Sunday, November 15, 2015

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So our first morning in Brasov we headed out for a tour of the town - our first stop being a small market... flowers - food - honey- etc... oh, and eggs in a vending machine that dropped down like candy bars !?!?

Brașov is a city in Romania and the administrative centre of Brașov County.  According to the last Romanian census, from 2011, there were 253,200 people living within the city of Brașov, making it the 7th most populous city in Romania, and the metropolitan area is home to 369,896 residents.

Brașov is located in the central part of the country, about 103 miles north of Bucharest and 236 miles from the Black Sea. It is surrounded by the Southern Carpathians and is part of the Transylvania region.  The city is notable for being the birthplace of the national anthem of Romania.

The oldest traces of human activity and settlements in Brașov date back to the Neolithic age (about 9500 BCE). Archaeologists working from the last half of the 19th century discovered continuous traces of human settlements in areas situated in Brașov:  Three locations show traces of Dacian citadels.  German colonists known as the Transylvanian Saxons played a decisive role in Brașov's development. These Germans were invited by Hungarian kings to develop towns, build mines, and cultivate the land of Transylvania at different stages between 1141 and 1300. The settlers came primarily from the Rhineland, Flanders, and the Moselle region, with others from Thuringia, Bavaria, Wallonia, and even France.

In 1211, by order of King Andrew II of Hungary, the Teutonic Knights fortified the Burzenland to defend the border of the Kingdom of Hungary. On the site of the village of Brașov, the Teutonic Knights built Kronstadt – the city of the crown. Although the crusaders were evicted by 1225, the colonists they brought in remained, along with local population, as did three distinct settlements they founded on the site of Brașov.

Germans living in Brașov were mainly involved in trade and crafts. The location of the city at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe, together with certain tax exemptions, allowed Saxon merchants to obtain considerable wealth and exert a strong political influence. They contributed a great deal to the architectural flavor of the city. Fortifications around the city were erected and continually expanded, with several towers maintained by different craftsmen's guilds, according to medieval custom. Part of the fortification ensemble was recently restored using UNESCO funds, and other projects are ongoing. At least two entrances to the city, Poarta Ecaterinei and Poarta Șchei are still in existence. The city center is marked by the mayor's former office building and the surrounding square, which includes one of the oldest buildings in Brașov, the Hirscher Haus. Nearby is the "Black Church", which some claim to be the largest Gothic style church in Southeastern Europe.

Jews have lived in Brașov since 1807, when Aron Ben Jehuda was given permission to live in the city, a privilege until then granted only to Saxons. The Jewish community of Brașov was officially founded 19 years later, followed by the first Jewish school in 1864, and the building of the synagogue in 1901. The Jewish population of Brașov was 67 in 1850, but it expanded rapidly to 1,280 people in 1910 and 4,000 by 1940. Today the community has about 230 members, after many families left for Israel between World War II and 1989.

Like many other cities in Transylvania, Brașov is also home to a significant ethnic Hungarian minority.  During the communist period, industrial development was vastly accelerated. Under Nicolae Ceaușescu's rule, the city was the site of the 1987 Brașov strike. This was repressed by the authorities and resulted in numerous workers being imprisoned. (blue font from wikipedia)

here are some photos of the town market- the town symbol in the first photo and then market items- inlcuding the egg vending machine- LOL

this holds a home made fermented corn drink that is an essential ingredient in the sour soup famous in all Romania called chorba-

lots and lots of honey for sale - many bee keepers in the area and a ton of choices in honey "flavors"

now tell me this doesn't look like an accident waiting to happen.... LOL

the streets of the town center and the Black Cathedral-

on to the synagogue-

then on to St Nicholas orthodox church- after heading through one of the old city gates- we take the car to the orthodox church and cemetery - there is also a museum of the first school in Transylvania right next door-

the school museum- which is overrun with loud south american tourists from Brazil so we tell Cornl that we want to skip it rather than deal with the crowds in such a small area-

the view from above town - in the center lower half is the orthodox church and cemetery- right near the greenspace at the lower right -

as we head out of town we stop for some water - the place has no smaller bottle but does have some really enticing sausage...

we are off to Bran - home to Bran castle - for lunch which we eat at this humongous resort with a restaurant that served like five hundred people- not our best meal... but it did have a nice view of the castle from the terrace where we ate-


the above photo was taken from below at a terrific museum of the castle's true history with period furnishings from the castle when it was occupied as a residence...

Bran Castle, situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on DN73. Commonly known as "Dracula's Castle" (although it is one among several locations linked to the Dracula legend, including Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle), it is the home of the titular character in Bram Stoker's Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad III, voivode of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula. As discovered by the Dutch author Hans Corneel de Roos, the location Bram Stoker actually had in mind for Castle Dracula while writing his novel was an empty mountain top, Mount Izvorul Călimanului, 6,670 feet high, located in the Transylvanian Călimani Alps near the former border with Moldavia. (wikipedia)

so despite seeing the tourist vans with Dracula tours - this is not the location of the Dracula Castle mostly because there WAS NO DRACULA... it's a STORY.... which we will see and hear more about in Sigishora in a few days... but for now it is back to Brasov and later to another excellent dinner where we have our first papanash - and here is a photo to get you thinking about how you too can procure some of this delicious confection!

the above photo was Phil's and the below the one(s) I shared with Cornl- LOL

OK so we fell hard for this and knew we had never seen it before and thus ordered it every opportunity we had for the remainder of our time in Romania and if we saw it in Moldova we got it there too... LOL

sometimes when Cornl and I split it they brought it on two plates :-)

it was somewhat like tiramisu in that each place had its own recipe and/or style and own type of fruit... this is not exhaustive but you get the idea... tomorrow we are off to a new town and the beginning of our five - one night only - hotel stays as we criss cross the north eastern quarter of the country... so stay tuned...

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