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Brasov is the most popular Romanian destination, a place that many people seem to believe is everything Bucharest isn't. The life is calmer here, and maybe more civilised, even though in my opinion Brasov is starting to be a bit too complacent with its fame. Located 160 kilometers from Bucharest, and easily accesible by train, Brasov is charmingly nestled in the Carpathian mountains. Which makes it not only worth a stay, but also an excellent starting point for hiking trips. It's also a town of all seasons, perfect not only for mountain escapes in the summer but also a great spot for winter sports mainly skiing and snowboarding. The city was established at the beginning of the 13th century by Teutonic Knights who chose this location because of its proximity to the trade routes. Under their rule Brasov (Kronstadt to the Saxons and Brasso to the Hungarians) flourished and became a major medieval trading center. Its German name of Kronstadt (Crown City) shows how important Brasov once was.

Nowadays, the medieval center lies as a testimony of the Saxon roots, having thankfully escaped the drastic communist urban replanning that destoyed so many Romanian cities (notably Bucharest's old center). The biggest attraction in town is the beautiful Black Church, a Gothic splendor built between 1385 and 1477. It lies on a corner of the Town Hall Square (Piata Sfatului), the center square lined with cafes and beautiful town houses. There are many things that are worth exploring, like the old town gates (the Schei Gate and Ecaterina's Gate), some beautiful churches, the old town ramparts and the Schei quarter where the Romanian population used to live outside the town's gates. Starting from the Town Hall Square, Republicii Street is a pedestrian-only promenade crowded with shops and cafes. Mount Tampa looms over the town and one can take the Tampa cable car to see some great views of the city. Apart from the old town there's a sprawl of apartment blocks and factories. Being always an important tourist center, Brasov has a great number of hotels, chalets, villas and restaurants.

And finally, there's something regarding the more recent history that is worth mentioning. Brasov was the home of one of the first public oppositions to Ceausescu government. In November 1987, thousands of workers protested on the streets demanding food and a better life. Ceausescu called in the troops and the riot was stopped.

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Things to see in Brasov
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