Dreamland, the western territory of Romania, a paradise dreamed of by empires; a fairyland protected by its hearty folk; and centuries-long safe haven to hopeful emigrants.
Dreamland, these are stories lived, legends of why, myths of who, folk believes rooted in the days when the populace of Banat, Crisana, Maramures, and Transylvania laid the first foundations in places still untamed, places that maybe changed their face as they changed many hands throughout centuries.
Dreamland: like a river flows free, like the bird knows no boundaries, and like clouds spread over the entire horizon, so is the history, and the tales of these Romanian provinces. Dacians and Romans, Vlachs, Moti, Mocans, Huns, Peri, Magyars, Transylvanian Saxons , Swabians, Szeklers, Jewish refugees, Ottoman invaders, hajduks and emperors, priests, these are the folks who shared this Dreamland and together they shaped its history, culture and architecture.
In these troubled times, when one’s identity escapes and is easily strewn along paths travelled far and wide, let’s take another look back. Let’s meet the people who can still remember the tales of their ancestors, entrusted to them with the seed of truth.
Today Romania has ten defined historical provinces: Banat, Crișana, Maramureș, Transylvania (Ardeal or Erdély) presented in this book, Dreamland, but also Bucovina, Moldova, Basarabia, Oltenia, Muntenia, and Dobrogea.
Banat: local population lived mainly in huts scattered over the valleys because the main occupation was pastoralism without transhumance. This historical region often bordered various empires that made the area somewhat insecure, and often depopulated due to war outbursts. Today Banat is a land peacefully shared between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary.
Crisana: is a geographical and historical region in north-west Romania named after the Criş Rivers guarded by the peaks of Apuseni Mountains. The etymology for Crişana goes back to the old name for Criş Rivers, Chrisola, deriving from Ancient Greek golden due to golden specks often spotted in its waters.
Maramures: located in the very north of Romania, the very birth of Maramureş has its legend. Its people love to share it by the fire of the woodstove, during cold January evenings steeped in snow. The wood-carved Maramureş Gates are one of the most precious symbols of Maramureş Country.
Transylvania is a historical plateau located at the heart of Romania. Dominated by large pastures, Transylvania is sheltered by the Carpathian Mountains which stand guard around it: to the west, Apuseni Mountains; to the east, Harghita Mountains; and to the south by the Fagaras Mountains nicknamed the Alps of Transylvania and traversed by the spectacular Transfagarasan Road. A multicultural region with a noteworthy history and a rich cultural heritage, Transylvania is known as Ardeal to its millennial Romanian inhabitants, Siebenbürgen to the German Saxons who lived on this land for centuries, and Erdély to the Szeklers and the Hungarian people living here today, alongside Turks, Jews, Serbs, and Roma Gypsies.
This isn’t a history book, or a storybook, but rather a collection of fleeting impressions, lived truths, reflections, descriptive essays, and snapshots of a life lived in fabulous ways.
These short texts are meant to evoke passages from history and I tried to write them with passion and lyricism, and, I hope, wit. Telling stories is the best way to keep the past, this untouchable treasure, alive.
In chronological order: 117 Stories punctuated by historical details.
Over 80 color photographs.
My Review: Wow. This book was much more than I expected going in to read. I read folklore yes, and more. The stories evoked different reactions and that is the hallmark of a well written book. Most stories include a photo of the area, fortress, church, country home, etcetera. History of each area gives great insight to this special place on our beautiful blue sphere of life. Thank you, Ms Furstenberg.