Dear readers, it’s been a long time since I attempted to put words on a page so I’m very thankful to be back blogging about my own travel experiences. Since I last posted years ago, I have travelled to an abundance of countries in Europe and Asia so it will be a pleasure to share all the amazing places and adventures that transformed my perspective of life and the world. In this particular article I’m going to share with you one of the most memorable locations I’ve ever visited and probably my favourite city in Europe…so far.
A month long trip to Romania in the summer of 2020 was one of the most amazing trips I ever experienced. It had such an impact on me that I started a YouTube channel while in the villages of Romania! Putting that aside for now, let’s start with the City of Brașov, a mountain city in the heart of Transylvania. I spent around three days here and didn’t visit all of the sights but certainly got a taste of the momentous history and beauty of the city.
Brașov is packed full of history and incredible architecture and is surrounded by stunning mountain ranges and greenery. The quant restaurants and cafes make it a perfect location to enjoy local Romanian food, beer and coffee – at a very fair price! The Hollywood-styled Brașov sign on Tampa Mountain overlooking the city is a unique touch. There is simply so much to see and learn in this walled city that it’s almost overwhelming. It exceeded my expectations tenfold! From the gothic presence of the Black Church, to the fact that this region has the biggest bear population in Europe, the entirety of a trip here and to the surrounding areas really make for an eye-opening travel experience. Even the omnipresence of Dracula mythology is enough to get your imagination flowing in Transylvania.
For the amazing three nights here, I booked an apartment on Airbnb which costed around £30 per night and boasted one of the best views I’ve ever had from any accommodation I’ve ever stayed in. A view over the city with a mountain horizon filled me with excitement and I couldn’t wait to get onto the streets and start exploring the next morning. All over Romania, it is great value for money and you really do get more than what you pay for.
The next morning, I strolled into the heart of the city, to the historic market square which was once a central hub for trade and merchants in Europe and the surrounding buildings of the square reflect great architectural influence from Germany, Turkey and Hungary who all occupied the city at some point over the decades. The grand buildings of the whole city display creepy eye-shaped windows on their roofs and a visit to the Brasov City Hall in the middle of the square will teach you all about the deep history of the city and exhibits the many currencies and items that passed through the old market place. It is said that even the pied piper of Hamlet was said to have spotted in this very square!
A short walk around the corner of the square and I was gazing up at one of the largest gothic churches in Europe, the Black church. The reason it’s named the Black Church is because it was burnt to a crisp during one of the many occupations of the city. It actually took a whole century to complete the construction of the church due to constant invasions of the Turkish and Ausrto-Hungarian forces. Inside hangs many dated Turkish carpets, faded tapestries and a gigantic organ, built by a German organ maker in the 1800s.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this city, aside from the many points of interest is simply exploring the streets and soaking up the variety of colours and architectural styles of the buildings. For example, this narrow lane taking you closer to Tampa Mountain made for an interesting stroll.
It certainly is one of the most artistic cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of setting foot in. There are an abundance of small art galleries, graffiti-splashed walls and cute coffee shops to indulge in. Think small independent shops and cafe’s rather than the usual eye-sore of McDonald’s and Starbucks on every corner. This city is practically untouched by the grasp of big chain restaurants and corporations. It has certainly preserved it’s history and culture over the years.
One of the highlights of the excursion was escaping the fortified walls of the City and jumping on the cable car at the bottom of Tampa Mountain. The cable car takes you almost 1000 metres upwards towards the Brasov sign and to a fantastic view of the sprawling red rooftops of the city and beyond. From Tampa mountain you can see clearly the City Hall of Market Square and over the other side of the mountain overlooking the Transylvanian mountain ranges.
The aerial view from Tampa Mountain is mesmerising and really shows how beautiful the city is. The known presence of brown bears around the mountains of Transylvania does give you an uneasy feeling of caution and nervousness but I think you would be very
fortunate unfortunate to spot one on Tampa Mountain as it is always busy with tourists.
After my short stay in Brasov, I was more than inspired to visit other parts of Transylvania such as the famous Bran Castle, also known by some as ‘Dracula’s Castle’ and I also went to Busteni, a small town just outside the Transylvania region. There are a handful of other cities in Transylvania, such as Sibiu or Sighișoara, both of which I look forward to exploring in the future. For now, Romania will always hold a special place on my growing list of travel experiences and I’m yet to find a location more interesting and better value for money than this one.