According to the last Romanian census, Brașov has a population of 253,200, making it the 7th most populous city in Romania. The metropolitan area is home to 369,896 residents.
Brașov is located in the central part of the country, about 166 kilometres north of Bucharest and 380 kilometres from the Black Sea. It is surrounded by the Southern Carpathians and is part of the Transylvania region.
The city is notable for being the birthplace of the national anthem of Romania and for hosting the Golden Stag International Music Festival.
The city was described in 1235 AD under the name Corona, a Latin word meaning "crown", a name given by the German colonists. According to D. Moldovanu, the name of Braşov came from the name of local river named Bârsa (also pronounced as "Bărsa"). Bărsa was adopted by Slavs and transformed in Barsa and later in Barsov and finally in Brasov According to Binder, the current Romanian and the Hungarian name Brassó ([ˈbrɒʃːoː]) are derived from the Turkic word barasu, meaning "white water" with a Slavic suffix -ov. Other linguists proposed various etymologies including an Old Slavic anthroponym Brasa.
The first attested mention of Brașov is Terra Saxonum de Barasu ("Saxon Land of Baras") in a 1252 document. The German name Kronstadt means "Crown City" and is reflected in the city's coat of arms as well as in its Medieval Latin name, Corona. The two names of the city, Kronstadt and Corona, were used simultaneously in the Middle Ages, along with the Medieval Latin Brassovia.
From 1950 to 1960, during part of the Communist period in Romania, the city was called Orașul Stalin (Stalin City), after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
The oldest traces of human activity and settlements in Brașov date back to the Neolithic age (about 9500 BCE). Archaeologists working from the last half of the 19th century discovered continuous traces of human settlements in areas situated in Brașov: Valea Cetății, Pietrele lui Solomon, Șprenghi, Tâmpa, Dealul Melcilor, and Noua. The first three locations show traces of Dacian citadels; Șprenghi Hill housed a Roman-style construction. The last two locations had their names applied to Bronze Age cultures—Schneckenberg ‘Hill of the Snails’ (Early Bronze Age) and Noua 'The New’ (Late Bronze Age).
German colonists known as the Transylvanian Saxons played a decisive role in Brașov's development. These Germans were invited by Hungarian kings to develop towns, build mines, and cultivate the land of Transylvania at different stages between 1141 and 1300. The settlers came primarily from the Rhineland, Flanders, and the Moselle region, with others from Thuringia, Bavaria, Wallonia, and even France.
In 1211, by order of King Andrew II of Hungary, the Teutonic Knights fortified the Burzenland to defend the border of the Kingdom of Hungary. On the site of the village of Brașov, the Teutonic Knights built Kronstadt – the city of the crown. Although the crusaders were evicted by 1225, the colonists they brought in remained, along with local population, as did three distinct settlements they founded on the site of Brașov:
Germans living in Brașov were mainly involved in trade and crafts. The location of the city at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe, together with certain tax exemptions, allowed Saxon merchants to obtain considerable wealth and exert a strong political influence. They contributed a great deal to the architectural flavor of the city. Fortifications around the city were erected and continually expanded, with several towers maintained by different craftsmen's guilds, according to medieval custom. Part of the fortification ensemble was recently restored using UNESCO funds, and other projects are ongoing. At least two entrances to the city, Poarta Ecaterinei (or Katharinentor) and Poarta Șchei (or Waisenhausgässertor), are still in existence. The city center is marked by the mayor's former office building (Casa Sfatului) and the surrounding square (piaţa), which includes one of the oldest buildings in Brașov, the Hirscher Haus. Nearby is the "Black Church" (Biserica Neagră), which some claim to be the largest Gothic style church in Southeastern Europe.
The cultural and religious importance of the Romanian church and school in Șchei is underlined by the generous donations received from more than thirty hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia, as well as that from Elizabeth of Russia. In the 17th and 19th centuries, the Romanians in Șchei campaigned for national, political, and cultural rights, and were supported in their efforts by Romanians from all other provinces, as well as by the local Greek merchant community. In 1838 they established the first Romanian language newspaper Gazeta Transilvaniei and the first Romanian institutions of higher education (Școlile Centrale Greco-Ortodoxe - "The Greek-Orthodox Central Schools", today named after Andrei Șaguna). The Holy Roman Emperor and sovereign of Transylvania Joseph II awarded Romanians citizenship rights for a brief period during the latter decades of the 18th century.
In 1850 the town had 21,782 inhabitants: 8,874 (40.7%) Germans, 8,727 (40%) Romanians, 2,939 (13.4%) Hungarians. In 1910 the town had 41,056 inhabitants: 10,841 (26.4%) Germans, 11,786 (28.7%) Romanians, 17,831 (43.4%) Hungarians. In World War I, the town was occupied by Romanian troops between 16 August and 4 October in 1916 during Battle of Transylvania.
In 1918, after the Proclamation of union of Alba Iulia (adopted by the Deputies of the Romanians from Transylvania), Deputies of the Saxons from Transylavania supported it, with their vote to be part of Romania, and declared their allegiance to the new Romanian state. The inter-war period was a time of flourishing economic and cultural life in general, which included the Saxons in Brașov as well. However, at the end of World War II many ethnic Germans were forcibly deported to the Soviet Union, and many more emigrated to West Germany after Romania became a communist country.
Jews have lived in Brașov since 1807, when Aron Ben Jehuda was given permission to live in the city, a privilege until then granted only to Saxons. The Jewish community of Brașov was officially founded 19 years later, followed by the first Jewish school in 1864, and the building of the synagogue in 1901. The Jewish population of Brașov was 67 in 1850, but it expanded rapidly to 1,280 people in 1910 and 4,000 by 1940. Today the community has about 230 members, after many families left for Israel between World War II and 1989.
Like many other cities in Transylvania, Brașov is also home to a significant ethnic Hungarian minority.
During the communist period, industrial development was vastly accelerated. Under Nicolae Ceaușescu's rule, the city was the site of the 1987 Brașov strike. This was repressed by the authorities and resulted in numerous workers being imprisoned.
Industrial development in Brașov started in the inter-war period, with one of the largest factories being the airplane manufacturing plant (IAR Brașov), which produced the first Romanian fighter planes, which were used in World War II against the Soviets. After Communist rule was imposed, the plant was converted to manufacture of agricultural equipment, being renamed "Uzina Tractorul Brașov" (internationally known as Universal Tractor Brașov).
Industrialization was accelerated in the Communist era, with special emphasis being placed on heavy industry, attracting many workers from other parts of the country. Heavy industry is still abundant, including Roman, which manufactures MAN AG trucks as well as native-designed trucks and coaches. Although the industrial base has been in decline in recent years, Brașov is still a site for manufacturing hydraulic transmissions, auto parts, ball-bearings, helicopters (at the nearby IAR site in Ghimbav), building materials, tools, furniture, textiles, shoes. There is also a large brewery.
The large longwave Bod Transmitter, a broadcasting facility, is located near Brașov, at Bod.
Brașov has a total population of 253,200 (2011 census). Its ethnic composition includes:
In 2005, the Brașov metropolitan area was created. With its surrounding localities, Brașov had 369,896 inhabitants as of 2011.
The Brașov local transport network is well-developed, with around 50 bus and trolleybus lines. There is also a regular bus line serving Poiana Brașov, a nearby winter resort. All are operated by RAT Brașov. Because of its central location, the Brașov railway station is one of the busiest stations in Romania with trains to/from most destinations in the country served by rail.
The construction of Braşov Airport was initiated by Intelcan Canada on April 15, 2008. Although construction was planned to be finalized in 24 to 30 months, works have lagged and there is no term by which it will be operational. The project consists of a terminal capable of handling 1 million passengers per year and a 2,800-metre-long (9,200-foot) runway. The A3 highway is also planned to pass the city. However, there is no foreseeable date for starting construction.
With its central location, Brașov is a suitable location from which to explore Romania, and the distances to several tourist destinations (including the Black Sea resorts, the monasteries in northern Moldavia, and the wooden churches of Maramureș) are similar. It is also the largest city in a mountain resorts area. The old city is very well preserved and is best seen by taking the cable-car to the top of Tâmpa Mountain.
Temperatures from May to September fluctuate around 23 °C (73 °F). Brașov benefits from a winter tourism season centered on winter sports and other activities. Poiana Brașov is the most popular Romanian ski resort and an important tourist center preferred by many tourists from other European states.
The city also has several restaurants that serve local as well as international cuisine (e.g. Hungarian and Chinese). Some of these are situated in the city center.
The city has a long tradition in sports, the first sport associations being established at the end of the 19th century (Target shooting Association, Gymnastics School). The Transylvanian Sports Museum is among the oldest in the country and presents the evolution of consecrated sports in the city. During the communist period, universiades and Daciads were held, where local sportsmen were obliged to participate. Nowadays, the infrastructure of the city allows other sports to be practiced, such as football, rugby, tennis, cycling, handball, gliding, skiing, skating, mountain climbing, paintball, bowling, swimming, target shooting, basketball, martial arts, equestrian, volleyball or gymnastics. Annually, at "Olimpia" sports ground, the "Brașov Challenge Cup" tennis competition is held.
The only football champion team based in the city was Colţea Brașov, winning the championship in 1928 and managing second place in 1927, in only 10 years of existence (1921–1931). It was succeeded by Brașovia Brașov. Brașov hosted the Group A fixtures of the 2008 IIHF World Championship Division II ice hockey tournament. There were 15 games held between April 3 and April 13.
Brașov hosted the 2013 European Youth Winter Olympic Festival.
In November 2013, Brasov submitted their bid for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics. They were up against Lausanne, Switzerland to be awarded the event. In December that year, the city was signed the Youth Olympic Game Candidature Procedure. The host city was to be announced in July 2015, in which Lausanne was selected.
The city of Braşov is home to several local media publications such as Transilvania Express, Monitorul Express, Bună Ziua Braşov or Braşovul Tău. Also, several local television stations exist, such as RTT, MIX TV and Nova TV.