South-Eastern Transylvania, also known as the `Small Transylvania` or `Bârsa Land`, comprises several towns and villages roughly located in the lower basin of the Carpathian Mountains. Since medieval times, these were places inhabited by Saxons, Hungarians, and Romanians, and they represented stops on the trade route which eventually led, from the other side of the continent to the Ottoman Empire. The mix of populations, as well as the commercial exchanges made from `Bârsa Land` an ethnographic area filled with attractive visual elements visible in clothing, food, and buildings.
Traditionally, the entrance gates of the entire Transylvanian region have been endowed with a symbol of representation. The great majority of the houses, even the most unassuming ones, stand witness for the occupation of those that inhabit them. Accordingly, the highly decorated entrance gates like those in central Transylvania (e.g. Szeklerlands) attests for the richer merchants dwelling there. Even those gates that do not have intricate patterns carved in wood were built on the same principle, namely to keep the house easily accessible for both people and goods getting in and out of the house, whose upper parts served as storage rooms, on many occasions.
Consequently, the entrances to all these houses had the same structure: one big slatted door in the middle, to allow carts and carriages enter the yard, and one smaller door exclusively dedicated to the passage of people. This structure was erected on three pillars that were kept together by a transverse beam or by an arch. Sometimes, the upper part was covered by shingles, as if being a real roof.
Initially, this type of gates was reserved to the nobles` houses, yet, in the nineteenth century they slowly spread to all houses of small villages and towns like those of Cristian (Neustadt) and of Râșnov (Rosenau) in `Bârsa Land`. As mentioned, here, there might not have been the richly decorated gates and doors of the Szeklerland, but the style and structure were similar to the extent of admitting the existence of a uniform architectural version in the area.
The clothing, songs, and food of `Bârsa Land` have been promoted both regionally and internationally, but not so much the houses` specificities. The inhabitants of Râșnov and Cristian that are today renovating their houses paying attention to the originality of the entrance gates pay tribute to the preservation of a tradition of one of the most interesting ethnographic areas of Central-Eastern Europe.