The City of Brașov

The city of Brasov is also known as Kronstadt – in German,Brassó - in Hungarian, Corona or Brassovia – in Latin. Between 1950 and 1960 it was called Orasul Stalin – the Town of Stalin.

Brașov is located in the central area of Romania, in southern Transylvania. It is a mountaineous city, being surrounded by a part of the Oriental Carpathians. 

History and Population

The city was first mentionned in 1235 AD under the name Corona (Medieval Latin, crown), a name given by the German colonists. The first attested mentioning of the name Brașov is Terra Saxonum de Barasu (Saxon Land of Baras) in a 1252 document. The German name Kronstadt (Crown City) is visible in the city's coat of arms, in its founding legends. In the Middle Ages, both Kronstadt and Corona were used simultaneously.

German colonists known as Transylvanian Saxons played a decisive role in the new settlement’s development. They were invited and encouraged by King Géza II of Hungary to build and develop towns and mining activities, and to cultivate the rich land of Transylvania, at different stages between 1141 and 1162. The settlers came primarily from the Rhineland, Flanders, and the Moselle region, but also from Thuringia, Bavaria, Wallonia, and even France. In 1211, by order of King Andras II of Hungary, the Teutonic Knights fortified a southern plateau of Transylvania, known as Tara Barsei, in order to defend the borders of the Kingdom of Hungary. On the site of a former village, the Teutonic Knights built Kronstadt – which soon enough was blessed with prosperity, due to royal privileges concerning important tax exemptions.

Like all of Transylvania, Brasov belonged to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, until 1918 whenTransylvania became part of the new Romanian state. In 1850 the town had 21 782 inhabitants, out of which 40.7% Germans, 40% Romanians, 13.4% Hungarians, having also significant Jewish, Greek and other communities. The inter-war period was a time of intensive economic and cultural life, triggered also by this ethnic diversity of the city, but during the communist era (1948-1989) most Germans and Jews, but also Hungarians and Romanians emigrated to Western European countries, Israel and the USA.

According to the latest census, the city has now 253 200 inhabitants, and together with its metropolitan area, there are over 360 000 inhabitants.


Johannes Honterus (1498-1549) was a Transylvanian Saxon, a Renaissance humanist and theologian, who achieved the introduction of Lutheranism to Transylvania. He founded the humanist gymnasium (a German primary and highschool still functioning today, known as the Honterus Highschool), set up a printing press in 1539, and helped the building of a paper mill in the city. In 1542, in Braşov, he printed a new version of his Rudimenta Cosmographica, with 13 maps, engraved by Honterus himself. The maps show all known parts of the world. The book was so successful that no less than 39 editions were printed in Braşov, Zürich, Antwerp, Basel, Rostock, Prague and Cologne, being considered the first European-wide manual.

Brasov is known also for having had one of the first European girl schools, in the 16th century, at St. Catherine Monastery.

The cultural and religious importance of the First Romanian School and church, built in 1495 in the formerly extra-muros quarter of Șchei, becomes visible when visiting the charming local museum, as well as the harmonious St. Nicolae church nearby.

Nowadays the city has more than 30 highschools - among which there are also technical and vocational institutions, a state university – Transilvania University (founded in 1948 as Polytechnic Institute) and the Airforce Academy Henri Coanda, as well as 6 private universities.

Architecture and Cultural Institutions

Germans living in Brașov were mainly involved in trade and crafts. The location of the city at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe, together with the above mentionned tax exemptions, allowed Saxon merchants to obtain considerable wealth and exert a strong political influence. They had a substantial contribution to the architectural configuration of the city. Fortified walls around the city were built, with several towers and bastions that were maintained and guarded by the guilds, according to the medieval custom. Part of the fortification ensemble was recently restored. Two important city gates, Poarta Ecaterinei (or Katharinentor) and Poarta Șchei (or Waisenhausgässertor), are still visible. The city center is marked by the Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus, Casa Sfatului) built in 1502 and rebuilt in 1780, now the County History Museum. It is surrounded by a polygonal square, where there are other prestigious buildings, like the Kaufhaus, built by Apollonia Hirscher in 1539, the oldest Chamber of Commerce of Transylvania, another old international trade center and shop, built in the 13th century and rebuilt in 1566, now Museum of Urban Civilization. Nearby is the Black Church (Schwarze Kirche, Biserica Neagră), claimed to be the largest Gothic style church in Southeastern Europe, displaying a stunning collection of precious carpets, dedicated to the church by rich citizens. The frequent presence of the late Renaissance and baroque architectural styles in the old city center is due to the rather frequent rebuilding activity (because of local wars and fires), in the 17th and 18th century. In the 19th century neoclassicism and eclecticism characterized the official city architecture, followed by the Art Nouveau and the neo-Romanian style. In the communist era, the social housing quarters, quite numerous at the outskirts of the city, meant mainly cheap, functional architecture displaying a crude modernism.

Now contemporary architecture spreads all over the city, one of the most representative building being the new Research Institute of the Transilvania University (finished in 2012).

The best view of the architectural contrasts of Brasov can be viewed by taking the cable-car to the top of Tâmpa Mountain, situated within the city.

The city is home to several prestigious cultural institutions, like the Art Museum, having on display a remarkable collection of Romanian painting, the County History Museum, recently remodeled and offering a significant overview of more than 4000 years of culture and civilization development in the area, the Brasov Philharmonic Orchestra, the city Theatre, the Reduta Cultural Centre, the County Library, the French and German Cultural Centers, the Confucius Chinese Cultural Center (within the Transilvania University), etc.

Brasov is known to be the birthplace of the national anthem of Romania, Deșteaptă-te, române, composed by Iacob Muresianu. A small but very attractive and interactive museum is Casa Muresenilor, home of the old Muresanu family. 

Industrial Development

The industrial development of the city, based initially on the diversity and prestige of the guilds, became more dynamic in the 19th and 20th century. In the inter-war period the airplane factory IAR Brasov was built. Here the first Romanian fighter planes, which were used in World War II against the Soviets, were designed and manufactured. After 1948, the plant was converted to the manufacturing of agricultural equipment, mainly tractors, being renamed Uzina Tractorul Brașov. Industrialization was accelerated in the Communist era, with special emphasis being placed on heavy industry – trucks, tractors, ball-bearings, weapons and various machinery. Heavy industry is still present, including the plant Roman S.A., which manufactures MAN AG trucks as well as native-designed trucks and busses. Although the industrial base has been in decline in recent years, Brașov is still a site for manufacturing agricultural tractors and machinery, hydraulic transmissions, auto parts, ball-bearings, helicopters, building materials, tools, furniture, textiles, shoes and cosmetics, chocolate and beer. GlaxoSmithKline established recently a pharmaceutical production site in Brașov and the Swiss giant Kronospan built a huge chip-and fiberboard manufacturing plant.

Local Transportation, Tourism, Sports

The local transport network is very well developed, with around 50 bus and trolleybus lines, many of these being links between the Railway Station (Gara Brasov) and all parts of the city. There is also a regular bus line serving Poiana Brașov, a long known winter resort. Because of its central location, the Brașov Railway Station is one of the busiest stations in Romania with trains to and from most destinations in the country served by rail. Brașov is a good starting point for trips to the nearby village of Bran where the imposing castle is a main tourist attraction (Dracula’s Castle), to Prejmer (Tartlau) to see the 13th century fortified church andto Sinaia, to visit the royal summer castles Peles and Pelisor.

Temperatures from May to September are situated around 23 °C (73 °F). Brașov benefits also from an excellent winter tourism season centered on all winter sports and beyond. Poiana Brașov is the most popular Romanian ski resort and an important tourist center preferred by many tourists from other European states.

The city is also an excellent place to taste some of the local and international cuisine, some of the best places to start with being in the city center.

The Brasov City Council and County Council recently invested large budgets for building and rebuilding of important sports venues, like the new Ion Tiriac Arena, the Brasov Olympic Ice Rink and the rebuilding of the Ion Popescu- Colibasi Sports Hall and Olympic Swimming Pool.

Brasov is a city for all seasons, for all personalities – it is a perfect place to live in. All summer umbrellas of the outdoor restaurants and pubs make a statement very dear to all citizens: Brasov – probably the best city in the world!