It’s interesting the way our memory works. When seeing children with tiny backpacks heading for school, most people look back on their own experience of school, and some even remember many details about their first day there. I had a great pleasure of finding the First Romanian School Museum by accident, during my college years. Placed in the Şchei area of Braşov, the school is an overlooked delight, not many people knowing how special it is. This place took the first steps towards the Romanian education in the 15th century and made me remember my good old school years.
Braşov is one of the most touristic cities of Romania, being located in the country’s center. It has so many wonderful attractions. One can take a stroll in the midst of legends, walk up the stairs of the Black and White Towers, or enjoy Romania’s best chocolate at Luado. Because there is so much to do, and sometimes too little time to see it all, the First Romanian School Museum is often overlooked. This is a shame because the school is in great condition, and the area is surrounded by old houses and hills, having a picturesque feel to it.
The school was built on the grounds of the Saint Nicholas Church, in a district which in the 15th century was separate from the city of Braşov, called Şchei. Even though the church was constructed in the 14th century, the school is believed to have opened its gates only in 1583. Initially, the Cyrillic alphabet was used, but they switched to Latin in 1833. What many people don’t realize is that when this first school opened, pupils started attending it from many parts of the country. The villages back then afforded to send only one person per village to get educated. The chosen ones had to learn everything they could so that they, in turn, could become teachers when they returned to the village, passing on the knowledge to the rest of the population.
Later on, things started changing, and more schools appeared on the horizon. The First Romanian School was transformed into a museum in 1964, becoming a part of Braşov’s cherished history. When stepping inside, visitors can sit on the old wooden benches or touch the old abacus, which helped so many children learn to count. The walls are covered in books, holy icons, and portraits of the once important society members of Braşov.
The building witnessed a lot of firsts. Not only does the school host the first Romanian Bible and the first printed Romanian letter in Latin, but it also holds Romania’s first printing press. Because the printing process was laborious manual work, the press only printed 39 books in total and is now at the viewing pleasure of visitors.
Getting to this school turned into a museum is very easy. Visitors can walk from the main square, Piaţa Sfatului, and it will take about 45 minutes. For those who wish to get there faster, there is the 51 bus. It takes only about 15 minutes to get from the central Livada Poştei bus station to the Piaţa Unirii square, where the school is located.
If you’re like me, then you enjoy seeking out less known but alluring places. Such a place is this overlooked delight, the First Romanian School in Brașov. Here, where the first steps towards the Romanian education were taken, you’ll find the items that are like nowhere else. While you’re inside the school, discover a part of Romania’s history and reminisce about your own days as a student.
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