Fagaras Castle was the 13th-century home of a group of Teutonic knights. One of the strongest fortresses in Transylvania, the three-story, five-tower stronghold oversaw and provided protection for the people of the frequently sieged town. Surrounded by a roughly 50 foot-wide, six foot-deep moat (that could be tripled in size in preparation for an attack, the fortress is accessible by two bridges and three gates In times of peace, the moat was (and still is today), home to swans which were served a daily ration of rye bread.
The castle, whose walls range from about 20-25 feet-thick, is topped by four towers, each built at different times, for different purposes. The Prison Gate, at the entrance, housed the dungeon and still displays instruments of torture.
The Black Tower was built to house princesses (one of whose furnished bedrooms can be entered), The Black Tower for princes and the Thomory Tower to house the fortress captain’s wife and a regular flow of dignitaries’ and emissaries who were sheltered in the most secure fortress in the area.
The inside of the castle’s outer walls house barracks, powder rooms and armories in which muskets, cannons, mortars and flame-throwers were stored. The interior walls, meanwhile, house the three-story palace—a structure that was designed to house royalty, used to be elegantly decorated and furnished. It currently houses a parade in which each room/gallery portrays a different aspect of the region’s history. There, are, for example, galleries that focus on:
- Pre-fortress archeology, with artifacts from early Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements;
- History, which examined and provided items from early governments, the roles of the church and scools (which were then instruments of the church), the 1848/48 revolution and 1898/99 war for independence from other Ottoman Turks and its history of crafts and glassmaking;
- Heritage, with dress from different eras and a display of a 17th century room;Weapons, a with displays of swords, maces, halybards and helmets through muskets and pistols;
- Banquet Room, with its table, sets of armor portraying guards and somewhat incongruously, a suit of torture armor in which any movement risks being impaled on spikes;
- Chapel displays, with items from the original chapel and religious icons;
- Glass, with items that were produced in the region;
- Arts and crafts, pottery and art, with watercolors of the fortress and the city.
The third floor,which is divided among multiple towers, meanwhile, has the princess’ bedroom, the Throne Room and a meeting room.
This is not to suggest that the fortress is Fagaras’ only attraction. Just across the moat from, and easily visible from the castle is a grand cathedral that literally dazzles with multiple gold domes.
Casa Terra. Although we had no recommendations for restaurants in the city, Yelp provided extraordinary guidance with its rating for Casa Terra, a natural, slow food restaurant that had both an interesting menu and excellent food and service. When we walked in, we saw what appeared to be mostly locals. Another good sign. We had three dishes, all of which we enjoyed: bean soup with carrots, potato and smoked ham; chicken in castel, which was a chicken fillet on a layer of eggplant and zucchini, topped with tomato and grated cheese, with a side dish of rice. With these, we had a casserole of button mushrooms baked in wine and topped with melted gouda. All delicious.