The Real Transylvania

Transylvania lies within the romanian borders however the region officially do not exists in Romania's constitution. The regionalization is a proviso when a state is on the way to be a member of the European Union (Romania will be member of the EU in 2007, Hungary in 1 May 2004) so before 2007 Transylvania had to be autonomous region.

Surface: 103.000 km2 (Hungary: 93.030 km2; Romania: 237.500 km2)

Transylvania's borders: W-Hungary, N-Ukraine, SW-Serbia (Voivodina Athonomous Territory), S and E-Romania.

Population: about 8.000.000 (Hungary: 10.000.000; Romania 22.334.312 (1999))

Nationalities: hungarian, romanian, german-saxon, gipsy, armenian, slovak, etc.

Religions: roman catholic, protestant, greek catholic, orthodox, unitarian, lutheran, jewish, etc.

Official languages: romanian, hungarian, german.

Legal tender: romanian lei (currency:

GMT: +2 hour


The territory known today as Transylvania includes Transylvania proper, part of the Banat, part of the Great Hungarian Plain and the former Partium. Transylvania can be described as an independent geographic unit within the Carpathian-Danube region. Through the Carpathians it is equally bonded with the Occident and the Orient. With the gate-like passages created by the Maros (Mures/Mieresch) and Szamos (Somesu/Somesch) rivers and the low ridges of the western mountains it is by nature more accessible and open to the west to where the most important traffic routes run.

Atlantean and satellite maps of eastern Europe show the topography of Transylvania as a clearly definable geographic region. It is comparable with a natural fortress, a mountainous region almost completely barrier-like enclosed by the East and South Carpathians and the Transylvanian West Mountains, sheltering the Transylvanian Depression in the centre. This Transylvanian Basin or Plateau is partitioned by three rivers, the Maros, Olt and Szamos, all tributaries of the Danube.

The arched Carpathian Mountain Range is an extension of the Alps of Central Europe through the West Carpathians with the Beskid Mts. and the Tatras.

The Transylvanian Westmountains (West Carpathian Mts.), also called Nyugati Szigethegység (Hu =W. Island Mts.) or Apuseni Mts. (Ro =Sunrise Mts.) stretch from the Maros to the Szamos and separate Transylvania from the Hungarian Lowlands. Its highest peak is the Great Bihar (1849 m) consisting of crystalline shale and granite. Of great economic importance for centuries has been the southeasterly section, the Torockói Mts. and the Transylvanian Ore Mts. (Erdélyi Érchegység/Siebenbürgisches Erzgebirge) which is of volcanic origin and rich in precious metals. It is the so called golden square, located between Aranyosbánya (Baia de Aries/Offenburg), Zalatna (Zlatna/Kleinschlatten), Sâcârâmb (Nagyág, Gross-Astdorf) and Caraci (Karács). The Westmountains, very rugged but mostly below 1000 metres in height, are today a popular and much visited destination by tourists because of the scenic formations with steep peaks, canyons and caves.

The South Carpathians with Moldoveanul as the highest peak at 2544 metres, form a rather uniform crystalline mountain range. It is sectioned by many passes, high peaks. The traces of glaciers (moraines, lakes) of the Fogarasok Mtns. and the Retyezát justify the description as "Transylvanian Alps".

The East-Carpathians separate the climatic zones of the Atlantic, the Continental and the Baltic provinces.

Climate and nature

The climate is moderate continental: cold winters, mild spring, a warm summer and the beautiful Transylvanian autumn. Approximately 2500 species of plants assigned to the central European category flourish here of which 68 grow only in Transylvania. Roughly 40% of the region is covered with forests. Rich resources of fish and game characterize the fauna. Agriculture is at home in the river valleys and the high country. Livestock is raised in the mountainous regions.


The area now constituting Transylvania became part of the Roman Empire in AD 107. After the withdrawal (AD 271) of the Romans from the region it was overrun, between the 3rd and 10th cent., by the Visigoths, the Huns, the Gepidae, the Avars, and the Slavs. The Magyar (=Hungarian) tribes first entered the region in the 5th century, but they did not fully control it until 1003, when King (Saint) Stephen I placed it under the Hungarian crown. The valleys in the east and southeast were settled by the Székely people akin to the Magyars. It is not known, however, whether they came into Transylvania with or before the Magyars.

As an integral part of the Hungarian Kingdom, Transylvania was drawn into the Western Christian Culture Circle at the beginning of the eleventh century. The architecture of old Transylvanian cities, such as Nagyvárad, Kolozsvár, Brassó, Szeben or Dés bear witness to this fact.
In the 12th and 13th century the areas in the south and northeast were settled by German colonists called (then and now) Saxons. Siebenbürgen, the German name for Transylvania, derives from the seven principal fortified towns founded there by the Saxons. The German influence became more marked when, early in the 13th cent., King Andrew II of Hungary called on the Teutonic Knights to protect Transylvania from the Cumans, who were followed (1241) by the Mongol invaders. Large numbers of Romanians, called Vlachs or Walachians, were in the region by 1222, although the exact date that their penetration began is disputed. Originally seminomadic shepherds, the Vlachs soon settled down to agriculture.
The administration of Transylvania was in the hands of a royal governor, or voivode, who by the mid-13th century controlled the whole region. Society was divided into three privileged "nations," the Magyars, the Székelys, and the Saxons. These "nations," however, corresponded to social rather than strictly ethnic divisions. Although the nonprivileged class of serfs consisted mostly of Vlachs, it also included some people of Saxon, Székely, and Magyar origin. A few people of vlach origin, notably John Hunyadi, hero of the Turkish wars, joined the ranks of the nobility. After the suppression (1437) of a peasant revolt the three "nations" solemnly renewed their union; the rebels were cruelly repressed, and serfdom became more firmly entrenched than ever.
When the main Hungarian army and King Louis II were slain (1526) in the battle of Mohács, John Zápolya, voivode of Transylvania, took advantage of his military strength and put himself at the head of the Hungarian party, which opposed the succession of Ferdinand of Austria (later Emperor Ferdinand I) to the Hungarian throne. As John I he was elected king of Hungary, while another party recognized Ferdinand. In the ensuing struggle Zápolya received the support of Sultan Sulayman I, who after Zápolya's death (1540) overran central Hungary on the pretext of protecting Zápolya's son, John II. Hungary was now divided into three sections: West Hungary, under Austrian rule; central Hungary, under Turkish rule; and semi-independent Transylvania, where Austrian and Turkish influences vied for supremacy for nearly two centuries.
The Hungarian magnates of Transylvania resorted to a policy of duplicity in order to preserve independence. The Báthory family, which came to power on the death of John II (1571), ruled Transylvania as princes under Ottoman, and briefly under Habsburg suzerainty until 1602 (prince Stephen Báthory was also king of Poland), but their rule was interrupted by the incursion of Michael the Brave of Walachia and by Austrian military intervention. In 1604, Stephen Bocskay led a rebellion against Austrian rule, and in 1606 he was recognized by the emperor as prince of Transylvania. Under Bocskay's successors, especially Gabriel Bethlen and George I Rákóczy Transylvania had its golden age. The principality was the chief center of Hungarian culture and humanism, the main bulwark of Protestantism in East Europe, and the only European country where Roman Catholics, Calvinists, Lutherans, and Unitarians lived in mutual tolerance. Orthodox Romanians, however, were denied equal rights.
After the Turkish defeat near Vienna (1683), Transylvania vainly battled the growing Austrian influence, and its alliance with Turkey under Emeric Thököly and with France under Francis II Rákóczy proved fatal to its independence. In 1711, Austrian control was definitely established over all Hungary and Transylvania, and the princes of Transylvania were replaced by Austrian governors. The proclamation (1765) of Transylvania as a grand principality was a mere formality. The pressure of Austrian bureaucratic rule gradually eroded the traditional independence of Transylvania. In 1791 the Romanians petitioned Leopold II of Austria for recognition as the fourth "nation" of Transylvania and for religious equality. The Transylvanian diet rejected their demands, restoring the Romanians to their old status.
In 1848 the Magyars proclaimed the union of Transylvania with Hungary, promising the Romanians abolition of serfdom in return for their support against Austria. The Romanians rejected the offer and instead rose against the Magyar national state. In the fighting that followed (1849) between the Hungarians and the Austro-Russian forces (supported by the Romanians and most of the Saxons), the Hungarian republic of Louis Kossuth was suppressed. The ensuing period of Austrian military government (1849-60) was disastrous for the Magyars but greatly benefited the Romanian peasants, who were given land and otherwise favored by the Austrian authorities. However, in the compromise of 1867, which established the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Transylvania became an integral part of Hungary.

After World War I the Romanians of Transylvania proclaimed at a convention at the city of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia) in 1918 their union with Romania. Transylvania was then seized by Romania and was formally ceded by Hungary in the Treaty of Trianon ( in 1920. The expropriation of the estates of Magyar magnates, the distribution of the lands to the Romanian peasants, and the policy of cultural Romanianization that followed were major causes of friction between Hungary and Romania. It was now the turn of the Magyars and Germans to complain of Romanian oppression. During World War II, Hungary annexed (1940) North Transylvania, which was, however, returned to Romania after the war. Many of the Saxons and Hungarians of Transylvania fled to Germany and Hungary before the arrival of the Soviet army, and more followed after the fall of the Communist government in 1989.


Magyars (Hungarians) settled in the Carpathian Basin over 1,300 years ago - around 670 the first Magyar-Onugors settled Erdély, led by Kuver. Some sources document the first Magyars arriving as early as the 5th century. In 895, 2 more Magyar Tribes - Kende and Gyula arrived in Erdely.

Magyars made the largest single contribution culturally and economically to Erdély.

Erdély was either a part of Hungary, or an independent Magyar Principality.

Hungarian (Székely) legends date back to the time of Attila and the empire of the Huns.

Székely Magyars settled Erdély before the main body of Magyars did.

Magyars allowed Vlachs (Romanians) to settle in Erdély, from 1222.

Magyar Kings allowed, and encouraged Saxons (Germans) to settle in Erdély from 1224.

During the History of Transylvania, prior to the annexation to Romania in 1920, there was only 1 year of rule by Romanians - Mihai Viteazul, from 1599-1600.

As a result of the treaty of Trianon (1920), nearly 2 million Magyars ended up unwilling subjects of Romania, and around 15,000 Romanians remained in the new dismembered Hungary. From 325.411 km2 remains 92.833 km2.

The dismemberment of the Kingdom of Hungary was artificial, as it was dictated to by the Western Powers - primarily the French, who promised Erdély to Romania as a punishment for Hungary being allied to Germany. Economic infrastructure was seriously damaged, roads, railway networks and many towns and villages cut off from each other.

The Romanians claimed that Transylvania rightfully belonged to their country, because, according to the theory of the Daco-Roman continuity, the ancestors of the Rumanians -Roman colonists- had been living in Transylvania from 106 BC to 275 AD. However, the theory is not supported by history. Not only is there no archeological proof -remnants of roads or cities- pointing to the existence of a Daco-Roman civilization in Transylvania, but the Rumanians can't bring evidence to their existence for almost a thousand years: from 275 AD to 1200, when their appearance in Transylvania is first mentioned. They ignored the fact that they had adopted the Latin alphabet only at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century, and have been called Wallachians by themselves and other nations prior to 1861. Even without historical basis, the theory of Daco-Roman continuity proved extremely useful for political and propaganda purposes.

The Myth of Dracula

"Dracula was a nickname for Prince Vlad the Impaler, a very real figure from Romanian (not Transylvanian!) history. But it is much better known in the West as the name for a fictional vampire.

Bram Stoker came across the name 400 years later and used it - and a Transylvanian backdrop - for his vampire character in "Dracula," published in 1897. Over the next eight decades, Count (not Prince) Dracula grew in popularity and underwent hundreds of permutations in the West - Max Schreck, Béla Lugosi, Christopher Lee.

(...)Historians trace the word Dracula to the early 1400's, when Vlad's father took the name Dracul (meaning "the dragon") to mark his membership in an organization called the Order of the Dragon (founded by the hungarian king Sigismund, who was the German-Roman emperor, too). Vlad Jr. took the name for himself, tacking on the "a" (meaning "the son of") as prescribed by the language. No, he wasn't a vampire."