After our visit to the Bran Castle, we headed to see the neighboring Rasnov Fortress. Both places make an easy day trip from Brasov and are well worth the visit if you are interested in Romanian history and culture.
We set off to Rasnov, missed our turn and didn’t realize that we had passed the fortress until we saw it off in the distance from the top of road weaving through the Carpathians mountains. We had gone at least a half an hour out of our way and were closer to our base in Brasov than to Rasnov at that point. Annoyed with our continued misdirection (we always seemed to be lost in Romania!), we decided to turn around and go back. I’m glad we did as I liked Rasnov Fortress even better than the Bran Castle. The views from the fortress were sensational and it had a great deal of charm and mystique.
The Rasnov Fortress is perched on a rocky hilltop overlooking the town of Rasnov below and was built in the 13th century by Teutonic Knights as protection against invaders. The fabulous Romanian Tourism website provides the following history on the fortress in this excerpt below (for full version, click here).
Strategically located on the commercial route linking the provinces of Transylvania and Walachia, Rasnov differs from other Saxon fortresses in that it was designed as a place of refuge over extended periods of time. As such, it had at least 30 houses, a school, a chapel and other buildings more commonly associated with a village.
The defensive system included nine towers, two bastions and a drawbridge. Surrounded by 500-foot-slopes on the north, south and west sides, the fortress was obliged to surrender only once, in the year 1612 when invaders managed to find the secret route that supplied the people inside the fortress with water. With the location of their water supply no longer a secret, the need for a well inside the fortress became a must.
The last siege of Rasnov Fortress took place in 1690 during the final Ottoman invasion of Transylvania. Damaged by fire in 1718, it was rebuilt the following year. The next major damage occurred as the result of an earthquake in 1802. The fortress was last used as a place of refuge during the revolution of 1848 and was abandoned after that.
Recently, the old fortress has been restored to its former glory and today, you can visit the impressive remains. There is also a museum here, hidden behind the ancient walls, where you can find a skeleton buried beneath a glass floor, as well as some other interesting artifacts. The inner rooms are maze-like, with several wooden ladders linking them and a few so-called secret passages which should keep you busy for quite awhile.
We walked up the short distance to the hilltop and checked out the ruins inside. There is not much left behind however it was still quite fascinating to see. It felt very magical and despite the tourists, it did not feel as touristy as the Bran Castle. There were no Dracula souvenir shops lining the outskirts of the castle. If there were even any Dracula trinkets for sale, I thankfully missed them. Instead, the only real thing to see here is the ruins and the view. If you want more, you have to drive down to the village of Rasnov.
And the stunning view below makes it worth your visit.
If you go:
It is about a fifteen minute walk up to the fortress. There are plenty of nice little Romanian restaurants below as well as a children’s theme park on the way up the hill to the ruins. For more information, click here.