The Romanian town of Râșnov, which is located in Braşov County in Transylvania, occupies a mountainous setting of great variety. High above the town, the fortified refuge stands atop
150 m high limestone cliffs and offers superb views of the surrounding countryside. Built by the Teutonic Knights in about 1215, Râșnov Citadel is a popular tourist attraction. Inside the fortifications, with ten towers and thick connecting walls, the various buildings and narrow lanes form a tiny village in its own right. Originally the thirty or so buildings included everything needed for village life to continue in times of war (e.g. school, chapel, well, etc). Today the front part of the citadel is still very well preserved. In order to upgrade the town center and compete with “Dracula’s Castle” (Bran Castle), which is only 12 km away, the local authority decided to implement a substantial urban development program. One of the proposals was to build an inclined elevator to transport visitors from the town center to Râșnov Citadel. The contract was awarded to the Swiss family business Inauen-Schätti AG of Schwanden. In addition to conventional cable car installations, Inauen-Schätti enjoys an international reputation as a producer of inclined elevators. In Dallenwil, the company has an office devoted primarily to this field of business, which has been very successful under the management of Thomas Müller. ISR talked to him about the Râșnov Citadel project.
ISR: Thomas, to what extent does your inclined elevator benefit Râșnov itself?
Thomas Müller: In the past, visitors to the historical fortress never got as far as the center of Râșnov because all the cars and coaches parked at the rear of the complex. From there, visitors took a little road train up to the citadel and still had a longish walk before they found themselves inside the walls. In contrast, our inclined elevator starts in the town center (bottom station: 635 meters a.s.l.) and in this case provides comfortable transportation to and from the citadel (top station: 735 a.s.l.) at a speed of
2 m/s, overcoming 93 meters of vertical. Thanks to the level walk-in design of the inclined elevator, people with limited mobility and wheelchairs and strollers can also be carried without any problems. The inclined elevator is operated in the same way as a standard elevator. On arrival at the top station, passengers find themselves outside the castle walls and can enjoy the fine view of the town and the surrounding mountains. From the top station, visitors simply follow a new short path leading inside the walls of the citadel. Since June 2015, the new inclined elevator has been officially operating from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and has scored with a very high level of availability: To date (August 9, 2016) the cars have made almost 39,000 trips, including 5,500 in June alone. For the project, we enjoyed close cooperation with a local contractor (Acomin S.A.). The inclined elevator has boosted tourism in the town center especially. In the framework of an urban development plan, the water and power supplies to the old town center have also been rehabilitated, and during my visit in the spring of 2015 a two-story underground car park was under construction. In addition, a dino theme park opened in the woods adjoining Râșnov Citadel in 2015.
ISR: Thomas, which of your elevator models was chosen for Râșnov?
Thomas Müller: The local authority chose our Comfort model, which is ideal for outdoor locations and comes with a number of attractive features. It is available in versions for between four and thirty passengers and offers barrier-free access. The Râșnov Citadel elevator carries twenty standing passengers. For the design and interiors of the cars, the focus was on functionality and vandal-proof solutions. The elevator is a sturdy, weatherproof design requiring little maintenance and is naturally compliant with the relevant safety codes and standards. Our inclined elevators are suitable for automatic operation, but in Râșnov the bottom station is manned. We also offer extensive training to ensure that maintenance can be performed by local businesses. In addition to the Comfort elevators, we also have a model for all indoor applications by the name of Intra and a simplified mini version for outdoor locations (for up to four passengers) called Piccolo, which is ideal for private properties and inaccessible slopes. With this product portfolio, we can say we have the right model – offering absolute reliability – for every requirement.
ISR: Thomas, what do you like so much about inclined elevators?
Thomas Müller: Inclined elevators fascinate me because they look so simple but in fact are challenging products that call for real knowhow and lots of experience, especially in view of the fact that they are year-round transportation systems offering outstanding availability. I enjoy developing and producing a niche product that is a little bit out of the ordinary. Also, our international orientation brings us into contact with people from a variety of countries and cultures. I twice visited Râșnov, for instance. That is a profitable experience and something I would not want to miss.
ISR: Thank you, Thomas.