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5 places not to miss in Transylvania

Transylvania is easy to get to from Bucharest and is Romania's most visited region. The region is full of beautiful villages and places of great historical importance that are worthwhile discovering. Even forgetting the famous Bran castle (popularly known as "Dracula's Castle") which catapulted the region into the spotlight of European tourism, here are five destinations you won't want to miss in Transylvania. It doesn't matter whether you are travelling alone, with friends or as a family, because the children are going to love the palaces and castles.

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Peles Castle

Peles castle is in Sinaia, on the slopes of the Bucegi mountains with easy access from Bucharest, and is a masterpiece of the so-called German Renaissance Revival. Many people consider it to be the most spectacular of all of Transylvania's castles.

It has 160 rooms scattered over 3,000 square metres of construction. It is imposing, gigantic and great fun. One of the great attractions of Peles is actually the great diversity of decorative styles used inside the castle, with lots of the rooms inspired by different cultures on the planet. Such as a Turkish -inspired room for smoking a water pipe. This is a mandatory stop on any trip around Romania.
 
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Prejmer

Prejmer is one of the best-preserved villages boasting fortified churches protected by UNESCO and it also has a fascinating design. Put simply, it is a Gothic style church protected by a four-metre-thick circular wall against which almost 300 rooms have been built for the inhabitants to live and store supplies in case of prolonged sieges. Its supply system was considered to be one of the most ingenious and successful in all of Transylvania. 

Actually, the Prejmer fortified church always had a more demanding mission as it is the most easterly Saxon village in Transylvania and was often on the front line of enemy attacks. This is why it had to endure more sieges than most of the other fortresses in the region. And it survived. An absolute must!
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Brasov

Brasov is Transylvania's second largest city and is, without doubt, one of the most attractive and popular cities in the region. It is the Romanian destination where tourists spend the longest and for a good reason.

From the Sfatului square – the epicentre of the historical centre of Brasov – to the imposing Black Church; from Strada Sforii – which they say is Romania's narrowest street – to the beautiful church of St Nicholas; including the overhanging Tâmpa hill or the peaceful Lake Lacul Noua, the fact is that there is so much to do in Brasov. It is a highly recommended destination that you should spend some time getting to know.
 
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Sighisoara

Sighisoara is probably Transylvania's most beautiful city. There is no other way to describe it. Its citadel looks like it came straight out of a medieval fairy tale and is absolutely charming. It is small, beautiful and well cared-for and more than anything else, it has a soul.

Actually, the historical centre of Sighisoara is not a bare and odourless open-air museum. It is, to the contrary, a place inhabited by people and where every morning the children go to school, even coming from the low part of the city.

As another curiosity, Sighisoara was also the birthplace of Vlad Dracul, who inspired the literary character of "Count Dracula" created by Bram Stoker.

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Sibiu

Given its size, as the third largest city in Transylvania, Sibiu could have lost the typical charm of the little medieval Transylvanian towns. Fortunately, that was not the case. Sibiu is not just a façade, perhaps because it is one of Romania's most important university centres. It has a soul. The town is focussed on the arts, the pulse of creativity and is culturally vibrant. And that makes it fascinating.

If I was charmed by the beauty of little Sighisoara, Sibiu is much more special. An absolute must!

By Filipe Morato Gomes / Alma de Viajante