Riding Holidays in Transylvania-equestrian tourism in the land of Dracula

About Transylvania

 

Myths and Reality

Thanks to the writing of Bram Stoker, Transylvania is inextricably linked with the character Dracula in the public imagination. Visitors often arrive with visions of forbidding castles and mysterious cloaked men.

While visitors will find castles, they will find much more in Transylvania. The breathtaking natural beauty of the quiet, unspoiled mountains shelters a land and a way of life that has changed little in generations. Working horses still outnumber motor vehicles, providing transportation for people and goods and cultivating fields. Food is grown and produced locally, using age-old methods. The hardworking, hospitable people gather in close communities where family is the centre of life.

Transylvania is alive with history, having served as a crossroads between the East and West. Settled at various periods in history by the Romans, Saxons and Hungarians and other Eastern Europeans. The influence of these diverse peoples can still be seen today in the art and architecture, food and crafts. Minority populations of Hungarians and Saxons continue to thrive in Transylvania today, interspersed in some regions with Romanians. Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire till 1920, Transylvania is home to the elegant Austrian-influenced city of Cluj-Napoca and the Hungarian-style city of Targu Mures, as well as the historic Saxon walled towns of Brasov, Sighisoara, and Sibiu. Roman remains abound, and more recent monuments include the 15th and 16th century painted monasteries of the Bucovina. One only has to read the accounts of travellers—Sitwell, Fermor, and Starkie amongst them—to marvel at Transylvania’s history and variety.

The Transylvania of today is a mix of old and new as Romania joins the European Union. Transylvania’s cities bustle with industry and construction and Western goods and services are becoming more common. The old man driving the horse cart may well have a mobile phone and a house without running water may nonetheless have a teenager surfing the internet. The people see opportunity ahead—as Westerners discover the country and tourism increases—while still holding fast to their traditions.