Sometimes the obvious, such as statues placed on the roof of a house, are the bling that steers your eyes away from the 16th century houses built just across the road. Welcome to Brasov (where part of my current WIP takes place 🙂 )
The region where Brasov is located, Țara Bârsei, Burzenland, was occupied between 1211 and 1225 by the Teutonic Knights, who have received its land from King Andrew II of Hungary with the sole mission of a defend the eastern border of the Hungarian Kingdom against the threat of the Cuman tribes.
Up came wood and earth forts. Remember the beginning of Bran Castle?
Soon, at the call of the order (and the promise of a free life, without taxes) more German settlers arrived in Transylvania and, of course, they built fortifications and parish churches. Remember the story of Pied Piper of Hamelin? There is a connection with Transylvania there… and that story is coming soon. Stay tuned:
If you traveled through Transylvania you would have noticed that the largest cities here have a similar layout to that of western Europe. There is a city square with the parish church and the town hall or council house (Rathaus) located in the center (of what will be known as the old town these days). And framing the central square there would have been (and still are) shops and workshops of the merchants and craftsmen, inns, sometimes even the public bath (not so much today). Further, a network of streets leaves the main market, intersected by circular secondary streets. And to frame it all, strong walls surround the city and one access gate (or two) keep everyone safe inside.
Below: most building surrounding the City Hall square date back to the 16th century.
But quite everyone lived within the city walls?
No. For what about the local population, the one that lived here before the Teutonic Knights and the German settlers arrived?
Outside the city walls there were well developed suburbs. As only the Germans had the right to settle inside the city walls, and later the newly arrived Hungarians, the suburbs located outside the city walls were inhabited by the majority population of Transylvania, made up of Romanians. This is the case of the suburb of Şchei, up on the hill of Mount Tâmpa and outside the walls of Brasov (also known as Corona).
During the XV-XVI centuries Brasov was one of the most important cities of Transylvania. Together with its suburbs Brasov had almost 10,000 inhabitants. The commercial routes that connected Vienna with Constantinople and treading on the old Roman roads, passed through Brasov – and through Bran Pass…
More coming soon. Stay tuned.
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