The easternmost reaches of Hungary are known as Transylvania. Between the Prut River to the east, the Tkza River to the west and the Danulx to the south lie over 39,000 square miles of land.
In this region are lush sylvan forests, majestic mountain ranges, and the many tirsas, knezates and domains of Transylvania. Many cultures have prospered and died in this region, redefining the boundaries of this land in the process, but Transylvania’s dark beauty endures.
While the borders of Transylvania change, the mountains surrounding them do not. To the south are the Transylvanian Alps, the Bihor Mountains are in the northwest, and the Carpathians are to the northeast. The Transylvanian Alps are often referred to as the Southern Carpathians. These three mountain ranges surround the Carpathian Basin and serve as a great aid to its defense.
Several natural passes lead travelers through the mountains. Throughout the year in peaceful times, traders pass through them. When hostilities are in abeyance, sheep and other livestock graze as they are herded through the mountains. These become invasion routes in times of war and the feudal lords use them in defending the Voivode of Transylvania.
In the north-east is Borgo Pass. It forms the border between the Kingdom of Hungary and Russia. Oituz Pass is a route through the Carpathians along Transylvania’s eastern border, joining the region with the area that will later be known as Moldavia. The most accessible route through the Transylvanian Alps is through Red Tower Pass to the south. This pass leads to what will one day become Wallachia.
From the Tisza plain to the Carpathians, the elevation ranges from low plains to high mountains. The western range of mountains averages under 3,000 feet, the eastern Moldavians average 4,000, and the southern Transylvanian Alps average 5,000. The peaks of these mountains are not entirely forbidding, but they instead hide beautiful alpine pastures. All of Transylvania is part of the Kingdom of Hungary in the 12th century.