5 things you need to know about Transylvania

30 October 2019 14:42

The Black Church in Brasov towers over the city medieval

The Black Church in Brasov towers over the city medieval

Transylvania is synonymous with Halloween but there's more than meets the eye to this eclectic region of central Romania.

1. It's a bear-spotting hotspot

A visit to Transylvania wouldn't be complete without a hike up the Carpathian Mountains. Aside from lynx and wolves, the area is home to Europe's largest population of brown bears. As many as 5,000 of the solitary mammals can be found amongst the oak and beech forests feeding on berries, apples and nuts. Hides are dotted around the popular Stramba Valley, allowing visitors to observe the incredible creatures in the wild.

2. You'll be surrounded by thermal springs

Arthritis? Aching muscles? Cardiovascular problems? The thermal springs of Transylvania are said to offer relief from them all. Felix Baths in Nagyvárad is one of the oldest spas in the region and over 17 million litres of spring water race to the surface here every day. Similar spas can be found across the region combining modern facilities and healing springs.

3. It's home to the capital of an ancient kingdom

If you're not familiar with the ancient Dacian empire, modern day Transylvania is the perfect place to get acquainted. The Stonehenge-esque, UNESCO-protected site at Sarmizegetusa Regia was the epicentre of an empire that had its heyday between 1BC and 1AD. The ancestors of modern-day Romanians were described by the Roman poet Ovid as strongly built and the best embodiment of the god Mars. Gold treasures found at the site can now be found in National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest.

4. It oozes romance and old school charm

From the cobbled streets of Sibiu – voted by Forbes in 2008 as one of Europe's most idyllic places to live - to the biggest gothic church between Istanbul and Vienna in Bra?ov, you couldn't accuse Transylvania of lacking character. Sibiu is a small town filled with picturesque passageways and magnificent squares as well as a wide range of art galleries. For the adrenaline-fuelled traveller Brasov sits on the edge of the Poiana Bra?ov resort, a snow sport hotspot.

5. Dracula was real

We couldn't cover five things you should know about Transylvania without mentioning Vlad Dracula. Bram Stoker's 1897 vampire novel was inspired by tales of Vlad the Impaler and his real-life exploits. Nestled among dense forest, crowds flock to Bran Castle to understand the bloodthirsty ruler better, but many seem unaware that Vlad's real home can be found in Poienari Citadel in Wallachia. It's easy to forget that the much-vaunted Vlad actually killed around 80,000 people.

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