December 29, 2011

Biertan and One of Its Famous People

Biertan and its population were small in comparison with other cities in the area of Transylvania.  At the same time it too has its share of famous people who lived there.  Since the city was populated mostly by Transylvanian Saxons, this is a historically important city to them.

The most famous of the recent residents of Biertan is Artur Phelps, a commander in the Austro-Hungarian Army, an officer in the Romanian Army and later a member of the German Army.  He was killed in action in 1944.  He was a decorated soldier, and was instrumental in ordering the evacuation of the Saxons of Northern Transylvania.

Biertan is a UNESCO heritage site and, as such, is an important location for many people to visit in Transylvania, Romania.  Notably, the Saxons often have reunions there in the city.  It is a city in Transylvania where the importance of what it is - a huge medieval fortress - is overshadowed by other cities which are around the area.

One of those is Sibiu.

Transylvania is a great place to write about, I must admit.

December 27, 2011

A Review on My Newly Published Book: In Search of the Lost Ones

I am so excited that the book on Transylvania is doing well. I have even received a review for the book. It is available both in paperback and on Kindle. I think that this book will help people know about the area and where Transylvania is. I know most people know that Dracula lives there...

As the reviewer said, there is so much more about Transylvania.

There is so much to learn. Transylvania is an important part of  Romania, and an important part to Europe.  That is the key.  It is a tourist area, and that industry provides sources of income for many people.  This is why I am so exicted about people buying and reviewing these books.

December 23, 2011

Where Was transylvania in 1900?

This is a map of where Transylvania was in 1900.  Transylvania was a part of this Kingdom, the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

As you can see, Hungary itself was quite large and would lose about 70% of its former territory after the First World War. This included Transylvania, which was given to Romania.

By this time, 1918, there were more Romanians within Transylvania than Hungarians, however they were a strong minority.  After 1918, Romania would gain a lot of territory as you can see in the pre 1918 map of Transylvania and Romania.

Before this time, many people pushed for changes in Hungary -- and Transylvania.  Some of them would be executed, and one such person was Stephen Ludwig Roth.

December 21, 2011

What Would Dracula Do If he was In Transylvania Today?

If Count Dracula was in Transylvania today, what do you think he would do?  I believe that he would probably be less violent, since the ideologies that he lived with are not allowed these days -- he would possibly be less inclined to bite people and make them vampires.

Oh one problem, Dracula would need to be alive!  He is a character in a novel.

What about Vlad Tepes?

He would probably find it hard to survive in the social and political climate that Transylvania is a part of today.  See, he wanted power, and he was used to massing armies to fight them.  He was a warlord and a Prince of Wallachia who fought the Ottomans.

He also killed many people whom he felt were against him.  This would, in modern times, put him in jail.  In essence, there would be a lot of things he would have to re-learn. 

Maybe he would be willing to be a tourist and see Bran Castle, but like most people who had power in the past, (such as the Roman Emperor Trajan) this is highly unlikely.

These men are people who others write about, and who are famous because of their past deeds, What would Dracula - Vlad Tepes - do if he was in Transylvania today?  Not as much as he had done before.

December 19, 2011

Emperor Trajan and Transylvania

The Emperor Trajan of Rome was a man who expanded the Roman Empire.  Since this blog is about Transylvania, one might wonder why I even mention him.  After all, the Roman Empire was centuries ago, and Transylvania was a part of the more modern Hungary and The Empire of Austria. (This was also known as the dual Kingdom or the Austro-Hungarian Empire.)  

In fact in Rome, there is mention of Transylvania in a rather indirect way.  The Dacians who were a group of people who lived in Dacia, and this Kingdom was in the general area of Transylvania.  Trajan fought with these people and would nominally conquer them.  They went on to build cities there- including Alba Iulia.

Over the years, as there more fighting happened within the borders of the Roman Empire, this led to the slow retreat of Roman influence in Transylvania. However, there are still reminders of that influence.

The aim of the fighting was to gain control of the gold mines in Transylvania.  To this end, he did defeat the Dacians.  Trajan had a column built and part of that column depicts the battle between the Romans and the Dacians.  This is called Trajan's column -- it can still be seen today.

December 16, 2011

Alba Iulia: The Citadel Ruins

Yes, the city of Alba Iulia still stands, so don't worry about that.  This is one of the many ruins that you can find, along with many castles in the Transylvanian area.  I am not sure, but I think I like the ruins of the citadels better than some of the restored castles.

The ruins of the citadel and fortress means something.  They provided protection against invading forces, and in its time, people needed that protection and care.  The cities of Transylvania were often built around fortresses like these.  Many have been either abandoned or restored.  They provide a vital draw for the tourism industry either way.

The same holds true for other castles that were built to protect the people and livestock.  Keep in mind, the Kings needed armies and these armies needed men. If men, women and children were killed, then the Kings would have to patiently re-populate their land with fewer people and it would take more time.

This is why the Alba Iulia citadel ruins seem to hold more of a past than others.  It is an important part of Transylvania and its history.

December 13, 2011

Which Castle is in Transylvania?

Below are three pictures of castles and fortresses which can be found within the borders of Romania.  Two of them are found within the borders of Transylvania, and the third is not.  All of them are significant in Romania, but again only two of them are found in the borders of Transylvania.

Which one is not?  I'll give you a few clues, in my last post I talked about where Transylvania is and when one of these castles were built.

Another is famous outside of Transylvania, but was built by the combined efforts of the Teutonic Knights, and the German Saxons.

The last hint is this the city itself is a UNESCO heritage site, and the fortress has been restored and rebuilt in recent years.

Which one, based on these hints, do you think is the one which was not built within the borders of Transylvania?

Below is a map of Transylvania, in which you can find some help there and in other posts on this blog.  Transylvania is a large area, but then again so is Romania.

December 10, 2011

Peles Castle: Not in Transylvania.

I was asked; why don't you talk about Peles Castle; after all it is in Transylvania.  I do like Peles Castle, and it is very unique, but I would not suggest that it is Transylvanian. When you learn about its history, you find out that, while it is situated close to Brasov and other cities of Transylvania, the castle is really in another part of Romania.

It is, in fact in the former principality of Wallachia.  It finished its construction in 1914.  It was commissioned by King Carol I of Romania.  Since it was a royal residence from the start of the royal family of Romania, it could not have been built in Transylvania.  In 1914, Transylvania was a part of the Autro-Hungarian Empire. 

So no, Peles Castle is not in Transylvania, but rather it is in Wallachia and maybe one day I'll write about it a bit more. As you can see, then on many maps, Transylvania is very close to Peles, but Peles is not in Transylvania.

December 9, 2011

Where is Transylvania? Can You Find It in These Maps?

Below is a series of maps. Six different maps to be exact.  Some of them are bigger and some are smaller in terms of the territory they show.  Some of them are recent and some are older.  The question is not, where is Transylvania, but rather where is it on these maps?

I am sure it is simple to find Transylvania, at least for most people.  Others would have trouble depending upon which map they looked at and if they understood European history in general.  That is also why people publish books on Europe and Romania and of course publish books on Transylvania.

December 7, 2011

Where is the Book? Transylvania is Important!

It's interesting how people view Transylvania. I have published my book, and many people are interested in it, and this is a good thing in my mind. However I have noticed something: most people are interested in the stories of the people in the Second World War, but not so much about Transylvania.

I want to say that no matter what: Transylvania is important. It is important to the people I have interviewed and also to others. This is a place where people have lived for thousands of years. I can say it again Transylvania is important.

On that note, since more people know about my book, it is a point of interest to others. This is a good thing and this has in my mind helped improve the visibility of Transylvania. This goes beyond the questions of where is Transylvania.

Where is my book? People can find it on, and I want them to learn about Transylvania.

December 5, 2011

Romania: Pre 1918

If you look closely at this map, you will see the Kingdom of Romania pre- 1919. It is important to note that this is the combination of two principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. When this happened, the Princedom of Romania was formed. At this point there was no King, but rather a prince or Domnitor.

Over time, the Romanians of Transylvania sought more freedom, and they wanted to unite with Romania and to form greater Romania. This would not happen until after the Great War, now known as the First World War.

In 1918, in the city of Alba Iulia, the people held a vote, and after the end of the First World War the many ethnic groups ( most notably the Romanians and Saxons) of Transylvania voted to unite with the Kingdom of Romania.

December 1, 2011

Who Was the First Domnitor of Romania?

This is not as simple a question as it may seem, as most people would not know that the term Domnitor is the equivalent of Prince.  The first King of Romania was King Carol I, and he was the second Domnitor.

The first was Alexander John Cuza.  This man was also the ruler of both Wallachia and Moldavia.  These two principalities were united to form Romania in 1859. It seems that there was a lot of conflict before that, and the people wanted a leader by 1859. 

In the end he would not rule for long, nor would his family play an important long-term role.  Cuza would be forced to abdicate and flee Romania in 1866.  After this, the second Domnitor was Prince Karl, later known as Carol of Hohenzollern. ( He was part of one of the major Royal Families of Germany)

All this history makes for an interesting point of reference and a good book.

November 28, 2011

Why Publish A Book on Transylvania?

I was asked why did you publish a book on Transylvania?

Why did you publish a book on Eastern European history?

I didn't think long and hard about the answer, mostly because I have had an answer for a while now.  Here are the three main points which sum up why I wrote and published a book on Transylvania:

1) Because it was a topic-- Transylvania and history of that area-- which interested me.

2) It went beyond Dracula, or the castles or the place in general, but a part of the history of Transylvania which has not been as explored as other topics.  The topic were the people of Transylvania, in particular the Saxons of Transylvania.

3) Because in many ways it was something that I knew I could do. I knew that I could learn a lot of information and write about it.  As time went on I became far more comfortable with the idea that I could publish something like this.

I did just that.

November 24, 2011

Is Dracula Relevant?

Do we need Dracula?  Now I am not referring to Vlad Tepes, but rather to Count Dracula.  This character is from the novel "Dracula."  Do we need him?

Not really.  Except that Hollywood would lose a lot of its money this way.

After all, according to some lists, there are at least 150 films or TV shows about Dracula, or vampires.  Only one could be taken as partly true to history and that is Bram Stoker's Dracula where they do work in a portion of Vlad Tepes into the film.

The other way to look at it is this way: without the fictional character of Dracula, then there would not be as much of a tourism industry around Bran Castle.

November 22, 2011

In Search of The Lost Ones: On Amazon Soon, but You Can Buy It Now

This is great news!  it's something I've been waiting for.  Just a bit excited, no okay, a lot excited!

In a few days the book will be out on amazon, it's very exciting to see!  Some days that name in lights is a pretty cool thing.  For now it is available on CreateSpace, but you can go and see In Search of The Lost Ones right here.  I made a lot of choices, but I am pleased with the book.

Now, back to the old grind of getting another book published.  This is what living a life of writing is all about.  The next book will be on Transylvania as well, and that's a pretty nice thing.  I think having a series about Transylvania is a positive thing.

Mind you, I am a bit biased, as I do write this blog!

November 21, 2011

Images Ruins Of Castles in Transylvania

There are many castles in Transylvania which for many reasons have not been restored.  Some have been constantly restored while others have not.  Bran Castle is one example over the years there have been many restorations.

Where as Alba Iulia and its surrounding hill have not.  Yet the city of Alba Iulia has had extensive restorations over the years.

The third for many reasons will possibly never be restored no matter where Transylvania is in terms of restoring castles-- its past owner made it that way.  Below is the image in the evening of the castle where Elizabeth Bathory lived.  There is something about Transylvania that makes the land so interesting.  The ruins of some castles are more important than restorations in this land.

November 19, 2011

What Restoration Did For Bran Castle

Although you can see that Bran Castle was in need of restoration in the bottom photo you can see that it did happen. Just like with many of the castle in Transylvania, there is a need to restore them. Some of the many reasons include for tourist to see what that huge castle is all about and go and explore it day after day.

There have been several restoration which have happened to the castle, including the ones made for Queen Marie of Romania, and also by the Romanian government after the 1950s.

This picture here is not all that was left of Bran Castle but rather parts of what were left, it took considerable restoration to get it to the above photo. Note that without the restorations, there possibly would not be as many tourists who would go and look at the Castle-- or other cities such as the historic city of Alba Iulia or Brasov.

November 17, 2011

Alba Iulia: two Amazing Pictures

The  two images below are important, they are more than 400 years apart and yet, for many have great meaning. This is about Romania and Transylvania but the city is the same: Alba Iulia. Somethings of course changed. The images directly below is in 1918, and this is the convention where the peoples of Transylvania held a vote to decide to join with the Kingdom of Romania or not. For the most part, the Saxon and Romanians voted yes, whereas other including the Hungarians voted against this.

This image is of the entrance into Alba Iulia in 1599. It is of Micheal the Brave the prince who for a year united the three principalities of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia. This would be one of the First times that the three principalities would be united under one leader.

In 1600, Micheal the Brave was killed. This ended the unification, but the key city in both these places was: Alba Iulia.

November 14, 2011

Bran Castle or Alba Iulia Castle?

There should be a vote or something when it comes to Transylvania and its castles. Below is Bran Castle and the older site of Alba Iulia-- and its citadel. Which would you think is more important? After all, Alba Iulia is the "heart" of the Romanians in Transylvania, and yet Bran Castle is the tourist attraction to the West. Both are important and both provide a lot of history to the land.

Why do we relate more to Bran Castle? Because of its location or the supposed person (Count Dracula), cerated by Bram Stoker, who lived there centuries ago? Transylvania is more than the sum of its parts, but there are many of its castles which have an important part in history.

November 12, 2011

Dracula: The First Edition Cover Doesn't Seem So Scary

I think that The first edition print of Dracula doesn't seem as scary as what would be to come.  It was in many ways a sort of interesting cover.  You wouldn't think it would be scary.

In fact you can argue that the writer of Dracula didn't seem all that scary either.  After all he did write Romance novels, and one could argue that Dracula does have that element of romance.

The thing that changes over the years was what people wanted to see in the horror genre.  After many years, Ian Holt and Dacre Stoker wrote a sequel to Dracula which is very different from the original and yet, it is in a similar format.  Still Transylvania, and Bran Castle play a strong role in the writing.

This cover has a strong element of people knowing this will be a horror novel.  Although it is not gory horror it has that element of horror to it.  The biggest change was the addition of another person, and a bit of "romance", in the form of the Countess of the Blood- Elizabeth Bathory.

November 10, 2011

Romania And Transylvania: Maps

Below are two maps of Transylvania. One is from 1600 when Michael the Brave united the three principalities of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia- they would one day unite and become the Kingdom of Romania after the end of World War I. This is an important historical date in the history of Transylvania- it was as close to becoming independent as it would ever be. Afterwards it would become more linked with the Kingdom of Hungary and then Austrian Empire until 1919.

Below is the map of Greater Romania shown after it gained its territory from the First World War. It is very interesting to note that Transylvania is not as close to the Hungarian borders, but that most people simply call the two smaller provinces ( in particular the Banat) a part of Transylvania.  This is where Transylvania is on the map.  This would also be the map that the Romanian Royal family would know until 1940 and the beginning of the Second World War.

It is worth noting that many people do not see Transylvania as being so small, and that since they are used to thinking about Romania as being larger, they tend to forget that Transylvania proper is in fact the grey area in the map below.  it it also because of the many connections with the Royal families of several countries that Transylvania has so many castles, and also why people seem to think that Romania and Transylvania are larger.

Below is the more famous of all the many castles that is associated with Romania and Transylvania. You Can read more on about Transylvania.

November 8, 2011

The Images of The Romanian Royal Family

These are some images of the Romanian Royal family.  Note that only Queen Marie and King Ferdinand were king and Queen of Greater Romania which included Transylvania. 

Elizabeth, Queen of Romania.

The image of Queen Elizabeth who was the first Queen of Romania was not Queen of Greater Romania.  She died before the end of the First World War.  The last image is of King Michael of Romania, who is still alive.

Each helped Romania, and Transylvania in their own ways.

November 7, 2011

Did Queen Maria of Romania Help Transylvania?

For many people who live in Romania, Queen Maria is well respected. It was to her credit that Romania gained as much territory as it did after the First World War. Romania, it must be remembered signed a separate peace treaty with Germany and Austria in 1916. So, there wasn't much that the delegation which went to Paris might expect in 1919.

In many ways it was the Queen of Romania who made the difference. One can ask this question: did she help Transylvania?

She certainly helped the country of Romania gain territory from other countries. In many ways she did help Transylvania. The majority of Transylvania had Romanian people in it, and they wanted to be a part of Romania. There were also Hungarians and Germans and other populations. This included the Transylvania Saxon population.

Some voted to unite with Romania. The queen also renovated bran castle and this has helped the area around it provide money in tourism to Romania. This is when it can be argued that she did help Transylvania.