Main public square of Brașov

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

Brașov is rapidly catching up on the race for the unofficial title of Transylvania’s most important town. Sibiu had a head start after gaining the European Cultural Capital title, which came with heavy investments in restoring landmark buildings and museums. And Cluj secured its name as Transylvania’s business hub. But Brașov has on its side some tough to ignore cards: the proximity to capital Bucharest (170 km, NW), the natural surroundings, with Tâmpa Mountain (900 m) inside the city, and the most popular slopes and highest mountains in Romania within a one ours drive reach. The population of over 200.000 people, with a tradition of inter-ethnic harmony, and the history as medieval stronghold also add up in favor of Brașov.

The main public square of Brașov, Council Square, is the place that best captures the appeal the town has as tourist destination and the development in recent years. The place has a view of Tâmpa Mountain, accessible through a cable line, with its Hollywood like name of the city written on the hill. The streets are now filled with pubs and coffee shops decorated with the coat of arms and the old German name of the city, Kronstadt.

The building that dominates the square is the Council House, with its 48 m high tower, used as observation point. Because the tower was used to alert the locals of any danger, it was also known as the Horn Blowers Tower. The project of a town hall on this spot is first documented in the 15 century. The building now houses the regional museum of Brașov, with numismatic, old books, maps and armor collections.

But the former administrative building is surpassed by the fame of the Black Church, the largest Gothic church in East Europe, dating from the end of the 14th century. The name of the church is the consequence of a fire in the 17 century. It was initially a Catholic church, turned Evangelical with the local German community. Most of it was built with Berlin stone masons and other craftsmen. The church has the heaviest bell in the country (6 t) and an organ used for regular concerts.

Much later, in the 19 century, an Orthodox church was erected in the Council Square, in the Byzantine (Greek) style. It has a tower and a facade in line with the rest of the buildings surrounding the square, harmonized with their Baroque style. From that facade a narrow passage leads to a small yard, and than to the church dedicated to Virgin Mary.

In recent years, the German and medieval tradition is recovered, with buildings being renovated and demonstrations of the medieval guard, held for tourists’ delight.

The square is also famous for hosting the music festival Golden Stag, at which took part several pop celebrities like: Tom Jones, Ricky Martin, Diana Ross, Amalia Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers, Christina Aguilera, Coolio, Sheryl Crow, Vaya con Dios and many others.

In 2013, the Olympic flame was lit in Brașov for the first time, as the town hosted the winter Olympics for young European athletes (FOTE). In preparation for this a modern skating hall was built in Brașov together with other new ski slopes and sports facilities.

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