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July 2016

You Only Get One First Impression (article written by Jonathan Iacopi, Australia)   (published in Romania)

July 21, 2016 by   Comments(0)

It can elicit any number of emotions ranging from elation, love, content to disappointment, disgust or anger. It can set the tone for a relationship or stop it before it starts.

Brasov evoked high expectations but disappointed on its first impression. Although through no fault of its own - it appears a city without pretention.

The expectation was for a picture perfect medieval walled city, the one that google images promised. The winding drive through the mountains further increased expectation, anticipation rose through the pristine town of Sinaia. Not long now Brasov nears, bright lights and…. massive mid to late 20th century concrete blocks; everywhere. Google lied.

Remnants of Romania’s more recent history, it’s dabbling in communism and Brasov’s role as a manufacturing hub. The contrast is stark to say the least.

Would this first impression be defining? The relationship has 6 weeks to develop and grow, plenty of time to turn it around.

With a mind less addled from exhaustion after much needed rest Brasov can be seen more clearly and in its entirety. Free from preconceived ideas and prejudices developed from unrealistic expectations.
As the initial disappointment waned Brasov began to reveal itself, even those concrete blocks which offended on first arrival evoke something that isn’t entirely horrible; they have character, they tell a story.
Nearing the city centre the function over form communist era architecture falls away and in its place a mixture of the simple yet elegant and the outright opulent of its preceding 500 years is revealed. With Brasov’s manufacturing industry having come to a standstill in the wake of the fall of communism the city now relies heavily on tourism and there is a pride in the keeping of historical sites and buildings without succumbing to over restoration. The city and its people have lived and that shouldn’t be hidden. As the buildings grow older the graffiti and litter become less frequent but frustratingly still present.

Contrast and contradiction is not limited to built structures but can be witnessed through the people of Brasov, and how the city functions. The older generations bare the marks of their history carrying their culture forward while the majority of the young people of Brasov would not look out of place in any other city in the world. This is far from a criticism but simply an observation on appearances and the shrinking nature of the globe. Although a penchant for rollerblading would attract some odd looks back in Australia.

As a visitor it’s impossible to stay disappointed in Brasov, an intriguing and beautiful place rich in history and character. Its strengths and flaws are on display in equal measure, Brasov mightn’t always make sense but maybe it doesn’t have too.

First impressions aren’t everything it’s the impressions that last that count.

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You Only Get One First Impression (article written by Jonathan Iacopi, Australia)
You Only Get One First Impression (article written by Jonathan Iacopi, Australia)

Brasov: The epitome of contrast (article written by Thomas Rowe, UK)   (published in Romania)

July 11, 2016 by   Comments(0)

Secluded in the thick, green haze of surrounding forest; one could be forgiven for being startled at the sudden emergence of an urban metropolis; Brasov is a drastic, immediate change to the vivid, mountainous terrain that engulfs it. In many ways, this initial shock is a mere amuse-bouche for the diverse array of experiences and sights that make up the dynamic city of Brasov. The centre is magical, a Grimm fairy-tale brought to life through fantastic Gothic architecture, typified by the magnificent ‘Black Church’. This Gothic architecture illustrates the romantic historicism that runs through the veins of Brasov, however, this historicism is also prevalent in Brasov in a very different sense.

In stark contrast to the whimsical joy of the centre, the remainder of Brasov still bears the scars of the toxic concoction of Stalinism and Maoism inflicted upon Romania by Gheorge Gheorghiu-Dej, and his successor, Nicolae Ceausescu. Despite an influx of shiny, new capitalist monuments symbolising that the warped Communism of the past is dead, monotonous, grey apartment complexes preserve haunting memories of the former regime of oppression. In order to throw off the shackles of its stained past, the people of Brasov appear to have welcomed corporate consumerism with open arms: the brand is king. Young people in particular appear to take great joy in the increased freedom of individual choice and expression, with a vast range of global brands on display. Perhaps this embrace of global branding can be seen as a process of liberation, whereby a new, progressive ideology is emerging for local people after being supressed for so long.

The history that plays such a large role in what makes Brasov the distinctive place it is today could be diluted by this branding invasion; ironically meaning that the backlash to past repression is contributing to the erosion of authentic local culture. This is evidenced by the occupation of stores like Tommy Hilfinger in the gorgeous Germanic buildings synonymous with the centre of Brasov. Obviously this globalization is occurring in all major cities, and at least Brasov can boast that its traditional centre remains largely authentic, in a modern era where authenticity is increasingly hard to come by. This threat of waning authenticity illustrates the importance of attempts to preserve and promote local culture, particularly in a city of such cultural heritage, to keep the fire of the ‘real’ Brasov burning brightly.



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Brasov: The epitome of contrast (article written by Thomas Rowe, UK)
Brasov: The epitome of contrast (article written by Thomas Rowe, UK)