Retro: Brasov, Romania

They built a Hollywood sign.

It’s sad that, in a town that’s one of the main Transylvanian tourist hubs, and features some beautiful squares and buildings, the first thing I remember is the “Brasov” sign high up in the hills.

Too bad, too, since it really is a beautiful town.  The main square (Piata Sfatului) is dominated by the shadow of the massive Black Church off in the side streets.  Green hills surround the town.  Even arriving late, the streets were bustling with locals and buskers alike.  Definitely a neat place.

The sign wasn’t there in 1141, when Germans came to the area to farm.  Bordering three principalities, the town became a major medieval trading centre and, as the first Saxon town north of Bucharest, trade still exists, though now it’s almost exclusively tourist.

Piata Stafalui is put together well, with the Council House the most notable structure, and some shops, restaurants and hotels lining the square.  The historical museum was closed by the time we got to it, though Lonely Planet and Claudiu told us it wasn’t particularly good.  More unfortunately, we got into town after the cable car, which would have taken us up Mount Tampa, was closed.  So we had to settle for the also-beautiful panoramas from the two towers on the west side of town, the Black Tower and the White Tower, both of which are white.

The Black Church, so named after a fire blacked out its walls, is supposed to be the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul – I’ll check the next time I’m doing the route.  It’s a fantastically large, imposing building that seems to be visible from most parts of town.  Again, got there when it was closed, so we couldn’t really get in.

So I feel like my assessment of Brasov is “It was pretty, might have been prettier if it was open.”

Maybe that’s why the sign is the most memorable part.

Retro Date: July 20th, 2010


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