In Transylvania you will be amazed by some of the Best European Festivals. For example Untold Festival (Cluj Napoca) was currently awarded Best Major Festival in Europe. Other great festivals are: Electric Castle, Transylvania International Film Festival, Sibiu International Theater Festival or Sibiu Jazz Festival.
While visiting Romania tasting our local cuisine is a must. You cannot come here and eat fried chicken at KFC or at Mc Donald's. Romanian cuisine is delicious and offer a great variety. During the centuries Romanian cuisine was influenced by different cultures such as ancient Greeks, Roman Empire, the Saxons, the Turks or the Hungarians. We kept the best from these cultures and mixed them into something appetizing. We strongly recommend you to eat some of these Romanian traditional food: mititei (mici), carnati, frigarui, snitel, sarmale, mamaliga cu branza, ciorba de burta, ciorba de fasole cu ciolan, gulaș (guiaș) cu afumătură. When it comes to desserts you need to try papanasi.
In cities full of life such as Cluj Napoca, Sibiu, Brasov, you will find a big range of pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and terraces (during the summer), mainly in the downtown. These cities have also a vibrant nightlife: awesome people, good and cheap beer, great music (from classic rock to metal, punk to dance, house, hip-hop, trap, drum`n`base, and the list goes on and on!). You need to taste our traditional drink called palinca (plum brandy) which may have 55–60% alcohol by volume if it has been double-distilled.
Be amazed by the beauty of winter!
In winter Carpathian Mountains are covered by the magic of white snow. On the mountain areas are many ski slopes that suit all from the beginner to those wanting to ski off-piste or try cross-country. You may also find ski slopes for families with young children. Around Brasov city are a lot of ski resorts (Poiana Brasov – is one of the most popular) that can usually guarantee good skiing conditions from December to mid March. Predeal, Busteni and Sinaia Ski Resorts are just a few others.
In the Apuseni Mountains beautiful landscapes will be waiting for you with many winter activities to choose from, or just silence and fresh air if you are after recreation.
Due to the high-level of ozone, mountain air (efficient in the treatment of respiratory diseases) in Paltinis Mountain Resort (32 km away from Sibiu) is a well appreciated making Paltinis a good destination.
In the Fagaras Mountains at Balea Lake you can visit the Ice Hotel for an awesome experience. Every year this hotel is built with a unique and different design. Beds and the entire furniture are made of big blocks of ice. There are also some additional igloos near the Ice Hotel. Enjoy some cocktails in glasses carved in ice at the Ice Bar and have an unforgettable culinary delight at the Ice Restaurant. The Ice Church brings you closer to God and if you want something unique you can celebrate your religious wedding here.
So... what's the truth? Was there or not a vampire living in Transylvania?
A century ago Bram Stoker wrote a terrifying novel about Count Dracula, "the most beautiful novel of all time" considered by many, including Oscar Wilde. Count Dracula, was inspired by one of the best-known and one of the most controvertible figures of Romanian history, Vlad Dracul, nicknamed Vlad the Impaler (in Romanian - Vlad Tepes), he was the prince of Transylvania and the ruler of Walachia.
Dracula's history - Born in 1431 in Transylvania in the fortress of Sighisoara at the border of Christian Europe with the Muslim Ottoman Empire, these lands were often bloody battlefields. In his childhood he was kept in captivity and tortured by the Ottomans for 6 years together with his younger brother (dies being tortured and buried alive by the Wallachian nobles). His father was murdered. These facts made him to become a bloodthirsty and ruthless legislator.p>
He shocked the world with his favourite method of punishment - to impale his enemies and leave them (for hours or even days) to die in agony. In those days in Transylvania, Vlad was presented as a sadistic and bloodthirsty demon (in some illustrated brochures). When he won a battle with the Turks, to celebrate the victory he drank the blood of those he impaled says another legend. In the collections of the British Museum, Vlad the Impaler is described as a monster, a great lover of cruelty and a vampire who drinks human blood.
In Romania, Vlad the Impaler is considered a hero who saved his people from Turkish invasion, but outside of Romania he is called a bloodthirsty vampire. There are many stories about his death, but what happened with his body (was never found) after his death is a mystery until today.
What's the truth? He was a hero or he was a vampire and he is still hunting Transylvania even today? Come and discover the Myths - the Legends - the Truth about Transylvania's vampires.
After Decebalus, the last king of Dacia, lost the war with Emperor Trajan, Transylvania ("The Land beyond the forest") became part of the Roman Empire in B.C. 107. The capital of Dacian Kingdom was at Sarmizegetusa (located in Transylvania). Around their capital Dacians built fortresses as protection against Roman Empire conquest. The Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
After the Emperor Aurelian ordered withdrawal from Dacia, over the centuries the region of Transylvania came under the control of the Visigoths, the Huns - Attila's Empire and also was influenced by a huge immigration of Slavic people. The Kingdom of Hungary extended beyond the Carpathian Basin and in 1003 they managed to control this region.
The Saxons (German-speaking) had an important influence in Transylvania. They came from the western Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and 13th century. The Saxons, (called Sasi), built here fortified towns and villages to protect this region against Mongols, Tartars, and the Ottoman Empire’s attacks. They built also seven principal fortified cities (Sighisoara, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Medias, Bistrita and Sebes) and they named this land Siebenburgen (Transylvania in German) - after these seven fortress towns. The Saxons were Lutherans and the heart of the community was the church. Many Saxon villages were protected by fortified churches (Kirchenburgen) and many of these churches remain intact even today and are part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Hiking or trekking into the wild nature of the Carpathian Mountains is a fantastic experience. With every step you discover beautiful landscapes and breathtaking views, high peaks, hundreds of glacial lakes (such as Balea Lake in the Fagaras Mountains or Bucura Lake in the Retezat Mountains), waterfalls and streams, limestone ridges, forests, grassland areas or unique colourful flowers. The mother nature turned the rocks into spectacular shapes such as the Sphinx, a rock with the figure of a human face, and a set of gigantic stone mushrooms, nicknamed Babele in the Bucegi Mountains or the irregular assembly of The Dragons’ Garden rocks in the Salaj County.
In the Carpathian Mountains you can try a lot of adrenaline mountains activities such as mountain-bike adventures, climbing, kayaking, horse riding, or amazing experiences of tracking and observing wild brown bears, wolves and lynx in their natural habitat.
You want something truly unique? Visit The Land of Moti and you will be fascinated by the timeless mountain villages where many century-old traditions are still in use because here inhabitants are living in relative isolation. Here, in The Apuseni Mountains you will find extraordinary nature, awesome people and beautiful landscapes. Rivers have cut eye-catching canyons and created fascinating caves. Exploring the underground world of Western Carpathians such as Scarisoara Ice Cave or The Bears Cave it is also a fabulous experience.
"The Most Beautiful Underground Place in the World" is located in Transylvania at Turda Salt Mine. Exposure to this microclimate has beneficial effects on respiratory diseases and it's a powerful healing detoxifier. Another salt mine is at Praid and is nearby Sovata where you will find something exclusive in Europe - the heliothermal Bear Lake (Lacul Ursu). This lake waters are extremely recommended in gynecological and sterility affections.
At Ocna Sibiului, after several old salt mines have been inundated, they created natural lakes. Salt water baths and mud packing are successfully used in the treatment of rheumatic, dermatological, endocrine and gynecological affections. Aerosols help in the treatment of respiratory system problems, such as asthma.
More than one third of Europe's mineral and thermal springs are located in Romania, many of them in Transylvania. Minerals from these waters are a true blessing of nature and have excellent results in many treatments: cardiovascular diseases, rheumatic affections, nervous system disorders, thyroid disorders, they help maintaining the health of the skin, hair and nails, help with health of the bones and teeth, prevent thrombophlebitis and atherosclerosis, heal the chronic muscle contractures, reduce cholesterol, remove renal colics, liver dysfunctions and digestive diseases such as hyperacid gastritis or gastric ulcer.
Transilvania's main springs and spas with mineral waters are located in Covasna, Tusnad Bai, Bazna, Borsec.
If we are thinking at the old historical region of Transylvania, that's including Banat and Crisana also. In this region, near Oradea city are located two well appreciated spa resorts with thermal waters (can reach 48 degrees Celsius) - Baile Felix (Romania's largest health resort) and Baile 1 Mai. These waters, very rich in oligominerals has proven helpful in many therapeutic prescriptions: post-injury and post-operative rehabilitation, post-traumatic affections, rheumatoid disorders and arthritis, gynecological affections, endocrine system problems or nervous system disorders.
Bear Lake - Sovata (Photo by makrela at flickr.com)
Turda Salt Mine (Photo by Cristian Bortes at flickr.com)