Many foreigners think that Transylvania is a city, but it’s actually a region in central and northwestern Romania, Europe. With breathtaking scenery, Transylvania is known for castles, forests, fortresses and quaint villages. I am pretty sure you’ve already heard of Dracula. Keep on reading to find out the best places to visit in Transylvania and whether Dracula was real or just a fairytale.
Where is Transylvania?
Transylvania is a historical location located in the central and northwestern Romania, surrounded by natural borders by the Carpathian Mountains to the east and Apuseni Mountains to the west.
Many people say that Cluj-Napoca is the “capital” city of Transylvania, however, there are other major cities in this region such as:
- Târgul Mureș
- Alba Iulia
Is Dracula even real?
When it comes to Transylvania most foreigners associate this with vampires because of the Dracula novel written by Bram Stoker.
Dracula is actually a fictional character inspired by one of Romania’s rulers – Vlad Țepeș (1431-1476). He was a terrifying ruler, known as Vlad the Impaler. The truth is that nobody really knows what his life was, we only know stories, myths and legends.
Vlad Țepeș was born in 1431 in Sighișoara. He was a member of the Order of the Dragon. Dracula means son of the Dragon. In the Romanian language Dracul means the devil.
Vlad Țepeș was know for his torturous methods which involved impaling his victims, boiling them down and many other terrifying methods.
- we (Romanians) refer to Transylvania as Ardeal
- part of Transylvania belonged to Hungary back in the day, that’s why you will still find lots of Hungarian communities in Transylvania. Transylvania was part of the Hungarian Empire during the 11th to 16th century and the Ottoman Empire during the 16th to 17th century. Towards the end of the 17th, Transylvania returned to be part of Hungary again until the 20th century, when it was conquered by Romania.
Best Places to Visit in Transylvania
1. Corvins’ Castle, Hunedoara
Is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Built in 15th century by Iancu de Hunedoara
2. Alba Carolina Citadel
It’s a star-shaped fortress located in Alba Iulia city. Built in 1715–1738 by the architect Giovanno Morando Visconti.
The city where Dracula was born, but it’s a popular tourist destination for its well-preserved walled old town. It’s located in the Mureș county, on the Târnava Mare River.
4. Turda Salt Mine
Located in Cluj county, the salt mine is quite a popular destination. In the past many videos were filmed by various artists. Besides admiring the scenery, tourists can also play various games inside such as bowling or pool. You can also get rides by boats or the big wheel.
5. Bran Castle
Located outside of Brașov city, Bran Castle is a National Monument and landmark of Romania. It is known to be Dracula’s Castle.
6. Sarmizegetusa Regia
It’s a fortress comprising 6 citadels, was built as a defensive system in the Orăștie Mountains. Sarmizegetusa was the capital of the Dacians before the war with the Roman Empire. You’ll only be able to see the ruins of the old fortress.
7. Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa
While visiting Sarmizegetusa Regia, it’s a good idea to visit Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa as well, which is only 40 km away. It was the capital of the largest city of Roman Dacia.
8. Peleș Castle
Is a Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains, near Sinaia, in Prahova County.
It’s one of the major cities in Transylvania, surrounded by the Southern Carpathians.
10. Clay Castle, Valea Zânelor
It looks like a scene from the world of stories – Clay Castle from Valea Zânelor it’s a newly-built hotel.
Other Popular Destinations in Transylvania
- Târgul Mureș
- Cheile Bicazului
- Colibița Lake
- Aiud Citadel
- Banffy Castle
- Retezat National Park
- Cheile Turzii
- Cascada Răchițele
- Poiana Brașov
- Piatra Craiului National Park