©Panoramic Kronstadt (copyright : creative commons)
Brasov is the only city in the world that includes within its limits a nature reserve and a mountain, Mount Tampa. The city is often called “the city at the foot of Tampa” after the mountain.
The city has roughly 227,000 inhabitants, most of which are Romanians, but Hungarians, Germans, Gypsies, and Jews also live in the city.
Brasov was one of the seven citadels founded by Saxons in Transylvania.
Brasov is a major touristic center in itself, but the area around it (known as Tara Barsei or Burzenland) is a place of outstanding beauty as well.
A large population of bears lives in the mountains surrounding the city; the bears regularly visit the dumpsters in the Racadau district of Brasov.
Piata Sfatului (the Old Town Hall Square) – a beautiful square lined with historical buildings. Home to the city’s administration for five centuries.
Mount Tampa – a small mountain of about 900 meters, situated right in the middle of the city. A cable car will take you to the top, or you can opt for the marked trail to the peak, which can be hiked in about an hour. The mount offers panoramic views of Brasov and the whole Burzenland.
Biserica Neagra (Black Church) – located in Piata Sfatului, this monument is the largest Gothic church from Vienna to Istanbul. Built in 1383-1480, its name comes from the fire of 1689 that blackened its walls. Recitals played on the church’s magnificent organ, built in 1839, can be enjoyed in the summer evenings.
The city walls and bastions – Brasov was surrounded by a massive 12 meter high defensive wall, of which some portions still remain. For protection and passage, several bastions and gates were erected along its way. Don’t miss the Black Tower, White Tower, the Schei Gate, and the Weavers’ Bastion.
Brasov is close to the Fagaras and Bucegi Mountains, and any self-respecting nature enthusiast should consider a nature tour in the area. The nearby Piatra Craiului National Park is a place of scenic beauty that offers some of the best sightseeing, bird watching, photography, hiking, and rock climbing opportunities in Europe.
Tour of the old town of Brasov – a host of historic monuments dating from the 15th to 17th centuries are open for visitation, many located around Piata Sfatului – the Black Church, the Hirscher House (16th century, a place of gathering for the city’s merchants), the old city hall (now the city’s history museum), the Mureseni Memorial House, the St Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral located in the Schei district, and more.
Bear watching – many of Europe’s last remaining bears live in the mountains around Brasov. Guided tours are available, including trips to bear hides, where you are almost guaranteed to see one.
Bran Castle – located roughly 30 kilometers from Brasov, is a great idea for a day trip with the kids. This massive stone construction lays in a spectacular setting between the Bucegi Mountains and the Piatra Craiului Massif. Built in the 14th century to protect Burzenland from invaders, the castle is often tied to the name of Dracula, though there’s very little historic connection between the castle and the historic figure of Vlad the Impaler.
Ski trip – there are several winter resorts nearby Brasov, such as Predeal and Poiana Brasov. Easily accessible by car or bus, the slopes around Brasov have different difficulty levels. Many restaurants and bars are perched on the foothills of the slopes. Ski instructors, equipment rental services, and chain lifts are available.
Brasov is right in the heart of the beautiful Burzenland (Tara Barsei) historical region, home to castles, fortified churches, old Saxon settlements, and outstanding natural beauty.
Sinaia, considered the finest mountain resort in Romania, is located about 45 kilometers from Brasov, and is accessible by train or bus. The outstanding Peles Castle, completed in 1883 for King Carol I, is the main attraction of Sinaia. Built in exquisite Neo-Renaissance style, the richly-decorated castle features a collection of over 4,000 pieces of weaponry and armor. In the winter, thousands of tourists descend on Sinaia’s downhill ski slopes.
Sfinxul and Babele (The Sphinx and The Crones) located in the Bucegi Mountains, roughly 40 kilometers from Brasov are natural rock formations shaped by centuries of wind and water erosion. They are accessible by foot or by cable car from Busteni.
The fortified churches of Viscri and Prejmer are some of the finest examples of fortified religious buildings in Europe and are included in the UNESCO World Heritage.
How to get there: Thanks to its central location in Romania, Brasov is easily accessible by car or by train from every corner of the country. The city is roughly 190 kilometers away from Bucharest, a distance that can be covered in 2.5-3 hours by car, depending on traffic conditions. Bus and train links to and from Brasov are regularly available.
Brasov lacks an airport at the moment of this writing, though one is currently being constructed and should open by 2020. The closest airports are those in Bucharest, Sibiu, and Targu Mures.