Brasov – Nestled in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania
When entering the city of Brasov (pronounced Bra-shov), Romania you might for a split second think you’ve arrived in Hollywood.
But lowering your eyes will instantly bring you back to the medieval Brasov with its beautifully old buildings and quaint town-like qualities. Brasov’s old center makes you feel like you have transported to another time. Not because the people dress from medieval times, but because the buildings are original with their double-doored windows and the quieter streets.
Walking around the center of Brasov in the early morning was like being in a whole new world. Different than other European cities – it has its own rhythm. The expensive clothing shops open, the terraces are dotted with couples drinking coffee and the waiters are cordially chatting while they smoke outside the restaurant entrance. Ordering a coffee and a pastry for breakfast was so pleasant compared to other cities I’ve visited. Even though Brasov is a big city, you will be treated with wholesome small-town charm and genuine smiles.
The central square, Piata Sfatului, has the tall while city hall and just around the corner you can see the back of the Black Church. What makes this church unique is that it was Roman-Catholic for more than a century and a half and then became Lutheran after the reformation. Services are still held in this church on Sundays for the small German community. As true of all the Romanian “tourist attractions” I saw, the Black Church kept its authenticity. There is a plaque inside the church on a column where bullet holes can be seen from the Romanian Revolution (1989). The Black Church is also home to hundreds of hand-woven carpets and the originals hang from the top balcony inside the church and on the walls. The carpets were given as gifts to the church from its many visitors.
I could have walked around the city for hours with no destination looking at the old houses and tight alleys. As Brasov was only a day trip, it wasn’t possible to try to get lost in cracks of the city. So up to the gondola it was. You can see that a wall and a moat surrounded the city. The water is now gone and the valley it created in the land was used. I saw one part that was turned into a children’s play area.
Looking down over the red-roofed city, you can see the Black Church, City Hall, White Tower and Black Tower. The towers being lookout posts in older times. In a ten minute walk you can reach the Hollywood – I mean Brasov sign. You can look behind it over the city and then step onto the platform for an eagle eye’s view. You can clearly see where the old city was and how water surrounded it. Brasov expanded on both sides of the old city and it started to fill the whole valley. You can also see the Carolinenthor Castle on top of the adjacent mountain. It was also surrounded by a wall and built in the 15th century. The top of the mountain was busy with other people snapping photos and enjoy the view, but there is enough room for you to get to the edge of the platform and enjoy for as long as you want without being pushed out of the way or having someone try to take photos over your shoulder.
Timing was lucky because as soon as I reached the Piata Sfatului after visiting the mountain top and sat down to enjoy a coffee, the rain came down in buckets. It was the beginning of August when I visited Brasov and the average daily temperature in Bucharest was 30 degrees.
Traveler’s Tip: Brasov is a mountain city, so make sure to bring warmer clothing for your visit and an umbrella could come in handy too. If you plan to take the gondola up the mountain to see the Brasov sign and the city view, bring runners because it is a mountain and so the terrain is rocky and uneven. It also requires some steep climbing.
After wandering around for a while longer, the day was almost over so the last stop on the way back to the hotel was going up to the Carolinenthor Castle . The first thing you should know about visiting the Castle is that the road is very steep and narrow, so if you’re a little afraid of heights you might want to close your eyes until you reach the top. The second thing you should know is the Carolinenthor Castle probably looks the same on the outside as it did when it was built in 1580, but its interior has been transformed into fancy restaurants. It appears that the Castle is now used mostly for weddings, with the massive kitchens with delicious smells filling courtyards, the tables lined with white table clothes and shiny silverware and the lantern-lined courtyard overlooking the empty valley on the other side of Brasov. It would be a beautiful place for a wedding since its quite private, beautiful and has everything needed for a wedding reception.
Stopping for one last look over the old city and looking at the Brasov sign, it was then time to head back down the mountain and on to the hotel.
Brasov is a beautiful city to visit, but make sure to go for more than a day. There is just too many things to see and the rest of the time can be spent wandering around because you will surely find something medieval.
Have you ever been to a medieval city? What was the most interesting thing you saw?
Until next time,