The journey around the vast Transylvanian plateau sheltered by the wild Carpathians started in Cluj-Napoca, followed by Sibiu, a former European Capital of Culture. During the summer afternoons, temperatures easily reached 35 degrees Celsius in the shade but I hoped they would drop once we were in the mountains.
Buildings in the central square of Sibiu
Having been to Sibiu once before, in the winter of 2013, I realized I loved this city during the colder months. Fewer people and the crisp mornings or evenings give it a surreal quality, hard to find anywhere else in Romania but in the Transylvanian towns and villages.
Terraces and buildings in central Sibiu
The next day we drove further south towards the Southern Carpathians, where the highest point is Moldoveanu Peak at 2,544 metres high in the Fagaras Mountains. The main points of attraction were the famous Transgafarasan Highway, Lake Balea and Lake Vidraru.
Peaks seen from Lake Balea
Going up the Transfagarasan Highway
Going down the Transfagarasan Highway
When we left the mountains behind us, we encountered the cruel heatwave in the old Wallachian territory of Arges county. After a short stay in Curtea de Arges, a former capital of Wallachia, we drove further East and later that day we were welcomed to Brasov county by a wonderful scenery, soaked in golden sunlight.
Entering Brasov county
We spent the night at Bran, a very small town with a very big point of attraction: Bran castle. This was my second visit but it never ceases to delight me. We reached the town in the late afternoon and took a walk in the central area near the castle, wondering where all the tourists were. The next morning, when we queued for tickets at the castle’s entrance, waves of people kept showing up and by the time we left, the queue seemed endless.
Tower at Bran castle
A bedroom inside Bran castle
Inside the castle’s courtyard
Following the visit to the castle we drove North and after only a short journey we reached the beautiful old city of Brasov, where temperatures were unexpectedly high. On our way to Brasov we glimpsed the enormous ruins of Rasnov citadel, built in the early 13th century as part of a defense system for the Transylvanian settlements exposed to outside invasions.
Rasnov citadel as seen from the town of Rasnov.
Brasov Council building
After Brasov we drove towards the beautiful town of Sighisoara, the birthplace of Vlad Tepes. I have been there four times but I can never get tired of walking the citadel’s cobbled alleys.
Old buildings in the citadel’s centre
One very special place in Sighisoara is the old cemetery on the hill. A hauntingly serene forest shelters the silent graves, named or unnamed, making it seem an entire world by itself. It is one of the most amazing places of rest I have ever seen in Romania.
A place for heros: grave stones wearing the names of men fallen in the First World War
After we left Sighisoara, we drove back to Timis county, leaving behind the citadels and the mountains, the histories and an enchanted castle, but we kept with us the sweet memories of moments that only came to pass.
Leaving Transylvania behind