Sep 21

THE LEANING TOWER OF MEDIAS AND ITS MASONIC SYMBOLS (CETATEA MEDIAŞ)

At the end of its era of glory in the eighteenth century, Medias used to have 19 towers, seven gateways and defensive walls seven meters high, stretching over 2.3 km. A legend speaks of a maze of secret tunnels that would go under the city. Another one says that in Mary’s Tower, one of the four that are still sanding near the parish church, Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned. Beyond the myths, however, the Trumpeters’ Tower is one of the top ten inclined towers in the world.

The History of the Citadel

Medias settlement was mentioned for the first time in a document from 1267. It was the only settlement in the area called a city since 1359, but during the fifteenth century, since 1407 more precisely, it was going to return to the status of fair.

The Turkish incursions in Transylvania between the years 1420 and 1438 led to a sharp economic and demographic decay of Medias. Under the threat of the Turkish invasion, locals began the fortification works of the old core and, later, of the entire city. In the first half of the fifteenth century, the outer walls have been built and together with another five towers joined by belts, equipped with water ditches and guard roads raised to protect the area around the church of Holy Margareta. All these fortifications will bear the title of castle, as first mentioned the archives in 1450. The city has gradually dowry filled with a dark belt, gates and defensive organization supported by the guild. Of these, some were demolished even by the descendants of old the builders, to comply with the requirements of modern urban planning.

The Construction Process During the Ages

In 1477, Medias’s capacity of defense was to be restored by the order of King Matthias Corvinus. He ordered that all inhabitants, regardless of their social position, to participate in this work, but the work itself bigins much later, in 1490. The ensemble around the parish church was also completed entirely. Another fortification was added to the city,  fortified with wooden palisades, coupled with water ditches. These amounted to a total length of 2,360 meters, a thickness of about one meter in height of seven meters. There were three main access gates to the city, fortified with towers. Construction of the new fortress was completed around 1534, a period status of the town changed again into “civitas” that Medias was never going to lose since then. The climax of the fortification process was reached in the eighteenth century, when the city of Medias had 19 towers and bastions, and to the three main gates were added four more secondary gates.

Saint Margaret Church, along with the entire complex of fortifications around it are called “Castle”. The construction was completed apparently in 1488 and is recorded in the chronicle of Georg Soterius. The inside of the church offers a broad set of garments and pictorial iconography, with heraldic keystones, shrines and medieval fonts gathered from neighboring villages. Among the tombstones, here is the ledger of Christian Schesaus, a proeminet cultural figure of Medias.

Under the weight of the new construction, the foundation for the tower gave way and began to lean toward the northwest almost two and a half meters. Now Trumpeters Tower is one of the top ten towers inclined in the world. To stop it from tilting, the teams of architects and engineers have made two consolidation works: first in the years 1927-1930, when they mounted a belt of concrete to a height of 14 meters, and second in 1976  and 1977, with another belt eight meters long. In 1880, on the tower there was mounted a watch equipped with four weights, 100 kilograms each, that keep the mechanism working.

The Bells Tower, also called the Gate Tower, is located on the western side of the fortification. On the top floor the church bells are placed, the oldest having been imprinted in the year 1449.

The School Tower is located in the north-west, embedded in the school building.

Ropemakers’ Tower is characterized by sobriety, elegance and proportionality. The last level of the tower is provided with a series of throwing holes. In the nineteenth century, the tower got the moniker of “the Fat Tower” where the Saxon community store their smoked bacon.

Mary’s Tower stands out from other towers thanks to the roof of its desk. The access level contains a beautiful painting dating from the late fifteenth century. It is considered that the room served as a chapel for the service of the dead during the epidemics.

Tailors Tower is located on the south side. Inside the high walls, Medias retains some of Masonic symbols: owl, pound, the twins, chrysalis, the square hammer and the compass, the ivy, the poppy, the eagle, the rosa-croce, the octogoans and the seeing eye, just to mention a few of the symbols found in the citadel.

The mysteries of Medias are supprted mostly by the few public information related to its history. One says that in the city there is a labyrinth of tunnels; another is related to Mary’s Tower. It is said that the prison tower, Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned for four hours. Even the grapes in the vine heraldry of the city has its legend: the goldsmiths’ guild had been put up to three bunches of grapes made of gold to hide them in places known onlh by them. The Myth of the Ggolden Grapes turned many adventurers into treasure hunters, but without succeeding.

Of the total of 2,360 meters of defensive walls from the early eighteenth century, the main three gates, four secondary gates and 19 towers and bastions, 1,845 meters of fortifications are still standing, including the towers and 11 bastions.

The leaning Tower, the covered staircase, the old buildings full of Masonic symbols and legends that combines mystical beauty of the past, make Medias an ideal place for a return to the medieval past of Transylvania.

Every year, Medias is the host of a popular and famous Medieval Festival, so you have one more reason to come and visit.

Photo source:

Picture 1: mirceahodarnau.ro; Picture 2: vacantaesoterica.blogspot.ro; Picture 3: vasile-antipa.blogspot.ro; Picture 4: vasile-antipa.blogspot.ro; Picture 5: vasile-antipa.blogspot.ro; Picture 6: cavalerintaramea.ro; Picture 7: turism-blog.ro
Jul 12

Hohensalzburg Castle (Castelul Hohensalzburg)

The Hohensalzburg Castle is located in Salzburg, Austria. Constructed on the Festungsberg Mountain in the 12 century by the order of the archbishops of Salzburg, the castle is known at present as the most important landmark of the Austrian city.

The archbishops have seen to the permanent preservation and improvement of the edifice as the centuries went by and because of this, we have today the possibility to gaze on one of the most imposing castle in all of Central Europe.

The castle measures 250 m in length and 120 m in height, being one of the largest medieval castles on the European continent.

http://listsoplenty.com

 

Construction

The construction work began in 1077 and it was designed solely for defensive purposes. This was obvious from the original plan which consisted solely of an outer wall made out of wood. At the time of the Roman Empire, the archbishops began to expand the castle, having in mind the protection of their riches.

Political interests played an important role in the development of the castle, as the archbishops in power had to take into consideration that their enemies might strike them when they least expected. So an accurately constructed fortification was the key in these matters.

http://www.flickr.com

 

The situation in which the Hohensalzburg Castle was sieged was singular in all of its history. This occurred in 1525, during the Peasants’ War, when workmen (miners, farmers) as well as other townsmen wanted to overturn the power of Prince/Archbishop Matthaus Lang. But they failed in their attemp as the castle could not be taken.

During the Thirty Years’ War, the castle underwent considerable modifications as it was further strenghtened so as to better serve its defense purpose.

Beginning from the late 19th century, Hohensalzburg was subjected to several restoration works and step by step transformed into an important tourist attraction.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was used as a jail in which prisoners of WWI (mostly Italians) and Nazi activists were kept locked.

http://www.flickr.com

 

Structure

The castle is equipped with a courtyard and is consists of multiple wings. It is impossible to accurately describe the various rooms in just a few words as the description would not do them justice. But this article will give insight into some of the chambers located in Hohensalzburg Castle.

In the latter years of the 15th century, the third floor of the Castle was constructed and it consisted of beautiful apartments rooms which were meant for celebrations and official events. The archbishops found accomodation at the first floor, so by no means were they to dwell at the third floor.

http://www.flickr.com

 

Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach wanted to enlarge the construction even more so he had 4 colossal columns added on the right sight of the castle and used them in the construction of a veranda.  The majority of the rooms had the ceiling in the shape of a sunken panel, divided into squares. In the middle of each of the squares, the architects added gilded buttons, which were meant recall of the sky dotted with shining stars.

The Golden Hall, as this room is named, has a long beam sustaining the ceiling. The reason for which this precise detail is mentioned is that the beam traverses the entire length of the ceiling, measuring 17 m, but more importantly it has several coats of arms painted on it. The escutcheons belong to the Holy Roman Empire, to the Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach, as well as to the most dominant German cities and dioceses that were in one way or another linked to Salzburg.

http://ridinginthesquadwithchrist.blogspot.ro

 

Golden Chamber

There is one room which stands out from all the others: the Golden Chamber – and this is due to the splendid furnishes that are found here. On both sides of the room, near the walls, one can find benches artistically adorned with elements pertaining to the natural world, more precisely to the plant and animal life. Thus we can find grapes, shrubbery, vines, as well as details from the fauna.

Initially, the benches were sheltered either by leather or by different types of fabrics, but these coverings have not lived to see our time.  The walls also used to be decorated with leather drapery, but the interesting part was that the leather was covered in gold. However, this as well, did not manage to survive the passage of time.

http://www.destination360.com

 

Bedchamber

The bedchamber is the most intimate room of a dwelling; this is an accurate statement regardless of the century in which it is uttered. So the bedchamber in the Hohensalzburg Castle is the most intimate room of the fortress.

Unfortunately, the original elements which constituted this room were subsituted in time by more contemporary ones. But there is a reminder of the glorious past: the plastering on the wall which is richly adorned, thus emphasizing the status of the person dwelling in that particular room. The superior part still bears the original elements of decoration: golden buttons and emblems, but the inferior part is unembellished. It is improbably that this was left as such, so the only valid explanation is that this particular segment had velvet, leather or some sort of textile emboidery on it that did not survived to our days.

http://www.blogabond.com

 

So the answer to the question: ‘Why is this a must-see tourist attraction?’ is obvious. The Castle reigns over the city from its high position on the Festungsberg Mountain, offering a breathtaking view of Salzburg.

The castle bear historical and cultural significance, giving tourists the opportunity to retrieve to a certain extent the past. More so, there is a museum located within the castle which is opened for visitations all year long. This is equipped with audio guides in the most widely used languages so you will have to problem comprehending that which is explained to you.

Apr 12

Bran Castle (Castelul Bran)

Bran Castle is the main tourist attraction in the Transylvanian region. It is situated within less than 30 km from Brasov, between Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mountains, on the road which connects the cities Brasov and Campulung Muscel.  The castle has a very rich history, having changed its destination throughout time from a medieval fortress to a royal residence. At present, the castle has become a museum, drawing thousands of visitors every year.

History

The castle dates from 1378, when it has been erected on top of a cliff. At the time, the construction bore high value from a military point of view as it reigned over the Rucar-Bran passage which led through the mountains.

Source: http://www.draculascastle.com

In 1407, the ruler Mircea the Elder received the Bran castle from Sigismund of Luxembourg, the German emperor and king of Hungary. The building remained under Wallachian authority until 1419. In 1427, the castle was taken over by the Hungarian ruler and it underwent a series of fortification and extension works.

The castle become royal residence in the true sense of the word in 1920 when the Town Council of Brasov donated it to Queen Mary of Romania as a token of appreciation for her contribution to the Grand Unification which occurred on December the 1st,1918. The Queen had decorated it according to her taste and had left it as inheritance to her daughter, Princess Ileana, the sister of Carol II. The royal family had been expelled from the country in 1948 and Bran Castle became property of the Romanian state. Unfortunately, the building was abandoned and suffered considerable damages.

It is not until 1956 that the castle is reopened for visitations when it is partially transformed into a history and feudal art museum. In 1987, restoration works are conducted and these are completed by and large in 1993.

 

Source: http://www.tripideas.com

Legend

Bran Castle is mostly renowned for the legend of Count Dracula, which has been promoted extensively through the novel ‘Dracula’ written by the Irish author Bram Stoker. The legend is actually based on a real story which revolves around the ruler Vlad the Impaler who was a cruel and bloody person that punished its enemies and its disobedient subjects by using different types of torturing measures: cutting limbs, boiling people alive, strangulation, burning, mutilating. But the legend distances itself from reality, as the main character is actually a vampire that feeds itself with the blood of its victims. It doesn’t really matter that Count Dracula did not resemble Vlad the Impaler in many ways, the fact remains that the fictional story has stirred the imagination of thousands of readers, bringing them to Bran from all over the world. Visitors are enticed with the idea of seeing in person the place where the cruel vampire dwelt. In fact, some are so convinced of the idea that Dracula actually existed that they are intent in finding evidence of his existence in the castle. This goes to show the impact that the book had on its readers and the fame that Bran Castle has attained throughout time.

Tourists can visit both the interior of the castle and the exterior courtyard and they have an experienced guide at their disposal who can reveal them the secrets hidden inside the castle.

 

Source: http://www.tripideas.com

At present, visitors can admire the ceramic collections, the furniture, weapons and armors which date from the time of Queen Mary’s reign. The modifications made by the Queen are quite noticeable as the castle has been transformed from a military fortress into a summer residence for the royal family, so the esthetic and structural improvements are visible.

In 1932, the Queen requested for an electric generation to be built and from this year onwards, the castle benefited from artificial light. An elevator was also built in order to facilitate the access to the garden from the superior floors of the castle.

A hunting house, a wooden church, a wooden house with 7 rooms and two cottages (one for the Queen and one for her daughter) have been built. You can notice the refined taste of the Queen in the design she conveyed to the entire castle. Among these, the Grand Room (a living room decorated in the German Renaissance style), the Yellow Room, the Music Hall, the Tyrolienne Chamber (belonging to King Carol II) stand out as they are characteristic to that period and to the sophisticated style of the Queen.

 

Source: http://www.romania-tour.ro

In the exterior patio, tourists can visit the Romanian Village Museum which brings together different types of architectural designs and popular customs from all over Romania.

As you can see, Bran Castle is a place where history, culture and myth intertwine. The architecture and the décor are impressive and you will definitely not regret having visited this one of a kind touristic attraction.

Visitation hours:

  • Monday: 11:00-18:00;
  • Every other day: 9:00-18:00.

Price:

  • Adults: 9 RON/person (3 euro);
  • Students: 4 RON/person (1,3 euro)
  • Children under 5 years old have free access