TRANSYLVANIA

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Introduction | Data in brief | History | Economy | Environmental factors | Attractions | Activities and events | Transportation | Accommodation

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Introduction

The historical region Transylvania occupies the central, northern and western part of Romania, bordering on Ukraine on the North, Hungary on the Northwest and Yugoslavia on the Southwest. The Oriental Carpathians separate Transylvania from Moldavia, on the east, while the Meridional Carpathians separate it from Valachia on the south.

Four sub-regions make up the Transylvania region: Transylvania in the centre and at the east, the biggest of them (55146 square km), Maramures (10497 square km) at the north, Crisana (12238 square km) at north-west, and the Banat sub-region, at south-west.

The most important cities are Cluj Napoca, Brasov,Timisoara,Oradea ,Baia Mare, renowned both as cultural and touristic centre and powerful industrial centres.

Data in brief

The Maramures Region

Area: 10,497 square kilometres

Location: situated in the north of Romania, bordering on Ukraine and surrounded by the mountains Rodnei (with Pietrosu Peak 2,303 metres), Gutinului and Tiblesului

Climate: continental temperate, characterised by warm summers and cold winters

Population: the population of the region is made up of Romanians (majority), Hungarians, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians and Roma / Gypsies (minorities)

Important cities: Baia Mare, Sighetul Marmatiei, Borsa

The Crisana Region

Area: 12,238 square kilometres

Location: occupies part of the west of the country and is crossed by rivers Crisul Alb (The White Cris), Crisul Repede (The Fast Cris) and Crisul Negru (The Black Cris)

Climate: continental temperate, characterized by warm summers and cold winters

Population: the population of the region is made up of Romanians (majority), Hungarians, Germans, Jews and Roma / Gypsies (minorities)

Important cities: Oradea, Carei

The Transylvania Region

Area: 55,146 square kilometers

Location: situated in the center of Romania, surrounded by the Oriental and Meridional Carpathians, and by the Apuseni (Western) Mountains

Altitude: The Transylvanian Plateau is situated at a height of 305-488 metres and is crossed by the waters of Mures river

Climate: continental temperate, characterised by warm summers and cold winters

Population:
the population of the region is made up of Romanians (majority), Hungarians, Germans,

Jews and Roma / Gypsies (minorities)

Important cities: Cluj Napoca, Sibiu, Alba Iulia

Cluj Napoca municiple is the capital of the region


The Banat Region

Area: 18,966 square kilometres

Location: situated between the Meridional Carpathians, Danube and the rivers Tisa and Mures

Climate: continental temperate, characterised by warm summers and cold winters

Population: the population of the region is made up of Romanians (majority), Hungarians, Germans, Jews and Roma / Gypsies (minorities)

Important cities: Timisoara, Arad,Resita, Lugoj

History

The research made by the Romanian archaeologists have shown that this territory has been inhabited even since the Inferior Palaeolithic (around 2 million years BC). Nevertheless, a relatively stable population has not been discovered before the Neolithic (6,000-5,000 years BC).

A group of the northern Thracians created its own individuality in making up a mosaic of Gettic and Dacian tribes in the Carpathian-Danube-Pontic area, in the first part of the first millennium before Christ. Besides speaking the same language and sharing the same habits and faith, the only difference between the Dacians and the Getts was the area they inhabited: most of the Dacians lived in the mountains and on the highlands of Transylvania, while the Getts lived in the Danube’s fields.

Burebista (82-around 44 BC), who succedeed to unite the Getto-Dacian tribes for the first time, created a large and powerful kingdom when the Dacian ruler offered help to Pompei against Caesar (48 BC). It stretched from Beskit, in the north, the Medium Danube Basin, in the west, the Tiras (Nistru) river and the Black Sea shore, in the east, and the Balkan Mountains, in the south.

In the first century BC, the border between the Roman Empire and the Thracian world stretched along the Danube, for approximately 1,500 kilometres.

The nucleus of the Dacian State was constituted on the territory of Transylvania, in the Orastie Mountains. The Dacians built imposing fortresses in the centre, in the Orastie Mountains area, at Gradistea, Blidaru, Costesti, Piatra Rosie. The complex of fortresses around Mures used to form the defence system of the important centre at Sarmizegetusa – the capital of the Dacian State.

Following Burebista’s assassination, the Dacian State was divided into five parts. 131 years later, another great leader succeeded the reunification of the Dacian tribes: Decebal (87-106 AC). Under the rule of Decebal the Dacian State was at its apogee.

Following the two wars of the Dacians against the Roman Empire (101-102 AC and 105-106 AC), Dacia became a Roman province. The Sarmizegetusa fortress, capital of the Dacians, was besieged and capitulated in the summer of 106 AC.

After the establishment of the new leadership, the province underwent a complex process of romanisation, the basic element being the imposition and definitive adoption of the Latin language. Between the 2nd and 4th centuries, the Dacians-Romans adopted Christianism in its Latin form.

The ethnic and cultural symbiosis between Dacians and Romans finalised in the 6th-7th centuries, and had as a result the formation of the Romanian people.

In the 4th-13th centuries, the Romanian people was faced with the waves of migrating peoples – the Goths, the Gepids, the Huns, the Avars, the Slavs, the Pecinegs, the Cumans, the Tartars – who crossed the territory of Romania. The migrating tribes controlled this area, from military and political point of view, delaying the economical and social development of the natives and the formation of the local state entities.

On the west, the Romanians had to deal with the conquering policy of the Hungarian Kingdom. In 895, the Hungarian tribes led by Arpad, coming from the Volga lands, settled in Panonia. They were stopped from their advance towards west by emperor Otto I (995), so that the Hungarians settled down and turned their attention towards south-east and east where the Romanians were.

Starting with the 10th century, Byzantine, Slav, Hungarian and later on occidental sources mentioned the existence of state entities of the Romanian population – principalities and “cnezate” – in Transylvania and Dobrogea at the beginning, and later, in the 12th and 13th centuries, also in the territories east and south of the Carpathian mountains. A characteristic of the Romanians’ history in the Middle Ages and until the Modern Age was that they lived in three neighbouring, but autonomous principalities – Valachia, Moldavia and Transylvania.

Thus, in the 10th and 11th centuries, the first political formations with incipient feudal character (the principalities). The principalities led by Gelu, Glad and Menumorut are the best known.

In spite of the resistance of the Romanian principalities, the Hungarians managed to occupy Transylvania in the 10th-13th centuries and to incorporate it in the Hungarian Kingdom (as an autonomous principality until the beginning of the 16th century). The Hungarian Crown colonised the border areas, with Saxons and Szeklers in the 12th-13th centuries, for the purpose of consolidating their power in Transylvania, where the Romanians continuously remained the ethnic majority through centuries, as well as for the purpose of defending the eastern and southern border of the principality. They brought with them the civilisation of the western Europe and shortly after they built cities following the western pattern (Sibiu, Sighisoara, Brasov), with the thorough organisation of the craft trades.

The first documents attesting the presence of the three Romanian states (Transylvania, Valachia and Moldavia) are from the 14th century.

In the 15th century the Romanians fought, in various popular riots, against the Hungarian oppression (1437-1438 – the Bobilna uprising; 1514 – the peasant war led by Gheorghe Doja)

In 1541 Transylvania constituted as an autonomous principality under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire (following the defeat of the Hungarians by the Turks)

In 1599 –1600, for the first time in the Romanian history, Michael the Brave united all territories inhabited by Romanians, proclaiming himself “Prince of the Romanian Country, of Transylvania and of the entire Moldavia”. One year later, Michael the Brave was assassinated, and the three principalities became autonomous.

1688 – The Habsburg Empire occupied Transylvania and incorporated it in its territory, under the Karlowitz Peace (1699).

In 1765 Transylvania received the rank of Great Principality. Following the establishment of the Habsburg domination and the worsening of the serfdom regime, the population of Transylvania engaged in numerous social movements, culminating with the big uprising led by Horia, Closca and Crisan (1784-1785).

In the 19th century a group of Romanian intellectuals initiated a movement for the awakening of the national sentiment among the Romanians in Transylvania, proclaiming the Latin origin of the Romanian people and language.

The 1848 Revolution, culminating with the Popular Assembly at Blaj from 3 - 5 May, called the three provinces to unite and drop the Ottoman, Russian or Austrian-Hungarian oppression and claimed equal rights for all citizens in the spirit of the French Revolution. A brutal military intervention put an end to these dreams, which had to wait for another nearly half a century to become reality.

During the World War I (1914-1918) Romania was on the side of the Allied Forces. At the end of the war, the National Assemblies of the provinces Transylvania, Bucovina and Basarabia voted in favour of the unification with the Principality of Romania. The National Assembly from Transylvania, convoked on 1 December 1918 voted the unification of Transylvania and Banat with Romania, in the presence of more than 100,000 delegates.

During World War II, Romania declared its neutrality (6 September 1939). The defeats suffered by France and Great Britain in 1940 created a dramatic situation for Romania.

30 August 1940 – Under the Treaty of Vienna, a dictate in reality, Germany and Italy gave Hungary the north-east of Transylvania, where Romanians constituted the majority of the population.

10 February 1947 – Under the Paris Peace Treaty, denying the co-belligerent status of Romania and forcing it to pay a huge war compensation – the restitution was admitted, though, to Romania of the territories from the north-east of Transylvania.

Economy

Transylvania, as well as the other regions Maramures, Crisana and Banat, are renowned for their natural resources. There are in Maramures exploitations of copper, gold, silver, salt; Crisana’s sub-soil contains deposits of bauxite, lignite and superior quality argyle; Banat has important deposits of ore, as well as thermal and mineral springs. At Ruschita, there exists the biggest marble exploitation in Romania. Brown coal can be found in the sub-soil of Transylvania.

Besides the internal resources, the regions also have an important agricultural potential (3/4 of the arable area in Crisana is cultivated with cereals). Fruit growing is developed in the depression areas, while in the Mures basin animal growing predominates.

Environmental factors

Climate - continental temperate (specific to Central Europe)- warm summers and cold winters – with massive snowfalls

Vegetation - The Carpathian Mountains are renowned for their abundant and diverse vegetation. Forests of resin and deciduous trees cover large areas. Large areas of beech tree forests can be found in the mountain area, especially on the western slopes of the Carpathians (Gutii – Tibles, Retezat, Semenic), as well as in the high hills area (The Somesan Plateau, the east of the Transylvanian Plateau). Nature’s inheritance includes, besides forests, pastures, clearings, bushes and mountain flowers.

Fauna -
The fauna of the mountain forests includes: the stagger – around the entire Carpathian arch, the bear – in the Oriental and Meridional Carpathians, foxes, the capercaillie – in the mountains Rodnei and Maramuresului

Lakes: Stancii, Legii – Cluj region; Bodi-Suior, Nistru, The Blue Lake –Maramures region; Saint Ana –Transylvania region

Salted lakes: Turda, Ocna Dejului

Rivers:
Mures, Crisul Alb (The White Cris), Crisul Repede (The Fast Cris), and Crisul Negru (The Black Cris)

Attractions

Monasteries – Comana (Giurgiu district) built by Vlad the Impaler, Cosuna (Dolj district), the Saint Voivodes from Slobozia (Ialomita district), Dealu – where the tomb of Michael the Brave is (Dimbovita district), Curtea de Arges, Hurez (1690-1697), Govora, Arnota, Cozia and others.

Museums – The Art Collections Museum, The Museum of the Romanian Peasant, the Military Museum, the Firemen’s Museum, the Village Museum – in Bucharest.

Other locations of touristic interest: The Peles Castle (inaugurated in 1883 by King Carol I in Sinaia), Traian’s Bridge and the Iron Gates Museum (Mehedinti district), “Transfagarasanul” (highway 2034 m altitude – Arges district), the watering and climatic resorts Govora, Olanesti and Calimanesti-Caciulata (Valcea district) etc

Activities and events

Sports- multiple possibilities of practising season sports:in winter – ski, ice-skating, snowboarding at Poiana Brasov, Predeal, Stana de Vale etc.; in summer – the trips and hiking amateurs can venture in the beautiful Cheile Turzii (Turzii Gorges). The vertical walls, the random rocks, caves, the fauna and the flora make up the greatness of this place. Cheile Turzii hide Calastul cave, Liliecilor (Bats’) cave and Cuptorului (Oven’s) cave. The Vladeasa Mountain with its accessible routes and the Trascaului Mountains, spectacular for their limestone relief forms, are recommended to all mountain fans.

Hunting – the hunting season opens:15.05- 30.11- staggers, 01.09- 30.11- deer, 15.09- 31.12- chamois, 01.10-15.02- mistral, 01.04-15.04¼- capercaillie, 15.10- 28.02- pheasants, 15.03-15.05- bears.

Fishing – on the lakes nearby the cities and on rivers.

Main Events:

Brasov- The International Jazz Festival - annualy

Sibiu- The International Theatre Festival – every year between 28 May - 8 June, with participation of students’ companies

Sighisoara- The Mediaeval Art Festival, which is followed by a big carnival – every year and lasts for three days

Sighetul Marmatiei- The folkloric manifestations in April, May, August and December

"Targul de fete" de la Muntele Gaina (The “Women Fair” from the Chicken Mountain)- takes place around 20 July, on Saint Ilea’s Day every year

Transportation

Transylvania can be easily accessed both by train and by plane or by bus. Trains are the most popular means of transport and make the connection between most of the cities, communes and villages in the region.

International airport - Timisoara; national airports: Arad, Baia Mare, Cluj, Satu Mare, Sibiu

Accommodation

Brasov: Hotels-Aro; Capitol; Poiana Brasov-Hotels-Ciucas, Alpin, Sport, as well as many cabins; Sibiu: Hotels- Continental, Imparatul Romanilor (Roman Emperor), Palace; Sighisoara: Hotel Rex; Timisoara: Hotels- Continental, Doria, International; Oradea: Hotel Dacia; Cluj: Hotels-Transilvania, Victoria, Napoca; Sighetu Marmatiei-Hotel Tisa. Rural tourism can be practised in all regions. For more information: ROMANIA - Official Travel and Tourism Website