| About Romania|
Romania is a country located in the South-eastern part of Central Europe, on the Lower Danube, north of the Balkan Peninsula and on the North-western shore of the Black Sea. On its territory lie almost entirely the Danube Delta and the South-central part of the Carpathian Mountains. Romania shares a border with Bulgaria to the South, Hungary to the North-West, Ukraine to the North and East and the Republic of Moldavia to the East, while the Black Sea shore is located in the south-East.
In the historical times, different parts of today's territory of Romania were part of and administered by Dacia, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian one. Romania became a sovereign state in 1859 after being united to Wallachia and Moldavia under the reign of Alexandru Ioan Cuza and 19 years later it was acknowledged as an independent country. In 1918, Transylvania, Bukovina and Bessarabia united with Romania therefore forming Greater Romania or Interwar Romania, with a maximum territorial expansion in the history of Romania (295.641 km²).
On the eve of the Second Great World War (1940), under the pressure of Germany, ruled by Hitler and the pro-Nazi government led by Gigurtu, Greater Romania (United) ceased to exist by yielding territories to Hungary (Northern Transylvania), Bulgaria (Southern Dobruja) and to the Soviet Union (Bessarabia, Hertza and Northern Bukovina. After Antonescu's regime was abolished on august 23rd 1944 and after turning its weapons against the Axis powers, Romania joined the Allies (England, United States, France and the Soviet Union) and regained Northern Transylvania, which finalized by means of the peace Treaty of Paris signed on February 10th 1947.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and of the communist regime that was installed in Romania (1989), the country started a series of economic and political reforms. After a decade of post-revolution economic problems, Romania made economic reforms of a general order (the sole taxing rate, in 2005) and joined the European Union on January 1st 2007.
Romania is a semi-presidential republic. It is the ninth largest country by area (238 391 km²), and has the seventh largest population (over 22 million inhabitants) of the European Union member states. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest is the sixth largest city in the EU by the number of inhabitants (1,9 million inhabitants). In 2007, Sibiu was elected the European Capital of Culture. Romania is a member of NATO (starting with March 29th 2004), of the European Union (starting with January 1st 2007), of the Latin Union, of the Francophonie and of CPLP.
The name "Romania" comes from "Romanian", a word derived from the Latin Romanus.
"Romania has majestic castles, medieval towns, great hiking and wildlife…"
(The Lonely Planet)
"No journey to Eastern Europe would be complete without paying a visit to Romania… Outstanding landscapes, a huge diversity of wildlife…" (The Rough Guide)
"… why should you go to Romania? The straight answer is because it is one of the most beautiful countries of Southeast Europe." (The Blue Guide)
"Considered by many the most beautiful country in Eastern-Europe, Romania still claims regions that seem bastions of a medieval past long since lost elsewhere."
(Fodor's Eastern and Central Europe)
"Few regions offer a more dazzling display of cultural and artistic treasures than Romania." (Smithsonian Journeys)
Romania offers a rich tapestry of tourist attractions and vacation experiences unique in Central-Eastern Europe: medieval towns in Transylvania, the world-famous Painted Monasteries in Bucovina, traditional villages in Maramures, the magnificent architecture of Bucharest, the romantic Danube Delta, fairy-tale castles, the Black Sea resorts, the majestic Carpathian Mountains, spas and much more.
Romania in pictures
| About Brasov|
Brasov is an important landmark on the Romanian tourism map. Here, history blends harmoniously with the beauty of the landscapes leaving a long-lasting, pleasant memory for the tourist. It ranks 8th by number of inhabitants (283.901 according to the census of 2002), and since it is located in the centre of the country and it benefits of an exquisite natural environment, Brasov is considered to be one of the most important cities from a touristic point of view.
History in brief
Archaeological discoveries certify that settlements in this area date back to the Neolithic age and the bronze era as well as dacic temples in the area of Pietrele lui Solomon.
In 1211, the Teutonic Knights, arrived in Tara Barsei, fortified the Tampa citadel, named Brasovia. This citadel was one the most difficult to conquer of Europe and actually it was never conquered, only by treaties. Brasov was first attested in 1234, in the Ninivensis Catalogue under the name of Corona. During the second half of the XIVth century, it was confirmed as administrative and ecclesiastic centre of Tara Barsei. The Turkish-Tatar invasion from the XIIIth - XVth centuries made most of the population move in the area between Tampa, ?chei and Warthe hill. The fortification belt transformed Brasov in one of the most fortified medieval cities of Transylvania. In the XIVth century the city was centred on the main square and the parish church, Saint Mary, also known as the Black Church, which was rebuilt starting with 1383. The settlement was divided into four quarters: Portica - to the south-East, Corpus Christi - to the south-West, Petri - to the North-East and Catharina - to the North-West. Outside the Citadel there were also three suburbs. "Old Brasov" developed around Saint Bartholomew's church, encompassing the settlement next to Saint Martin hill (he area of Lunga and De Mijloc streets). To the East, Blumana neighbourhood (the area of Cuza Voda, Eroilor, 15 noiembrie, Castanilor and Colina Universitatii streets), with Saint Barbara chapel, was mainly inhabited by Szeklers. To the South-West was the old Romanian neighbourhood Schei of Brasov.
Even since 1520 this place hosted a large number of fairs. Starting with 1364, the annual fair was hosted here and had an increased number of participants, some even traders from abroad. The Pillar of Disgrace where witches were trailed and body punishments were given to the ones guilty of various crimes once existed there. Until 1892 the square also had two wells. The first pharmacy of the city functioned at number 16. The most impressive building is located in the middle of the square and is called the Council House.
Initially built as a control tower, the building was transformed in the City Hall as the city developed. On December 23st 1420 the District's Council ?ara Barsei made an agreement with the furrier guilds related to building the Council House. According to this agreement the representatives of Brasov furrier guilds allowed the nine communes of "Tara Barsei Province" to build above the sale guild a room for "granting freedom" and for the magistrate's meetings.
Due to the Turkish invasion on 1421, the great part of the city's destruction, as well as the arrest of the city's magistrate, this project was postponed. The following mention regarding the Council House of Brasov dates back to 1503, when the building appears under the name of "Praetorium". Along the years the building suffered various changes, many of them due to destructions caused by natural disasters. After almost a century, in 1780, the reconstruction works of the council House were finalized, at approximately the present form. At the beginning of the XXth century, the Council House was to be demolished and replaced by a modern administrative building. This was only avoided due to a powerful press campaign of Kronstadter Zeitung newspaper for the preservation of the old historical monument. The last architectural change of the Council House occurred between 1909 and 1910 when the baroque roof was replaced with the pyramid roof with coloured tiles that it has nowadays. Since 1950 the building hosts the County Museum of History.
A XVIth century edifice, initially known under the name of Saint Mary Church, the Black Chruch is one of the most representative monument of Goth architecture in Romania. The church suffered a fire before 1384 and its reconstruction lasted until 1477. An inscription found on the church's wall certifies Thomas as its first benefactor, who we know died in 1410. The plan used by architects was that of a three-nave basilica, equal in height, being registered in the category of hall-church preferred in the XVth-XVIth century in the German territory, where most of the architects and masons originated. The Black Church is one of the biggest edifice of Goth cult of the South-eastern Europe measuring 89 meters length, 38 de meters width, 21 meters height on the inside and 40 meters height on the outside. In the church 5000 people could fit in, a number almost equal to the city's population at that time. Severely damaged following the fire of 1689, the Black Church was restored with the help of masons from Gdansk, since the local masons did not know how to complete the enormous vaults. The new vaults are of baroque style and not Goth style. The Black Church is famous not only for its impressive size. Moreover, its bell tower holds the greatest bell in Romania, a bronze bell that weighs 6 tons. The Black Church is also known for its huge pipe organ (the biggest mechanic pipe organ in the South-East of Europe) having over 4000 pipes. The Choir held by exterior abutments decorated with edicolas that protect saint's statues represents one of the few examples of this type in Transylvania. The oriental carpet collection of the Black Church is the richest collection of this genre in Romania. If you happen to be in Bra?ov you should not miss the weekly organ concerts held here.
Saint Bartholomew's Church
The oldest historical monument in Brasov, was built in 1233 in roman architecture style. Bartholomew's Church represents the oldest stone edifice built in Brasov. The church's beginnings date back to the XIIIth century. Saint Bartholomew's Church was built by Cisterician monks in Roman style, also known under the name of Cisterician style, that combine Roman structural and decorative elements with new ones, Goth ones (volts in broken arches, ogival windows). The church plan was that of a three-nave basilica and transept, a main one in the middle and two lateral shorter ones. The church suffered great damage following the frequent Turkish invasions from the XVth-XVIth century, but was always restored. The last reconstruction dates back to 1842, when the crashed tour was rebuilt in 1833.
It is one of the seven bastions built around Brasov. The bastion was built between 1421 and 1436 y masons belonging to the weavers' guild. It is located in the South-West corner of the citadel, and defends the hayfield below Tampa.
Along the time the bastion also had other uses: as headquarters of the weavers' guild, a place for parties, while today it serves as a museum. It has an illustrated exhibit of the fortresses of Tara Barsei and a valuable collection of medieval battle equipment. The main attraction of the museum is the scale-model of the city of Brasov, according to its looks in the XVIIth century.
Inside the bastion, that offers an architectural frame, take place shows and concerts organized by the museum together with other cultural institutions.
First Romanian School
Built only a few meters away from Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the First Romanian School was attested for the first time by documents in 1495. Researchers certify that it is older and that it dated back to the XIIth century. The construction of the school and the Saint Nicholas church of stone represent an act of Christianity of Neagoe Basarab of Wallachia.
Other vaivode benefactors of the school were Petru Cercel, Mihai Viteazu, Aron Voda and others. The School from ?chei became an important spiritual centre together with the activity of deacon Coresi who founded here a printer house and started to print church and laic books in Romanian and Slavonic. The first chronic having a Romanian subject, the first Romanian grammar book and the first Romanian almanac were printed here.
In the XVIIIth century the school became an orthodox resistance centre (in a principality where authorities abolished the Orthodox Church and the Metropolitan church of Alba Iulia) intended to prepare priest, deacons and singers for the churches that were still faithful to the Eastern orthodox cult. In the XIXth century Anton Pann conducted an important activity here by teaching music, writing manuals and, after his departure, he sent money to buy proper furniture.
Nowadays the First Romanian School is a museum complex and it houses several valuable exhibits in the building of the First Romanian School or in the complex's buildings: "Coresi's printery", "the Juni of Brasov", "The Exhibit of old Romanian books", and "Tudor Ciortea" memorial museum. Tourists can visit the school and even sit down in the desks dating from the XIXth century.
The Neological Synagogue of Bra?ov was built between 1899 and 1901, according to the plans of Hungarian architect Lipot (Leopold) Baumhorn (1860-1932) and was opened on august 20th 1901. The surface of the building encompasses 657 m². The construction style of the synagogue is Moor and had the plan of a three-nave basilica. There are Goth (rosettes, window frames and gates) and Roman decorative elements. The Synagogue was renovated in 2001, on the occasion of its 100th birthday. At present it is still used for ritual purposes. Near the Synagogue, the Jewish community of Brasov benefits of a traditional restaurant, a medical facility and a home assistance centre.
The first Jews settled in Brasov in 1807, with the approval of the local council. The Jew community was officially founded in 1826. Community members were engaged in trade, but they were also handicraftsmen (hatters, tailors, painters, jewellers) or intellectuals from the Jewish people. The Jewish community of Brasov was divided in 1877 into orthodox rite Jews (traditional) and neologic rite Jews. The two rites' cult places.
In time, Jews became entrepreneurs, engineers, manufacturers, or newspaper owners, having an important role in the economic interwar period. The Second World War period was difficult for the members of the Jewish community of Brasov. Even though they were not deported into interment camps, they were forbidden to own trade companies, they were frequently beaten and their children were expelled. In 1941, the orthodox synagogue was destroyed by iron-guards.
After the war, a great number of the Jews in Brasov left for Palestine. At the 1956 census, there were only 1759 Jews in the city. Their number decreased constantly from that moment, being even smaller today. At present, there are two synagogues in Brasov: one of neologic rite (built between 1899 and 1901 located at 29, Poarta Schei street) and another of orthodox rite (built in 1924 located on 64, Castelului street).
Poiana Brasov is a winter sports resort from Romania, an international tourist attraction and a neighbourhood of Brasov municipality. It has 12 ski tracks with different difficulty degrees, sports fields, a lake, discos, bars and restaurants. Accommodation is ensured by luxury hotels, guesthouses, villas and lodges. Poiana was since old times the destination for hikes and winter sports. The first documentary evidence dates back to 1427, with sheep farming. Skiers climbed on Postavaru ever since 1895, and in 1906 took place in Poiana the first ski competition. Until around 1950, the resort was kept inside the limits of its natural endowments. Only a few little villas or lodges could be seen now and then. In 1951, in Poiana Brasov, took place the World University winter Games. On this occasion, a modern hotel for sports and a cable railway -Poiana-Postavarul - on a distance of 2150 m were opened. More other arrangements and endowments that brought Poiana to its present look were added to these.
, situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Brasov, Romania, is a national monument and landmark. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on Highway 73. In addition to its unique architecture, the castle is famous because of persistent myths that it was once the home of Vlad the Impaler, a famous or infamous medieval warlord; however, there is no evidence that he ever lived there. According to most accounts, the Impaler spent two days in the Bran dungeon, as the area was occupied by the Ottoman Empire at the time. Because of the (disputed) connections between Vlad and the fictional character Dracula, the castle is marketed to foreign tourists as Dracula's Castle; see below.
The castle is open to tourists, who can view the inside by themselves or as part of a guided tour. At the bottom of the hill is a small park to which examples of traditional Romanian peasant structures (cottages, barns, etc.) from across the country have been moved.
The castle passed through royal hands for many generations. For many years at the beginning of the 20th century, it was the principal home of Queen Marie, who, despite her British birth and upbringing, became quite a Romanian patriot. The castle is decorated largely with artifacts from her time, including traditional furniture and tapestries that she collected to highlight Romanian crafts and skills. It was inherited by her daughter Princess Ileana of Romania, and was later seized by the Communist government of Romania in 1948. For many years it was tended to erratically, but after 1980s restoration and the Romanian Revolution of 1989, it became a tourist destination.
The Peles castle
, the summer residence of Romanian royalty, was built during the rule of Carol I, between 1873 1883, and today it is an important national monument of XIX century in Europe. Due to the electrical plant in the Peles Valley, Peles Castle was the first European castle entirely lit by electrical current.
The castle covers an area of 3200 sq. m, has got 160 rooms and 30 bathrooms. The castle shelters one of the valuable painting collections in Europe, and a XIV-XVII century weapon collection, 400 pieces. The castle is a true wonder, due to the sculpted wood and the stained glasswindows. The Reception Room was built in 1991 by architect Karel Liman, he redesigned the interior yard into a true wonder, due to the richness of the sculpted wood and the stained glass windows.
The armory rooms were built between 1903-1906, while the Council Room was ready in 1914.
The Florentine Room was designed in the Italian Renaissance style. The room of the theatre built in the style of Louis XIV accommodates 60 places. After the forced abdication of the king in 1947 the castle was opened for tourism. During the last years of the communist regime the entire area was closed to tourists. Today except the hunting house, which remained a presidential residence, the Peles complex was re-integrated into the tourism circuit.
was built by Stephen the Great in 1488, is located in Voronet, Suceava County , is possibly the most famous church of Romania. It is known throughout the world for its exterior frescoes of bright and intense colours, and for the hundreds of well-preserved figures placed against the renowned azurite background. The church of Voronet that Stephen the Great built included the chancel, the naos with its tower, and the pronaos. The monastery is located on a riverbank, at the end of the long and narrow village of the same name, near the town of Gura Humorului.
The age of the monastic site is not known. A legend tells us that Stephen the Great, in a moment of crisis during a war against the Turks, came to Daniel the Hermit at his skete in Voronet and asked for advice. After he won the battle against the Turks, keeping his promise to the monk, the prince built a new church, dedicated to St. George, the bringer of victory in battle.
This is the present church that was built on the site of an older wooden church, the scanty remains of which have not been dated. The renowned researcher George Bals wrote in the 1920’s that the churches of this period, and in part also those built in the following century, were “Byzantine churches built with Gothic hands”.The structure and the interior spatial solutions were linked to the Byzantine and south Slavic tradition. The exterior, with its buttresses and door and window frames were related to Western European High Gothic. The influences spread from Transylvania and Poland with craftsmen who were invited especially to build churches.
The Church of St. George is dated with the commemorative inscription placed above the original entrance, now in the exonarthex: “I, Prince Stephen, by God’s mercy leading the Country of Moldavia, son of Prince Bogdan, started to build this foundation at the Monastery of Voronet, dedicated to the Saint and Worshipped and Great Martyr and Victorious George, in the year 6996 (1488) the month of May, 26, the Monday after the Descent of the Holy Spirit, and completed it in the same year, in the month of September, 14”.
The text shows that the church was built in less than four months. This tells us something about the high professional level of construction at the time, especially taking into account that the Church of St. Elijah in Suceava was built exactly at the same time
Year Built: 1532,
Built by: Prince Petru Rares,
Location: Vatra Moldovitei, Suceava County.
The most distinctive feature of the Church of the Annunciation is the open exonarthex with its three tall arches on the west façade. The exterior paintings are the best preserved of all the churches of Bucovina. Alexander the Kind built the first monastery in Moldovita on the banks of the Moldovita River at the beginning of the 15th century. The site chosen was far from other villages, in the middle of the forest. He donated lands and Tartar slaves to the establishment, and the first community around the compound was created.
The monastery is mentioned for the first time in a document of 1402, and successive other documents tell of new donations. There is no record of how, or when, the monastery was destroyed, but possibly an earthquake ruined it at the beginning of the 16th century. Only low stone ruins remain of the first church. It was built of rough blocks of stone on a triconch plan, with three apses.
Originally, it had only a chancel, a naos and a narrow pronaos. When the monastic community increased in size, a second, much larger, pronaos was built to the west end of the edifice. As is the case with many other monasteries built during the first century of Moldavia’s existence, such as Probota and Humor, Moldovita was also re-founded by Petru Rares.
The new church was built in 1532 in a different location, several hundred metres uphill from the river. Petru Rares founded the present Church of the Annunciation, as is confirmed by the commemorative inscription on the south façade of the church, to the left of the entrance. The church is built on the usual triconch plan of three apses used for all monastic establishments. The church is rather long, as it has, besides the obligatory chancel, naos and pronaos, a burial chamber and an exonarthex. A graceful octagonal lantern tower with four windows stands above the naos, and a hidden treasury room was built above the burial chamber.
The open exonarthex with large openings is its most distinctive feature, built on the model of the Church of Humor. The long façades are smooth, except for a row of small niches that surrounds the whole church. The three apses are decorated with tall niches that reach almost to the eaves. The four big pronaos windows have pointed Gothic arches and stone tracery in the upper part. The other five windows are much smaller, with slightly pointed arches and a square frame of crossed rods. The church was painted in 1537 both inside and outside. The significant stylistic differences between various scenes indicate that there must have been several painters at work in Moldovita.
In 1607 Bishop Efrem of Radauti built the solid precinct wall with three towers. The gate tower and the southeast corner tower are square, but the northeast corner tower is round. A vaulted gateway leads through the gate tower into the compound. The arch of the gateway is decorated with carved stone rosettes. In the northwest corner of the compound is a two-storey building, the former clisiarnita, or treasury house. Now the building is the monastery museum. The collection includes embroideries, icons, liturgical books, archaeological finds and the church seat of Petru Rares.The exterior painting of the Church of the Annunciation is the best preserved among all the painted churches of Bucovina. Especially on the south and east façades, there are paintings that have not been faded by the passage of time, and that are able to suggest how bright the decorated façades were during the reign of Prince Rares.
Just under the eaves are 105 niches, each painted with an angel. On the western pillar, just to the left of the entrance and the tall opening of the south façade, there are three Military Saints on prancing horses and with either a lance or a sword in hand. Farthest up is St. George, then St. Demetrius and St. Mercurius.
On the south façade is the Akathistos Hymn as usual. The 24 stanzas of the Hymn cover four registers. First come the twelve historical stanzas that recount the birth of Christ: The Annunciation, The Conception, The Virgin Mary Meets St. Elizabeth, The Doubting of Joseph, The Birth of Christ, The Way of the Three Magi to Bethlehem, The Adoration of the Magi, The Return of the Three Magi, The Flight to Egypt, and The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
, Year Built: 1583, Built by: Ieremia, Simion and Gheorghe Movila
Location: Sucevita, Suceava County
Summary: This classic Moldavian church with its five rooms, shows the first new architectural tendencies: smaller niches, and three bases for the tower. The frescoes are very remarkable, colourful and well preserved. Three Movila brothers built the Church of the Resurrection of Sucevita around 1583. The church is the only painted church that was not founded by a ruling prince, although the Movilas were descendants of Petru Rares on their mother’s side. Quite soon after the monastery was built Ieremia Movila became the ruler of Moldavia, and his brother Simion reigned in Walachia. The third brother, Gheorghe, who was during that period the Bishop of Radauti, rose to become the Metropolitan of Moldavia.
The church was painted around 1595, nearly half a century after its “sister” churches. It is considered the last flowering of the custom of painting the church façades that mark the reigns of Stephen the Great and Petru Rares. Building and painting a church that closely resembled the edifices their ancestors raised decades before, was a way for the Movilas to claim to be part of the royal line of Stephen the Great. At the same time, though, the monastic compound of Sucevita and its buildings herald the architectural innovations of the following century.
The massive precinct walls were built after 1595, during the reign of Ieremia Movila. Each wall is nearly 100 metres long, three metres wide and more than six metres tall, and create the atmosphere of a mediaeval fortress. The walls are strengthened with buttresses, bulwarks and imposing towers. Narrow loopholes in the upper part of the walls indicate that a defensive catwalk encircled the compound.
Each of the five towers has a different plan. The square gate tower with its pointed octagonal turret is in the middle of the north wall. A vaulted gateway, with heavy buttresses on either side, leads through to the compound. Above the arch of the gateway is a semicircular niche with a painting of The Resurrection and the carved coat of arms of Moldavia. Above the gateway, there are two storeys with rooms. On the first floor is a small chapel dedicated to the Annunciation. The northwest tower is the bell tower of the monastery. It is the most massive one of them all, with three three-tiered buttresses on the outside. The buttresses were added later, as were the gate tower buttresses. On the ground floor is a small laboratory for the restoration of icons, where trained nuns work. On the top floor is the belfry with four big arched openings. The two bells that Ieremia Movila donated in 1605 are still used daily. The other three towers are octagonal but each different from the other: the northeast tower has three storeys, the southeast five and the southwest two. A wooden glazed gallery was built on the north wall during the 19th century.The slender wooden turret has the date 1867 carved on it.The existing monastic buildings abut the east wall. The central part is original, and houses, besides the nuns’ cells, a museum with embroideries, manuscripts, religious objects and icons. The Church of the Resurrection, although still built on the model of the classic Moldavian church, shows the first new architectural tendencies.
The church has the five rooms of a large Moldavian monastery church: the chancel, naos, burial chamber, pronaos and exonarthex. On the apses are tall niches, but they no longer reach nearly to the eaves as before. The row of small niches that used to go around the church façades has been omitted.
The tower is for the first time placed on three bases, a practice that was followed some years later in Dragomirna. On either side of the exonarthex are two small open porches of Walachian influence.
The worldwide fame of Sapânta is due to the unique cemetery
that has become an important tourist attraction. Some days the throngs of tourists that assault the cemetery with their cameras ready make one wonder if it really is possible to rest in peace here!
The original character of the cemetery is first of all suggested by its name: Cimitirul Vesel that means The Merry Cemetery. This paradoxical name is due to the vivid colours of the crosses and the amusing or satirical epitaphs carved on them. It is said that this joyful attitude towards death is a legacy of the Dacians who believed in the immortality of the soul and that death was only a passage to a better life. They did not see death as a tragic end, but as a chance to meet with the supreme god, Zalmoxis.
The cemetery dates back to the mid-1930’s and is the creation of the local folk artist Stan Ioan Patras, sculptor, painter and poet rolled in one. Patras used all his skills to create this masterpiece. For half a century the master created hundreds of wooden crosses, carved in a distinctive style, so famous today. After his death in 1977, his work has been carried out by his apprentice, Dumitru Pop Tincu.
The material used for the crosses is oak, which, after being properly cut and dried, is carved by hand. On the upper part of each cross is a bas-relief with a scene that describes the life of the deceased. The scenes are simple and naïve in style, but have an undeniable power: they bring back to life the inhabitants of the village and present their main occupation or a relevant aspect (either a virtue or a flaw) of their life. There are women spinning wool or weaving rugs, housewives baking bread, men cutting wood, farmers ploughing the land, shepherds tending their sheep, carpenters working the wood, musicians playing their instruments, butchers chopping lambs, teachers at their desks, alcoholics drinking, and so on.
After the carving is done, the cross is painted. The background colour is a distinctive vivid blue, called “Sapânta blue“. Then the scene and the geometrical and floral decorations of the borders are painted with vibrant colours, yellow, red, white and green.
No cross is complete without a short poem, a few simple rhymes (between 7 and 17), carved under the image. The epitaphs are written in the local dialect. Sincere, spontaneous and written in the first person, they are messages from the dead persons to the living world.
The style is usually lyrical, but ironic or satirical rhymes are also frequent. Each poem contains the name of the deceased and presents briefly an essential aspect of his/her life, personality or habits; they can even talk about things that happened after the death of the person, at the burial for example, or describe how death occurred. Bad habits are humorously presented, but with a deeply moralizing intent.
One famous epitaph is:
Underneath this heavy cross
Lies my mother-in-law poor
Had she lived three days more
I would be here and she would read
You that are passing by
Try not to wake her up
For if she comes back home
She’ll bite my head off
But I will act in the way
That she will not return
Stay here my dear
The grave marker of Stan Ioan Patras, the creator of the Merry Cemetery:
Ever since a little boy
I was called Stan Ion Patras
Please listen to me good folks
What I say are not lies
All the days that I lived
I never wished ill for anyone
But all the good that I could
To whoever asked for it
Oh this poor world of mine
So hard was my life in it.
Here I rest
And Gheorghe Pop is my name
Like a handsome mountain fir
I was in my parents’ yard
Young and kind-hearted
There were not many like me in the village
When I finished the army
I bought myself a car
And the whole country I toured
Many friends I found
Many friends that were kind
The way I liked
When I was to live my youth
In the earth I rot.
With these images and the short poems, Stan Ioan Patras and Dumitru Pop Tincu have managed to recreate the entire village at the cemetery and give the people a second life beyond the grave. The more than 800 painted crosses constitute a vast archive that preserves, carved in wood, the stories of the people of Sapânta.
, springs from Germany and it gathers all the tributary streams from 10 countries and crosses 4 capital cities. After covering 2860 km and before following into the Black Sea, it forms a delta. Related to the surface of Romania, the Danube Delta is situated in the Southeastern part of the country, it has the shape of the Greek letter "delta" and it is bordered in the Southwestern part by Dobrogea Plateau, in the Northern part by the Ukrainian border and in the Eastern part by the Black Sea.
The Danube Delta
is crossed by the parallel latitude of 45o North and by the meridian longitude of 29o East. Its surface, together with the complex of lagoons Razim-Sinoe measures 5050 km2; from which 732 km2 belong to Ukraine. Delta alone has a surface of 2540 km2 and this surface increases every year with 40 m because of the 67 million tones of alluvial deposits brought by the river.
In August 1990, the Danube Delta was declared by UNESCO reservation of the biosphere.
It is made up of the delta, the complex of lagoons Razim-Sinoe and Valea Dunarii upstream until it gets to Cotul Pisicii, measuring a surface of 591.200 ha. This represents 2.5% of Romania's territory. In this area, the vegetal associations comprise of over 1.150 species of plants.
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