15 July 2012

Brasov, where black is white

My tour guide did not know the origin of the name of the town, but I did find out that it was not always named Brasov. During the 1950's, as a tribute to the USSR, the town was re-named to Stalin. During this period, there were no huge Hollywoodesque white letters on the hillside, BUT there was vegetation planted to spell out the name STALIN. Around 1960, the town reverted back to its original name Brasov.

Now with regards to the huge white letters, it began in 2006, as part of a political campaign. A candidate put up huge letters on hillsides: "DA" (Yes) as part of the campaign slogan "Yes for change". After he was elected, he removed the Da and gave the town it's name. I also saw this with other towns in the area. This has helped Brasov economically by drawing in more tourists.

As a tourist I would say that I really liked Brasov much more than Bucharest. It had more for tourists and a very definite old town. Brasov was beautiful, the temperature was cooler and I was very comfortable there.

This is rope street, one of the narrowest streets in Europe - even narrower than the one in Quedlinburg, Germany that I once laid across. This one is 1.32 meters wide and 83 meters long. (For Americans not familiar with the metric system, one meter is approximately 1 yard {3 feet}, or simply put, the height from the floor to the doorknob of a standard door!)This street was built to help firefighters get around the city faster.

In fact, in 1689, a huge fire swept through Brasov destroying most houses and buildings. Afterwards the city built more short streets to allow firefighters to better navigate the city. They also became much more vigilant about fire carelessness - a watchman walked around and reminded citizens o put out candles etc. In fact, fire negligence was the absolute worst crime and carried a higher penalty than murder.

This is St. Mary's church. It was (still is?) the largest church between Vienna and Istanbul. But no one refers to it as St. Mary's anymore. This is more commonly known as the "Black Church". It doesn't look very black does it? In 1689 when the city was destroyed by fire, this church was burned, but not destroyed. As a result the bricks were blackened. Although they have been scrubbed clean (and quite frankly are probably due another cleaning due to exhaust and other air pollutants), the church is still referred to as the black church.

You could also say that the black church has a black history, that makes its name appropriate as well. On the side of the church one finds this small boy peering over the end. The story goes as follows, an architect of the church was very proud of the church as it was being built, and so he took his son to see the church. The son was on the roof and saw what the builder was doing (building methods etc) and the builder did not want anyone to know his secrets. To protect his secrets, he through the boy off of the roof of the church, which of course killed him. Later it was said he felt remorse for his actions, so he had the statue of the boy built, so that he would not be forgotten.

There are two towers in Brasov, one is called the black tower, the other is the white tower. Which do you think this one is? If you guessed white, you are absolutely wrong. This is the black tower. Once again, like the church,it does not look black. It's called the black tower because it has been twice struck by lightning and charred black.

A few views from the main square in Brasov.

As can be seen, Brasov is simply beautiful.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Brasov, Romania

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