We had an early start to the day. This German town is a UNESCO world heritage site approximately 95km north-east of Sibiu. We commenced with a walking tour of the main sights. We only went around the old town but were able to see the many towers, the church of the Dominican Monastery, the clock tower and Vlad the Impaler’s house. Our guide relayed to us in detail the fascinating history of Transylvania and the origins of Dracula. We also went to the upper part of the citadel up the 175 covered Scholar’s Stairs which certainly got the heart pumping. While some of the group went into the church on top of the hill to see the catacombs, the rest of us wandered around the graveyard which looked particularly beautiful under a layer of snow. At this point our tour ended and we had some free time.
After grabbing a bite to eat at a small café we spent a few lei to climb the clock tower. Whilst the ascent itself didn’t have the drama of the tower we went up in Sibiu it still allowed for great views across the city. On the way up there is a bit of a museum and you are able to see the inner workings of the clock characters (much like those in the cathedral in Prague) which was pretty cool.
Once everyone had finished lunch we made a mad dash across to Bran to visit the castle there; the last admission is at 4pm but we were due to arrive at 4.05pm. Thankfully our guide was able to phone ahead so the ticket office remained open for us and we were able to have a look around Bran castle aka Dracula’s Castle. In all honesty the castle has very little to do with the actual Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) but you can see why Bram Stoker chose the setting for his novel; in the dusky gloom it looks imposing perched atop a hill, leering down upon the town. The exterior and architecture is fairly stunning but once inside it is slightly less exciting. Nevertheless it is definitely worth visiting for the surrounding legend and the outside of the building.
Our final destination of the day was Brasov. The Romanians are not very strict about the timescale for taking down Christmas decorations so the main square was still fully decorated which was very pretty especially with the snow on the ground. It was all free time once we arrived so we decided to go to a bar that was recommended to us, Dr Jekelius. This themed bar is easy to miss, we were looking for it and still almost walked past it, but once inside it is great fun. The cocktail menu is extensive and some drinks are served in cool receptacles e.g. test tubes and measuring jugs. We ordered 2 cocktails and 2 slammers and it came to the equivalent of about £10!!
The setting for our dinner was equally atmospheric. Based under our hotel in the church catacombs, Bella Musica served good food in an intimate setting. We were a little apprehensive prior to the meal as we had been informed that in order to get the good seats we would have to be in the smoking area however we were lucky as no one near us was smoking so it transpired to be a non-issue on this occasion but I believe it gets quite busy so may be at other times.
I really enjoyed discovering this area of Europe that I previously knew so little about and found all our stops to be worth visiting from sleepy Sighisoara, to spooky Bran and quirky Brasov.
Have you ever been to Transylvania? What did you make of it? Is there anywhere we didn’t go that you feel is worth visiting?