Bordered by the Southern Carpathian Mountains, the mixture of gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture, as well as its history richness makes Brasov one of the most visited cities in Romania. The Citadel was built on a Dacian site in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights and later established by the Saxons as one of the Seven Walled Citadels.
What made the Citadel achieve its wealth and political influence was the location of the city, positioned at the crossroad of trade routes that linked western Europe and the Ottoman Empire, gaining it the German name Kronstadt, which means Crown City. To maintain the strength of the city, numerous fortifications and towers were built around it, according to the customs of the era.
Whether you decide to take the city by step and enjoy the architecture and numerous historical buildings or to look for tours in Brasov, the city has something for all travelers no matter if it’s Summer or Winter – you’ll never get bored in the old Corona, as the Latins have named it.
Visit the Museums and Explore the Medieval Architecture
- The Fortress (Cetatuia) – With its strategic position, overlooking the city, the Citadel is part of the outer fortification system. The Citadel as we see it now was built in 1553 and rebuilt in 1625 after it was destroyed by a massive fire. What made the Citadel impressive were the seven massive bastions built in 1630, out of which only a few have survived, including the Graft Bastion, which is newly renovated. The bastion has four accessible levels, with the top three levels serving as an exhibition of medieval artifacts.
- The Watchtowers – The Black Tower and The White Tower – Walking West along the wall, on the Behind the Walls (Dupa Ziduri) street, you’ll find the White and Black watchtowers, both having four levels, which now serve as a great place to have an overview of the old town. The Black Tower received its name after a massive fire in 1559, caused by lighting-struck and also hosts a war-related exhibition.
- The Gates (Catherine’s Gate and The Schei Gate) – Going southeast following the walls of the city, you’ll find Catherine’ Gate, a fairy-tale looking structure, the only medieval city gate that survived the pass of time. A newer gate, built in the Baroque style in the first part of the 19th Century is the Schei Gate. The structure was built to replace the previous Schei Gate, which was nearly destroyed by fire.
- The First Romanian School – Home of the first printed books in the Romanian language, the building now serves as a museum dedicated to the beginning of typography, compelling thousands of books, rare documents, letters and other important letters.
- Rope Street Museum – Rope Street (Strada Sforii) is the narrowest street of the city and the third narrowest street in Europe, being only 53 inches at its widest point and 44 inches at its narrowest. It served as a passage used in the past by firefighters to cross between the two main arteries at either end. As of 2016, an unusual museum built in its name, which is home to exhibitions by local artists, old photos of the city, as well as a miniature replica of the medieval city.
Visit the Council Square
Being the heart of Brasov’s historic center, the Square will be leaving you wondering where to look first. Whit one side dominated by the iconic structure of the Black Church, which got its name after a massive fire set by the Hapsburgs blackened its walls. On the other side you’ll have the perfect place to grab a bite or sip a coffee and watch the city go by, only to be woken up by the chime of the Old Clock Tower. The Black Church is also home of one of the extraordinary Bucholz Organ, the biggest functioning Organ in Southeastern Europe.
Piatra Craiului National Park
Featuring the longest and highest limestone ridge in the country, the Natural Park is filled with breathtaking views, backdrop scenes for the movie Cold Mountain (2003) being filmed here.
The National Park has almost 9.900 hectares and researchers have discovered here a true biological gem, with more than 200 butterfly species, more than 100 bird species and 35 unique species of invertebrates. The flora of the area contains more than 180 species of plants included on the Red List of endangered species.
For the more adventurous ones, the area is filled with hiking trails, from the more accessible ones, to the favorite of the trained hikers, the 15.5 miles long limestone ridge. Being one of the most rewarding and challenging places to go hiking in Romania, the two-day long trail is surrounded by glacial lakes, caves, meadows and rocky steep walls.
Observe the Bears at the Libearty Bear Sanctuary
Romania is the home of half of the European brown bear population, so it would only be natural to have a place to give the bears previously held in captivity a chance to return to their natural habitat.
Visits to the Sanctuary are only allowed in tour groups, between 9 and 11 am, this way ensuring the bears are not disturbed by tourists. The bears rescued are rehabilitated and released into the massive land of the sanctuary. The touching stories of the animals who live in the sanctuary will help you understand the dangers of keeping bears in captivity.
The place also hosts a few wolves, who are also rescue animals.
Take a Trip to Bran Castle
Romania is probably best known for being the land of Dracula, so it would only be natural to pay a visit to Bran Castle, home of the Dracula legends. Like many tourists notice, the castle looks more like one form a fairy-tale, than a horror story, up on a hill and surrounded by the forest. Home of the Royal Family of Romania before the Communism era, the castle sure has a history and some secrets worth discovering.