Brav

After Bucharest, which most tourists visit by default, Bra§ov is the most-visited city in Romania. It's already become the Prague of Romania, the Krakow of Transylvania, and attracts a bohemian crowd looking for cheap beer and cool hang-outs in a relaxed Saxon setting, hiking and sports enthusiasts wanting a comfy urban base for terrific nature excursions, and architecture and history buffs. They collide mainly in the compact old town, a blend of centuries-old Saxon houses and trendy chill-out bars, a time-defying space where cobblestone meets chrome in a heady mix.

Established on an ancient Dacian site at the beginning of the 13th century by Teutonic Knights, today's Bra?ov is a shining testimony of Saxon architectural splendour and a favoured base of tourists who appreciate its proximity to mountains and castles. Many, however, find that Bra?ov has become too tourist-sawy and after a few days head to less 'discovered' places.

Bra?ov started as a German mercantile colony named Kronstadt (Brassó in Hun garian). Located at the junction of threr principalities, it became a major medieval trading centre. The Saxons built órnale churches and town houses, protected by a massive wall that still remains. The Ro manians lived at Schei, just outside the walls to the southwest.

One of the first public oppositions to the Ceau^escu government flared here in 1987, Thousands of disgruntled workers took to the streets demanding basic foodstuffs, Ceau?escu called in the troops and three people were killed in the supression.

Piata Sfatului, the central square, is the finest in the country, lined with baroque facades and outdoor cafés. It's the shin ing face of modern Bra^ov, which since the revolution has reinvented itself as Ro mania's trump card.

Orientation

Str Republicii, Bra^ov's pedestrian-only promenade, is crowded with shops and cafés. At its northern end is B-dul Eroilor, with museums and hotels; the boulevard also links two other main thoroughfares, Str Mure?enilor to its west and Str Nicolae Bálcescu to its east. The train station is 3km northeast of the town centre.

Mt Tampa looms over the town to the southeast.

MAPS & PUBLICATIONS

Though not up to its usual standards, Amco's Bra?ov City Plan (€1.90) is what you'll have to settle with. It includes maps of Poiana Bra?ov and Predeal. The fold-up

FROM BRA$OV WITH LOVE

Between 1950 and 1960, when Romania still considered itself Moscow's buddy, Brajov was named 'Ora5ul Stalin', with the Russian dictator's name emblazoned into the side of Mt Tampa thanks to artistic deforestation. At the time, the name was sadly apt, as ruthless, forced industrialisation yanked thousands of rural workers from the countryside and plunked them into the city in an attempt to crank the totalitarian motor of industry.

Ilrafov Ghid Turistic fi Comercial (€1.25) lins great maps of surrounding towns and villages such as Râsnov and Cristian.

The multilingual What, Where, When Ilrafov city guide is published every two months and is available free from most hotels. The free, biweekly Romanian magazine Zile fi Nopti (Days and Nights; www 7llesinopti.ro, in Romanian), found in bars itlid cafés, is worth picking up for the most up-to-date listings.

Information

A good start to your trip to Braçov is a look lit www.brasov.ro.

IIOOKSHOPS

These all have a selection of maps, souvenir plioto books and some English-language lexts. They are generally open from 9am to tipm Monday to Friday and from 10am to ripm on Saturday.

Ubrarie Aldus ( g 452 556; Str Apollonia Hirscher 4) Librarle George CojbucJ g 444 395; Str Republicii 29) Libra rie Universitas ( g 442 306; Piata Sfatului 5)

CULTURAL CENTRES Alliance Française ( g 419 338; B-dul Eroilor 25; IV) 9am-5pm Mon, Wed & Fri, 1-8pm Tue & Thu) British Council ( g 474 214; B-dul Eroilor 33; IVJ 9am-8pm Mon-Fri)

German Democratic Forum ( g 511 614; Str Gheorghe llàiulescu 2; S 2-5pm Mon-Tue, 10am-noon Wed-Thu)

EMERGENCY

Salvamont ( @ 471 517; Str Varga 23) Call them to verify mountain weather conditions or in case of an emergency on the mountains; they'll come to the rescue at any time of the day.

INTERNET ACCESS

Blue Net Club ( g 0740-839 449; Str Amata Romanas 26; per hr €0.40; ® 24hr)

Internet Club ( g 0722-657 005; Sfântu loan 28; per hr €0.30; ®9am-11pm)

MEDICAL SERVICES Aurofarm ( g 443 560; Str Republicii 27; ® 24hr) EuroFarmacie ( g 411 248; Str Republicii 19; ® 7.30am-9pm Mon-Fri, 8am-2pm Sat) This is one of the best-stocked in town.

MONEY

There is a 24-hour exchange office inside the train station, and many others (along with numerous ATMs) along B-dul Eroilor, along Str Republicii and throughout the centre. Banca Comerciala Romana (Plata Sfatului 14; ® 8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri, 8.30am-noon Sat) changes travellers cheques and gives cash advances on Visa/MasterCard.

POST & TELEPHONE

The central post office (g 411 609; Str lorga Nicolae 1; ® 7am-8pm Mon-Fri, 8am-1pm Sat) is opposite the Heroes' Cemetery. The main telephone centre (B-dul Eroilor; ® 7am-7pm) is between the Capitol and Aro Palace Hotels.

TOURIST INFORMATION

There are no tourist offices in Bra^ov so you have to rely on travel agencies and tour operators, but luckily there are several good ones in town.

Aventours (g 0722-746 262; www.discoveromania .ro) and Roving Romania (g 0744-212 065; www .roving-romania.co.uk) These two share an office at Str Paul Richter 1 (g 472 718; ® no set office hours) and can provide indispensable information. Their speciality is small-group, tailor-made tours to off-the-beaten-track parts of Romania, led by English-speaking experts. Famous for their 4x4 jeep tours of remote mountainous regions and bucolic villages, they can also set you up on a day tour in the vicinity of Bra§ov.

Aro-Palace (g 478 800; www.aro-palace.ro; Str Murejenilor 12; ® 8am-5pm Mon-Fri, 9am-2pm Sat) In the hotel of the same name, this company organises similar tours, but its service costs more and is less personal.

Coroana (g 444 630; Str Republicii 62; ® 9am-6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-2pm Sat) Adjoining the hotel of the same name, the office may seem a tad ramshackle, but the staff are a super-friendly, nonpushy bunch who can help with accommodation and set up tours to Bran and Rasnov (€30), and up the fabulous Transfagara^an road (see pi 14), including hiking and a cable-car trip (€90).

Sights

PIATA SFATULUI

This sprawling square is the heart of medieval Bra?ov. In the centre stands the council house (Casa Sfatului), from 1420, topped by a Trumpeter's Tower, in which town councillors, known as centurions, would meet. This old city hall today houses the Bra;ov Historical Museum (g 472 363; adult/child €0.50/0.25;

Train Station- (3km); Bus Stations 1 (3km) & 2 (4km); No Problem '(4km); Camping Dârste (10km); Sfântu Gheorghc (32km)

To Citadel (250m)

Eminèscu

Piafa Teatrülui l'iircül Central

Str Politechnicii

0 0

Post a comment