On the double occasion of Romania assuming the revolving presidency of the EU and perhaps more importantly, of 100 years since the country incorporated Transylvania, The Daily Telegraph published a long article in its travel section, which reads more like a history lesson than anything else.
While the article only gives a brief historical glimpse on how Transylvania became part of Romania, it is something most Romanians will take exception to. Especially because it was not written by a Hungarian, but The Telegraph’s own travel writer, Chris Leadbeater.
It says that “an exact 100 years ago, in the mists of January 1919, it (Transylvania) was, effectively, still in the process of becoming Romanian – soldiers inching west across its forested, furrowed contours, eating into terrain that was nominally Hungarian”.
Mentioning, of course, the Dracula hype but avoiding the clichés, the article even says – perhaps even more to the Romanian’s ire – that “although various parts of what now constitutes the modern country – Wallachia and Moldavia, as well as Transylvania – had existed as principalities since medieval times, a Romanian state (of sorts) had only really solidified in the late 19th century.”
It even states quite irreverently that “Romania survived the First World War through a mixture of denial and deception”.
In a brief nod to its travel article persona, the piece then goes on to mention the places its writer found as having “a certain quiet charm”, such as Brassó/Brașov, Szeben/Sibiu and of course the Törcsvár/Bran Castle itself.
It concludes with saying that ” you can, if you pay attention to its history and culture, avoid the idea of Transylvania as a bloody Romanian cliche. It is far more fascinating and varied of heritage than that.”