May 31, 2010

Why Should I Care?: My Response

Normally I do not do this but I feel the need to write this post. Someone sent me an email asking me in essence why should I care about Transylvania?

Well, fine they do have a point except for one small thing... well, I care. I might be the only one who does care about a small place such as this, but I will give you my response.

"I care because Transylvania is a part of me, and is a part of my history, I have not been as great in writing this blog as I could, I have not been showing the passion I could, but really, it is a land I am passionate about the Transylvania I love will always be a part of me, and will always show the best to others.

It has created legends, and myths and people and of history. I can say I care about the history more, but the land is what I love as well. Even right down to water buffalo. Yes, true, you might not believe it but true.

I care and I think I have some more work to do, but only to show my passion better."

So, my question who loves Transylvania?

May 29, 2010

What makes Transylvania so Great?

The things about Transylvania which make people come back and want to talk about the area is its history. Most people forget about the reason that Transylvania is so great. Each city and town has a unique history and most tourists or people with an interest in Transylvania do not realize this fact.

Transylvania has hundreds of town and cities, and often some of the larger cities which people say are a part of Transylvania are not. For example the city of Timisoaria is a part of the Banat, which most people will say is a part of Transylvania.

Alba Iluia is a city within Transylvania. It is the center of the Romanian culture. This was where King Ferdinand and Queen Marie of Romanian were crowned as king and Queen of Greater Romania in 1922. As Transylvania was not a part of Romania when they ascended the throne in 1914, they could not have been crowned there. It was due to the end of the First World War that Alba Iluia and the rest of Transylvania became a part of Romania.

Alba Iluia then is a part of what makes Transylvania great.

May 27, 2010

A Short History of Transylvania as People saw it.

I love writing about Transylvania, I really do, but still some of the best reasons to write come in the form of comments. In this case when writing about where is Transylvania, often the comments back come with "that is where vampires live." No, not exactly. In fact not correct at all... unless of course you love the writings of Bram Stoker.

People make up a lot of the dynamics they way others saw Transylvania in Romania, Europe and beyond.

Still every once and a while, people do get mixed up with Transylvania and History. It is not an area where people simply appeared on the scene and then staked a claim, it is a dynamic area. There are places with a lot of people who lived there, in one but in comparison it was a small area. 

In Transylvania, there were culturally many Romanians, and Hungarians, but there were also Jews and Germans (known as Saxons) who would build cities and towns.  There were also the Roma and other smaller groups of people who lived in Transylvania.  Some would remain a small minority but others, such as the Hungarians has sizable populations in many areas.

Until 1919, Transylvania was a part of the Kingdom Hungary, and after the Great War became a part of Romania.  

This would alter how people viewed the power dynamic in the area which were now under Romanian control.  A good example was the Hungarians and the Saxons.  They had anticipated negative change or no change at all.  In many cases both were correct.  The Black Chuch in Brasov is a Lutheran Church and after the end of the War, this didn't change.

The people of the area where varied, they were farmers, and merchants, writers, and historians, and religious men and women, and they all lived there and died there. This is an important part of the people's view of the land they grew up in.

Transylvania and how people view its history seem to be where the most debate comes into play. 

The dates when and where big countries took control, who had power, who should have power. The point that is missed is that most tourist or people who love Transylvania miss is the history of people in the area.

Sorry to say no there are no vampires and no Dracula as what Bram Stoker wrote... maybe we could find them in London, where he based parts of the castle on. Big or small (in traffic terms) it is important to know the history of this place.

May 19, 2010

When Writing about a Small Place...How do You get Traffic?

A place is one of the hardest subjects to write a blog about. Not only does the writer face a daily reality of writing to a niche audience, they need to know a lot about the area. They have to have a passion for what they do. And unfortunately they sometimes burn themselves out quickly.

I don't mean to suggest that a blog that starts small can not grow bigger and become something greater people want to read, it just takes a bit longer to grow. The upside to writing a smaller blog is that the community is more willing to read and comment on it.

Still, almost everyone wants to draw traffic to their blog website, so I'll list three ways to get that traffic and keep readers coming back to a small blog with a dedicated but smaller following.

1) Write often. It is hard in the beginning to write often, but sometimes all you need to do is to write short post with good content that people want to read. If you are dedicated to your blog, you will see success. This is also a great way to learn more about your topic and the people who follow your blog.

2) Know your audience. Some people visit a blog for a specific reason; they found you through an Internet search and they want to learn more, or they know the area you are writing about and have more things to add to the topic. Learning more about your audience helps you a better blog. Try to think about what makes your readers want to come back to your blog.

3) Links and guest blogs and more links. Another thing that can help a smaller blog to grow is linking between posts. For example if your subject of the day is a city in a particular country, perhaps you can relate that to a previous post about political relations between the country and  city. These links help others find what they are looking for, and yes guest blogging is a must because perhaps your guest has specialized knowledge, and often exposing yourself to different writing styles and audiences will help with your writing and your visibility.

Above all never give up. Never think that not having a big, high-traffic blog is a reason for you to give up writing about something you love. Improve your knowledge and, of course, thank your readers and give them as much to read as possible. Build this community with a strong foundation and you will be rewarded.

It may not be with money, but with joy, with passion and with a big thanks to your readers.

What other ways do you think your blog can be helped by others and by you, the writer of the blog?

May 18, 2010

Transylvania and Romanian Relations

Romania is a big part of Transylvania now. More to the point there are a lot of Romanians who are living in areas once dominated by Germans or Hungarians or Jewish populations. This is not to suggest that there was not Romanians who lived within Transylvania before 1919. Or even before that time, just the newer influx of Romanians.
Alba Iluia is a great example, Michael the Brave, who was able for a shot time to bring the three provinces of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania together came to the city of Alba Iluia. In fact Queen Marie of Romania and her husband King Ferdinand were crowned there as rulers of Great Romania.
Still, when reading the history of Transylvania, it seems that relations between Bucharest and Transylvania have not always been so great. Take 1989, for example. Yet, when I read I can find two differing version of Romanian history. One comes form Transylvania, and the people whose families have lived there for a long while, the other from Bucharest.
Still this ends up with me asking this question of when does Transylvania mean a debate? really it is two different versions of history. One of which glories in all things Romanian and one which seems to deal with the people of Transylvania, Romanian and all.
I wonder, how many people would sooner learn about the other cultures than who should have rights? I suspect i am alone in that thought.

May 17, 2010

When Does Transylvania Mean Debate?

I have to wonder, there are so many interesting things about Transylvania, but one thing that seems true for every culture there is the art of debate.
I mean the Romans and the Dacians must have spent more time fighting than any other culture since. It also seems that is the point where most of the newer cultures diverge. ( By newer I am referring to what are now: Germans, Hungarians and Romanians.-- people were not called Hungarians or Romanians or Germans at the time.)
Sine then, especially in the beginning of the twenty-first century, most people seem eager to debate every single point about Transylvania. Say one "interesting fact" and most comments will either be for or against it.
Still I must ask this: when does "Transylvania" mean debate?

May 15, 2010

Dracula: A Tourist Trap.

This is the birthplace sign of Vlad Tepes. Now according to many sources he was the basis for the future novel by Bram Stoker in the late 1800s.

Really what Dracula and the myth have become are a tourist trap. In fact I would not be surprised if Stoker had not written about Dracula and Northern Transylvania so vividly in his novel, most people who think they know about the area, would not.

Vlad Tepes was a prince of another province. He was born in Transylvania... and yet because of this novel we associate him with Transylvania.

Many of the cities which both Dracula and Vlad are associated with have become a near tourist trap where people simply want to see the sight of Dracula. And no, this does not acre me.. it might be one of the things that scare you the most about Transylvania, but not me...

okay maybe the tourist trap thing might!

May 13, 2010

Transylvania: What Scares you Most?

What scares you the most about Transylvania?

Are they real things are something that is not true?

Is it the legends or the people?

Why are you scared of this thing?

See knowing what scares you makes know what is wonderful about Transylvania all the more powerful.

May 11, 2010

Transylvania is Wonderful

I can say this clearly but I believe that Transylvania is a wonderful province in Romania. I may be a bit bias, but I believe I can make that statement with certainty. There are so many wonderful things about Transylvania, so I'll list five reasons why I think Transylvania is wonderful
1) The people are wonderful: It makes the land come alive when someone says that they are German or Hungarian or Jewish or Romanian or Roma and that they lived in a place called Transylvania.
2) Look at the land: There are so many places to see and so much history there isn't a big surprise as to why Transylvania is wonderful.
3) History: Ask anyone about the history of the land and you will get a long story. From Romans to now... it has a story to tell
4) Royalty: There seems to be a fascination with royalty, A lot of Kings are Queens are buried in Transylvania. It is simply amazing to find out who lived and died in this land.
5) Legends: There is so much to be said about legends that people need to simply read a book and they will have a small idea about why Transylvania is so wonderful.

May 10, 2010

Where is Transylvania?

Transylvania is in Europe and is a part of Romania, and which borders Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics. That part is simple. There are three points to remember for the question where is Transylvania?

-- Transylvania is in Europe.
-- It is a province in Romania.
-- It is a apart of "eastern" Europe.

More to the point when people ask where is Transylvania they might as well ask the next question of why do you know about Transylvania:

Transylvania is a part of my history and so are the legends and people in that land. I find that when I mention that yes, Transylvania has water buffalo, people will ask: where in Transylvania can you find water buffalo ( central Transylvania, and also a bit in northern Transylvania. the land is lush so they can eat their fill).

Still it is interesting to learn about new people and places and sometimes, Dracula does come into the picture but then where in Transylvania can you find Dracula? ( In terms of popular culture and Transylvania....)

May 8, 2010

Transylvania in Popular Culture.

While I do write about Transylvania, I have of course looked in to why some people believe things about Transylvania which are not exactly true. In reality I never thought to look into popular culture.

Transylvania really is in popular culture. When people think of Bran Castle, an imposing fortress like castle in the heart of Transylvania, they are quick to associate it with Count Dracula of Bram Stoker's famous novel.

In reality this place has nothing to do with a man who Stoker based his famous character on, Vlad Tepes. It belonged to Knights Templar until they were forced to leave Transylvania on the orders of the King of Hungary.

Later, another famous person would make this Castle her own, and would make it more royal in the process. Queen Marie of Romania had Bran Castle as her residence after the First World War, when Transylvania became a part of Romania that is a true thing about Transylvania.

So, why do we associate the place Transylvania with Dracula and darkness? On the other hand if one did not know about Transylvania, what comes to mind with this area? If you guessed Vampires you are certainly thinking along the lines of popular culture.

So, yes, Transylvania, or a piece of fictional Transylvania is a part of popular culture.

May 6, 2010

Transylvania: Ten True Things... That do not Seem True

When writing about Transylvania, it is important to dispel myths and legends from what is true. In many ways Transylvania is unique because in this land the truth is often stranger than the fiction. Below are the things that are true but strange about Transylvania, from its people to the place itself.

One: Transylvania has several famous people.. most of them were not born in Transylvania, or were but had "issues" with the people of Transylvania: Vlad Tepes, who was born in Transylvania but was a prince of a neighboring province known as Transylvania. His name was used in the famous novel Dracula. Elizabeth Bathory, was a Hungarian noblewoman who died in Transylvania in 1614, also known as the countess of blood.

Two: The royal family of Romania are not "princes of Transylvania". It is the Hapsburg family who are Grand Princes of Transylvania. In fact the Romanian Royal Family is related to Queen Victoria of England.

Three: Transylvania has many different species, including water buffalo. There are also boars and bears and of course wolves.

Four: Transylvania is known as the Gateway to the West, as Mongols and Turks used the land to invade Western Europe. If they used the passes found in Transylvania, it was the fastest route to Vienna.

Five: In the twentieth Century Transylvania was a part of the Austrian Empire, Romania, Romania and Hungary, then back to Romania. That is a lot of non-movement.

Six: English Writers love Transylvania, Robert Browning wrote the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, both have a basis in Transylvania. Brownings' poem makes reference to the land beyond the mountains at the end.

Seven: Transylvania is fact Latin, for Land beyond the woods. There are in fact many versions to this name, from Hungarian to Romanian and German. None of them mean the same thing, for the same place.

Eight: Although if one were to look on a map Transylvania is big, in fact there are several regions which were not traditionally a part of Transylvania, the Banat in particular.

Nine: Most of the tourist attractions in Transylvania are based for the Western Tourist, as Bran Castle is a point for Dracula, (Vlad Tepes never lived there) and Hunyadi Castle is famous for its prisoner, Vlad Tepes, and not its owner John Hunyadi.

Ten: The Heart of a Queen lies in Transylvania. Many Hungarian Royalty are buried in Alba Iluia, but Queen Marie of Romania was buried beside her husband, King Ferdinand, but her heart was place in a castle, until the area was returned to Bulgaria after the Second World War. It now rests in Bran Castle.

May 5, 2010

The Countess of Blood: True Person from Transylvania?

Was the Countess of Blood a true person who lived in Transylvania?

Was She born in Transylvania? Why this name-- Countess of Blood?

Her name was Elizabeth Bathory and she was born in Hungary and was a part of the famous Bathory clan.

This would prove to be of importance in her later life. She was married at the age of 15, and then made a fateful move to the southern part of Hungary, which was at the time Transylvania. In fact her husband was of lesser nobility than she was and she kept her name Bathory.

She would go one to have six children but two would die young. After her husband died, at the age of 47, she became obsessed with beauty, or more specifically eternal beauty. It was rumoured that she thought that blood from young women could keep her youthful looks.

This would led her to kill 80 young woman, although some accounts have put that number as high as 600. She was however only accused of killing 80 young women.

In the end, she would be walled up in several rooms, and would die in 1614. In an interesting irony she is also known as Countess Dracula. She has more links to the character Dracula than the person Stoker used to create Dracula.

If she had not been what she became I am certain someone would use her castle as a tourist attraction.

May 3, 2010

Why Dracula?

Why Dracula?
There is a fascination for some people that goes beyond simply Dracula being a myth. In fact it does have to do with money.
Dracula, it seems is a big money maker, and even the famous Queen Maria of Romania's descendants seem to think this as well. Some of their plans were to make Bran Castle where she lived into a tourist attraction for... you guessed it Dracula.
While this in and of itself is not a bad thing, this means that people will forget the true person that lived centuries before, and that often had many writings on him that were conflicting.
The same can not be sad about the countess of blood. In a way it is good people do not know much of her, as her crimes are large. even her castle is in ruins and is a part of a park to protect native plants that surround the castle.
Maybe it isn't all about money.