Romania, for many an unknown Eastern European country located on the Black Sea. With the fall of communism and accession to the European Union, the country has become more accessible to foreigners. Transylvania is a province of Romania whose rich history and culture has much to offer, as can be read in the article below.
2,000 years ago Transylvania belonged to the Dacian Empire. The capital of the Dacian Empire was located in Transylvania. Around the year 100 AD, the Dacian Empire became increasingly powerful and therefore a danger to the Roman Empire. Emperor Trajan therefore decided to conquer Dacia, which led to the Romanization of ancient Dacia. During the conquest the capital was completely destroyed. Under Roman rule, cities such as Alba Lulia and Cluj-Napoca grew into major cities. In the 8th and 9th centuries AD, the first Magyars (now Hungarians) arrived in the area and settled there. They made Transylvania a principality. This principality was conquered by the Mongols in the following centuries and reclaimed by the Magyars in the 14th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries, many Flemish and German settlers settled in Transylvania. In the 13th century there were some heavy raids by Mongol warriors that destroyed many of the German and Flemish settlements. More and more Romanians came from the Carpathians (mountain range located in the central part of present-day Romania) and settled in the countryside of Transylvania. From this moment on, the Romanian influence on Transylvania increased and the Hungarian influence decreased. After the Battle of Mohàcs in 1526, the Hungarian Kingdom was defeated by the Ottoman Empire. A large part of the Hungarian kingdom passed to the Habsburg Austrians, another large part went to the Ottoman Empire. Transylvania became a semi-independent state of the Ottoman Empire and also became a principality. From 1683, when the Ottomans lost more and more battles to the Austrians, Transylvania became part of the Habsburg Empire. In 1711, the then reigning monarch of Transylvania was replaced by a governor appointed by the Habsburgs. After the revolution in 1848, Transylvania became more autonomous and the principality was restored. This lasted until 1867 when Austrians made Transylvania part of Hungary again with the help of Russian troops. After the First World War, Transylvania was assigned to the Kingdom of Romania. During the Second World War, Transylvania was briefly part of Hungary, after the Second World War it became part of Romania again. Romania was liberated by the Soviet Union, in the next elections after the end of the war the communist party became the largest party (as a result of vote manipulation). Romania thus became part of the USSR. Ceaucescu came to power in 1965. Under his rule, Romania built up enormous public debts that were repaid by the end of his reign, but at the expense of the Romanian population, which was highly impoverished. In 1989, Ceauçescu was deposed and executed along with his wife. Romania has been westernizing since 1989 and joined the EU on January 1, 2007.
Important Transylvanian cities
This second largest city in Romania has its origins in the 2nd century BC. Thanks to the presence of a multilingual university, Cluj is a real university city with many students. After the fall of communism, prosperity increased, which led to the city’s infrastructure being greatly improved. Recently (2009) a completely new shopping center was built. Major attractions within the city are the 15th century cathedral, botanical gardens and various museums. The city is located between the hills, making it worthwhile to explore the area outside the city.
Sibiu was founded in the 12th century AD by German emigrants. In 2007, Sibiu was the cultural capital of Europe (together with Luxembourg). The city is characterized by old German and Viennese architectural styles. An important attraction in the city is the Brukenthal museum, which houses works by many late medieval and Renaissance painters from all over Europe.
Braşov is an old medieval city located at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. The city is therefore an ideal starting point to explore the mountainous surroundings. There are several ski lifts available, and the mountains can of course also be explored on foot. The main attraction in the city is the Black Church (the walls are blackened as a result of a fire in 1689). Braşov is also notorious for the visits that hungry bears make in winter in search of leftovers.
Transylvania has many unspoilt nature reserves where you can walk to your heart’s content. There are also several ski resorts. The north of Transylvania is mainly rural with many characteristic villages with wooden churches.
Signs of Transylvania’s turbulent past are visible in many Transylvanian cities. Roman buildings are still visible here and there, and many buildings from the Middle Ages are also well preserved. The thing most people will recognize Transylvania from is Count Dracula. The character created by Bram Stoker is probably derived from Vlad Dracula, a Buddhist ruler from the 15th century. The precise location of his castle is not known, there are several castles that claim to be Dracula’s castle. In Transylvania, in addition to the Romanian culture, there is also a Hungarian culture. The Hungarians are a minority, which is still a sensitive subject due to past events.