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Brasov – the City of the Crown
 

The origins of Brasov as a medieval town are lost in the dark times. Archaeological discoveries mention life on this land since the Bronze Age, 60,000 years ago, and also neolithic age traces (about 9500 BC) and from the Dacia period and Roman empire were found in Brasov and surroundings. Medieval Brasov was first mentioned as “Corona” (crown) in 1234, when the Saxon population settled here, in Catalogus Ninivensis which contains a list of all the Premonstratens monasteries in Hungary and Transylvania. In 1252, King Béla IV donated to “comite” Vincentiu (“comite” is the administrative leader of a county) the property located between the lands of the Romanians from Cârţa, those of the Transylvanian Saxons from Barasu and those of the Székelies from Sebus. It is believed that all three words mentioned in the document refer to the territories surrounding the donated land and not to any particular city. In this case “Barasu” refers to an area, and “Corona” would name the locality. Later, the city becomes more frequently mentioned: Brasov (1294, 1295), Brasso (1309), Brassou (1331), Korona (1336) etc.

 

The history of Brasov is very troubled. In 1241 the Tartars invaders practically are destroying the town and also one hundred years later in 1344. In 1400 Tartars attacks diminishes but the new danger from the south of Danube, the Ottoman empire, started to threaten and attack the city more and more. The Brasov defense fortifications were built between the 15th and the 17th centuries, as a consequence of the repeated invaders coming from the east and south. A significant part of the citadel walls are still standing. In 1421 took place the Turkish invasion in the Barsa County, Brasov was partially destroyed and the town’s counselors were taken hostages. In 1432 a new Turkish invasion in the Barsa County: the town was declared in a state of siege, but it wasn’t conquered. In 1688 when the Austrian army conquered Transylvania, Brasov was the last Bastion standing. 1689 was a one of the toughest years in the history of Brasov. On April, 21, a big fire destroyed most of the town and killed 3,000 people. Most of the houses were destroyed and Saint Mary Church, smoked by the fire, would become „The Black Church”. The citizens rapidly rebuild the city.

 

Since centuries, the city is Transylvania’s gateway towards the South and East. As the renowned Harvard professor Samuel Huntington shows in his work “The Clash of Civilizations”, this is where ideologically Europe ends. The fault line between the western and the eastern civilization runs indeed through Brasov, separating Transylvania from the rest of Romania.

 

German colonists known as the Transylvanian Saxons played a decisive role in Brașov development. These Germans were invited by King Geza the 2nd of Hungary to develop towns, build mines, and cultivate the land of Transylvania at different stages between 1141 and 1162. The settlers came primarily from the Rheinland, Flanders, and the Moselle region, while others came from Thuringia, Bavaria, Wallonia, and even France.

In 1211, by order of King Andrew the 2nd of Hungary, the Teutonic Knights fortified the Burzenland to defend the border of the Kingdom of Hungary. On the site of the village of Brașov, the Teutonic Knights built Kronstadt – the city of the crown. Although the crusaders were evicted by 1225, the colonists they brought in remained, along with local population, as did three distinct settlements they founded on the site of Brașov:

 

  • Corona, around the Black Church
  • Martinsberg, west of Cetăţuia Hill
  • Bartholomä, on the eastern side of Sprenghi Hill
     

    Germans living in Brașov were involved in trade and crafts. The location of the city at the crossroads of Moldavia and Wallachia and at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe, together with certain tax exemptions, allowed Saxon merchants to obtain considerable wealth and exert a strong political influence. They contributed a great deal to the architectural flavor of the city that had a fast economic growth, becoming one of the most important markets in Transylvania. On the 14th century Brasov became one of the most important economical and political strongholds in the Southeast of Europe and on the 16th century also an important cultural center. Johannes Honterus, a great humanist, worked most of the time in Brasov and Deaconu Coresi printed the first Romanian book also in Brasov. Fortifications around the city were erected and continually expanded, with several towers maintained by different craftsmen’s guilds, according to medieval custom. Part of the fortification ensemble was recently restored using UNESCO funds, and other projects are ongoing. At least two entrances to the city, Poarta Ecaterinei (or Katharinentor) and Poarta Șchei (or Waisenhausgässertor), are still in existence. The city center is marked by the former City Hall (1420) and the surrounding square, which include one of the oldest buildings in Brașov, the Hirscher House. Nearby is the “Black Church”, claimed to be the largest Gothic Style church in Southeastern Europe.
     
    When Brașov became a German colony, Romanians were denied several privileges by the new German settlers. They were no longer recognized as citizens of the city, and as such they were no longer able to continue to practice their crafts and operate their businesses. Additionally, their primary religion (orthodox) was not officially recognized throughout Transylvania, especially during and after the 15th century.
     
    The cultural and religious importance of the Romanian church and school in Șchei is underlined by the generous donations received from more than thirty hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia, as well as that from queen Elizabeth of Russia. Between 17th and 19th centuries, the Romanians in Șchei campaigned for national, political, and cultural rights, and were supported in their efforts by Romanians from all other provinces, as well as by the local Greek merchant community. In 1838 they established the first Romanian language newspaper and the first Romanian institutions of higher education “The Greek-Orthodox Central Schools”. The Holy Roman Emperor and sovereign of Transylvania Joseph II awarded Romanians citizenship rights for a brief period during the latter decades of the 18th century.
     
    After the 1st World War, Brasov became a strong economical center, but the town was partly destroyed during the 2nd World War. It was rebuilt and the historical buildings were restored. During the second half of the 20th century, the communist administration forcefully industrialized the city, bringing here workers from the rest of Romania, and determining population of German or Jewish origin to leave the city in droves.
     
    History of Brasov:
     

  • 1235 – The first documentary attestation of Brașov under the name Corona
  • 1241 – The Tartars invaders destroyed the town
  • 1344 – The next Tartar invasion
  • 1353 – The founding license of the town of Brasov, the oldest document kept by Brasov’s Archives
  • 1377 – Brașov is confirmed as administrative center and in 1379 becomes the eclesiastic center of Bârsa County named in the first written documents as Barasu, Burcia, Brasso

  • l383 – The first works for the erection of the Roman – Catholic parish church – nowadays the Black Church – finished in 1477

  • 1388 – The first documentary mention of a school in Brașov near the Saint Mary Church (the Black Church)
  • l395 – In Brașov is closed the antiotoman alliance between Sigismund of Luxemburg – the king of Hungary and Mircea the Old – the king of Vallachia

  • 1399 – The first documentary mention of a Romanian church in Brașov
  • 1400 – The first Turkish invasion in the Bârsa County
  • 1417 – St. Bartholomew’s Church first mentioned by a document (although built since the 13th century)
  • 1420 – Agreement closed between the Bârsa County Administrative Commitee and the Furrier’s Guild regarding the building of the Council House (the former City Hall)

  • 1421 – The Turkish invasion in the Bârsa County. Brasov was partially destroyed and the town’s counselors were taken hostages

  • 1432 – A new Turkish invasion in the Bârsa County: the town was declared in a state of siege, but it wasn’t conquered

  • 1448 – 1453 – The Brasovia Citadel was pulled down from the Tâmpa mountain by the order of the governor Ioan de Hunedoara

  • 1464 – The first documentary attestation of the Black Street and of the Black Street’s Gate
  • 1473 – Strong earthquake in Brasov and Transylvania
  • 1475 – The first tax lists from Brașov with the mentioning of the four districts of the city

  • 1480 – 1506 – The mention of Gheorghe Grămăticul shows the Romanian didactic activity in Brașov

  • 1486 – Brașovul and Bârsa County are enrolled in the Saxon University – Universitas Saxonum

  • 1493 – The first documentary attestation of a doctor in Brasov (Dr. Petrus)
  • 1502 – The first documentary attestation of the school by the side of Saint Bartholomew’s Church
  • 1512 – The first documentary attestation of Brasov’s chemist’s shop
  • 1512- 1515 – Saint Nicholas Church was built in stone
  • 1521 – The letter of Neacșu from Câmpulung to the prime magister of Brașov – the first document in Romanian language

  • 1525 – A driving rain produced a flood in Brasov: the enclosure walls on the Western side crumbled down
  • 1539 – The beginning of the printing activity of the humanist Johannes Honterus, who in 1541 is organising the german gymnasium on the site of Santa Ecaterina monastery and in 1547 is founding the scholar library that hosted the biggest book collection in Transilvania

  • 1541 – The proclamation of Transilvania Principality after the fall of Hungarian Kingdom under the Turks

  • 1542 – The first theatrical performance and the adoption of the lutheran religion by the saxon and hungarian community from Brașov

  • 1543 – It was written the “Constitution of Brasov’s school”, the first and oldest Romanian school statute
  • 1553-1554 – The building of the Citadel located on “Cetatuia” hill
  • 1553 – The black plague causes the death of almost 4,000 people in Brasov
  • 1556 – 1583 – The activity of deacon Coresi, the biggest Romanian printer from 16th century
  • 1558 – The first documentary attestation of the Hungarian School in Brasov
  • 1559 – Ecaterina’s Gate was built
  • 1600 – Michael the Brave is visiting Brașovul and convenes here the Diet of Transylvania
  • 1612 – The Mayor Magistrate of Brasov, Michael Weiss is leading the fight against the Prince of Transylvania, Gabriel Bathory
  • 1625-1630 – The building of the exteriors walls of Brasov’s citadel
  • 1628 – The archbishop Vasile wrote the first chronicle with a Romanian topic
  • 1639-1641 – The Goldsmiths’s bastion was built (the last of Brasov’s protective walls)
  • 1678 – The Tartars invasion in Barsa County. Michael Hermann, the mayor of the town, succeeds in putting out the fire

  • 1686 – Transilvania become part of the Habsburgic Empire
  • 1688 – The revolt of Brașov citizens against the new administration of the city
  • 1689 April, 21 – The biggest fire Brasov had ever seen. The fire destroyed most of the town and killed almost 3,000 people. It was the greatest calamity over the entire history of Brasov. The parish church burnt and blackened with smoke is called “The Black Church”

  • 1736 – The Austrians are building a road from Brașov to București through Timiș Pass
  • 1737 – The Council Square is paved with stone
  • 1776 – 1782 – Is built the most representative baroc building from Brasov – the roman – catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul
  • 1781 – Are issued the regulations from Rescript of Concivility and the Edict of Religious Tolerance by the emperor Joseph the 2nd according to which the Romanians receive equal rights with the other nations

  • 1784 – 1787 – Is built the Church of the Holy Greek Trinity, the first orthodox religious building inside the Fortress of Brașov

  • 1785 – The Black Street’s Gate was opened (it was demolished in 1873)
  • 1804 – The Citadel’s streets were illuminated by oil
  • 1819-1820 – The building of Horses Fair’s Gate (demolished in 1873)
  • 1827 -1828 – The Schei Gate was erected
  • 1836 – 1838 – The new gate of the Customs Street was erected
  • 1838 – The first publication of “Transylvanian Gazette” and the “Paper for Mind, Heart and Literature” was edited by George Baritiu

  • 1848 – George Ucenescu adjusted the melody of “Desteapta-te romane” to the verses of the poet Andrei Muresianu. Nowadays it is the Romanian anthem

  • 1851 – Is founded the first Romanian gymnasium in Brașov, today the National Collegium “Andrei Șaguna”
  • 1854 – Telegraphy was brought in Brasov
  • 1858 – The first oil distillery was built in Brasov
  • 1861 – The founding of Brasov’s “Astra” cultural organization
  • 1873 – March, 30 – The opening of the railway station in Brașov together with the railroad Brașov – Sighișoara
  • 1879 – June, 10 – The opening of Brasov – Predeal railroad
  • 1882 – The national premiere of the operetta “Crai Nou” by the Romanian composer Ciprian Porumbescu
  • 1889 – The opening of a telephone exchange with 22 telephone sets
  • 1891 – The opening of the steam tram in Brasov, from the Horses Fair to Bartholomew district
  • 1897 – 1898 – Is built the Palace of Finance, the Brașov City Hall of today
  • 1907-1914 – The printing of the cultural magazine “Die Charpathen” (The Carpathians) edited by Adolf Meschendorfer

  • 1916 – August 29 – The Romanian army entered Brasov and Dr. Gheorghe Baiulescu was the first Romanian mayor appointed in Brasov

  • 1916 – October 7, 8 – The German and Austro-Hungarian troops conquered back the town
  • 1918 – Nov 9 – Dec 30 – The publication of the “Voice of Transylvania”, the paper of the Union
  • 1918 – December, 7 – The Romanian troops entered Brasov, after Transylvania’s union with Romania on the 1st of December 1918.

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