Butted against the old sandy colored walls, the well intact remains of a tower sit, once part of Brasov's outer defensive ring to the north of the city. The patched stone work of the tower and its adjacent wall with accompanying bastion close by, tell the story of ongoing attacks throughout the centuries.
Some of the most powerful civilizations and armies, from both west and east, have laid siege to or occupied Brasov over its long history. Since first attacked by the Tartars in 1235 this city has seen invasions by the Ottoman Turks, the Romanian army in 1910 as well as combined German and Austro-Hungarian forces before settling under control of Romania as part of the Transylvania region.
The remains of the city walls, 40 feet high in some places, started construction in 1395 under direction of than king of Hungary Sigismund of Luxemburg. The did not see completion until somewhere around the sixteen-forties. During this later period the outer defensive ring, to which this tower is attached, was built.
Appearing plain from the outside save for a ramp leading across the ditch leading up to the wall, it is the unique contents whithin wich are the real story. The main character is a self taught wood carver, a skilful and unique artist named Croitor Bradescu Ioan.
He came to Brasov around 1998, although when he started working inside the tower is not clear. What is clear is his soulful approach to his artistic craft which allows him to create some of the most unique, intricately designed wood carvings I have seen.
Although appearing rather voluminous from the outside, the sheer width of the walls, needed to keep out attackers, makes for a rather small work space. I can only surmise that it is here , from the presence of his workbench on the first level, that he slaved away among the crowded examples of his work.
This working environment was open air, inside an old damp and cold stone tower. Suffice to say during the Romanian winter it was cold indeed, yet there he was.
The sheer number of pieces inside this workspace showcased his passion and dedication to his craft. From towering ten foot tall spiraling columns to intricately carved crosses taller than the average bear (or man) his artistic mastery shone through clearly.
Upstairs from his workshop, up a narrow staircase leading to more of his work, you'll find a donation bowl. Although, I am honestly only guessing from the money left inside and the note left on top. My Romanian is worse than my Serbo-Croatian and these days, even the little I know suffers. I haven't spoke a word in a month and it has been two since I studied at all.
If you are in Transylvania, Brasov for its amazing architecture alone is well worth the visit. If in Brasov, you must stop in and see this artist along with his amazing work. Use the bowl and donate if you can't purchase one of his pieces if they are for sale. I don't honestly know. You can always purchase a post card as I did.
To wet your appetite you can take a peak at the virtual tour of Croitor Bradescu Ioan's studio (the tower) and much of his work..