Transylvania, Romania

Romania's Transylvania region is never short on attractions: well preserved castles and fortresses, scenic landscapes, lots of history, well preserverd customs and beautiful cities. Some of my favorite sites and attractions in the area include: the otherworldly Turda Salt Mine (visit in the morning before the crowds arrive), the Hunedoara Castle and the delightful medieval town of Sighisoara. Timisoara, Sibiu and Brasov are three of the region's nicest cities. Don't miss the excellent Faust theater play while in Sibiu.

The historical region of Maramures in the northern part of the country is delightful to visit with its beautiful wooden churches and fabulous green landscapes. Start with the Barsana Monastery and check out the quirky merry cemetery in Sapanta. The sombering Memorial to the victims of Communism in Sighetu Marmatiei is also very interesting. You can also take a ride on Europe's last functional steam forest train, Mocanita.

Next, visit the the fortified churches around Brasov and Sibiu - Viscri, Prejmer and Biertan among many others. While in the area, visit the nicely restored Rupea citadel and Fagaras fortress, as well as the Sinca Veche monastery cut into stone with the beautiful religious complex built on site. Another nice idea is a hike through the woods to the scenic Sapte Scari Canyon.

Other cool sites include the ancient Dacian capital of Sarmizegetusa Regia (together with its Roman counterpart, Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana), the beautifully restored Alba Iulia Citadel, the Densus stone church - one of the oldest functional churches in the country (originally built in the 7th century on the site of a 2nd century Roman temple) and the Rosia Montana gold mines dating since Roman times. Detunata, Racos, Ruginoasa pit and Scarisoara ice cave are sites of geological wonders that are also worth visiting.

Finally, if you're looking for relaxation in exquisitely restored castles or domains, then Daniel Castle, Gaal Mansion with its splendid forest and Count Mikes Estate are excellent choices. Ursa Mica is a very nice glamping resort set in a beautiful mountain area and featuring excellent dark skies for astrophotography, nicely preserved WWI trenches from one of the largest battles in Romania and some cute little foxes if you're lucky to see them. Cuibul de Lemn is a nice little hotel set in another scenic mountain area close to Rasnov and Portal Village is an absolutely delightful resort with excellent food and a nice nearby forest that's close to Sibiu.

Another beautiful area is the one around Balvanyos and Sfanta Ana Lake which also has some very nice attractions: the Bear Observatory and the Mohos Peat Bog reserve with rare plants including the carnivorous Drosera Rotundifolia.

Additional info:
- entry on Wikipedia
- profile on Wikivoyage

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