WHEN you leave Szamos Ujvár, the road passes straight over a plain, with little or nothing to relieve the monotony. A Hungarian village or two, a nobleman's mansion with the surrounding farm-buildings,-that is all, until the tall spire and the various towers of Klausenburg rise before you. The town takes you by surprise, entering it from the north; the main street is broad, with many stately buildings in it, and the square with the Catholic church in the centre, seems to belong to a larger town than Klausenburg really is. Though it has but 25,000 inhabitants, which is less than the population of Kronstadt, its general appearance makes it seem the more considerable town of the two. The capital of the Barzenland is neat and compact, the houses are none of them high; and owing to its position among the hills, which gives it such enviable beauty, there is no possibility of broad streets and an open square in the centre of the town, as is the case in Klausenburg. Here there is plenty of room and to spare, and it would seem as if the Saxon founders-liking spacious dwellings, and needing them probably for their families and servants--had determined to make use of it.
All the old buildings are essentially German in their architecture and arrangements. The ironwork before the windows, the balconies, railings, the spouts for the water running from the gutters of the roof,-each bears its own unmistakable impress; the hand and skill of the German handicraftsman is everywhere to be recognized. Those first settlers were evidently well to do in the world,-comfortable citizens, who, if they did not care for luxury, valued at its full a good substantial dwelling, giving evidence that its possessor was also a man of substance.
Monday, September 07, 2009
The above is a fragment from Chapter XXVII of Charles Boner's "Transylvania. Its Products and Its People", published in London, in 1865. The whole book is available online, part of a very welcome research project at DXARTS/CARTAH, University of Washington-- which collects, inter alia, a bunch of other, old(er), books/translations about Romania et al, in digital format.