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Transylvanian fortresses road trip – day 1

Trip plan, check. Car, check. Luggage, check. New CDs with music for the road, check. Garlic, check. And off we go in a three days road trip to the magical land beyond the forest.

Day 1

From Bucharest, we headed North and passed through the mountains into Transylvania through the beautiful valley of the river Olt. Even though I’ve passed through there who know how many times already, the scenery still looks amazing every time!

the valey of the Olt river

the valey of the Olt river

The entrance to Transylvania is marked by the ruins of a tower. On it, there’s an old inscription that says “Beware of vampires! Enter at your own risk!”

the Broken Tower

the Broken Tower

Just kidding! Sorry to disappoint you, but there is no warning sign and no scientific proof of the existence of vampires…not yet :-S . And no, we didn’t really pack any garlic 😛

So the tower … called the Broken Tower, is now in ruins. Built in the 15th century, it used to be a part of a complex system of fortifications that guarded the entrance to Transylvania from the south. After a quick stop there, we’re back on our way!

The next stop in our trip was the Brukenthal Palace from Avrig. The palace was built in the second half of the 18th century and used to be the summer residence of Transylvanian governor Samuel von Brukenthal. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go inside the manor, but we did go for a long walk in its beautiful gardens. I would have expected the gardens to be full of flowers and decorations and such, but there is only a small pool/fountain. They are very spacious though, so really good for a stroll. And they had poneys and cute bunnies.

Brukenthal Palace Gardens

Brukenthal Palace Gardens

Next, we headed to a small village called Cârța to look for the ruins of an old Cistercian Monastery. We didn’t have to look hard for them, they are right in the center of the town and indicated by road signs. A really nice example of french gothic art, the monastery was founded sometime around 1200. Many parts of it are in ruins now, but you can still climb in the bell tower and visit a part of it that is still in good condition. That part  is still used as a Lutheran Evangelical church belonging to the local Saxon community. From the tower you can get a nice view of the whole establishment and also of the Cârța village.

view from the bell tower

view from the bell tower

Our last stop for the day was the town of Făgăraș where we visited the medieval fortress. It’s construction began in 1310 on the place where a 12th century wooded fortress once stood. The fort was enlarged and rebuild a few times after that. It used to be the residence home of its prince owners and high dignitaries and records show that it had luxurious interiors. Unfortunately, it was turned into a military garrison in the 18th century and it lost its glamour. It is still surrounded by a moat, but now peaceful swans swim in it. You can access the fortress it through a bridge over the defense moat. At the center of it stands the castle and four towers. The fortifications consist of massive walls arranged in the shape of a trapezium with four corners guarded by four large bastions.

Since 1954, that castle houses the Museum of Făgăraș County. It has a historical section with artifacts that tell the story of the Făgăraș area, an ethnographic collection that focuses on artistic and folk crafts in the area and a collection of glass painted icons. But it was being renovated at the time (may 2013), so we didn’t get to visit it. We did get to walk inside the walls and climb on the bastions and admire the view. If you are interested in medieval fortifications and such, it’s really nice to check everything out and imagine how they would have defended/attacked the fortress.

the fortress and moat

the fortress and moat

After visiting the fortress, we headed to Prejmer, our next stop. But we only visited the fortified church from here the next day. On the first evening, all we had planned was dinner and a well deserved rest.

Read more from the road trip: day 2 and day 3.

Entrance fees (in may 2013):

  • Cărța Monastery – 3 lei, the tickets can be bought from the house next door to the monastery
  • the rest are free 🙂
  • 1 euro is about 4.4 lei or so

Other useful info:

  • more info about the Făgăraș Fortress and visiting hours for the museum
  • if you like trout, I recommend a trout farm and restaurant we went to in the first day of the trip: Albota
  • we stayed at Pension Oficial Prejmer – I highly recommend it, it had neat spacious rooms, friendly staff and good food

And also I have pinpointed the sites from whole the roadtrip on the map below and you can see their exact location and get directions to them.

trip date: May 2013

2 Comments

  1. Simona · April 8, 2017 Reply

    I just love Transylvania! And how really beautiful our country is!

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