Transylvania, the Heart of Europe

castelul branTransylvania gained world-wide fame through two famous pieces of literature. One of these is Bram
Stoker’s popular novel Dracula, which is why this land is known today as the realm of vampires. In his narrative, the Irish writer depicted the Transylvanian cities of Cluj and Bistrița along with the Carpathians, the location which serves as the dwelling place of the notorious Count Dracula.

The story is inspired by the myth of the vampire. However, beyond the myth there is the legend
and legends usually spring from facts and history. The second narrative that made Transylvania a household name is Jules Verne’s novel The Carpathian Castle.

This love story features a beautiful countess and is considered one of the most enchanting pieces in world literature. The Castle depicted in the novel is a very important fortress of the age, namely the early Medieval Colţ Fortress “Cetatea de Colţ” situated in the Southern Carpathians.

The places that inspired the novels Dracula and the Castle in the Carpathians For local Romanians the name Dracula is an alias for Vlad Ţepeş. This infamous historical figure was not a count
but a prince, and he was not considered a vampire but a brave fighter of Ottoman oppression. He had become a hero in the eyes of his people due to his outstanding courage and drive and also due to his righteousness and unimpaired sense of justice which made him seem ruthless in the eyes of those who violated the laws of the age.

His favourite method of punishment was impalement. Ţeapă is the Romanian word for stake and this is how he earned the nickname of Ţepeş. According to local folklore he was called Drăculea
or Dracula by his subjects, namely the son of Dracu (the Devil). His father, the great Wallachian prince had become a knight in the order of the Dragon, a medieval order established by Sigismund, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The prince wore a gorget decorated with a dragon, the sign of the Order. The Latin equivalent of the word dragon is draco. The son of Vlad the Draco or
Dragon, Vlad Dracula (little dragon), was born in the medieval fortress of Sighişoara, situated in the south of Transylvania, which, today, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The above mentioned Vlad Ţepeş reigned over the principality three times and managed to defeat the great Mehmed conqueror of Constantinople. He was killed in a battle against the Ottomans in 1476. The touristic inheritance
left behind by the prince is present today in Transylvania and Wallachia alike.

As mentioned above, this mythical land has served as the setting for many narratives; however, it is a place worth discovering. Not just as a reader as its wonders reach beyond the realm of literary inspiration. His Royal Highness, Prince Charles was so taken by the natural and historical richness that he had purchased an estate in Transylvania in the picturesque little village of Viscri. He has also invested funds in the restoration of several architectural treasures of former Transylvanian nobility
such as the Bánffy Castle of Bonțida in Cluj County.

Transylvania is promoted by other members of the English Royal Family. For example, some of them spend their Christmas’ regularly at Săvârșin Castle in Arad County, a spectacular example of feudal architecture. The Geographic Centre of Europe Very few Europeans know that Transylvania is located
in the heart of the continent. The Geographic centre of Europe is actually situated in the northern part of Transylvania, namely the region called Maramureş. According to some topographic measurements; the exact centre of the continent is the historical region of Maramureş, more specifically a little village in Ukraine inhabited by Romanians.

However, another study identifies, Vişeul de Sus, a small town from Maramureş, as the centre. Whichever one might be the most accurate answer both studies can be considered topographic proof that Transylvania is indeed on the border between East and West. Historically speaking
this central area was part of the Roman and, later, the Byzantine Empires and in the early Middle Ages it was under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire.

The western part of Transylvania, the city of Oradea serves as the eternal dwelling place of the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund of Luxemburg and it was home to the most important Observatory in Europe. The latter institution was founded by the famous renaissance savant, Ioan Vitez of Zredna, educator of Iancu de Hunedoara’s (the last crusader’s) children. This Observatory made Oradea the Prime Meridian between the years 1464 – 1667, later on it was moved to Paris and eventually London. Thus Christopher Columbus set sail towards America using the calculus made here, in Oradea. He also used this Meridian to prove that the Earth is round.

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 + 9 =