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.