Brasov, Romania (22nd of January 2006)

Sunday 22nd of January 2006

I arrived in Brasov at 11.08am and was hassled by a few crazies at the station. Lots of people with skis and ski gear abouded. Alot of snow fell over the past few days and whose involved in winter sports were taking advantage. I tried to buy a ticket to Suceava for tomorrow night but they said you can only buy ticket one hour prior to departure.

I purchased a one way bus ticket (10,000) and went from there one way to square “Piata Unirii” which is the last stop using bus NO.4. It takes about 15-20 minutes. There are alot of warnings out there (internet, fellow travellers) regarding pickpockets on this bus. It takes about 15 minutes (end stop) to get to the square. It was a simple two minute walk to the hostel. The Rolling Stone Hostel is also nearby.

I was staying at the Kismet Dao hostel (korean owned). Says it the only legal hostel in town and provides every night – a free beer, free laundry, 1 hour of internet, clean bedding, baggage storage and tourist information. Its in the historic Schei district.

A pack of Dogs were fenced in next to the hostel which is in a residential area but no worry (althought the hostel owners and neightbours do not get on). Incredible good looking articulate girl at reception. The room was basic and quite full. No lock, lockers. No other travellers there. It has a TV room and you can borrow DVD’s. It was 10 Euro which included a free beer and a hours Internet at a narby Internet cafe. I headed straight out and hit the main sights – which is city as its an walled old town flanked by mountains (you cant really get lost).

I visited the main square which was nice. I walked around the old walls, visited fortifications on both sides of the mountains and walked to the cable car which took me up the mountaina nd abck for 60,000 lei. You can also walk up there but its a hard slog in the snow. Maybe next time. i usually like walking but not this time. There were fine views to be had from there. You can see the outline of the old town which was good.





Piata Sfatului & History Museum. Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Brasov’s showpiece Council Square, known to the Saxon population as the Marktplatz, is one of the most beautiful pedestrianised main squares of Romania. The square was refurbished in 1988. All around the square are sturdy houses with high lofts for storing goods. In the middle of the square is the old city hall, dating from 1420, and now home to Brasov’s History Museum (open 10:00 – 18:00, closed Mon). The tower is in fact much older, and was once a watchtower for approaching barbarians before being incorporated into the main building. What you see today is largely the result of an 81-year renovation after the great fire of 1689.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





The Black Church ((Biserica Neagra), Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Brasov’s most important landmark, apparently the largest church between Vienna and Istanbul, towers over Piata Sfatului and the old town. The Black Church has a turbulent history: built between 1385 and 1477 on the site of an earlier church (destroyed by Mongol invasions in 1242), the construction of the Marienkirche was hampered by extensive damage caused by Turkish raids in 1421. The church was given its new name after disaster stuck again in 1689, when the ‘Great Fire’ levelled most of the town, blackening the walls of the church. Restoration took almost 100 years. Of two towers planned, only one (65,6m high) was finished. The original Gothic interior has suffered under the restorations, and the lofty, light space you see nowadays is mostly Baroque. Humanist Johannes Honterus, whose 101-year-old statue can be seen next to the tower, became Stadtpfarrer (priest) a few years after bringing Lutheranism to Brasov in 1542. Listen to the impressive 4000-pipe organ dating from 1839 during the concerts held three times a week during summer (see entertainment, page 19). The church windows have recently been fit out with special UV-filtering glass to protect the 119 fabulous Anatolian carpets. The rugs were donated by German merchants in the the 17th and 18th century, thankful to have survived their shopping trips into the barbaric lands south and east of the Carpathians. The collection is the largest of its kind in Europe. Open 10:00 – 15:30. Closed Sun. Admission 30,000 lei; children, students 15,000.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Piata Sfatului taken from the Blck tower Fortifications, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Piata Sfatului taken from the Blck tower Fortifications, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Shot of a church walking towards the Schei district.

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Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

One of the many old and colorful buildings in the old town.

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Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

A cross and church on the north side of the old town heading towards the railway sation.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

A cross and church on the north side of the old town heading towards the railway sation.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Shot of main squae taken from Tampa Mountain, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Ascend Mount Tampa by cable car (going up to an altitude of 940m) or by walking up one of the paths twisting up the hill to soak up excellent views of mediaeval Brasov, the incredibly flat plain to the north and of course the Carpathians. In the 1950’s, when Brasov was named Orasul Stalin (Stalin City), trees were chopped down so that the name of the great dictator appeared on the hillside facing the old town. Nature has recovered from the shock, and the hillside is now a nature reservation. From the upper cable car station walk five minutes (not 15 as indicated) along the path to the rocky outcrop (the top, 955m high) for the best views of the old town. You’ll clearly be able to make out the different parts of Brasov: the German part of town has hundreds of red roofs crammed between straight streets surrounding Piata Sfatului, while the Romanian Schei district to the south (left) is a spaghetti of small streets, jumbled houses and cemeteries, petering out towards the hills. On the plain are the later additions to Brasov: the 18th and 19th century expansions and of course the flats and huge factories from the last 50 years.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Shot of The Black Church ((Biserica Neagra)) taken from Tampa Mountain, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

You can the massive size/scale of the Black Church ((Biserica Neagra)) in comparison to the rest of the old town in this picture taken from Tampa mountain.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Shot of a clock tower of the Black Church ((Biserica Neagra))

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Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Shot of a church walking towards the Schei district. I believe its called Parohia Groaveri.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Ever since the Saxon settlers arrived in the early 12th century, invading Mongols, Turks and others gave them a tough time, repeatedly destroying the old settlements of Bartholomä and Corona. When they had quite enough of it all, the Saxons set themselves to build fortifications around their town, first consisting of earthen walls and wooden barriers, later reinforced with stones. Most work was done between 1400 and 1650, when outer and inner walls were erected, together with massive defence towers and gates. This shot was taken near the the classicist Poarta Schei gate, built in 1827 and the White and Black towers, built in the 15th century to watch over and defend the town.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





St. Nicolas Church, Schei district, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

You shouldn’t leave Brasov without a stroll through Schei, the district where for centuries Romanians were forced to live, as only Saxons could live within the city walls. Walk up Strada Prundului to Piata Unirii and the beautiful Str. Nicholas church and wander around the small curving streets that gradually slope upwards against the hill. Note the many different iron doorhandles and knockers adorning the pretty houses. Walk on to the southern end of Schei and you’ll end up on the gravel road to the impressive Salomon Rocks (Pietrele lui Salomon, one hours walk or bus N°19). This is where every spring thousands of Romanians gather for a massive picknick and sing-along, after having followed the traditional Junii-procession through town, celebrating the one day a year that Romanians were allowed to freely enter the Saxon town.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





St. Nicolas Church, Schei district, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

The church is right beside the hostel I stayed in….. Kismet dao and so the you need to take a bus to Saint Nicolas Church in Piata Unirii. Nice church. Very busy.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Romanian Orthodox Cathedral, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Built in a glaring Byzantine style, this church (or rather, the portal) sticks out between the subdued merchants’ houses on Piata Sfatului. The orthodox cathedral was built in 1896, and is worth entering for the frescoes and the impressive decorations. On Saturdays, brides and grooms wait in line outside to get married here (careful to avoid glancing at each other – bad luck) and it’s usually no problem if you wander in and have a look at the crowned newly weds walking around the altar three times while a choir sings Halleluja.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Romanian Orthodox Cathedral, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

Built in a glaring Byzantine style, this church (or rather, the portal) sticks out between the subdued merchants’ houses on Piata Sfatului. The orthodox cathedral was built in 1896, and is worth entering for the frescoes and the impressive decorations. On Saturdays, brides and grooms wait in line outside to get married here (careful to avoid glancing at each other – bad luck) and it’s usually no problem if you wander in and have a look at the crowned newly weds walking around the altar three times while a choir sings Halleluja.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





The Spires of catherines Gate, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

The fairy-tale Catherine gate (Poarta Ecaterina), built in 1559 and once the main entrance to medieval Kronstadt, is the only original city gate to have survived the times.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size





Medieval Alley, Brasov, Romania

Taken on the 22nd of January 2006

According to a plaque at the entrance to this strret, this street is one of the narrowest in europe.. at 1.32 metres wide and 83 metres in length exampling the town planning tendencies of old town Brasov.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Back at 6-pm and had dinner at a restaurant in the square for 220,000. It was a pretty posh restuarant but the food is quality. I also grabbed my free token ffrom the hostel for one free hour on net. Not much of an atmosphere at hostel.

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