One of the things I love about traveling to Brasov is that in the old city, at least, doors and passageways so hide marvelous surprises.
I took these pictures a few years back, so I do hope that these lovely places survived the Covid-19 global pandemic.
We strolled through the old city of Brasov where houses don’t top three stories high as they are centuries old. But today they are painted in fresh, pastel colors and their intricate, antique decorations still stand out.
Where once horse carriages and tradesmen filled the street now open air cafes and mouth-watering eateries bubble. People watching, souvenir browsing, ice-cream wishing… Yet I couldn’t help glancing through open doors left and right, at the mysterious passages they revealed.
Yes, the passages above lead to tiny pubs and more charming cafes 🙂
I paired two doors for you, as what goes up must come down. Below left, a sports shop; “if you can’t even climb these stairs, you have been warned…” sort of thing… and to the right, some stairs leading downwards to a pub. I guess the railings have been added for the patrons’ benefit 😉
Certainly a cheery passage:
Beware of the dog?
I hope you made it thus far, for although I don’t have an image of the main door of L’Etage Pub in Brasov, I do have plenty of its incredible interior.
If you are a book lover do not go beyond this point…
I recognized quite a few of these books, literature by Romanian authors:
An original piece of decor below, a trumpet painted on book spines.
I do remember such old radios, and the terracotta stove decor, although it pains my heart to see lampshades made of books. Still, some tomes survived. They seem to wink at us from their shelves, read, have coffee and be merry!
Below, a close-up of the DIY lampshades made of books.
Our bill from L’Etage Brasov came in a murder mystery book – here ‘Culprit No. 1’. My parents still have this aventura, adventure book collection!
Thursday Doors is a blog feature everyone can take part in, hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities– where you can discover more doors from around the world.
Watching over Romania, coming from eternity and traveling into history, echoing of a famous past, Transylvania belongs on any holiday destination list, be it that of a family, of a solitary traveler, or of an adventurous historian buff. National Geographic said it, and here’s exactly why you must visit Transylvania.
Why You Must Have Transylvania on Your Holiday Destinations List
Where should one start when visiting Transylvania? With its medieval cities? Its spectacular fortresses and enchanting castles? Its white or black churches? In search of Dracula, or better Vlad Țepeș, the Impaler? Admiring local art and folklore, perhaps? Or better getting lost in its secular forests? Find it the stories here, on my blog.
Cities of Transylvania for your Holiday List
Put Brașov on your holiday list
One would say, begin with the charming Brașov, an 800 years old city that will bewitch you with the charm of its eclectic architecture, its narrow, winding streets, and the picturesque surroundings that spiral all the way to the top of Tâmpa Mountain.
There is so much to take in while in Brașov. Do remember to look up.
Medieval Sighișoara, a city from Transylvania that you must visit each season
If you journey through Transylvania, ‘the land across the forest’, (searching for Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler or Dracula) and head towards Brasov along the banks of the Big Tarnava River, you will surely spot from quite afar the pointy towers of medieval Sighisoara City, with its centuries old fortress and churches. We traveled there by train one winter.
Once in Sighișoara you simply cannot miss it, the Clock Tower will be the first to welcome you on your journey.
The significance of Sighisoara City? Discover it beyond its gray rampant walls shadowed by a tumultuous history, by remembering its Saxon merchants and shepherds, as well as its prominent, Draculesti leaders (Vlad the Impaler and his father before him. A journey through the medieval city of Sighisoara is sure to unravel the fortress’ high status. To it contributed its ideal location, at crossroad between Moldavia and Wallachia, and East and Western Europe.
Castles, Fortresses, and Churches of Transylvania that You simply Must See
Făgăraş Castle, Transylvania
In the vicinity of Brașov lies the rocky walls of Făgăraş Castle. The initial fortification was raised with the secular fir trees from its adjacent forests, going back to 12th century. Within its walls, rocking the modern perceptions of the Middle Ages, is the Iron Maiden of Făgăraş Castle.
Did you know that traditionally, the duchies of Almaș and Făgăraş were fiefs of Wallachian prince. Yet John Hunyadi, appointed the Voievode of Transylvania at that time (as Transylvania, although a Romanian county today, was part of the Kingdom of Hungary during he Middle Ages to say the least) seized them. Hunyadi gave Almaș to the citizens of Sibiu and kept Făgăraş for himself. And he knew exactly why.
Brâncoveanu Monastery at Sâmbăta de Sus, a must see in Transylvania
Allow your mind be transported in a time of peace and tranquility within the pure walls of Brâncoveanu Monastery at Sâmbăta de Sus.
If you wonder how a Wallachian Voievode built a monastery in a different principality, know that the hamlet and the land on which the monastery was built belonged to Preda Brâncoveanu, his grandfather. Who even built a small wooden church on it in 1654.
Part of Brâncoveanu’s motivation behind rising this monastery was to strengthen the Orthodox presence in the region at a time when Catholicism rose together with the Habsburg domination over Transylvania (who had just escaped Calvinism). Brâncoveanu wanted to leave a legacy to the Christian religion of Romanians on both sides of the Carpathian mountains (Transylvania and Wallachia).
Corvin Castle, Hunyadi Castle or Hunedoara Castle, Transylvania
If you ever wondered how a 15th century wooden door that survived four massive fires that engulfed almost everything else looks like, then you must set a day aside to visit Corvin Castle.
If you like jambs, recesses, and coat of arms, then you will love Corvin Castle and as soon as you will leave you will find yourself planning a return visit. Built over a few hundred years, with so many ups and downs stairs that it is a 3D giant maze, one will surely admire here Gothic stone door frames of the original fortress.
To visit Corvin Castle we traveled by train from Bucharest to Brasov for a night over and allowed an entire day only to visit Corvin Castle. We couldn’t have done it without the amazing support and advise of Mr Cornel and Mrs Cristina, the owners of Guesthouse Casa Cristina in Brasov, always welcoming, offering the same top accommodation and a hearty breakfast for the past ten years that we’ve been visiting them (this endorsement is not backed by any financial gain).
Folktales and Art of Transylvania to take in during your holiday
It is said in local folktales ~ whispered on moonlit nights ~ that if you glance straight into its shimmering rivers, and long enough that their brightness still flashing behind your closed eyelids, then the fairies, or charmstresses, ielele, as they are known in the sweet Romanian language, have put a spell on you. Watch out, for they might lure you into Transylvania’s millennial and magical forests.
‘Blessed, alluring IELELE, Mistresses of breeze, Ladies of the earth and mist, Through the air you rise, On the grass you slide, And on waves you glide.’
Translated from Romanian folklore by Patricia Furstenberg
Wood carving in Transylvania, as everywhere in Romania, often tells a story before becoming art. Worth mentioning is the Folk-Art ~ Romanian Symbols: when carving in wood, the Romanian folk artists puts a lot of thought. Each carving tells a story, some symbols are for protection, others to remember them of the families left behind:
A cross is for protection. A cross in a circle symbolizes God. A circle is for eternity, a dot for perfection. A diamond represents the woman.
Visit Transylvania online, from the safety of your armchair, right now
You can travel to Romania and Transylvania right now via amazing photos because Romania is a country that deserves to be seen. Not many know, but its brave people have watched over the central and western Europe for centuries, acting like a breathing barrier against the Ottoman and Russian powers. Come on over.
See the kneeling of the twilight, Hear the hesitation of a footstep at dawn, Admire old landscapes, Growing young with the joy they give. A light that calls Through history, Stories that perpetuate, For each one of us Is a facet of their reflection.
I am telling you, time stands still in Romania – or in any other place in the world, if one was born there. So let’s all take kindly to it.
We have snapshots saved in our mind, of trees in autumn or summer sunsets peeking between traffic, of old buildings and tramway rides, snapshots accompanied by scents and sounds. Lindens in bloom, snow crunching underfoot, hot summer dancing over asphalt, the first tram echoing in rhythm each morning. Easy to remember, yet forgotten until we spot the same place again, hear the same chime, or a scent washes over us, two decades later. Time stands still in the spot where one was born.
A Romanian saying goes like this: eternity was born in a hamlet. And how much truth lies in it…
A hamlet, the simplest form of rural settlement whose population measures its life between sowing and plowing, its spirit still tightly woven in its ancestor’s web of traditions and beliefs. Here, life is an oasis of peace and eternity.
Sure, 21st century arrived in the form of a train station – soon abandoned for no one got off and nobody ever left. And the modern lifestyle came in the form of a cellphone tower too. For whose benefit is still a mystery, since locals don’t use such modern technology and no tourists set foot along their main road either. Only the cows stir its dirt in the morning, and again in the evening when each one knows exactly through which gate to push to arrive home.
With kerchiefs over their heads, a habit they picked it up as children, and blouses with hand stitched flowers motifs, spirals and crosses too, women here smile a lot, speak little, cook finger licking, simple meals, and worry and pray. And their men look after them, and after their crops and their herds, are quick in temper, yet soft in the look they give you, guarded by thick eyebrows.
And, with their cows coming and going, with the sun rising at the rooster’s call and setting in the hushing of the leaves and the singing of the crickets, these people live for today.
For today is eternal, as much as the clouds are overhead and the land underfoot. Yesterday is gone like the storm, taking its thunder with it. Tomorrow might never come, although it is a promise from God. And He always keeps His word. But today, today is eternal, and because of this time stands still in a hamlet in Romania.
I snapped the picture above while we drove from Sinaia to Bran. Very near this spot was the medieval border of Bran Castle, close to the Bran Pass, that was the 14th century toll gate between Transylvania and Wallachia.
It was through here that caravans loaded with merchants’ goods passed between the two principalities. The mountainous and rugged terrain, the relatively narrow pass and the vast coniferous forests, made the route quite risky for caravans.
But Bran Castle was also a point of defense – especially against Turk invasions – and therefore the establishment of a border point here was necessary and soon became profitable for the entire area.
Prince Mircea the Elder, Voivode of Wallachia, was the one who, through a privilege granted to Brasov merchants, established the customs of Wallachia in 1413 atTurciu (today Bran). The medieval Bran customs point was defended against robbers by guards that were backed-up by guards from Bran Castle. Due to their importance, the customs buildings will be rebuilt and consolidated over centuries. It was at the end of the 15th century that Bran border point became the responsibility of merchants from Brasov, Transylvania.
Just imagine, it was through these woods that Vlad Tepes and his brave men, his Viteji, rode back and forth.
Corvin Castle, view from the noble’s main kitchen and its arched door towards the White Tower. If you look closely you can see the stone wall at the bottom, and the later built wall above, consisting of bricks and even plaster.
Next you can admire another access door into the kitchen with more building timeline easy to notice on the wall. First stones were brought from Zlaști River nearby in 1299. Construction and repairs went on till the 17th century, with more renovations afterwards.
Next is the Corvin Castle – bolted door of its renaissance lapidarium, guarding more secrets. It was locked, believe me 😉 A lapidarium is a place where stone (Latin: lapis) monuments and fragments of archaeological interest are exhibited. Bones too, but this is a story for another time.
More historical doors opening from the outside Gothic gallery of Corvin Castle, facing the main courtyard:
Corvin Castle a well courtyard stone door and looking from the into the Inner Courtyard:
I will leave with one of Corvin Castle’s secret doors, one well hidden. But is it out of use? and… the door to the torture tower:
Corvin Castle, Kinda Historical Doors, is a contribution to Becky’s incredible October Squares#KindaSquare blog feature.
Also for Thursday Doors Norm’s weekly feature, allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Create post and share your link anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).
Work on the building of the Black Church of Brasov began in 1383 – 1385 and one of its benefactors was John Hunyadi (do you remember him from our visit to Hunyadi Castle, or Corvin Castle?)… but if you listen to the whispers of the wind, it says that Vlad the Impaler, Vlad Tepes also had a word in the building of this church, completed soon after 1476.
For the building of this church Bulgarian workers were employed, and craftsmen who proceeded to establish a Brașov Bulgarian colony in Șcheii Brașovului. But Scheii name has nothing to do with the Bulgarian workers arrived here in the 14th century. Scheii was formed when the Slavs settled here, centuries earlier. Schei was the old Romanian word used for Slavs (Bulgarians included).
Scheii area was first named Catun, designating a small enclosure right under Tampa fortress, on Tampa mountain. This was an area left outside of the Brasov fortress walls when the walls and Bastions of Brason were raised in 1455. So the Romanian guards of Brasov fortress lived here, outside the fortress’ walls. Because of their military duty they were called schei, pardoned iobagi or serfdoms (farmers once bound to land and the will of the landlord).
Here are a few doors from today’s Scheii Brasovului.
Below are two modest shrines from Brasov. Do you see the cross on top? This universal symbol for Christian faith, a constant reminder of Jesus’ death for our sins and of His joyous resurrection.
Shrines such as these can often be found in Romania, build so that weary travelers, or passer by with a heavy heart, can have a moment of peace, for thought, for prayer, for palliation. Before reaching the Black Church, down the winding road.
Thursday Doors is a weekly feature connecting door lovers from around the world through photography. You can join by creating your own weekly Thursday Doors post and sharing the link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).