Tower may well be the best view in the city.
The City Center – the center of Brasov is Piata Sfatului, where a huge open square is always filled to the brim on nice summer evenings. Cafes serving traditional Romanian dishes, ice cream vendors, street performers dressed up like Jack Sparrow and other type of entertainment, it will be found it here. Mount Tampa – is a small forested mountain with great views out over the city and surrounding region, rising 900 meters above Brasov. You can hike up the mountain (it takes roughly an hour each way), or you can take the funicular up for a few dollars. Either way we recommend to climb if the weather is nice.
In the winter time, Brasov is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts who literally take over the ski slopes in Poiana Braşov, a well-known ski resort near Braşov. Once every few years, the city’s central square is floodlit and Brasov gets glamorous for the Golden Stag international music festival, the second largest festival after the Eurovision.
When to visit:
The best time to come to Brasov may be in the spring during the week directly before the Orthodox Easter. During this time, the city plays host to a festival called The Days of Brasov which brings many of the country’s top craftsmen together for a celebration of Romanian food, wine, and culture.
The Beer Festival is another event that draws a good crowd, being held in fall and having plenty of good live music, tasty grilled meats, and, of course, a wide selection of Romanian beers.