Founded by Teutonic Knights in 1211 and first mentioned in documents as Brașov in 1251, it became the centre of a Saxon colony trading in cloth, weapons, metalwork, and wax throughout much of Walachia and Moldavia. The substantial autonomy of its German inhabitants was ended in 1876 with the abolition of their separate national status. The old (inner) town, heavily fortified in the 15th century against the Turks, survived with little damage and contains many historic buildings, including the town hall (1420, restored 1777); the 190-foot (58-metre) watchtower, also called Trumpeter’s Tower (1528, restored 1910); the Orthodox St. Nicholas’ Church (1495?, restored 1751); and St. Bartholomew’s Church (13th century, the oldest building in Brașov). The Gothic Protestant Church (1385–1477, restored 1711–15), is called the Black Church because of its smoke-blackened walls resulting from a 1689 fire. In Brașov are several theatres and museums and a university. “The Apostle of Transylvania,” Johannes Honterus (1498–1549), who led the Protestant Reformation in the area, lived and died in Brașov (then Kronstadt) and established the first printing press in Transylvania there in 1535. The first book printed in the Romanian language, by the deacon Coresi, was published in Brașov in the mid-16th century. Education in Romanian was introduced there in the first Romanian school in 1559.
Toward the end of the 19th century the long tradition of merchants and craftsmen provided the foundation for industrial growth. In addition to factories manufacturing tractors, trucks, helicopters, and bearings, there are textile and chemical plants. Brașov is also an important road and rail junction. Pop. (2007 est.) 277,945.