Traditional Magura-style (Romania) House

The Bran Valley leading southward was one of the major trading routes from Roman times until the 1800s linking the Orient to Europe. In more recent centuries until 1918, it served as a significant border strong-point between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Turkish Empire.

As in any mountain valley, peasant homes were scattered in many remote locations. Local architectural vernacular reflected both ethnic influences as well as local materials and climatic conditions. The Magura-style is named after a particular layout and design that evolved in the higher hills surrounding Bran. Ample pine forests provided the needed materials.

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The courtyard, sparse number of external windows, and steep roof lines contribute to practical but elegant to a difficult climate. It is also remarked by ethnographers that the enclosure was intended to ensure saftey from thieves especially at times when owners might be away for long periods tending sheep. Others reports suggest that the lack of windows was a result of tax laws based on the size of windows.

Illustrations are from "La Transylvanie," National Institute of History - Cluj (Romanian Academy, Bucharest, 1938)
The courtyard provided sheltered space for animals and (Left) two rooms for winter animal shelter. Rooms (right) were for day to day living and one reserved for guests or special occasions where valuable carpets, and other items might be displayed.

The steep attic roofs provided ample space for storing hay on one side and for smoking meats on the other. Chimneys were not needed as smoke entered the attic space from fireplaces below and filtered out through the small eye-shaped openings. A clay floor prevented fire from sparks and water from entering the living rooms.