Geography


Geography

The territory known today as Transylvania includes Transylvania proper, part of the Banat, part of the Great Hungarian Plain and the former Partium, totalling 24,027 square miles. On the North, East and South it is bordered by the high mountain ranges of the Eastern Carpathians, and the Southern Carpathians, also known as the Transylvanian Alps, which form the natural frontiers of the Carpathian Basin, and in the same time, for more than one-thousand years, the cultural frontiers between Western and Eastern civilizations. To the West and West-Northwest the land lies wide open, forming one undisturbed geographical unit with the Great Hungarian Plain. Both large Transylvanian rivers, the Maros, as well as the Szamos run from the Transylvanian mountains into the Great Hungarian Plain to join the Tisza river.

 

One single glance at the map will show clearly that geographically Transylvania is but a part of the Carpathian Basin. This very fact determined its role within the European community for more than one-thousand years, economically, culturally and politically alike.

 

The name ,,Transylvania" comes from the Latin translation of the Hungarian "Erdoelve" or later "Erdely" as used and spelled already in the l0th, llth, and l2th centuries, meaning "Beyond the Forest". The word "Transylvania" appeared for the first time in the l7th century, when under Western pressure the official language of the administration became the Latin.

 

The Vlach immigrants - today called Rumanians - entering the country first in small bands, later in large masses as refugees, took the Hungarian name, and formed it to suit their tongue from "Erdely" into"Ardeal". The Germans on the other hand, who were brought in as settlers by the Hungarian kings during the l3th century, named it ,,Siebenburgen" (The Seven Towns) due to their seven administrative districts.

 

The fertile plains and river valleys of Transylvania, as well as the rolling hills of the central basin invited the early Hungarian settlers from the 9th century on, while the salt, coal, iron, gold, silver, and many other rich mineral veins found in the hills made it an economically important part of Hungary, from 890 till l920.

 

The city of KOLOZSVAR, meaning the "Fort of Kolozs" (today called Cluj-Napoca by the Rumanians) with a population of l67,687, was established in 987 A.D. by Kolozs, commander of the Hungarian armies of the East. The city became for many centuries the administrative capital as well as the cultural center of Transylvania. Its fine Gothic architecture makes this remarkable city even today, in spite of the new political borders, a part of the West.

 

TEMESVAR, "Fort on the Temes river", today called Timisoara by the Rumanians, (population l48,564) was established in the l2th century and played an important role in the economy and industrial development of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom.

 

ARAD, population l09,832, established first as a "free market place" in the l2th century on the edge of the Great Hungarian Plain, played an important role in Hungarian history.

 

NAGYVARAD, today Oradea, population l0l,256, was the first royal fort and monastery in the Eastern part of Hungary, established in l008 as the residenee of the "Prince of Transylvania", the oldest son of the King (like in England the "Prince of Wales"). The city became famous during the rule of King Laszlo I, the Saint, l077-l095.

 

MAROSVASARHELY, today Tirgu Mures, population 68,438, was established in the l3th century as a free market place for the Hungarian farmers of the Maros valley (the name means ,,Market Place on the Maros"), and grew into a cultural center during the l7th and l8th centuries.

 

SZATMARNEMETI, today Satu Mare, population 53,l32, is situated in the flatlands of the Great Hungarian Plain, and served for more than seven centuries as a commercial center for the entire region.

 

BRASSO, today Brasov, population l25,896, was built in the l3th century by German settlers around an already existing Hungarian royal fort, while NAGYSZEBEN, today Sibiu, population 9l,976, has served since the l3th century as the center of Transylvanian German culture.

 

Beginning with the l5th century, the educational institutions of the Transylvanian cities, especially those of Kolozsvar, Nagyvarad, Nagyenyed, Zilah and Gyulafehervar became important centers of Hungarian culture, and gained world-wide recognitions.

 

There are more than two-hundred mineral springs, thermal baths and well known health resorts throughout Transylvania. The richness of its natural resources as well as the beauty of its landscape made it very desirable to immigrants as well as conquerors through all recorded history.


Szerkesztés dátuma: hétfő, 2010. december 27. Szerkesztette: Kabai Zoltán
Nézettség: 3,813 Kategória: Irodalom » Documented facts and figures on Transylvania
Előző cikk: Introduction Következő cikk: History


   







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