Transylvania – The Fairytale Land
I call this part Transylvania – the fairytale land because this is how it feels to me: a fairytale land! I was very proud when Lonely Planet selected it The #1 Region to visit in 2016, but only now I understand why! As you might know, Transylvania is the most famous region of Romania and I hope this is due more to its beauty and diversity and less to the Dracula legend.
Transylvania’s landscape is spectacular, starting from the mountains, valleys, beautiful roads, numerous castles (Peles, Pelisor, Bran, Corvin etc), and fortified churches to charming old towns or modern cities (Cluj, Sibiu, Brasov, ALba Iulia, Sighisoara etc)! This region has got it all. During my 3 day trip I managed to see only a part of it but I already promised that I will go back and see ALL of it!
So as I mentioned in the title, this is the second part of my trip through this wonderful part of my country. The first part was about Transalpina, the most spectacular road in Romania! So go ahead and check that one first, if you haven’t done it yet. I’ll wait for you 🙂 .
Ok. Ready for Part 2 now? Here we go:
After the long and exciting drive on Transalpina, we needed a place to relax and rest for the night. And I wanted something nice and picturesque. Enter….
1. Cincis Lake
Tip: pronounced Chinchish
This lake is situated at the outskirts of Hunedoara city (about 10 km away).
We preferred to find accommodation here instead of the city as I have seen some really beautiful pics of the lake and I was dying to take a sunset picture there. If you know me by now, you should also know that I am addicted to sunsets and I am obsessed with taking sunset photos. Yes, yes, we all have our “issues” 😉 .
In addition to that, the area seemed very chilled and relaxed and after so many hours on Transalpina, it was the perfect place to relax and rest over night.
Unfortunately, by sunset time it got a bit cloudy and hazy and this is the best I could get, but it should still give you a pretty good idea about the place.
2. Corvin Castle
The castle is located in the Hunedoara city, connected to Sibiu through A1 highway for some 100+ km.
Also called the Hunyad Castle, it was built in the 15th century and nowadays it is one of the best preserved and interesting medieval castles in Europe. In 2011, Lonely Planet included it in top 10 fairytale castles in Europe. And that is not all: the same LP also considers it the scariest castle in Romania!!! Indeed, even scarier than Bran Castle, which, by the way, is also located in Transylvania. This latter one gained its fame more as Dracula Castle.
But back to Corvin Castle. I am not going to bore you with all the history because, if you are interested, you can easily find heaps of information about it. However I want to tell you that this castle is indeed a spectacular sight! Not only does it boast impressive and stunning gothic architecture, but it is also the subject of numerous legends and the rooms and passage ways are proofs of that. Think torture chambers, narrow staircases and passage ways, many cellars, towers, impressive banquet halls, secret rooms, a chapel, an impressive draw-bridge and so much more!
No wonder then that the castle is a also movie star! Seriously! Here are some movies filmed here: Lady of the castle, Ghost Rider 2, What about love, Fright night, Drangonheart 4 (in 2016). Not too shabby right?
With so much to offer, I recommend visiting it with a guide . In this way you will manage to really get into the atmosphere and truly appreciate it. And with all the gadgets of our modern world you understand that the guide does not have to be a person obviously…
Tip: I used Tourpipe’s Guide Romania app and it was perfect.
3. Alba Carolina Citadel
This is popularly called Alba Iulia (or short , Alba) from the name of the city where it is located.
This fortress is of utmost importance for the Romanian people, as this is where the unification of Romania and the formation of the pressent state (with its current boundaries) was proclaimed. The day when the proclamation took place (Dec 1st, 1918) became our national day (called Unification Day) . And each year, the two main places where this is celebrated are Bucharest and Alba Iulia.
The fortress was build at the beginning of the 17th century and it is one of the largest of its kind in Eastern Europe. Its perimeter is approximately 12 km and it has 6 gates: 3 towards the town and 3 towards the fields.
2 cathedrals can also be found on the premise: an orthodox and a catholic one. Again, I highly recommendto take a guided tour not only to understand the history, but also to be able to cover the extended premises and discover hidden corners.
4. Sibiu city
Sibiu is one of the most famous and charming cities of Romania. Its (international) popularity grew extensively since 2007, when it was declared the European capital of culture. Due to its location, in the heart of Transylvania, Sibiu is a very diverse city with a very strong German influence. The city was colonized in the 12 century, by the Saxons coming from the Rhine- Moselle region. As a result of that, it also received a German name: Hermannstadt, which was used until the beginning of the 19th century when it became Sibiu.
Sibiu is perfect for a city break and it won’t disappoint, regardless of the type of traveler visiting it. Its centre is the greatest medieval ensemble in Romania and the city managed to preserve a lot of the period atmosphere too. Some of the streets are quite narrow and mostly one way and the city center is closed to traffic.
Throughout the years, Sibiu ranked highly in may tops as one of the most charming or idyllic cities in Europe.
If you want to see more of Sibiu, I am already preparing a separate photo essay 😉 .
5. Olt Defile
Ok, this is not really part of Transylvania but it was the last lag of my trip and I am including it here because is too beautiful not to.
Olt is the name of the river crossing this region (also crossing my home town) and therefore giving its name.
Here is an interesting fact, that I just learned myself: Olt river is the longest river (615km!) flowing exclusively through Romania!
Its defile is (47km) is the also the longest defile in Romania and one of the most picturesque regions. Aside from the beautiful nature, the defile is famous for its monasteries, as well as thermal water resorts.
The most popular sight here is Cozia Monastery, one of the oldest and most complex medieval monuments in the country. It was built in the 14th century and it is housing the tomb of Mircea cel Batran (Mircea the Elder).
The monastery is located within the premises of Cozia National Park, which is a protected area and it is home to a wide variety of ecosystems. The small but beautiful Lotrisor waterfall can also be admired in the park.
Tip: I recommend leaving your car at the entrance of the park as there is a beautiful trek to the waterfall, about 3km long.
As I mentioned earlier, the area abounds in monasteries and they are all looking like little corners of heaven. So, I strongly recommend not to miss them…well, at least some of them. They are always located in lush places, adorned with thousands of colourful flowers and offer a peaceful escape from “worldly” life.
With that, I concluded my 3 days trip and went home relaxed, happy and proud to see how beautiful my country is.
I hope you enjoyed my journey too and that I managed to convince you that Romania is a very special and beautiful country with a lot to offer! If you have any questions or comments, I would be happy to answers them. You can send them either thorugh the comments below or through direct contact: email, FB, IG, Twitter etc.
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To be continued….