With its green rolling hills, historic fortified churches, a thriving Roma (gypsy) culture and its medieval towns still intact, Transylvania is considered the heart and soul of Romania. Sibiu, an early Saxon walled town, has a charming array of old houses and cobbled squares connected by dozens of tunnels, stairways and hidden passages. In the western section of Romania is Tirgu Mures, home to an ethnic Hungarian people called Szekely (pronounced say kay) who first came to the area around the 5th century. Repressed during communist times, the Szekely have traditionally scorned the Romanian language, and speak a dialect of Hungarian. Tirgu Mures is also home to a significant Roma population, and there are villages just outside Tirgu Mures that are entirely Roma.
PUBLISHED: July 23, 2013