Schei district of Brasov
One shouldn't leave Brasov without a stroll
through Schei, the old Romanian district of Brasov, a neighborhood
cobblestone streets and red-tiled 17th century homes. Leave
the fortress area of the old city trough Poarta Schei and you'll
find yourself in this picturesque suburb.
used to be the only entrance for the Romanians living in Schei.
They were not allowed to use the other four entrances. During the Saxon rule
of the 13th to 17th century Romanians were forbidden from owning property inside
the fortress walls and such they settled outside the wall, building their homes
outside the city walls, up this beautiful valley. Romanians could only enter
the town at certain times and had to pay a toll at the gate for the privilege
of selling their produce inside the citadel.
Leaving the Schei Gate
walk up Strada Prundului to Piata Unirii. There you can visit the gorgeously
painted Romanian Orthodox church of St Nicholas
and the First
, which is right next to the church. Then just wander
around the small curving streets that gradually slope upwards against the hill.
Note the many different iron door handles and knockers adorning the pretty
houses. You'll also notice many roadside crosses, each one with its unique
the end of the valley,you can trek on the old road to Poiana
most famous skiing resort.
Walk on to the
southern end of Schei and
you'll end up on the gravel road to the impressive Salomon
lui Salomon). This is where every spring thousands of Romanians
gather for a massive picnic and sing-along, after having
followed the traditional Junii-procession through town,
celebrating the one day a year that Romanians were allowed
enter the Saxon town. The "Feast
of Youth" takes
place the first Week after Easter. This is a festival of
the lads and of the men from Schei. They ride their horses
and they march down on the streets of the city. The atmosphere
is festive: traditional costumes, adorned horses, music.
This custom is considered a kind of initiation ritual,
the boys are supposed to pass some tests of maturity and
throwing the mace, springing them up into the air in a
is how, Ileana, the Princess of Romania described Schei
in her book "Hospital of the Queen's Heart",
written in 1954:
"The Schei is a tight little
valley, its population of about one thousand peasants crowded
together into an area
so long and narrow that it seems but a crevice between
two up thrusting mountains, their sides rising sheer and darkly
forested. The unpaved streets are narrow, and the little
whitewashed houses huddle together along them as if pressed ever
more and more close by the overhanging mountains on either
side. Because the valley is so sheltered, it is a
veritable paradise of little gardens and fruit trees that
are seemingly pushed up against the houses for lack of
space. In the spring blue Scylla, daffodils, and narcissus
early through the snow and carpet the warm little valley,
and, later, clouds of plum and apple, apricot and cherry
blossoms seem to float low over the whole town, drenching
it with perfume, shaking down their soft rain of pink and
white petals over tiled and shingled roofs, onto the ground.
There is no room for growing things to expand, so they
flourish and blossom beyond belief.
In winter, the town is still and
somnolent, buried beneath deep snowdrifts. Paths are
trod out, snowed over again, and
retrodden from house to house, to shop and church and
school. Life goes at a slower pace until the long rays
of the returning
sun, penetrating the depths of the valley, quicken the
people's lives as they do the green growing things.
The people of the
Schei are intensely Romanian, profoundly Orthodox and
reactionary. They resented the Communists with
all the fervor of their long and loyal past. In 1945,
they refused to take part in the celebrations and demonstrations
on May first, the first Communist Labor Day since the
regime had taken over the country. For a half mile they
deliberately tore up the road leading into the town and
the valley. They put up a huge sign on the barricade:
FROM HERE ON, THE SCHEI
The Russian soldiers never dared go
into the Schei—they
would have been skinned. They were afraid of these people."