Dracula and the bears.
Second day in Transylvania starts early because there are a lot of places to visit. We decide to keep a second tour in Brașov for later and we go straight to the Libearty (is not a mistype) Bear Sanctuary, a praiseworthy institution aimed to save bears that were kept in captivity for years, a thing that is nowadays forbidden in Romania. I spoke about bears closed in cages near restaurants on my post on the way back from Plitvice lakes. This huge park hosts dozens of beautiful bears that are not able anymore to live into the wild but at least this way they can spend some happy day in their life. Park is located in a remote area near Zarnesti, not far from Brașov. We arrive on time for the visit starting at 10:00. Other than the bears there is also a she-wolf that seems to enjoy the company of the plantigrades. I would not make you sad telling the horrible stories we heard about mistreatment of these beautiful animals. I just like to say that it was really an heart warming visit. If bears are one of the symbols of Transylvania, certainly the most famous one is a guy with peculiar teeth: count Dracula. Now it’s time to visit his house, or maybe not… Let’s go. Bran Castle looks dark and spooky as soon as you can see it. Unfortunately its worst enemy is its own fame. It is a kind of DraculaLand park. In town there is a cinema in 5D (!), a funhouse, and of course the castle. Did I forgot something? Well yes, I didn’t mention Dracula but this wasn’t a mistake. Dracula had never been here. As you know when we talk about Dracula we are not talking about a fictional characters but real historical person. Vlad Țepeș lived in the XV century and he ruled on Wallachia for 8 years in three different period of time. Dracul means Dragon and it was mostly used to refer to the father of Vlad but it was also used sometime for the Impaler. The association between this castle and Dracula is not clear but we should admit that it is the perfect location for Dracula’s myth so locals were smart enough to take this opportunity and turn Bran into one of the most visited sights in Romania. Actually too visited. On the tight stairs within the castle is hard to go on due to the crowd. Maybe a limitation on the amount of visitors on hourly basis would be advisable. However, the tour of the “Dracula castle” is done and I can’t say I loved it. Now let’s move to something better.
Black church and Prejmer.
After Bran, we return to Brașov because the region’s capital is on the way for our next destination. Since we have to go through the town we stop here once again to visit the black church since yesterday it was closed. Church is very impressive. Its organ is one of the biggest in south Europe area but the church hosts also several other smaller organs coming from other churches of the region. Furthermore, in the church there are also many Turkish carpets called Transylvanian rugs. It seems that once, when Brașov was an important trade centre between east and west, owning one of this carpet was a sign of wealth and prestige, so they have here probably the biggest collection outside Turkey. After visiting the church and doing a very quick tour of the main square we take our car and we head to Prejmer. All this area is densely spotted by fortified churches, basically little forts or citadels hosting a church and sometimes also other buildings. Seven of them were included in the Unesco world heritage list and the village of Prejmer has one of them. The citadel is very well preserved and there are not many tourists. The church is interesting. It has a greek cross plan and inside there are carpets like in Brașov. However the most interesting part of the citadel to me is the three-storey lines of rooms used as storage and shelter for pilgrims. One of the room, bigger than the other ones, hosts a well done model of classroom.
On the way to Rupea, still very close to Brașov, we were impressed by another fortified church in Hărman, very beautiful from outside. Unfortunately we can’t enter because it is closed. On the road again. In Romania there are many reasons to enjoy driving, not only historical buildings but also wonderful landscapes like the one we have the pleasure to see around Bod. Yellow fields, blue sky and some nice white cloud. Well yes, after a quite cloudy start of the day, now the weather seems to improve and when we finally reach Rupea sky is absolutely clear blue. The sight is almost desert. You would have probably understood that it is my favourite situation. This is a fortress built in XIII century on the top of the rock. Name “Rupea” comes from Latin “Rupe” that it means rock. Now there are only ruins but the clear blue sky, the silence and the late afternoon light makes this place magic. There’s not much to say about it if you’ve seen ruins of a fortress once in your life. However magic doesn’t last forever so let’s move on.
Ending the day in Sighișoara.
From Rupea to Sighișoara is only a short ride. We found a great place to sleep just before the begin of the town. It is a fantastic and very peaceful B&B with garden. We take just a quick break and then we go in town to get familiar with it and to dine. Sighișoara is absolutely beautiful and is probably the best town I’ve been in Romania so far. Dracula was born here but they do not turn everything into an amusement park. They have a great town to show. Unfortunately the restaurant where I want to eat is closed but we found another one close to it where we can also try some local dish. I try pork aged in pork fat. If it doesn’t look suitable for a diet is because likely it is not. This way it ends the second day of the tour. Tomorrow is going to be quite hard. Still a lot of sights and the way back to Bucharest.
For now, take a look of the gallery of these three days.