Today was just one of those days that was incredible in so many ways. Even despite the lame cab drivers I have encountered, Romania is quickly becoming a very special place to me.
My guide, Cecilia, and her driver, picked me up at 9 am
First, we went to Peles Castle and the Sinaia Monestery. She told me how a Prince visited Mount Sinai in 1695 and brought a stone back. He built the monestery as a thank you to God. In 1866, letters of invitation were sent to the royal families of England, France and Germany to rule Romania. Prince Carol from Germany accepted and became prince.
Prince Carol married another German princess, Elizabeth, and she didn't like Bucharest because of the hot summers. She wanted a mountain place, and he found the town of Sinaia. Carol decided to build a castle in 1874, and it was finished before 1914. It was very modern for those times and built in a German style. Bucharest people followed him and started building summer homes in the area
After the 1989 revolution , the government allowed people to get back their properties. The last Romanian king is still alive and is 92. He got back Peles Castle, but since maintenance is so high the government took it over. But the royal family can stay there and receive guests. I bought a ticket for a tour and to take photos. If you don't buy the photo ticket, you can't take any, and one guy in our group got yelled at for this. I thought it was worth it, as this castle is unlike anything I have ever seen. It contains 30 bathrooms, 60 bedrooms and 130 rooms. The inside was just unreal, and the outside was even cooler. Once again, I felt like I was at Disneyland. Sinaia is definitely a ski town, and it was so awesome to visit the castle grounds with the snow lightly falling.
We then went to the monastery, which was built in 1695 and still inhabited by Christian Orthodox Monks. Cecilia was telling me how Orthodox masses are about 3 hours long. We went inside and got a blessing from the priest. This was also a beautiful building. Romanians are mainly Eastern Orthodox, but many of its churches look like Catholic churches because of Hungarian influence.
We had lunch near Bran Castle, and I was able to take some pictures
After lunch we visited the Rasnov Citadel. Rasnov is a Transylvania village, the villagers back in medieval times built this defense fortress against possible Turk and Hungarian invasions. It is mostly in ruins, but you can still see parts of the old church, the school and where people lived. Cecilia said if the village was going to be attacked, the townspeople left their homes and went to "live" in the citadel. It was equipped to live in with food and shelter for a few months. It was believed to have been built in the early 1200s. How crazy is that? It was made with stones and bricks for its walls, and wood for its gates
After I said "la reverdere" (good bye) to Cecilia, I walked to St Peter and Paul Catholic Church to attend the 6 pm mass. This is the only baroque style church in Brasov, and it was built in 1782. It was gorgeous inside! The mass was in Hungarian, because most Hungarians are Catholic. There are a few masses that are in Romanian. I didn't know what they were saying, but like any Catholic mass, I could follow along pretty easily as the structure is usually the same anywhere you go. It was cold inside, and we all kept our coats on.
After dinner (ciorba and bread), I headed back to my room, as tomorrow I am taking the train for the day to Sighisoara (siggy-schwara), a medieval town about 2 hours from Brasov. It's supposed to be super cute, so I'm pretty excited. As I said, today was a fantastic day, and it was cool being at Rasnov when it was a bit foggy outside
"Merci" for reading !
Land Beyond the Forest
Sunday, February 01, 2015
Brasov, Transylvania, Romania