Let’s be honest, every time we mention Transylvania, our mind runs straight to the renown Bram Stoker’s character of Count Dracula and his fellow vampires. We picture in our imagination a land of creepy mountains, where fog dominates and the sun is forgotten, and the crows hover in the leaden sky from tower to tower.
When: November 2015
Photo by: Matteo Fabi
Now, crows and castles abound. Though, the rest is pure fiction, the story of Dracula included. The character is meant to be inspired by Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, better known with his patronymic Vlad Dracula, or Vlad the Impaler, due to his attitude of impaling his enemies as a memento mori. He was actually considered quite a successful defender of Christianity, and a folk hero.
My tour of Transylvania began in Cluj, a city which oozes culture and art everywhere.
The city has a bustling life, prompted by several Universities. Youth crowds the myriad of tiny coffees, where is not unusual to witness a poetry contest or live music, flavoured by the acrid, forgotten pleasure of smoking inside. Wandering through the hills and gardens all around the town is simply a pleasure, giving you unexpected new angles and, generally, the feeling of participating somehow to a long-time established cultural elite.
The second stop was the town of Sighișoara, a little gem with colorful houses and a very characteristic atmosphere. The medieval citadel, placed atop a smooth hill, is dominated by a majestic clock tower, seemingly coming from a fairy tale. A covered staircase leads to the top of the hamlets, donating a genuine overview of pure Transylvania.
Moving southward, at the village of Buşteni, I finally bumped into the Carpathians mountains, the natural border of this stunning region. Actually, “Transylvania” comes from Latin, and means “the land across the woods”. Wandering among those woods, you can almost feel them alive, like ancient guardians who stood throughout the time preserving the history, the culture and the myths of this land.
The last stop was Brașov, a ski-resort destination which boasts a Hollywood-like sign. I found myself here during a moment of political unrest: a nightclub fire in a Bucharest club prompted large demonstrations, which were followed by the resignation of the PM Victor Ponta. The young man depicted in the following shots stood for several hours, with the sign “Bribe kills, stop corruption“, in the Brasov’s main square, Plata Sfatului. In the background, the “Black Church”.