After a long period of studying, finally, we could have a 2-week semester break. Since we live in Brasov, we do not have to worry about where to go during the holidays because there are many beautiful places nearby! We would like to share with you a glimpse of our semester break activities.
Hiking Mount Tampa
Mount Tampa is where the BRASOV sign is situated. However, do not settle only for the sign. We can hike a bit more to get a view of the Carpathian Mountains. Mt. Tampa itself is in the southern part of the Eastern Carpathians and Brasov is the city that surrounds the mountain. In the 1950s, Brasov was named Stalin City (Orasul Stalin), and the trees in Tampa were all chopped down so that the name of the former dictator appeared on the hillside facing the old town. However, now the forest has recovered and become a nature reserve area.
We started to walk from the old center. It took us about 5 minutes of walking to reach the foot of Mt. Tampa. The hiking trails were well marked, and they were less than 3 km long. It took us around 30-40 minutes to reach the BRASOV sign and 5 more minutes to tackle the peak of Tampa. The paths are rocky and slippery (it can be muddy during the summer). From the top of Mount Tampa, we can enjoy the magnificent view of Brasov. For those who are lazy to hike, don’t worry, you can still enjoy the view with minimum effort by taking the cable car.
Finding Count Dracula
Moving away from Brasov, we drove 25 km to the southwest to start our new journey. We decided to visit the famous Dracula’s Castle. Its original name is actually Bran Castle. Laying on a rocky foundation near the riverbed, this medieval castle looks so majestic. The castle was built between 1377 and 1388 and has been functioning as a bulwark, custom house, royal residence, and museum since then until now.
Why do people believe it is Dracula’s castle? Well, Dracula is actually a fictional character made by Bram Stroker. He made the Dracula character after a real person, Vlad Tepes (The Impaler). Vlad is a sadistic prince of Wallachia, who liked to behead, boil, burn and skin his enemies alive. However, neither Bram nor Vlad have ever visited Bran Castle. Some people believe that Vlad was kept there as a prisoner for several months before later he was moved to the prison near Budapest. So, in the end, we did not find Dracula (at least not any living one :p).
Can’t Get Enough of Castle.
Moving to Romania’s western region, we continued our journey to the most spectacular Gothic-style castle in Romania, Corvin Castle. The castle was built in the 14th century, and many called it one of the seven wonders of Romania. The structure of the building is very unique because it has many tall and narrow turrets. Corvin Castle has more than 40 chambers and 2 large areas which are Knight’s Hall (for the feast) and Diet Hall (used for ceremonies). The walls of the halls were beautifully decorated with marbles which we can still see today.
Corvin Castle was the home of John Hunyadi (commonly known as Iancu de Hunedoara). He was the man who is famous for stopping the Ottoman Empire from conquering Belgrade and advancing towards Western Europe. Additionally, the castle houses many prisons where war hostages were kept. There is a legend about the three Turkish men who were being kept at the prison and dug nearly 20-25 meters into stone until they finally reached the water. They were told if they could find the water, then they would be released. But in fact, they were beheaded right after finding the water. We can still find the fountain which was dug in stone by them today.
Nowadays, many movies set Corvin Castle as their shooting location, such as The Nun and Underworld. You can also rent the castle to hold your private occasion if you like (such as a wedding :p).
That’s it for this post and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed our short semester break.
See you in another post!