1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Brassó

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BRASSÓ (Ger. Kronstadt; Rumanian, Braşov), a town of Hungary, in Transylvania, 206 m. S.E. of Kolozsvár by rail. Pop. (1900) 34,511. It is the capital of the comitat (county) of the same name, also known as Burzenland, a fertile country inhabited by an industrious population of Germans, Magyars and Rumanians. Brassó is beautifully situated on the slopes of the Transylvanian Alps, in a narrow valley, shut in by mountains, and presenting only one opening on the north-west towards the Burzen plain. The town is entirely dominated by the Zinne of Kapellenberg, a mountain rising 1276 ft. above the town (total altitude 3153 ft.), from which a beautiful view is obtained of the lofty mountains around and of the carefully cultivated plain of the Burzenland, dotted with tastefully built and well-kept villages. On the summit of the mountain is one of the numerous monuments erected in 1896 in different parts of the country to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the foundation of the Hungarian state. It is known as Árpád's Monument, and consists of a Doric column erected on a circular pedestal, which supports the bronze figure of a warrior from the time of Árpád.

Brassó consists of the inner town, which is the commercial centre, and the suburbs of Blumenau, Altstadt and Obere Vorstadt or Bolgárszeg, inhabited respectively by Germans, Magyars and Rumanians. To the east of the inner town rises the Schlossberg, crowned by the citadel, which was erected in 1553, and constitutes the principal remaining fragment of the old fortifications with which Brassó was encircled. The most interesting building in the town is the Protestant church, popularly called the Black Church, owing to its smoke-stained walls, caused by the great fire of 1689. This church, the finest in Transylvania, is a Gothic edifice with traces of Romanesque influence, and was built in 1385 – 1425. In the square in front of it is the statue of Johannes Honterus (1498 – 1549), “the apostle of Transylvania,” who was born in Brassó, and established here the first printing-press in Transylvania. In the principal square of the inner town stands the town hall, built in 1420 and restored in the 18th century, with a tower 190 ft. high. Brassó is the most important commercial and manufacturing town of Transylvania. Lying near the frontier of Rumania, with easy access through the Tömös pass, it developed from the earliest time an active trade with that country and with the whole of the Balkan states. Its chief industries are iron and copper works, wool-spinning, turkey-red dyeing, leather goods, paper, cement and petroleum refineries. The timber industry in all its branches, with a speciality for the manufacture of the wooden bottles largely used by the peasantry in Hungary and in the Balkan states, as well as the dairy industry, and ham-curing are also fully developed. A peculiarity of Brassó, which constitutes a survival of the old methods of trade with the Balkan states, is the number of money-changers who ply their trade at small movable tables in the market-place and in the open street. Brassó is the most populous town of Transylvania, and its population is composed in about equal numbers of Germans, Magyars and Rumanians. The town, especially on market days, presents an animated and picturesque aspect. Here are seen Germans, Szeklers, Magyars, Rumanians, Armenians and Gipsies, each of them wearing their distinctive national costume, and talking and bargaining in their own special idiom.

Amongst the places of interest round Brassó is the watering-place Zaizon, 15 m. to the east, with ferruginous and iodine waters; while about 17 m. to the south-west lies the pretty Rumanian village of Zernest, where in 1690 the Austrian general Heussler was defeated and taken prisoner by Imre (Emerich) Tököly, the usurper of the Transylvanian throne.

Brassó was founded by the Teutonic Order in 1211, and soon became a flourishing town. Through the activity of Honterus it played a leading part in the introduction of the Reformation in Transylvania in the 16th century. The town was almost completely destroyed by the big fire of 1689. During the revolution of 1848 – 1849 it was besieged by the Hungarians under General Bern from March to July 1849, and several engagements between the Austrian and the Hungarian troops took place in its neighbourhood.