Friday, December 18, 2009
Tulcea was founded in the 7th century BC under the name of Aegyssus, mentioned in the documents of Diodorus of Sicily (3rd century BC). Ovid referred to it in Ex Ponto, saying that its name would have originated with that of its founder, a Dacian named Carpyus Aegyssus.
After the fights from 12-15 B.C., the Romans conquered the town. They rebuilt it after their plans, their technique and architectural vision, reorganizing it. The existing ruined walls and defending towers serve as a testimony of this. Also an inscription found at the Tulcea Museum of Archaeology mentions the name Aegyssus for the town. The Aegyssus fortified town is mentioned also by other documents until the 10th century: Notitia Episcopatum in political geography "De Thematicus".
Tulcea at the end of the 19th century
It was then ruled by the Byzantine Empire (5th - 7th century), the Bulgarian Empire (681-c.1000; 1185-14th century)    , the Genoese (10th - 13th century), it was part of the local Dobrujan polities of Balik/Balica, Dobrotitsa/Dobrotici, and, for a brief while after 1390, ruled by the Wallachian Prince Mircea cel Bătrân.
In 1416 it was conquered and ruled for 460 years by the Ottoman Empire.
In the 17th century Tulcea was mentioned by the Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi as a settlement with 600 houses, inhabited by Vlachs.
Around 1848, it was still a small shipyard city, being awarded city status in 1860, when it became a province capital. It became a sanjak centre in Silistre Eyaleti in 1860 and Tuna Vilayeti in 1864.
In 1878 Tulcea was eventually awarded to Romania, together with the Northern Dobruja (see Congress of Berlin). Tulcea was occupied by Bulgaria between 1916-1918 during World War I.
Today, Tulcea is the site of the Concursul George Georgescu, a music competition created by teachers at the Tulcea Arts High School and held annually since 1992. Named in honor of conductor George Georgescu (1887-1964), an important figure in the development of Romanian classical music who was born in the surrounding county, it was at first open only to Romanian music school and high school students but began admitting international students in 1995. Organizers include the Romanian Ministry of Education and Youth, the School Inspectorate of Tulcea County, the Tulcea County Council, the Tulcea Mayoralty, and surviving members of Georgescu's family.
According to the 2002 census, Tulcea has a population of 91,875 inhabitants, 91.3% of which are ethnic Romanian. Significant minority groups include Lippovan Russians (making up 2.78% of the total population), and Turks (1.4%). Most of the indigenous Bulgarians left the town in 1941 in accordance with the Treaty of Craiova.
Southern Bucovina embraces the northwestern region of present-day Moldavia; Northern Bucovina is in Ukraine. In 1775 the region was annexed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remained in Habsburg hands until 1918, when Bucovina was returned to Romania. Northern Bucovina was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 and incorporated into Ukraine, splitting families apart.
While coordinating transport between the remote villages can be challenging, there are plenty of alternatives to allow you to get the most out of your visit, including hitchhiking, biking, car hire or arranging a private tour.
This geographically flat southern swipe of Romania has a culturally mountainous landscape that offers increasing rewards the further one ventures from Bucharest. Snuggled into the seams of the Carpathians are Horezu, Cozia and Turnul, some of Romania’s most beautiful and peaceful monasteries. Off-the-beaten-track attractions such as Câmpina’s spooky Haşdeu Castle or Târgu Jiu’s open-air museum of sculptor Brâncuşi’s work, are refreshingly free of tour buses. The heart of the Roma community can be found here, tearing through villages on horse-drawn carts and tending to their unusual houses. During summer months, fearless drivers will want to navigate the heart-stopping Transfăgărăşan road – said to be one of the highest roads in Europe – cutting across the Făgăraş Mountains and passing the real ‘Dracula’s castle’.
The Danube River flows along the southern edge of Wallachia and is best seen between Moldova Veche and Drobeta-Turnu Severin in the west where it breaks through the Carpathians at the legendary Iron Gates (Porţile de Fier), a gorge on the Romanian–Yugoslav border. Equally scenic is the drive east along the Danube from Ostrov into northern Dobrogea.
Wallachia has charming treasures and enough elbow room to make it special. Sidle down here for a few days, but don’t tell the others where you’ll be!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The golden glow of the sun against the soft pastel houses; residents going about their business, tending the chickens, their vegetable gardens or sitting on the front porch can make an unforgettable scene. In villages and in the countryside, on lands dominated by ancestral castles, old fortresses and peaceful monasteries, life moves a little slower and follows ancient rhythms of tradition and culture.
It’s not unusual to see a farmer bringing his fruits to the marketplace in a horse drawn wagon or to encounter a village festival where the locals perform ancient rites of planting and harvest dressed in colorful traditional costumes. Cold, pure well water beckons the thirsty traveler from the roadside. Men kiss women’s hands in a courtly greeting unchanged for hundreds of years. Lush vineyards, first planted by Dacians – ancient inhabitants of Romania, yield fine wines.
In Transylvania, you will find villages clustered around ancient Saxon citadels, edifices that often enclose exquisite churches built by German settlers from the 12th to the 16th centuries.
A lovely half-hour drive south of the medieval city of Sibiu takes you into the pastoral landscapes of Marginimea Sibiului, one of Transylvania’s best-preserved ethnographic areas. Located at the foothills of the Cindrel Mountains, Marginimea Sibiului (meaning Boundaries of Sibiu) encompasses a string of 18 traditional Romanian villages *, rich in architecture, history and heritage. Age-old traditions, customs and celebrations, as well as the traditional occupation of sheepherding, have been carefully passed down from generation to generation in the villages of this area. Rasinari, dating to 1204, is the oldest, followed by Talmaciu (1318), Orlat (1322) and Saliste (1354). Saliste claims the oldest church, housing beautiful interior frescoes (1674), while Poiana Sibiului’s wooden church was built in 1771. Painting on glass has been a tradition for 200 years in these villages. The Museum of Painted Glass Icons in Sibiel exhibits the largest collection of painted glass icons in Europe - more than 700, as well as furniture and ceramics.
* The 18 villages are: Boita, Sadu, Raul Sadului, Talmaciu, Talmacel. Rasinari, Poplaca, Gura Raului, Orlat, Fantanele, Sibiel, Vale, Saliste, Gales, Tilisca, Rod, Poiana Sibiului and Jina.
Villages in the Apuseni Mountains are even more remote and lost in time. If you wish to discover local life and preserved traditions, one of the main points of interest is the Aries Valley, where the beautiful villages of Albac, Garda, and Arieseni are located. Skilled artisans, the Motzi people, carve musical instruments, hope chests and houses from the local wood, the spruce. In Patrahaitesti, a little mountain village, you may hear the famous Bucium ("Alps horns"), which are used for generations in the Apuseni Mountains.
The road from Bistrita to the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina runs east through the Bargau Valley and across the Tihuta Pass which peaks at 3,840 feet. The Bargau Valley encompasses some of the most beautiful unspoiled mountain scenery in the Carpathians with picturesque traditional villages located in valleys and on hillsides, ideal bases for hiking, riding or discovering their vivid tapestry of old customs, handicrafts and folklore. Explore the traditional villages in the Bargau Valley: Livazele (5 miles northeast of Bistrita) with its small folk museum called the Saxon House (Casa Saseasca) displaying Saxon ceramics, woodcarvings and folk dresses; Josenii Bargaului (10 miles northeast of Bistrita), a traditional center for black and colored pottery, and Prundu Bargaului (15 miles northeast of Bistrita), the site of the first paper mill in Romania, opened here in 1768.
Some of Romania’s most beautiful countryside is found in Bucovina, whose rolling green hills nestle villages and monasteries in their valleys. Horses, decked with red-tasseled bridles, travel country lanes, as villagers crows churchyards in traditional folk dress on Sundays and holidays. Bucovina remains the heart of craft mastery in Moldova. A felt mill in Vama serves the villages women, who bring their homespun wool cloth to be thickened for heavy coats against the harsh winters.
The village of Marginea, located just 7 miles northeast of Sucevita Monastery, is renowned for the black clay pottery crafted here, said to preserve a centuries-old Gaeto-Dacian technique, passed on from generation to generation. Winter festivals abound, with caroling bands of merrymakers dressed in handmade masks and costumes celebrating the New Year.
Baia Mare is usually the starting point for visiting a number of famous valleys with traditional villages: Iza, Viseu, Mara and Cosau. The villages of this remote Northern region are known for masterpieces of elaborately carved wooden roadside gates leading to family homes. The knots and sun designs of these traditional gates come from ancient pagan motifs. Popular motifs include grapevines, acorns, twisted rope, sun symbols, crosses and forest animals. The villages of Barsana and Oncesti have, perhaps, the greatest number of impressive gates, while Ciocanesti, whose houses covered with painted flowers and geometrics, makes perhaps one of Romania’s prettiest villages.
Behind the traditional carved wooden gates of Maramures, old orchards groaning with ripe plums become homemade tuica, the intoxicatingly strong brandy given to guests in thimbleful glasses as a traditional welcome.
Also unique to this region are the local village churches, made of wood and dominated by magnificent Gothic spires. Hardly a village lacks its own small wooden church dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. These are exquisite, high-steepled jewels with multiple gabled roofs, all of a pattern yet each distinctly unique. Seeing at least a few interiors is a must as many frescoes remain in good condition. If time is limited, the interiors at Ieud, Bogdan VodaPoenile Izei are recommended. The latter depicts some highly original torments for such sins as sleeping in church. Although churches are usually locked, ask any passerby for the key-keeper by pointing at the door and saying cheia (pronounced kay-ya), meaning the key. and
The spiritual philosophy of the people of Maramures is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in Sapanta – a 20-minute drive from Sighet. The town folks’ ancestors considered death as a beginning, not the end, and this faith is reflected in the carvings in the town’s unique Merry Cemetery. Blue wooden crosses feature a carved scene and humorous verses that endeavor to capture essential elements - both the good and the imperfections - of the deceased’s life. Even without benefit of translation, visitors can appreciate the handiwork of sculptor Stan Ion Patras, who began carving these epitaphs in 1935, and his successors. Patras’ house in the village is now a fascinating museum. Sapanta is also home to several wooden gates and one of the region’s tallest wooden churches.
Village experiences are made even more authentic by staying in a private home, a monastery or a guesthouse. Most accommodations in Romanian villages offer comfortable rooms, running cold and hot water and western-style toilets. They are often also remarkably low in cost.
If journeying out to rural Romania is not on your itinerary, you can also get a taste of this vibrant and exotic culture by visiting one of Romania’s museums dedicated to rural life: the Village Museum and the Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest and the ASTRA Museum of Rural Civilization in Sibiu. Real landmarks of rural architecture –homes, churches, schools—are set in tranquil parklands just beyond the city center.
Traditional Villages in Maramures
by Joyce Dalton
This section is courtesy of Travel Lady Magazine
From the province of Moldavia, head westward along a good, but mountainous, road to Romania's most traditional region, Maramures. The drive takes about five hours with no stops, but this is virtually an impossibility, especially for photographers. Picturesque villages (notably Ciocanesti, whose houses covered with painted flowers and geometrics make it arguably Romania' s prettiest village), spectacular mountain scenery and a unique museum smack in the middle of nowhere The Museum of the Tree Roots (Muzeul Radacinilor) with a bizarre exhibit of figures sculpted from tree roots all beg inspection. Gawking becomes even more demanding once Maramures is reached. At Mosei, turn left toward Bistrita, then right after a few miles toward Sacel and Sighetu Marmatiei, the principal town. (Sighetu also can be reached by continuing straight at Mosei, but the lower road passes through the region' s most traditional villages.) From Sacel on, each village offers its share, and more, of wooden houses, many with sculpted designs on balconies and around entrances. Then, there are the towering carved wooden gates, attached to fences half their size, rising before even modest dwellings. Popular motifs include grapevines, acorns, twisted rope, sun symbols, crosses and forest animals. The villages of Barsana and Oncesti have, perhaps, the greatest number of impressive gates.
Maramures is Brigadoon land where the way of life has changed little over the centuries. In late afternoon, old women sit outside their gates coaxing coarse wool onto spindles. Many still favor traditional dress, meaning white frounced blouses, striped woven panels covering full black skirts, headscarves and ³opinci,² a sort of leather ballet slipper from which heavy yarn criss-crosses over thick socks. On Sunday, such dress is practically de rigueur, even for little girls.
Hardly a village lacks its own small wooden church dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. These are exquisite, high-steepled jewels with multiple gabled roofs, all of a pattern yet each distinctly unique. Seeing at least a few interiors is a must as many frescoes remain in good condition. If time is limited, the interiors at Ieud, Bogdan Voda and Poenile Izei are recommended. The latter depicts some highly original torments for such sins as sleeping in church. Although churches are usually locked, ask any passerby for the key-keeper by pointing at the door and saying ³cheia² (pronounced kay-ya), meaning the key. Romanians are extremely kind and friendly and will be sure to help. While the main tourist activities in Maramures are gate-, church- and people-viewing, the town of Sighetu Marmatiei has a few attractions worth visiting. The outdoor village museum, on the road into town, boasts dozens of homes and farm buildings assembled from around Maramures county. Even Oncesti s wooden church has been relocated here.
For a look at Romania s more recent past, an hour spent at Sighetu' s Museum of Arrested Thought is instructive. Though only a block or two off the main street, it is not easy to find. Ask for the ³Muzeul Inchisorii² (pronounced moo zow ool un kee swah ree), meaning prison museum. Although built in the days of Austrian-Hungarian rule, the Communist regime utilized the prison for opposition leaders and intellectuals. Three tiers of cells and various exhibits may be viewed; an English-speaking guide is available. An old synagogue (currently under restoration) and the childhood home of author Elie Wiesel (not open to the public) also are in Sighetul Marmatiei (Sighet for short).
No trip to Maramures is complete without a look at the Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, a 20-minute drive from Sighet. Here, colorful folk art pictures and witty words carved into wooden headstones immortalize the deceased's foibles, occupations or family problems. No translations, but the pictures tell much of the story. An old woman bakes round loaves of bread, a young person bends in scholarly fashion over his books, one man is shot by soldiers while another tends his flock of sheep.Beauty assumes many forms. For most travelers, the enduring traditions of Maramures and the magnificence of Bucovina's painted monasteries will define two of them.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The bridge has a length of 4,037 metres of which 1662 m over the Danube and 920 m over Borcea and was designed by Romanian engineer Anghel Saligny. It is 30 metres above the water, allowing tall ships to pass under it. The bridge has four spans of 140 metres and one of 190 metres.
The two cities on the banks of the river which was built were Feteşti on the left side and Cernavodă on the right side. The bridge was used for almost a century, until it was replaced in 1987 with the new bridge built next to it. The bridge was inaugurated on 26 September 1895 and as a test on the opening, a convoy of 15 locomotives sped at 85 km/h.
Carol I of Romania, original name Prince Karl Eitel Friedrich Zephyrinus Ludwig of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, later simply of Hohenzollern (20 April 1839 - 27 September 1914 (O.S.) / 10 October 1914 (N.S.), German prince, was elected Domnitor (Prince) of Romania on 20 April 1866 following the overthrow of Alexander John Cuza by a palace coup; following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War he was proclaimed King of Romania on 26 March 1881. He was the first ruler of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen dynasty, which ruled the country until the proclamation of a republic in 1947.
During his reign, he personally led Romanian troops during the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78 and assumed command of the Russo/Romanian army during the siege of Pleven. The country achieved full independence from the Ottoman Empire (Treaty of Berlin, 1878) and acquired the southern part of the Dobruja from Bulgaria in 1913. Domestic political life, still dominated by the country's wealthy landowning families organised around the rival Liberal and Conservative parties, was punctuated by two widespread peasant uprisings, in Walachia (the southern half of the country) in April 1888 and in Moldavia (the northern half) in March 1907.
He married Elisabeth of Wied in Neuwied on 15 November 1869. They only had one daughter, Maria, who died aged three.
Carol's childlessness left his elder brother Leopold next in line to the throne. In October 1880 Leopold renounced his right of succession in favour of his son William, who in turn surrendered his claim eight years later in favour of his younger brother, the future king Ferdinand.
Domnitor of Romania (1866 - 1881)
King of the Romanians (1881 - 1914)
King Carol I of Romania
Reign 10 May 1866 (O.S.) / 22 May 1866 (N.S.) - 27 September 1914 (O.S.) / 10 October 1914 (N.S.)
Coronation 10 May 1881 (O.S.) / 22 May 1881 (N.S.)
Predecessor Alexandru Ioan Cuza (Domnitor)
Successor Ferdinand I
Spouse Elisabeth of Wied
Princess Maria of Romania
Full name : Karl Eitel Friedrich Zephyrinus Ludwig von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Father Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen
Mother Princess Josephine of Baden
Born 20 April 1839
Died 27 September 1914 (O.S.) / 10 Octomber 1914 (N.S.)
Burial Curtea de Argeş, Romania
1. Early life
Carol was born in Sigmaringen as Prince Karl von Hohenzollern Sigmaringen. He was the second son of Karl Anton, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and his wife, Princess Josephine of Baden. After finishing his elementary studies, Karl entered the Cadet School in Münster. In 1857 he was attending the courses of the Artillery School in Berlin. Up to 1866 (when he accepted the crown of Romania) he was a German officer. He took part in the Second Schleswig War, particularly at the assault of the Fredericia citadel and Dybbøl, experience which would be very useful to him later on in the Russian-Turkish war.
Although he was quite frail and not very tall, prince Karl was reported to be the perfect soldier, healthy, disciplined, and also a very good politician with liberal ideas. He was familiar with several European languages. His family being closely related to the Bonaparte family (one of his grandmothers was a Beauharnais, Joséphine's niece-in-law, and the other a Murat, Joachim's niece Marie Antoinette Murat), they enjoyed very good relations with Napoleon III of France. Romania was, at the time, under the influence of French culture and Napoleon's recommendation of Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen weighed heavy in the eyes of Romanian politicians of the time, as did his blood relation to the ruling Prussian family. Ion Brătianu was the Romanian politician sent to negotiate with Karl and his family the possibility of installing Karl on the Romanian throne.
Central Sighisoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small medieval fortified city; it has been listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Each year, a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel in July.
For 15 years, on summer there is organized the three days Medieval Art Festival. It is difficult to present in a few words the multitude of tourist attraction points of this town: towers, bastions, churches and houses. However, the most important are considered to be Turnul cu Ceas (the Clock Tower) – the entrance gate in the citadel – which is also a symbol of Sighisoara, Turnul Cositorarilor (the Tin Coaters Tower), Turnul Macelarilor (the Butcher’s Tower), Turnul Cizmarilor (the Shoemaker’s Tower), Turnul Croitorilor (the Taylor’s Tower), Turnul Cojocarilor (the Furrier’s Tower), Turnul Fierarilor (the Blacksmith’s Tower), Turnul Franghierilor (the Rope Makers’ Tower), Turnul Tabacarilor (the Tanner’s Tower), Biserica Manastirii (the Church of the Monastery), Biserica din Deal (the Church on the Hill), Casa Venetiana (the Venetian House), Casa cu Cerb (the House with Antlers), Casa de pe Stanca (the Cliff House), Casa cu Sindrila (the House with Shingle), Casa Vlad Dracul (the house attributed to Vlad Tepes) and so on.
Biserica din Deal (The Church on the Hill) is the only old crypt Evangelic church in Transylvania, and its walls contain 60 tombstones. Inside the church there is also a collection of altars, brought from Germany, and a collection of bottom drawers. On the walls of the church there is also a fresco dating from 1380 which presents the Holy Trinity as a person with three faces. In the Church of the Monastery there is also a collection of oriental carpets, and an organ concert takes place here every week as well.
Casa Vlad Dracul (Vlad Dracula’s House)
Is one of the oldest buildings, and it is placed on the left side of the little square in front of the Turnul cu Ceas (Clock Tower). The building was the official residence, belonging to the mayor or to the royal county lord of the citadel.Vlad Dracul, the son of Mircea cel Batran, lived here between 1431 and 1435, as well. Nowadays, the building shelters a restaurant.
The central square is limited by 18th century houses, inhabited by the noble families of the town. The main fairs or the criminal trials took place in this square, the execution post (pillar of infamy) being placed here as well.
The Bastion Street, on which can be found Casa cu Sindrila (the House with Shingle), a specific handicraftsman’s house, continues the Square. The house shelters the residence of the Interethnic Centre for the Youth, as part of the German Forum of Sighisoara, where they carry on a great number of educational courses for the youth, and it also shelters an Internet-Café.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
If you don't believe that, take a look here :
If can you find that beautiful in another country, please let me know.
Legend has it that the weary Hercules stopped in the valley to bathe and rest. During the 165 years of Roman domination of Dacia, the Herculaneum Spa was known all over the Empire. Unearthed stone carvings show that visiting Roman aristocrats turned the town into a Roman leisure center. Six statues of Hercules from the time have been discovered. A bronze replica of one of them, molded in 1874, stands as a landmark in the town center.
The modern spa
In modern times, the spa town has been visited for its natural healing properties: hot springs with sulfur, chlorine, sodium, calcium, magnesium and other minerals, as well as negatively ionized air. Before World War II, when the first modern hotel was built (i.e. H Cerna, 1930) it remained a popular destination with Western Europeans, who lent the town a refined elegance. During the Communist rule, mass tourism facilities were built, such as the 8-12 levels tall concrete hotels Roman, Hercules A, Hercules B, Afrodita, Minerva, Diana, UGSR, etc. which dominate the skyline. It was visited by all publics, but especially popular with employees and retirees, who would spend their state-allotted vacation vouchers there, hoping to improve their health. Today, they share the town with a younger crowd, attracted by its beautiful mountain setting. An incredible array of new private-owned pensions and hotels appeared after 1989, along the Cerna/Tiena river banks, spread from the beautiful romantic train station to the end of the hydroelectrical dam. Although very beautiful also, some of the Austro-Hungarian era buildings are derelict for the time being, including many of the baths, because of post-communism property related issues.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It is now the home of the Brukenthal Museum (Muzeul Brukenthal), the oldest and one of the finest art museums in the country. The palace was built by Baron Samuel von Brukenthal to serve as his official residence and house his collections of Romanian and Western art, 16th – 18th century religious sculptures and icons, stamps and coins, as well as an impressive library. Over the years, the collections have been enriched through acquisitions and donations. (See museum details) Even though the museum officially opened in 1817, its art galleries welcomed visitors 27 years earlier (1790), three years prior to the opening of the Louvre Completing the picture is the fairy-tale Blue House, an 18-th century baroque house bearing the old coat of arms of Sibiu on its facade. The Little Square (Piata Mica) From the Great Square, walk through one of two tunnels under the arches of the Council Tower to arrive at the Little Square. This second fortified square was home to the town’s most prestigious master craftsmen, who lived in rows of arcaded houses along the north and east sides. Today, small shops, cafes and businesses line the square. Huet Square (Piata Huet) Sibiu - Evangelical Cathedral - Biserica Evanghelica Huet Square is home to a mix of gothic buildings dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral (Biserica Evangelica). This impressive structure, featuring five pointed towers, was built in 1520 on the site of an old Roman basilica. The simple, stark interior is in total contrast to that of the Catholic Church. A gigantic fresco, painted by Johannes of Rosenau in 1445, covers much of the chancel's north wall. The mural shows the Crucifixion and marks a transition in painting from late-gothic style to renaissance style. On the south side, the choir loft boasts a beautiful fan-vaulted ceiling, home to a baroque organ designed by a German master in 1671. Six thousand pipes were installed in 1914, making it the largest organ in Romania. Here, you can also find the city's only fully German school, the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium, which exemplifies the city's proud German heritage. information The Lower Town (Orasul de Jos) The Lower Town comprises the area between the river and the hill, and it developed around the earliest fortifications. The streets are long and quite wide for medieval city standards, with small city squares at places. The architecture is rather rustic: typically two-storey houses with tall roofs and gates opening passages to inner courts. Legend has it that the name derived from the merchants’ fiery disputes which flared up around it and the passionate but transitory vows of young lovers who often met here. The Bridge of Lies (Podul Minciunilor) Several steep streets and stairways lead from the upper to the lower town. One of them passes beneath the iron Bridge of Lies. Built in 1859 by Fredericus Hutte, this was the first wrought iron bridge in Romania. Sibiu - The Stairs Passage (Pasajul Scarilor) The Stairs Passage (Pasajul Scarilor) The 13th century Passage of Steps, an architectural masterpiece with twin staircases and archways, connects the Upper Town to the Lower Town. Built in the 13th century, it is one of the most picturesque places in Sibiu. At one end of the passage stands the city’s oldest building which now hosts the oldest restaurant in Romania, The Golden Barrel (Butoiul de Aur). Goldsmiths’ Square (Piata Aurarilor) The Goldsmiths’ Square, a peaceful and intimate square, is surrounded by charming old houses with medieval windows, doorways and turrets. For many years, it was the main point of passage between the Little Square and the Lower Town, the two connected by a 15th century stairway. Haller Bastion Address: Str. Spitalelor Located at the north end of Onofreiu Square (Piata Onofreiu), the bastion is named after Sibiu’s 16-th century mayor, Petrus Haller, who had the red-brick tower built in 1551. information Historic Churches Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedrala Ortodoxa Mitropolitana Sf. Treime) Address: Str. Mitropoliei 35 Constructed between 1902–1906 on the site of a former Greek church, it shares a similar style with Saint Sofia Cathedral in Istanbul, Turkey. The interior is dominated by a massive gold chandelier and features neo-Byzantine decorations. This is the second largest Orthodox cathedral in Romania (the biggest one is located in Iasi). Ursuline Monastery (Manastirea Ursulinelor) Address: Str. General Gh. Magheru 38 Built in 1474, the site was home to a Dominican Monastery until 1543 when the Lutherans took over. Known under the German name of Klosterkirche, it became a Ursuline Monastery in 1755. The Ursulines changed the gothic interior to baroque style. Outside, the building still features many of its former gothic details, including the portal and the piles. Inside, the church has three altars and beautiful paintings representing various saints and protectors of the church. Biserica din Groapa Address: Str. Justitiei 5 This Orthodox Church, whose name translates Church on the Gorge, was built between 1788 - 1789 and renovated between 1802-1803. The interior of this small church with a tower in three levels was beautifully painted by Nicolae Brana in 1960. Jewish Sibiu Although documents attest the existence of Jews in Sibiu since the 12th century, the Jewish community of Sibiu was never among the biggest in Romania. In 1940 the town had some 1,300 Jews, three synagogues, three rabbis, two cemeteries and two ritual baths managed by the Sephardic and Orthodox communities. Today, the handful of Jews who remain in Sibiu hold weekly and holiday services at the Great Synagogue. The Great Synagogue Address: Str. Constitutiei 19 Built by architect Szalay Ferenc in 1899, with funds collected by Sibiu’s small Jewish community, this synagogue boasts a neo-gothic façade. Inside, it has a basilica aspect with three naves mounted by lofts. information Museums Sibiu - Bruckenthal Museum Brukenthal Museum (Muzeul Brukenthal) Address: Piata Mare 4-5 Open: Tue. – Sun. 10:00am – 5:00pm; Closed Mon. Admission charge Sibiu is home to Transylvania’s finest art museum, the Bruckenthal Museum. Founded in 1790 by Samuel Brukenthal, the governor of the province, the museum opened to the public in 1817. It is the oldest museum in Romania and one of the first museums in Europe. The art collection includes paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Teniers, as well as works of German, Austrian and Romanian masters. Additionally, it features a 16th century silverware collection, painted glass icons and 350 rare books, many dating to the days of the first printing press. ASTRA Open Air Museum (Muzeul in aer liber ASTRA -Dumbrava Sibiului) Address: Calea Rasinarilor 14 (2miles south of Sibiu) Open: Tue. – Sun. 9:00am - 6:00pm (wintertime 10am – 5pm); Closed Mon. Admission charge How to get here: From Piata Unirii take bus #1 or the tram (which goes all the way to Rasinari). At peak times (7am – 9am and 1pm – 3pm), the tram runs every 30 mins and every hour the rest of the day. ASTRA is the second largest open-air museum in the world (250 acres) Located in the middle of a dense forest and surrounded by a beautiful lake, ASTRA features more than 300 buildings as well as watermills and windmills, gigantic presses for wine, fruit and oil, hydraulic forges and structures representing village architectural styles from many parts of Romania. The museum illustrates the technological legacy of the Romanian people. There is a wonderful collection of wooden farmhouses, a cherhana (a traditional collecting and storage point for fish) and sheepfolds, as well as a wooden church and two traditional inns. Guided tours are available. Another option is a visit by horse-drawn carriages (ladies, the driver will kiss your hand in greeting, an old Romanian custom). The History Museum (Muzeul de Istorie) Address: Str. Mitropoliei 2 Open: Tue. – Sun. 9:00am – 5:00pm (wintertime 10am – 6pm); Closed Mon. Admission charge This museum is housed in the Old City Hall (Primaria Veche), which dates to 1470 and boasts typical Transylvanian gothic civil architecture. Here, you can learn the history of the city and the region from Neolithic and Roman times to the present. In addition to rich collections from the Middle Ages and the baroque era, there is a fine silverware exhibit. information Natural History Museum (Muzeul de Istorie Naturala) Address: Str. Cetatii 1 Open: Tue. – Sun. 10:00am – 6:00pm; Closed Mon. Admission charge One of the oldest and richest of its kind in Romania, this museum was founded by the Transylvanian Association of Natural Science (Siebenburgischer Verein für Naturwiessenschaften in German) in 1849. An astronomic observation centre also is located here. Sibiu - Emil Sigerus Emil Sigerus Saxon Ethnographic Museum (Muzeul de Etnographie si Arta Populara Saseasca Emil Sigerus) Address: Piata Mica 12 Open: Tue. – Sun. 9:00am - 6:00pm (wintertime 10:00am – 5:00pm); Closed Mon. Admission Charge Collections of painted furniture, costumes-textiles-embroideries and pottery, initiated by Emil Sigerus, the most important collector of Transylvanian Saxon Folk Art at the end of the 19th century. The museum also includes the original collections of the Carpathians Transylvanian Museum or MSVK opened in 1895 by the Siebenbugishen Karpathenverein Association. Museum of Hunting Weapons and Trophies (Muzeul de Arme si Trofee de Vanatoare) Address: Str. Scoala de Inot 4 Open: Tue. – Sun. 9:00am – 5:00pm (wintertime 9am – 4pm); Closed Mon. Admission charge Founded in 1966, the museum features a collection of weapons, medals and stuffed animals. Some of the exhibits are over 100 years old, such as the hunting trophies brought after a long safari in Africa by Colonel Spiess, who was a Master of Hunting of the Royal House of Romania. Franz Binder World Ethnographic Museum (Muzeul de Etnografie Universala Franz Binder) Address: Piata Mica 11 Open: Tue. – Sun. 10:00am – 6:00pm; Closed Mon. The Franz Binder collections, housed in the “Hermes House” (initially called “The House of the Small Handicraftsmen's Association”) built between 1865 and 1867, were established in the 19th century through donations and acquisitions from travelers and collectors. The permanent exhibition, “From the art and culture of the world – the people of the world,” displays objects from various parts of the world, including northern Africa and the springs of the Nile, China, Japan, Oceania, Asia Minor, Brazil, Lapland and Australia. Pharmacy Museum (Muzeul de Istorie a Farmaciei) Address: Piata Mica 26 Open: Tue. – Sun. 10:00am – 6:00pm; closed Mon. Admission charge Housed in a 16-th century building where the oldest pharmacy in Romania, La Ursul Negru (The Black Bear), operated for over 150 years, this museum showcases some 6,000 pieces of medical equipment from the 16th to the 19th centuries, coming from chemist’s shops, medical institutions and individuals. It should be noted that Sibiu had more chemists than any other town in Transylvania. The collections of the museum cover the whole range of medical instruments, from surgical pouches, microscopes, different bowls made of wood, china, glass, bronze mortars, stands with balances and weights in the Viennese style to the oldest piece of the collection, a 1597 bronze mortar used for preparing medicines. At the front, a reconstructed shop is decked out with wooden Viennese counters and stacks of glass jars creating the atmosphere of an 18-th century “apoteka” (German for “pharmacy”). The Steam Engine Museum (Muzeul de Locomotive cu Aburi) Address: Str. Dorobantilor 22 Admission charge Opened in 1994, this museum displays 23 standard gauge steam engines, 10 narrow gauge steam engines, three snowplows and two steam cranes. The steam engines were built between 1885 and 1959 in Romania (the Resita Factory and the Malaxa Factory in Bucharest), Germany (Henschel, Borsig, Schwartzkopff) and USA (Baldwin). The museum is located opposite the main railway station. information Nearby Attractions Sibiu makes an ideal base for the exploration of the nearby countryside and villages which display an interesting mixture of Saxon and Romanian traditions. Marginimea Sibiului Marginimea Sibiului - Talmaciu How to get here: Local trains from Sibiu to Sebes stop at Sibiel (25 minutes), Saliste (35 minutes) and Miercurea Sibiului (1 1/4 hours). Located at the foothills of the Cindrel Mountains, a half-hour drive from Sibiu, this region is considered one of Transylvania’s best-preserved ethnographic areas. Marginimea Sibiului, meaning Borders of Sibiu, encompasses a string of 18 villages*, rich in architecture, history and heritage. Age-old traditions, customs and celebrations, as well as the traditional occupation of sheepherding, have been carefully passed down from generation to generation in the villages of this area. One scene among the Saliste church’s frescoes remains covered at all times. It depicts the devil surrounded by naked human bodies, a subject the villagers consider too obscene to be displayed. Tourists, however, can take a look upon request. * The 18 villages are: Boita, Sadu, Raul Sadului, Talmaciu, Talmacel. Rasinari, Poplaca, Gura Raului, Orlat, Fantanele, Sibiel, Vale, Saliste, Gales, Tilisca, Rod, Poiana Sibiului and Jina. Rasinari, dating to 1204, is the oldest, followed by Talmaciu (1318), Orlat (1322) and Saliste (1354). Saliste claims the oldest church, housing beautiful interior frescoes (1674), while Poiana Sibiului’s wooden church was built in 1771. Rasinari How to get here: Rasinari is connected to Sibiu by a roughly 4-mile tramline through the Dumbrava Forest. The tram runs every 30 mins. at peak times (7:00am – 9:00am and 1:00pm – 3:00pm) and every hour for the rest of the day. One of the wealthiest villages in the region, Rasinari is famed for its local carpentry and sheep farming. The village has an Ethnographic Museum (open Tue. – Sun. 10:00am – 5:00pm) and a painted Orthodox church built in 1752. The annual Pastoral Album Folklore Festival takes place on the third Sunday of April. Sibiel - The Museum of Painted Glass Icons (Muzeul de Icoane pe Sticla) How to get here: Local trains from Sibiu to Sebes stop at Sibiel (25-minute ride) Painting on glass has been a tradition for 200 years in these villages. In 1968, the founder of the museum, priest Zosim Oancea, started to collect 18-th and 19-th century icons richly painted on glass. Today, the museum exhibits the largest collection of painted glass icons in Europe - more than 700, as well as furniture and ceramics. information The Fortified Church in Cristian Where: 5 miles west of Sibiu Cisnadie Cisnadie (German: Heltau) Where: 6 miles south of Sibiu How to get here: Daily bus service from Sibiu Cisnadie was mentioned for the first time in a document from the year 1204 under the name "Rivetel." In the 12th century Saxon colonists settled here and in 1323, the German name Heltau is mentioned. During the centuries, the town flourished, particularly the guilds of sicklesmiths and wool weavers. Weaving remained the traditional occupation of the townspeople until the 20th century, when large textile factories were built. The Textile Museum (Expozitia Muzeala "Istoricul Industriei Textile") has a comprehensive coverage of this local industry. The museum, located at Str. Apararii 2 is open Mon. – Sat. 8:00am to 4:00pm. The most important architectural site is the Cisnadie Fortified Church located in the town centre. A climb to the belfry offers a super view of Cisnadie’s red rooftops and courtyards, while in the distance, nestled at the foot of the Cindrel Mountains, you can catch a glimpse of Cisnadiaora. Cisnadioara (German: Michelsberg) Where: 2 miles from Cisnadie and 8 miles from Sibiu Cisnadioara has a Romanesque church dating from 1223 and a citadel on top of a high hill above the village which frequently withstood Tatar attacks. The villagers often took cover in the citadel, which they defended by hurtling down rocks which had been carried into the citadel by aspiring husbands. It was believed that no young man was marriage-worthy until he had carried a heavy rock from the riverbed up the steep track. In the centre of Cisnadioara stands an old baroque church. The local village museum contains an attractive collection of artifacts and tools from Saxon households. Built by the Transylvanian Carpathian Society (S.K.V.) in 1894, Paltinis (German: Hohe Rinne) is the highest (4,724 ft.; 1,440 m altitude) and oldest tourist resort in Romania. A favorite for ski enthusiasts, Paltinis, with its beautiful location, fresh air, and numerous hiking opportunities, is also an attraction for summer hikers. Marked trails make it easy to reach the main points on the surrounding mountains. Most of the trails are suitable for mountain biking, as well. Some other attractions in this area: - The Energy Museum “Sigmund Dachler” in Sadu where in 1896, the first hydropower plant in Romania and the third in Europe was opened - The Short Fortress in Orlat (1317) - The Saliste Culture Museum in Saliste - The Dacian Fortress near Tilisca - The Fortified Church in Cristian (1495) - The Fortified Church Dobarca (13th century) Traveling through the twisting and turning gorges of the Olt River to Curtea de Arges, you can make a stop at the beautiful Cozia Monastery. Once you get to Curtea de Arges, visit the 14-th century Princely Court and the Princely Church with its lovely interior frescoes. According to tradition, Curtea de Arges was founded in early 14th century by Prince Radu Negru, succeeding Campulung as capital of Walachia, hence its name Curtea (The Court). Another stunning architectural gem in town is the 16-th century Curtea de Arges Monastery (Manastirea Curtea de Arges), topped with two towers spiraling in opposite directions. Behold the sad legend of Manole* as you take in its beauty. Romania’s first two kings and queens are buried here. * The legend says that Manole, the master builder, had to sacrifice his wife by locking her into the wall to stop the monastery from falling apart. Fifty miles west of Curtea de Arges, you can visit Horezu Monastery, the largest monastic settlement in Walachia, founded in 1690 by Prince Constantine Brancoveanu. A masterpiece of the “Brancovenesti” style and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Horezu is renowned for the richness of its sculptural detail, the treatment of its religious compositions and its painted decorative works. The monastery houses precious collections of frescoes and icons dating from the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. The nearby village of Horezu is home to one of the largest pottery centres in Romania. Nearly a century ago, local nuns taught the villagers how to make and paint pottery and ever since, people have come from far and wide to get their hands on Horezu’s ceramics.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Poiana Brasov is surrounded by the following mountains: Postavarul 1799 m, Piatra Craiului 2238 m; Bucegi 2505 m; Piatra Mare 1848 m. You can do a lot of things within this surrounding, from easy one day trips in the nature to difficult mountaineering. You can find everytime local guides, who speak foreign languages.
In the majestic Carpathian natural stronghold, lying on a shyly extending plateau at the foot of the Postavarul Mountain, Poiana Brasov - The Sunny Glade - is a model of beauty. Located 12 km far from the Medieval town Brasov and over 1,020 m altitude, Poiana Brasov is nestled in a marvellous landscape offering the pleasure of its skiing tracks or of the wandering along the mountains sinous paths.There are busses every half an hour from Brasov to Poiana Brasov; for a taxi you pay about ~10 DM.It is a distance of 13 km from Brasov and of 12 km from RÃsnov to Poiana Brasov.There are many trainconnections from Bucarest to Brasov all day long (about 3 hours).The north-west facing slopes of Poiana-Brasov have good snow coverage from December to March, with the cold winter temperatures maintaining the base. Skiers will enjoy mainly wooded terrain, consisting of fairly wide slopes, with the lifts accessing the highest peak of Postavarul at 1,800m. This lift system is fairly extensive considering the size of the resort, consisting of 3 cable-cars, 1 gondola and 8 drag-lifts and transports 7,000 skiers an hour around the slopes. The resort has 14 marked trails, including an Olympic run, and various slalom runs. The nursery slopes of Poiana-Brasov are located at the village level, and these slopes are floodlit and house 2 snow cannons. Beginners can take the gondola to reach additional wide easy slopes, and can enjoy the scenic views from the top whilst practicing. The ski-school at Poiana-Brasov has an excellent reputation, with 120 top instructors providing effective and encouraging tuition in English, French and German. Intermediate skiers can choose from 3 red runs in the resort, and can pick up some speed on the long blue run leading back down to the village. With only 2 black runs, the skiing at Poiana-Brasov is fairly limited for advanced skiers, but there are some challenges here, including the Lupului, with its’ 800m drop over the 3km trail.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Peles is surrounded by seven terraces decorated with statues (sculptured by the Italian, Romanelli), stone-made-wells, ornamental vases and Carara marble. The architects used an abundance of wooden decoration, both for the exterior and for the interior of the castle, which confers a very special quality to the building.
Quite outstanding are the Big Armoury Room, the small Armoury Room, the Florentine Room, the Reception Room (where paintings and wooden sculptures depicting 16 castles of the Hohenzollerns are exhibited), the Moresque Room, The French Room, the Turkish Room, the Council Room, the Concert Room as well as the Imperial Suite.It is also worth mentioning other exquisite attractions such as the statues, the ceramics, the gold and silver plates, the Meissen and Sevres porcelain, as well as the extensive weapon collections.Near Peles castle there is Foisorul, a kings' residence with 42 rooms designed in the Swiss style.
Friday, October 23, 2009
The reservation is unique in Romania. Elsewhere in Europe, similar phenomena can be observed in Italy (northern Apennines and Sicily), Ukraine (in the Kerch Peninsula), as well as Azerbaijan.
The reservation is unique in Europe, with similar phenomena being observed in Siberia and Australia. If you consider going to the Muddy Volcanoes, you can do it as one-day trip from Bucharest (it’s a three hours drive).The expelled mud is cold from the very beginning, as it comes from inside the Earth’s continental crust layers, and not from the mantle. The place stinks a little bit like sulfur, but it is not unbearable, and after a few minutes you won’t even notice the smell anymore. There are no dwellings in the proximity, so the area is very quiet. All you can hear are the birds singing and the blurbs of the small volcanoes.
The muddy clods of earth, colder than ice, gurgle and boil underground; then, through numerous opened mouths, scattered all over the valley, they bubble upwards, bursting out either at a very low or at a higher distance.The mud volcanoes create a strange lunar landscape, due to the absence of vegetation around the cones. Vegetation is scarce because the soil is very salty, an environmental condition in which few plants can survive. However, this kind of environment is good for some rare species of plants, such as Nitraria schoberi and Obione verrucifera.
The phenomenon can be observed on two separate locations near the Berca commune, dubbed the Little Mud Volcanoes and The Big Mud Volcanoes.
Some 300 species of birds make Danube’s Delta their home, including cormorants, white tailed eagles and glossy ibises. The bird watching season lasts from early spring to late summer. Birds are not the only inhabitants of the Delta. There is also a rich community of fish and animals, from wildcats, foxes and wolves, to even an occasional boar or deer. Altogether, 3,450 animal species can be seen here, as well as 1,700 plant species.
Travelers can spend three or more days exploring its passages, teaming with the highest concentration of bird colonies in all of Europe. The maze of canals bordered by thatch, willows and oaks entangled in lianas, offers the perfect breeding ground for countless species of birds, some of them from as far away as China and Africa. Millions of Egyptian white pelicans arrive here every spring to raise their young, while equal numbers of Arctic geese come here to escape the harsh winters of Northern Europe.
The Delta can be explored as part of a Danube River Cruise, or on day trips and boat excursions from Tulcea which has good hotels, restaurants specializing in fish dishes and the Museum of the Danube Delta.
The Danube River is the most international river on the planet - its course runs across — or forms a part of the borders of several countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and four capitals: Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.Formed over a period of more than 10,000 years, the Danube Delta continues to grow due to the 67 million tons of alluvia deposited every year by the Danube River.The Delta is formed around the three main channels of the Danube, named after their respective ports: Chilia (in the north), Sulina (in the middle), and Sfantu Gheorghe (in the south).The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve has the third largest biodiversity in the world (over 5,500 flora and fauna species), exceeded only by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Archipelago in Ecuador.The Danube Delta is home to over 60% of the world’s population of pygmy cormorants (phalacrocorax pygmeus), 50% of red-breasted geese (branta ruficollis) and the largest number of white pelicans (pelecanus onocrotalus) and Dalmatian pelicans (pelecanus crispus) in Europe.It also is home to the world’s largest reed bed expanse – 625, 000 acres / 240,000 ha.Some 15,000 people inhabit the Delta area, living in 28 villages and one city (Sulina).The area was first attested by Herodot of Halicarnas (484 – 425 B.C.).More then half of the Delta Biosphere Reserve is virtually intact.