Ten places in Transylvania that made the world wonder



Several sights from Transylvania stood out in the last years by their inclusion in various world rankings or selections, or at least continental ones, made by famous publications. Castles, hiking paths, ancient villages and idyllic towns found their place in selected companies,  on the list with “celebrities” in the field.

cluj.travel introduces, in alphabetical order, ten of them with no claim that the list is meant to be exhaustive. Also, for a summary, you can consult the interactive map above.

Terasa este un excelent punct de belvedere asupra trecătorii de dedesubt

View from Bran Castle

Bran Castle. The Bran Castle stands out both in charts with the most beautiful castles but also in those listing the most gruesome buildings. One of the most prestigious rank of the building on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia was in a selection of the ten most beautiful castles in the world, conducted by Budget Travel and taken over by CNN, in January 2009. “Both administrators of Bran Castle and of the Romanian Tourist Office insist upon the links between Bran Castle and Vlad the Impaler, who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Perhaps these links are subtle, but there’s no denying of the terrifying charm of the many towers and turrets “, wrote the authors of Budget Travel.

Castelul Corvinilor de la Hunedoara

Corvin Castle from Hunedoara

Corvin Castle. The medieval fortress from Hunedoara,  transformed over time into a sumptuous noble castle, was included in august 2011 in a Lonely Planet Top 10 of “fairytale castle” in Europe. The Castle from Hunedoara was ranked 8th in the top, which also includes castles from Prague, Neuschwanstein or Malbork. “If you do not feel a chill down your spine when you approach the bridge, with the river foaming beneath,  that means that you lack the gland of fear: the only reason for which there are no longer vampires in here  is because they were eaten by werewolves”,  joked the authors of the top referring to the appearance  of Hunedoara castle. Moreover, Corvin Castle appear in various rankings of the most terrifying buildings in the world.

Cheile Turzii

Turda Gorges

Cheile Turzii (Turda Gorges). The series of travel books published in 2007 by National Geographic Traveler entitled “Tours of a Lifetime – 500 unique places” include among selected destinations also CheileTurzii (Turda Gorges). “To South of Cluj starts  the road that takes you through the steep gorges of Turda, full of caves where people once used to lived at the dawn of prehistory, decorated with natural stone towers and arches”,  wrote the authors of the NG Traveler. The text also mentions that Turda Gorges microclimate is suitable for not less than one thousand species of plants, the area being “a paradise of rare species of butterflies and birds.”

Adrian Popa (al doilea din stânga), în cea mai recentă expediție pe creasta Făgărașului

Tourists in Făgăraș Ridge

Făgăraş Ridge. The prestigious British daily newspaper “The Guardian” included, in august 2012, hiking in Fagaras mountains in a Top 10 Holiday activities in Europe. “Hiking amateurs seeking a less conventional challenge should not look beyond the Fagaras mountain range.  Mountains have an incredible ridge line, offering stunning views over the glacial lakes and steep valleys”, according to British journalists. Other recommended activities by journalists from “The Guardian” include surfing in Algarve (Portugal) or cycling in the French Alps.

„Camera Prințului” de la Micloșoara

Room at Micloșoara estate

Micloşoara, the houses of Count Kalnoky. Lonely Planet Magazine included in October 2010 the guest houses from Micloşoara, Covasna,  of Count Kalnoky, among the most unusual hotels in Europe. “Beautifully decorated, the former hunting lodges in the 19th century, are only part of the story. An environmentalist, Count Tibor has a second purpose, which is to connect the village with the outside world. You can, for example, to spend a day with the beekeeper of the village, another with the blacksmith, or you can participate in a series of  walks in nature”, noted the author of the selection.

Pădurea Hoia-Baciu

Hoia-Baciu Forest

Hoia-Baciu Forest. The last arrived  in the family of Transylvanian tourist celebrities , the forest on the border of Cluj, where it is believed that paranormal phenomena occur, was incorporated in October 2012 by U.S. magazine “Travel + Leisure” on the list of most “haunted” forests in the world, along with places such as the Black Forest (Germany) Aokigahara (Japan) or Wychwood Forest (England). “Hoia-Baciu in Transylvania has had an  unwanted fame for more than half a century. People living in the area claim that the forest – which has at its center a circular glade – is a portal, and those who pass it never go back again. The ones that survived told that the time spent in the woods made them feel restless and sick”, writes the American magazine.

targ craciun sibiu (6)

Sibiu Christmas Market

Sibiu and its surroundings. The city on the Cibin river and the surrounding area were in 2008  in the top ten idyllic cities in Europe, made by the famous American magazine Forbes. “In the town surroundings, practically there is no noise and no pollution, and people still ride their horses. It’s a wonderful unaltered  lifestyle”, said at the time, for Forbes, Ala Osmond, director of Exeter International, a U.S. company that organizes tourist routes in Europe. Sibiu outran Rome in that top. The first two places of the top were occupied by areas of Tuscany or Provence.

Transfăgărașan

Transfăgărașan

Transfăgărășan. The second highest road in Romania is constantly in the charts of the most beautiful roads. The “Top Gear” show producers declared it in 2009 the most beautiful road in the world, and a year later the specialized website carsroute.com place it also on the first place in a Top 15 of the most beautiful roads in the world. Also the site motorbikeeurope.com considers Transfăgărăşan to be the best motorcycle road on the continent.

Casa de la Valea Zălanului/ Foto: Katherine Karnow

Prince Charles house in Valea Zălanului/ Foto: Katherine Karnow

Valea Zălanului, the residence of Prince Charles. The property of the heir to the British Throne, from Zălanului Valley, Covasna County,  is on the ninth place among “Best private havens”, top made by the famous American magazine Vanity Fair in June 2012. About the Transylvanian domain the magazine notes: “With the help of his friend, Count Kalnoky, Prince Charles has spent years restoring this property and furnishing it with local antiquities. The landscape which gently collars is ideal for outdoor adventures “. The top also includes opulent villas in Mexico, Turkish schooners converted into luxury yachts or castles in Ireland.

Viscri, satul săsesc

Viscri, a pristine saxon village

Viscri.  Famous, the same as Zălanului Valley, after Prince Charles bought a house here,  the Transylvanian Saxon village which houses a fortified church inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage Centre was included by the magazine “Travel + Leisure” on the list of 25 ” secret villages” in Europe. “Pears are replanted, the forge has a new shop, and a road along the pastel brick houses gives visitors – and to philanthropic elite – a glance at the traditional Transylvanian Saxon lifestyle”, the magazine mentioned in the April 2010. Along the Slavonic villages from Czech Republic, Koguva from Estonia, Plios from Russia, and the small town Kotor from Montenegro, Viscri was part of the minority of Eastern European cities included in this selection, the rest being in the west of the continent or in Greece.