2.A. The Land Beyond The Forests

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Transylvania (in Romanian - Transilvania) is the province of Romania, located between the Oriental Carpathians, the Meridional Carpathians and the Apuseni Mountains. The neighboring regions of Maramures, Crisana, and Banat have also been considered part of Transylvania.

Crossed by large rivers, such as Mures and Somes, it is characterized more by animal raising than by cereals growing. As in other areas of Romania, industry has changed the face of the region, because Transilvania has ore and energy resources (brown coal, gold, silver, salt) the industrial economy overlapping on agriculture.

Is inhabited by beautiful, welcoming and friendly people.
They are mostly by Romanians (aka Vallachians of Latin descent) but there is an important community of Hungarians and of Saxons and Sekely. Here leave also groups of Gypsies (aka Roma people). They all contribute each with their own traditions and folklore at a high level of culture and of education of this land.



The medieval coat of arms of Transilvania

Having formed the nucleus of the Dacian (Getic) kingdom (flourished 1st century bce–1st century ce) and (after the end of Daco-Roman wars 101- 102, 105- 106 ce) the Roman province of Dacia , Transylvania was overrun by a succession of barbarian tribes after the Roman legions withdrew about 270 ce. Thereafter the Romanized Dacian inhabitants moved into the mountains and woods and preserved their culture.

The Magyars (Hungarians) conquered the area at the end of the 9th century and firmly established their control over it in 1003 when their king Stephen I, according to legend, defeated the native prince Gyula(Iulianus). Administration was consolidated by the settlement, probably as frontier guards, of the Székely (Szeklers, a people akin to the Magyars) and the Saxons (Germans). Transylvania (while remaining part of the Hungarian kingdom) evolved during the following centuries into a distinctive autonomous unit, with its special voivode (governor), its united, although heterogenous, leadership, and its own constitution.

When the Turks decisively defeated Hungary at the Battle of Mohács (1526), Transylvania effectively became independent. Afterward Hungary was divided between the Habsburgs and the Turks, and Transylvania was transformed into an autonomous principality that was subject to Turkish suzerainty (1566).
For a few years Transilvania was united in a single independent state along with Vallachia and Moldavia by the Vallachian voivode Mihai Viteazul.

During the next century Transylvania —ruled by the Báthory dynasty, István Bocskay), Gábor Bethlen, and György Rákóczi I—played off the Turkish sultan against the Habsburg emperor to retain its independent status.

After the Turks were defeated before Vienna in 1683, the Transylvanian land was overrun by the troops of the Habsburg emperor, then recognized the suzerainty of the emperor Leopold I; Transylvania was officially attached to Habsburg-controlled Hungary and subjected to the direct rule of the emperor’s governors.

During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Magyars of Transylvania identified with the insurgents. The majoritary population formed by Romanian peasantry, which had been developing their own national consciousness and agitating for equal political and religious liberties, took a stand against the Magyars and swore allegiance to the Habsburgs. When the Habsburgs reasserted their control over Hungary, Transylvania was separated from Hungary and transformed into a Habsburg crown land, subject to strict absolutist rule. Subsequently it was reabsorbed into Hungary (1867).

When Austria-Hungary was defeated in World War I, the Romanians of Transylvania in late 1918 proclaimed the land united with Romania. In 1920 the Allies confirmed the union in the Treaty of Trianon.
Hungary regained about two-fifths of Transylvania during World War II (Vienna Award; August 1940), but the entire region was ceded to
Romania in 1947.


The map of Romania with it`s historical provinces:
Transilvania(aka Transylvania)
Moldova (aka Moldavia)
Tara Romaneasca(aka Vallachia)

Places to visit


The Black Church from Brasov

The South East region of Transilvania called Tara Barsei has an outstanding natural landscape. Here is located Brasov town, which is known as an international touristic center, with objectives as the Bartholomew Church - in early gothic style, the Black Church (Biserica Neagra) - the greatest gothic construction in the country, founded in the XIVth - XVth centuries, the museum complex of the Romanian culture in Schei quarter of Brasov, old fortifications of the town fortress in the XV-th - XVI-th centuries, Poiana Brasov resort - with it`s ancient pine-trees, the rustic fortress at Rasnov, the medieval fortress at Bran, complete the image of a palette of touristic entities worth to be visited.


The ancient Dacian sanctuary from Sarmizegetusa

We must mention the Hateg region (located in the south of Transilvania) with it`s

- Deva fortress,
- castle in Hunedoara,
- Roman capital of Dacia - Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana Augusta
- ancient capital of Dacia - Sarmizegetusa, havng the first astronomic observatory on the territory of Romania, from the II-nd century B.C.,
- the fortresses and sanctuaries with geometrical and astronomical significations at Blidaru and Costesti,
- church in Densus maybe from the XIII-th century, built on the ruins of a construction since the IV-th century),
- famous national park in Retezat, declared in 1935
- bison reservation in Hateg.


Little house in Apuseni

In the center-west of Transilvania there is the greatest part of the Apuseni Mountains, unique from the touristic point of view, which lies up to the territories of Crisana. The Apuseni Mountains can be visited easily because the sloaps are not too inclined. Here you can see:

- the wild caves in the Bihor Mountains (no human intervention),
- Felix and Stana de Vale resorts,
- the caves of the Bears with prehistoric bear bones called in Romanian "Pestera Ursilor",
- the ice formations "Ghetarul" from Barsa and Focul Viu (the so called "Living Fire" ice formation),
- Ponor - a natural ravine similar with a huge gothic church,
- the natural reservation, unique on Earth, represented by the fossil glacier in Scarisoara cave,
- the carstic froms at Cheile Turzii and the unique phenomenon in the area, as well as in the country, near Vascau, called "Izbucul" from Calugari, stream that appears and disappears at equal time intervals;
- at Brad, there is the most beautiful museum of gold nuggets and cave stones in Romania,
- the graves of Avram Iancu and his captains at Tebea, heroes of the Romanians during the Revolutionary events in 1848 a.o.);
- the famous "Girls Fair" at Gaina Mountain, a folklore tradition old of centuries,
- Alba Iulia town which marked the foundation of Great Romania in 1918.


One of the hundreds of fortified Saxon churches in Ardeal
and aerial view of the village Homorod

A very special touristic zone is also the central part of Transilvania, called Ardeal on the upper course of the Olt Depression up to Sibiu town, inestimable archaeological and touristic objectives such as: the Fortress wall, the Bruckenthal Museum etc., all of Saxon origins.
The main city is Cluj built on the ruins of a Roman city.
The most important touristic places of this zone are: Miercurea Ciuc and Sfantu Gheorghe towns, Sfanta Ana (Santa Ana) Lake, the Fortress of Fagaras and the road from Brezoi (on the Lotru Valley) to the beautiful Voineasa resort and the well-known Cozia, Turnu and "Of a single Tree" ("Dintr-un lemn") monasteries.
In addition to its Hungarian and Romanian heritage, Transylvania retains traces of a Saxon (German) cultural tradition dating back to the arrival in the Middle Ages of a population of German speakers. Seven historically Saxon villages that feature well-preserved medieval fortified churches—Biertan, Câlnic, Dârjiu, Prejmer, Saschiz, Valea Viilor, and Viscri—were inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites between 1993 and 1999. The historic centre of Sighișoara, also a Saxon settlement, was inscribed in 1999 as well.


Little ones from Maramures
learning from the grandma to spin out the wool
in sunday costumes in front their traditional wooden gate

Maramures historical province, rich in gold and woods is located in the far North of Transilvania. The natural environment and the native people have always attracted visitors. Certified in documents at the beginning of the XII-th century, it preserves unaltered the garb, the architecture and popular customs, existing for centuries, being inhabited since ancient times by the Dacians. The Mestecanis and Prislop passes (one of the highest passes in the Carpathians), Borsa town (where there can be admired the heights of the Rodna Mountains with the Inau and Pietrosul Rodnei peaks), the famous "merry cemetery" in Sapanta, Izvoarele resort and Baia Mare city (with Saint Stephen Tower build in 1445, with a height of about 50 m, in gothic style and a beautiful museum with mine flowers).


The five pointed Oradea Fortress

Another two historical provinces are Crisana and Banat in the West of Transilvania with their main cities Oradea (with the second astronomical observatory from all times on Romanian territory since the half of the XV-th century) and Timisoara (the first publicly electrified town in Europe).


The Old Dracula Express in Fagaras Mountains

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