10 things you didn’t know about Transylvania

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Transylvania is one of the most beautiful tourist areas in Romania, attracting every year a growing number of tourists. It has a lot of interesting attractions whose beauty is also recognized across the border, so some of them have been included in various international rankings, furthering the interest of visitors. However, here are some things that you probably didn’t know about this beautiful region.

1. The oldest medieval complex from Romania is in Sibiu

The historical center of Sibiu is the largest medieval urban ensemble in Romania, with many vestiges preserved from that period, starting from public buildings, living houses to walls and defense towers. From the four defense centers of Sibiu until now numerous elements have been preserved. The first enclosure was in Huet Square from which only the Stairs Tower and traces of former walls in the cellars of some houses have been preserved. The second enclosure still exists through the Council Tower and the Goldsmiths Tower.

The central squares of the city also have a great deal of architectural and historical significance. In the squares and on the streets of the historic center, you can see all kinds of historical buildings, houses inhabited by personalities who made a name for themselves in the country and abroad through the result of their work. Buildings in various architectural styles are distinguished by the shape of the skylights, the roof, through frames and shutters.

2. A Transylvanian village is named one of the most beautiful places in Europe

A village in Transylvania is ranked among the most beautiful places in Europe. At Rimetea, time seems to have stopped in the 1800s. White houses, centuries old, are protected by law. It is the first rural locality to have been awarded by the European Commission in 1999 with the Europa Nostra Award for the preservation of cultural and architectural heritage.

When you get to Rimetea you have the impression that you have entered another world. Of the approximately 300 homes, more than half are white, preserving the architecture of the 19th century. From the Middle Ages until 1876, the locality was part of the Aries Szekler Chair. In the eight centuries of uninterrupted habitation, Rimetea has experienced several antagonistic periods, oscillating from the state of medieval village to that of a thriving city in the 17th-18th centuries and having a long decline from the end of the nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century when it became simply a village at the foot of the Apuseni Mountains.

3.“Couples therapy” in medieval Transylvania

At Biertan in the eastern bastion of the medieval fortress, there was a special room where, for two weeks, the couples who were having problems were closed. In the narrow room, the two shared a small table and a single bed, a single dish, a single cutlery and a single cup of water. That’s how it happens that over time, it is said that only one pair remained unwavering in the decision to split, all the other couples coming out there reconciled, forgetting the thought of divorce. Although everyone visits the Biertan reconciliation chamber, it is not the only place of such “couples therapy” in Transylvania.

4. Transylvania was once an exotic island

Transylvania was once an archipelago of exotic, volcanic islands with small, azure waters and tropical vegetation. Sometime meaning about 120 million years ago. At that time, the “ tourists” from these islands were countless species of dwarf dinosaurs and their bones were found in various regions such as Hateg and Bihor.

5. The oldest tree in Romania is found in Transylvania

The oldest tree in Romania is said to be an oak near Brasov, which is supposed to be about 900 years old. So, it comes as no surprise that oaks have an important place in the Romanian tradition.

At the edge of Mercheasa village, on a hill where the cattle and sheep of the people of the place are today grazing, there is an oak that has witnessed many events during the history of Transylvania. The tree was witness to the founding of Transylvania, and that’s because experts say it’s over 900 years old. A typical oak to reach a diameter of 70 centimeters needs 120 years. This oak has a diameter of 9.3 meters and a height of over 21 meters. The huge trunk is the one that really shows how old he Mercheasa oak is. And that’s because the tree has a circumference of over 9 meters and can’t be surrounded by less than 8 people.

6. One of the oldest cities in Europe was in Transylvania

Near the Mures River the Neolithic settlement from Turda was discovered, that dates back to the pyramids because it belongs to the Vinca-Turdas culture, contemporary with the early stage of the Cucuteni culture (5,700 – 4,500 BC).

Romanian historians even say it is the first city in Transylvania, and among the first in Europe. The area researched by archaeologists from Sibiu was about 11 hectares, considered to be immense, far above any standard in Europe. The settlement, estimated at 100 hectares of land, was actually a city, proven by the existence of wooden fortifications, one of them probably used for some frightening rituals, given the discovery of traces of human sacrifices on the ground. The city had a fortification system with reinforced gates and wooden towers.

It also appears that the Turdas settlement was also a regional production and distribution center for ceramics, proven by the discovery of a large number of ceramic furnaces and pottery, from pots to anthropomorphic statues that represent royalty – most likely some of the first kings of the European continent!

7.The legend of the Bathory sisters

An interesting tourist attraction in the city of Cluj-Napoca can be found in Union Square, at number 27, the so-called Filstich House, after the name of the goldsmith who owned it. Here lived in the 17th century Anna Bathory. She was the cousin of the infamous Elisabeth Bathory, who is said used to bathe the blood of virgins. Apparently, Anna Bathory also had this bloody habit.

She lived between 1594 and 1636 and was accused of black magic, or witchcraft to be more precise. Moreover, she was also suspected of incestuous ties with her brother, Prince Gabriel Bathory. She has been subjected to trials for seven years, lawsuits filed by Prince Gabriel Bethleen, which led to the exile of this countess and the confiscation of her property. In fact, very likely, the real reason for the trials was the wealth of Anna Bathory.

8.The blue lake from Maramures

This lake with blue waters is simply known as the Blue Lake. It is located in Maramures County, on the administrative territory of Baia Sprie at the foot of the Gutai Mountains.

The legend says that some underground tunnels would connect the lake to the depths of the Black Sea, but the lake has only a depth of up to 4 m, the water being rainwater infiltrated in the works of an ancient mining excavation. The content of iron and melanterite, substances that come from the old mine, gives the lake its greenish-blue color.

It has a fairly strong chemical concentration, sulfuric acid being present in a concentration of 7.8 g per liter and the pH of the water is 4, but it is not dangerous and does not harm those who swim here. When the mine is flooded, the water gets a color green and when more people swim in it, it gets a strong blue tint.

9. An ancient calendar can be seen at Sarmizegetusa

Sarmizegetusa Regia, the capital of pre-roman Dacia was the most important religious and political center of that period, and a fortification system was built to defend the place. Sarmizegetusa, as well as its structure, had three parts: the civil settlement, the citadel, and the sacred area.

The sanctuaries of Sarmizegetusa were used, according to archaeological discoveries and historical research, to measure time, becoming a “calendar temple”. There are two sanctuaries, the small and the great circular sanctuary. Researches revealed that the Dacians had a calendar that was based on 13-year cycles, the Dacian year had 47 weeks, and the number of days in the year varied between 364 and 367 days. The Dacian century had, after the calculations, 104 years.

10.The “merry cemetery” from Transylvania

Becoming famous thanks to the crosses of the brightly colored tombs, with extremely suggestive paintings depicting scenes from the life and occupation of the people, the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta in Maramures is an objective not to be missed on the tourist map of Transylvania. The appearance of the cemetery, the way the crosses look and the short poems inspired by the lives of those at whose head they were laid impress the hundreds of tourists who visit it each year.

These are just some of the interesting things, places, and legends that you can discover if you travel to Transylvania, but this region has plenty of other surprises in store for those who decide to make it their next travel destination.


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