Transylvania, the region in modern-day Romania that historically belonged to Hungary and remains home to an ethnic Hungarian community of some 1.5 million people, has been named the world’s top tourist destination for the year 2016 by Lonely Planet, the largest guide book publisher in the world. Within the region, Lonely Planet particularly recommends Saxon fortified churches, the Carpathians, spicy Szekler goulash and nightlife in Transylvania’s quasi-capital, the 320 000-inhabitant city of Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca in Romania).
Transylvania beat regions in countries including Iceland, Cuba, Italy and New Zealand in the world rankings, which reveal Transylvania as the best region in the world to travel in 2016 .
Beyond the famous Saxon fortified churches and vampire stories, a visit to Transylvania is made the experience of a lifetime by the picturesque historic towns of Brassó (Braşov), Segesvár (Sighişoara) and Nagyszeben (Sibiu). The guide also highlights the scenic landscapes, caves and ski resort of the of the Carpathians and the Hall of Mirrors of the Culture Palace in the city of Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureş). The Hungarian-majority Szekler Land (also called Székely Land) region which is struggling for its right to self-governance through autonomy within Romania, is mentioned under a separat heading (albeit misspelled as “Svékely Land”) for its traditional Hungarian goulash served “with an extra sprinkling of paprika”.
The top destination as a country for tourists is the African nation of Botswana, while Kotor in Montenegro came first among cities. Estonia was singled out as the country with the highest-standard tourist services. Hungary is also included on the listings, with the capital Budapest being named 2016’s “Best Moustache Destination” on a par with London, Mexico City and Istanbul, among others.
Transylvania formed part of the Kingdom of Hungary until the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty and remains home to an ethnic Hungarian minority of some 1.5 million people. The region also has a place in the heart of Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, who maintains two estates in Transylvania, including one in the all-Hungarian village of Zalánpatak (Valea Zalanului).
Lonely Planet’s praise of Transylvania comes as the US travel magazine Condé Nast named the Hungarian capital Budapest the world’s second-best city in an online poll.
photo: Alex Robciuc/boredpanda.com