Transylvania Definition | concept

Transylvania concept underlying the brand owned by Transylvania World

Transylvania, land of legends

Located in Eastern Europe, on Romania’s current territory, Transylvania is a geographical region cornered and adjacent with the Carpathian Mountains, a land of ancient mysticism which kept medieval traditions alive up to this day.

Transylvania definition

Located in Eastern Europe, on Romania’s current territory, bounded and adjacent with the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania is the place where the first civilization arose in Europe (Cucuteni) and where the ancient Dacians (today’s Romanian’s ancestors) once lived.[1] 

The etymology of the word "Transylvania" comes from merging the Latin words "trans" (crossing, beyond) and "silvam" (forest). This is how In 2-3 BC., the Romans, Latin speakers, referred to the territories they found inhabited by the Dacians, the lands "crossing" and "beyond" the Carpathian forests.

Current day Transylvania is an area without an administrative status, an integral part of Romania and can be classified into three major geographic areas: Central Transylvania, Political Transylvania and Transylvania World (which also include areas where it feels strong the influence of the Transylvanian traditions).

To the development and diversification of the Transylvanian traditions a great contribution had the Saxons of German origin and the Szeklers who were harmoniously integrated with Transylvanian population.

Transylvania | concept

The ever growing interest along the mystery filled atmosphere surrounding Transylvania is well-founded, its basis being mainly the ancient civilizations that once lived in this place but also the unknown factor which is still a big part of its characteristic. 

Transylvania is a geographic region in Eastern Europe, Romania, which includes the mountain and hill areas limited and adjacent by the Romanian Carpathians. The cultural exchanges from these forest areas are well sursăed, man’s connection with nature being kept alive since ancient times, proof for this being Lucius Florus` description of the Dacian people as being bonded to the mountains (dacii montibus inhaerent). The Dacians` totemic animal was the wolf, as they had a strong connection to it, going so far as calling themselves `daoi` (the ancient word `daos` means wolf in the Phrygian language). Their battle flag, called `Draco`, was in fact a wolf’s head with its mouth wide opened, with a dragon’s body, symbolizing the spirit of this animal, an ally and inspiring protector.

Transylvania is one of the places where the oldest civilization in Europe spawned, Cucuteni Culture having originated from this territory. The Cucuteni civilization forewent all the human settlements from Sumer and Ancient Egypt by a few hundred years. Their culture left behind unique European ceramics, the only similarities being with ceramics from a Neolithic Chinese culture (although the latter appeared one thousand years later after Cucuteni).[2] [3] [4] [5] 

Transylvania’s territory is the place where the Dacians once lived - a civilization that forewent nowadays Romanians. They were conquered with great difficulty by the powerful Roman Empire after two wars. The great Indo-European tribe of the Thracians (Dacians are included in here as well) dispersed in most of the Balkan Peninsula and in its related adjacent places from Easter Europe, but the Dacians were the most privileged as they lived across the Danube river, being located in Transylvania’s current location.[6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

Etymologically speaking, the toponym "Transylvania" was formed by merging the Latin terms "trans" (crossing, beyond), "silvam" (forest) and adding the toponym specific suffix "-nia." The Dacians lived in the woodlands adjacent to the Carpathian Mountains. During the first incursions of the Roman armies in the region, in 2-3 BC., the soldiers localized these territories as being there where they started to cross the forests and beyond, in the Carpathian arc, expressing themselves in Latin like "trans silvam ". Subsequently, by adding the toponym specific suffix "-nia", through which an expression is transformed into a country name, this land crossing and beyond the forests, has become trans-silva-nia, respectively Transylvania.[12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]

Transylvania is a magical and dreamy place, a land of myths where the ancient Dacian legend of the Great White Wolf was born. This legend is the first mention of the werewolf (Romanian "vârcolac"), being presented as a protector, because the wolf was the sacred animal of the Dacians. The "strigoi" (predecessor of the vampire) alongside other mystical creatures led to local traditions which take place the same way as they did hundreds of years ago. The Transylvanian territory has plenty to offer for anybody ready to enter this fairy-like world.[19] [20]

We cannot exclude mentioning the famous character Dracula. He is mainly based on the Transylvanian legends and superstitions, but also on the real character of Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Draculea). His fame alongside the fear which he inspired in his enemies transformed him into a legendary character throughout the ages, Bram Stoker placing a large part of his novel on the Transylvanian territory. 

The Romanian Lord Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Draculea) has a strong connection with Transylvania. Vlad was a genuine savior of the Western Civilization, as he defeated "the largest Turkish army gathered ever since the Fall of Constantinople" (quote from the Greek historic Chalcondyles), led by Mehmed the Conqueror. During his reign, Lord Vlad the Impaler stopped the Islamic invasion of Europe, his famous `Night Attack` having played a crucial part in preventing the advancement of the Ottoman Empire.

Nowadays Transylvania, a territory full of natural riches and amazing flora and fauna, represents an extremely popular touristic attraction. Within this magical place, one can find wolfs, bears and other wild animals swarming in their natural habitat of virgin forests. The Transylvanian territory includes natural monuments, reservations, endangered species of plants and animals, beautiful `mioritic` scenery (settings with sinuous terrains, with mountains and valleys appropriate for shepherding), mountains with towering peeks, ravines, lakes and caves, among other famous spots and also attractions known only by the natives, each of them with their own unique legends. 

Medieval gothic architecture is well defined in the Transylvanian territory and it consists of numerous attractions, one of which being Sighisoara, an entire medieval fortified city, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  This is only one example of the numerous medieval elements found in Transylvania, among which we can also count the gothic fortified churches, medieval fortresses, castles, cule (semi-fortified buildings), rural ramparts and merchants’ towers (named after guilds – furriers', cobblers’, blacksmiths’, etc).

National minorities who still inhabit this territory such the Transylvanian Saxons of German origin and the Székelys left a strong mark in Transylvania and integrated in harmony with the existing population. They harmoniously merged with the existing population and their influences are strongly felt in domains such as medieval architecture, arts and crafts and also in the traditional Transylvanian cuisine.

The local traditions are well connected to arts and crafts and the ancient customs led to what nowadays we call folklore. The hand crafted objects and local habits are unique for each Transylvanian area. There are genuine focal points full of culture and customs, and the traditional clothing, arts and crafts, incantations and the overall customs are unique landmarks for the Romanian peasant’s spirituality.[21]


Note: The Transylvania World concepts are an essential part of the association brand and their usage has to quote the source and reference this website.

Discover Transylvania on our website

Research sources:

1. Prof. Univ. Dr. Mihai Ielenicz, Romania – Physical Map, Scale 1:1.150.000, Amco Press, Bucharest, 2000
2. Wikipedia, Lucius Florus (link)
3. Wikipedia, Cucuteni Culture (link)
4. Wikipedia, Sumer(link)
5. Wikipedia, Ancient Egypt (link)
6. Wikipedia, Trajan’s Dacian Wars (link)
7. Wikipedia, Draco (link)
8. Dumitrașcu S. , Dacia Apuseană, Editura Cogito, Oradea, 1993
9. Daicoviciu H., Dacii, Editura Hyperion, Chișinău, 1991
10. Borza A., Sanctuarul Dacilor, Imprimeria Mirton, Timișoara, 2001
11. Pârvan V., Getica- O protoistorie a Daciei, Editura Meridiane, București, 1982
12. Cucu V., Orașele României, Editura Științifică, București, 1970
13. Coord. Șt. Dr. Pompei Cocean, Doctorand Mihaescu (Borogean) S. Elena, Țara Loviștei, Univ. Babeș-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, 2010
14. Filipescu I., Vechiul Județ Vâlcea – Studiu de sociologie istorică, (link)
15. Paliga S. Etymologica et Anthropologica Maiora, Fundația Evenimentul, București, 2007
16. Paliga S. Etymological Lexiconof the Indigenous (Thracian) Elements in Romanian, Editura Evenimentul,Bucharest, 2006
17. Coord. Șt. Dr. Pompei Cocean, Doctorand Lăcrămioara Florinela Popa, Migrațiile Transilvănene în Subcarpații Getici. Studiu de Geografie Istorică, Univ. Babeș-Boyai, Cluj-Napoca, 2012
18. Ioan-Aurel Pop, Românii și maghiarii în secolele IX-XIV. Geneza Satului Medieval în Transilvania, Centrul de Studii Transilvane, Fundația Culturală Română, Cluj-Napoca, 1996
19. Vulcănescu R., Mitologie Română, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, 1987
20. Delia Suiogan, Arta Populară – Formă de Comunicare, Memoria Ethnologica, Nr.26-27*, Ianuarie-Iunie, 2008
21. Patrimoniul Cultural Imaterial din România.Repertoriu I , CIMEC- Institutul de Memorie Culturală, București, 2009

Other concepts


  • Overview of the definitions and concepts developed by Transylvania World Association and the key points of our research.
  • Official concepts

  • Transylvania classification into three geographical areas: Central, Political and Transylvania World with its influences
  • Carpathian Mountains (Definition, setting, the connections between legends and reality)
  • Cucuteni Civilization (Definition, geography, facts about the oldest civilization of Europe)
  • Ancient Dacians (About the ancient Dacian people, predecessors of the Romanians)
  • Vlad the Impaler (Also known as "Vlad Draculea" or "Vlad Dracula", one of the most important European leaders who stopped the islamic takeover of Europe in the Middle Ages)
  • The traditional Transylvanian village (definition and overview)
  • Household in Transylvania (About the traditional transylvanian households)
  • Mithological concepts

  • Dacian mythology (Mythology spawned on today's territory of Transylvania, where the Dacians lived, the ancestors of today's Romanians)
  • Werewolf (Incorrectly promoted as a negative character, the concept has generated from the Dacian mithology)
  • Vampire (Definition and concept; global promotion because of the Transylvanian traditions)
  • Dracula (The fantastic character also known as "Count Dracula" or "The vampire Dracula", inspired by the transylvanian traditions and the real historical character Vlad the Impaler)

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