October 26, 2014

Castles of Transylvania, Romania

What is the exact number of castles in Transylvania, and which three would you like to go and visit?

Depending on which text you follow, there are between 115- 155 castles in the Transylvania region.  Some will add the Banat region to these numbers, but the Banat is a distinct area on its own.  Some, like Făgăraș is also close to a city like fortress- it is found in the Brasov county, and it is one which has slowly seen a destroyed economy being rebuilt.  Others, like Bran Castle are indeed, castles of legends and myths.  This castle is also found in Brasov county, but unlike its mate, has held a legendary status thanks to Stoker's writing of Dracula.  Bran Castle has been restored many times and most people remember where it is because of the novel's influence.

The number can never be exact due to the nature of archeology, there is likely smaller castles which were made of less durable materials, or castles which were destroyed by invasions or disrepair.

Three castles which I would like to go and visit are the Historic Centre of Sighișoara, which has ties to Bran Castle but also to the Saxon community of Transylvania.  Vlad Tepes was born in this city and it is a UNESCO heritage site as well.  Some of it is more of a fortress and others show its castle like nature to the tourists who come to see it.

Another castle to visit, and it has always been on my list is Corvin Castle, it is being restored after many years of neglect but, it is not as accurate a restoration as historians would like to see.  However, the man who once lived there holds my interest- John Hunyadi- the castle was built for Charles I of Hungary, but was given to the Hunyadi family by another Hungarian King.  Over the years many modifications were added, and John Hunyadi made certain it was done to high standards as he used it as one of his main homes.  According to Bronwen Riley, the restorations on this castle are based on what people want a Gothic castle to look like.

The last castle I would want to see is Bethlen Castle in Beclan, Transylvania.  This is where many people of Saxon heritage lived, but it is now largely Romanian in population.  This is the former seat of the Hungarian family Bethlen.  This family was powerful in the 1500s, and one of them would marry an influential woman, Catherine of Brandenburg, who would succeed him briefly as Princess of Transylvania.

October 16, 2014

My Go To Writers of Transylvania, Romania

When it comes to the go to author on Transylvania, Romania who do you try to refer to?

I have several authors to whom I refer to when I am writing about Transylvania, and I find the one who have published the most books are the ones I tend to have in my personal library.  It is not easy to find a lot of books on Transylvania that are not travel books or are a part of several large volumes of history on Europe or Hungary or Romania. There are also several fiction books I have which deal with Transylvania, or how the writer views Transylvania.

One of my most "dog eared" books is the The Rise and Fall of Saxon Transylvania by Catalin Gruia which is a small book detailing the life of the Transylvanian Saxons who lived there until the end of the Second World War, but after this time saw the majority of the Saxons flee for Germany, or to North America.

It is a good one to have on a shelf since it gives a general idea to a reader of Transylvania how people lived and how they either remained or left Transylvania.  It is written so a reader can understand the dynamics of the cultures who once lived in the area.  Gruia has written other books on the subject as well.

Another good book to have on the shelf is Transylvania which is more of a coffee book as opposed to a history book or a travel book, and Bronwen Riley has done a fantastic job of showing the land visually to as many readers as possible.  Riley is one of my "go-to" because I am a very visual person and I need to "see" it before I can understand it.  Transylvania is a bit of an older book but it is still an important part to my own information on the area.

One of the many books that can be found on Dracula, the one I have on my shelf (other than Bram Stoker's novel Dracula) is In Search of Dracula: The History of Dracula and Vampires by Radu Florescu.  This book gives me details about Dracula in general and also about the history behind the legend.

Florescu has written other books on Dracula, and Vlad Tepes, but this one is a good overview of the history which still keeps readers interested long after a book about vampires was written.

October 2, 2014

Questions Will Be Answered This Month

Last month, we got a number of questions asked on Things About Transylvania through Facebook and Twitter and email.  Thank you for the huge response, and now we will be answering them, we've have more than 80 questions and comments, but we've tried to break down a few that were similar in nature.

As a result here are some of the questions we're going to answer this month.

1) When it comes to the go to author on Transylvania who do you try to refer to?

2) What is the number of castles in Transylvania, and which three would you like to go and visit?

3) How many cultures/ people live in Transylvania, Romania?

4) Who is the most famous royal person who lived in Transylvania- not counting Dracula?

5) Are there any remaining links to some of the historical people who lived in Transylvania?

6) How much do you have to pay to see some major historical sites in the area?  What is the most important thing to see?

7) Why did the Romans want Transylvania?

8) Who were the people whom the Romans conquered during the time Transylvania was a part of the Roman Empire?

9) Why is Transylvania important to Romania?  Is it important to other countries as well?

10) When the Romanian revolution happened which cities in Transylvania were against the communist government?

11) Were the Russians a constant worry in Transylvania or were there others?

12) Best author on Transylvania?