If the great Impressionists were around today, it’s difficult to know what they would make of the countryside they painted over a hundred years ago. The huge flat agricultural fields of modern France, with their thin wire fences and identical, machine-produced haystacks, probably wouldn’t appeal to Monet’s brush the same way. For most of Europe, the hazy rural charm found in these paintings is a thing of the past, but it is possible to unearth its last lingering traces in the rural tranquillity of Transylvania.
A lot of people think of Transylvania as a made up place full of bloodthirsty locals, but the reality is far more interesting than the vampires that have made it famous. For a long time the region was a part of Hungary, but after the Austro-Hungarian Empire was on the losing side of the First World War it was handed over to Romania. The area retains its unique culture and charm, with dramatic fairy tale castles, peaceful countryside and ridiculously picturesque villages. Here’s some more interesting information on Transylvania brought to you by BlueTrips.co.uk.
Who Would Like Transylvania?
The local tourism trade still emphasises the vampirism associations of Transylvania, so anyone with an interest in Vlad the Impaler will enjoy a visit to the original Dracula’s Castle (Bran Castle). However, the region has a much wider appeal. Walkers and nature lovers are spoilt for choice with ancient oak forests, national parks and nature reserves to choose from. Transylvania’s eco-friendly, old-fashioned farming methods means the region is a haven for different types of wild animals and birds that have been chased out of other parts of Europe by modern industrial farming; a wildlife guide will be a good companion on any hike in the area. Keen photographers will also find plenty of material in the villages, castles and towns.
When to Go?
Transylvania has year-round appeal. During the summer, walking and hiking holidays take travellers to beautiful villages such as Biertan which haven’t changed much for centuries. Malancrav, Crit and Viscri are also worth visiting. Transylvania’s main town, Cluj-Napoca, is worth a visit in itself for its beautiful architecture and peaceful Mittel-European atmosphere, but don’t forget to get out into the countryside as well during a stay here. In winter the Carpathian Mountains surrounding the region offer great skiing opportunities. The best ski resort is arguably Poiana Brasov.
Where to Visit?
As well as the places mentioned above, Transylvania has plenty of other treats in store for visitors. Strangely enough the Prince of Wales owns a house in Viscri that ordinary members of the public can rent out via his friend Count Tibor Kalnoky. The walled citadel and spectacularly intact medieval city of Sighisoara is a breathtaking place to visit; Brasov, Sibiu, and the Art Nouveau spa town of Banat are also good choices. In fact, it’s hard to go too far wrong anywhere in the region.
Transylvania is a real hidden gem, so beautiful you almost don’t want to tell other people about it in case a flood of tourists come and spoil its peaceful backwater atmosphere. Go there now, before everyone else finds out. But if the rural countryside does not inspire you, you can always go for a city break in Spain…