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About Romania / Transylvania

Transylvania - so much to discover & enjoy; romantic castles, Saxon churches, secluded villages with ancient traditions & folk crafts, haystacks & hay-laden horse-drawn carts, gorgeous countryside, forests, rolling hills, more bears than anywhere else in Europe & welcoming, hospitable people offering delicious dishes & a wide range of lethal alcoholic drinks” (Transylvania: Lucy Mellows-Travel writer, 2008).
The real Transylvania is more of a daylight fantasy: flower-filled meadows, lost-in-time villages, sun-drenched plains dotted with Saxon churches and castle ruins, and family-friendly ski slopes” (The Independent; The complete guide to Transylvania, 2009).

Some people assume Transylvania is an invention of Bram Stoker, ripened by bloodthirsty Hollywood directors. However the "land beyond the forest" – as the Latin name translates – is genuine enough. While the Romans called it Trans-Sylvania, the name is Ardeal in Romanian, Erdély in Hungarian and Siebenbürgen in German. The latter translates as "seven fortress towns", and hints at the significance of Saxons shipped in during the 12th century from Flanders and the Moselle Valley to defend the sparsely populated region from repeated invasions.

Those seven towns (Bistrița, Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, Mediaș, Șebes, Sibiu and Sighișoara) are great survivors. They emerged relatively unscathed following the brutal years of Ceaușescu's communist tyranny from 1965 to 1989 and have since been restored to their former imposing elegance
” (The Independent; The complete guide to Transylvania, 2009).
  • Facts about Transylvania

    • Location - Central Romania - surrounded by the arc of the Carpathian mountain chain.
    • Current Population – The 2002 census classified Transylvania as the entire region of Romania west of the Carpathians. This region has a population of 7,221,733, with a large Romanian majority (75.9%). There are also sizeable Hungarian (19.6%), Roma (3.3%), German (0.7%) and Serb (0.1%) communities.The ethnic Hungarian population of Transylvania, largely composed of Székely, form a majority in the counties of Covasna and Harghita.
    • Main cities - Alba Iulia, Bistrița, Brașov, Cluj Napoca, Mediaș, Miercurea Ciuc, Șebeș, Sibiu, Sighișoara, Târgu Mureș
  • Places of interest and things to do

    • Mountains surround Transylvania making it an excellent place for skiing during the winter months.
    • The region has four national parks, two biosphere reserves and three of Romania's five natural parks. Retezat National Park ( protects more than 300 species of flora and 50 species of mammal including brown bear, wolves, lynx, foxes, deer and chamois. The rare monk eagle has been spotted.
    • Transylvania is watered by many rivers, and large lakes. The spooky St Anna Lake is the only intact volcanic lake in Europe; nearby are rare peat bogs and sulphur caves.
    • Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle
    • The medieval cities of Alba Iulia, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu (European Capital Of Culture in 2007), Târgu Mureș and Sighișoara (UNESCO World Heritage Site and alleged birthplace of Vlad Dracula)The city of Brașov and the nearby Poiana Brașov ski resort
    • The city of Hunedoara with the 14th century Hunyadi Castle
    • The citadel and the Art Nouveau city centre of Oradea
    • The Dacian Fortresses of the Orăștie Mountains, including Sarmizegetusa Regia (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
    • The Maramureș region

    • The Merry Cemetery of Săpânța (the only of that kind in the world)
    • The Wooden Churches (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

    • The cities of Baia Mare and Sighetu Marmației
    • The Saxon fortified churches (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
    • The Apuseni Mountains: Țžara Moților, The Bears Cave, Scărișoara Ice Cave, in Alba County, the third largest glacier cave in the world
  • Interesting articles

  • Currently all Care2Travel volunteer placements are based in the county of Harghita which is part of the region known by the Hungarian population as Sz?kely Land (Sz?kelyf?ld) located in the East of Transylvania.

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