Travel between Art and Castles in Enchanting Romania

After some years spent on the roads of Romania, we dare say that who don't see these 5 destinations below will not really understand what Romania can offer.



1. Bucharest’s old town

Despite the belief that you have nothing to visit in Bucharest, here you are on a route for at least one day or more than 2-3 days: The Royal Palace with the Art Museum, Kretzulescu’s Church, the cosy Cismigiu Garden, the Frenchy Military Circle and across the Victoriei Street the- Capsa House where you can have an old-style lunch.

You can then walk in the historical center and Lipscani area, crossing from Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue) to the old center through the Macca Villacrosse passage. In this area, you will see the CEC Palace, The National Museum of History, and the National Bank Palace. You can also visit the Parliament Palace, even if only to marvel at its ugliness. Be sure you reserve at least 2-3 hours for this building because it’s the largest in Europe!

The Palace of the Parliament (Palatul Parlamentului) in Bucharest, Romania, also named it People’s House (Casa Poporului) or House of the Republic (Casa Republicii), is a building of the Romanian Parliament. According to the Guinness Book, the Palace is the world’s largest civilian administrative building, the most expensive administrative building, and the heaviest building.

The Palace was designed and raised by the Ceausescu regime with the Romanian people's money and a lot of sacrifice of lives, as the seat of political and administrative power.

The Palace measures 270 m (890 ft) by 240 m (790 ft), 86 m (282 ft) high, and 92 m (302 ft) underground. It has 1,100 rooms, 2 underground parking garages and is 12 stories tall, with four underground levels currently available for the general public and in use, and another four in different stages of completion. The floor space is 340,000 m2 (3,700,000 sq ft).

The structure combines elements from multiple sources, in an eclectic neoclassical architectural style. The building is constructed almost entirely of materials of Romanian origin.

Estimates of the materials used include one million cubic meters of marble from Transylvania; 3,500 tonnes of crystal – 480 chandeliers, 1,409 ceiling lights and mirrors were manufactured; 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze for monumental doors and windows, chandeliers and capitals; 900,000 mp (9,700,000 sq ft) of wood, over 95% of which is domestic, for parquet and wainscoting, including walnut, oak, sweet cherry, elm, sycamore maple; 200,000 mp (2,200,000 sq ft) of woolen carpets of various dimensions, the larger of which were woven on-site by machines moved into the building; velvet and brocade curtains adorned with embroideries and passementeries in silver and gold.

Constructing the Palace and Centrul Civic required demolishing much of Bucharest’s historic district, including 19 Orthodox Christian churches, six Jewish synagogues, three Protestant churches (plus eight relocated churches), and 30,000 residences.

The building is colossal, pharaonic and overwhelming. Maybe that’s the reason for Michael Jackson loved so much
The entry ticket cost around 10 euro for one person. Impressive also is the view from the presidential balcony, where you can see Piata Constitutiei, the avenue Unirii (or the Victory of Socialism avenue in the communism years). The boulevard was specifically designed to be longer and wider than the Champs Elysees.

Because Ceausescu could not really understand the models but wanted to convince himself that any block will be no taller than the People’s House, the architects built a whole block of … paperboard and metal scaffolding on the other end of the axis – in the Alba Iulia square. That cartoon block was raised onto a football field of children…

Then you can go back towards the Magheru Avenue to Barbu Catargiu Street, where you can admire the great noble houses that become embassies. If you’re in good shape, you can then take a 3 km walk along this green route to Victoria Square to visit the impressive Antipa National Biology Museum, one of the best in Romania, as well as the Museum of Geology and Romanian Peasant Museum – all of the major and modern attractions.

Your Bucharest tour can end in the spectacular Village Museum and with a walk in the huge Herastrau Park. You will have seen only some of the attractions Bucharest has to offer!

2. Sighisoara city

This is a medieval city, well restored and preserved, with a lot of historical monuments. You can also walk through the old and very interesting cemetery. If you want to feel the chill of Dracula, whose father was born in this city, do it by night! Be sure you don’t bump into Prince Charles, who loves to come here in the summer.


3. The fortresses and fortified churches in Transylvania

There is a lot historical worthy stuff which must be seen in Transylvania: the old town of Brasov, the fortified medieval churches of Prejmer, Rupea, Saschiz, Slimnic, Biertan, Calnic and also the imposing Corvin's Castle. Of course, you can include in your route the main tourist trap that is the Bran Castle (for Dracula fans) and the more spectacular Risnov Castle.

Bran Castle or Dracula’s Castle, as we known it, is closely connected with the image of a famous Romanian leader, Vlad Tepes, who was, in fact, captured and imprisoned in 1426 in the dungeons of the castle by his friend Matthias Corvin.

At that time the castle had a major importance in defense strategy on Rucar Brasov-Bran, and an important economic, historical and military role. The castle appears suddenly in its medieval beauty, more threateningly than any imitation you find at the bazaar near the castle. Almost you fell shivers since you go upstairs! It’s a warning for those who have no physical condition because of the castle position.

The price of visiting Dracula’s Castle is very cheap, around 5 euro/person and it also included, if you like, a visit to the museum village of Bran, which is near the castle. The museum helps you get the atmosphere and see the ‘lifestyle’ of those times. Dracula Castle is placed on less than 30 km from Brasov. It was built on a stone by the Teutonic Knights between 1211-1227, first in a simple form of wood. Later, in 1377, because the Brasov people wanted a controlled access from Wallachia and a strategic position on the road to Barsa, it was built a stone castle into the present form.

They made this citadel onto a massive stone on the highest rocks from the area for better monitoring the surroundings, giving you the impression of a building carved in stone. It has solid walls, massive towers located in the four cardinal points, looking as a pillbox, not a castle. The rooms are apparently chaotically distributed in the castle, the corridors are rather mazes, and inside of the courtyard is a fountain. It seems that, apart from its utility, had intended to be an underground hiding for the castle.

Along the city was installed a checkpoint for charge the transit goods on the trade route between Transylvania and Tara Romaneasca.

In 1918 the people of Brasov gave the castle to the royal family as a gift for their contribution to the Great Union of December 1st, 1918. At that time, the castle passed through many centuries of invasions and destructions. Fortunately, due to restorations made by Queen Mary, Dracula’s Castle/ Bran Castle regains the medieval look, becoming the one of her favorite places.

In recent years, also, the castle was renovated and restored to its original beauty, being used even furniture that Queen Mary brought into the castle. Inside the castle it founds now a rustic furniture collection, pottery, weapons and armor.

Mentioned in a documentary in 1235 as ‘Corona’, Brasov was on the crossing of old commercial roads that linked Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania. This position was convenient for the old city because it facilitated trade and economic development. It is many theories about toponymy name. Some researchers link the name of Brasov with the river Brasov – ‘fluvium Brassou’, which, indeed, is mentioned in 1360.

4. Peles Castle in Sinaia

If you choose to visit Sinaia, you can take a walk in the neighborhood, and see the beautiful Furnica neighborhood, the Disney-like Peles Castle and Pelisor Castle, Foisor and Economat House. In just three or four hours, you’ll breathe the atmosphere of a German town right in the middle of Romania!

Then you can relax your feet and sit down on the green grass of the Pelisor Valley, or stroll down the streets toward the Central Park in Sinaia. Peles and Pelisor castles are open from Wednesday through Sunday every week, until 4 p.m. I don’t recommend visiting them on weekends, as they’re full of tourists and you’ll lose a lot of time queueing to see them.

You can benefit from a guided tour that will explain the castle’s history and significance, as well as its relationship with the Royal Family of the King of Romania. It’s a must to take the lunch at Furnica, near Peles, after visiting the castles. Try the steaks there, as they’re excellent.

5. Through Transalpina

We proceed to Europe through Transalpina, the highest road in Romania and the older Roman road. This road crosses the Carpathian Mountains and it connects Gorj to Alba Iulia, Sebes to Targu Jiu, and it stops in the Horezu, a famous place of the handmade bowls. Of course, we buy something.

This old corridor was built by the Roman legions by military reasons. After some centuries the road was partially rebuilt by Carol II, a little later during the World War II and in our time. Transalpina is charming with its complicated and twisted corridors, clothing with the crazy summer green mountain plateaus and the creepy desert winter white.

The serpentines road you throw dangerous curbs which you should keep them by your side, through clouds that transform instantly the images to another, and you can feel a strong and scented air and occasionally you can hear screams coming somewhere above you. Oh, yes! You are carefully monitoring by the air masters which are surrounding their sacred territory for millenniums.

We continued our way to Targu Jiu – Hateg -Timisoara. If you want to look about the ancient Europe, then it worth’s this prehistoric corridor passing through this Romanian area – ‘Hateg Country’. This place was in the prehistoric times an island of a sea that covered the today’s Transylvanian Plateau, where several species of dinosaurs lived dwarfs.

Do not hesitate to visit the Dinosaurs Geopark of ‘Hateg Country’! In the evening of that day, we reach Timisoara and hurry up to a lovely terrace and enjoy the best beer of the town.

After that we take a short walk in Timisoara in the middle of the night. We were mentally prepared for a long, long way to the North Cape.

About

Kalyan is an avid traveler, photographer, travel writer, blogger, influencer, brand ambassador, product tester and reviewer, gadget freak, movie critic, and a die-hard foodie. He is in the blogging space since 2006, and his written articles and photographs have been featured in leading magazines and online spaces on luxury travel, fine dining, blogs, wine, and culture. His posts in the social media have a strong organic reach and engagement. This blog gets around half a million visitors annually.

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