Romania may not be the most obvious European destination, but its intriguing history, breathtaking nature, and quirky Communist-era remnants are definitely worth a visit. Below you will find information on why to visit Romania, 15 curious and interesting facts about this amazing Southeast European nation, full of cultural, historical and natural gems.
Why visit Romania
It is Dracula's house
The story of Dracula was originally written by the Irish author Bram Stoker in 1897. The inspiration came from a Romanian count named Vlad III Draculea. He was the leader of Wallachia in the mid-XNUMXth century and played an important role in the region's struggle against the Ottoman Empire. However, he is best known for his brutality which gave him the nickname "Vlad the Impaler".
In fact, Vlad III preferred executions by impalement and personally performed most of the executions. The connection with vampirism came from Transylvanian folklore and other stories about Vlad the Impaler.
Dracula is probably your first association with the country and the main reason for visiting Romania.
It has wonderful mountains and active volcanoes
Romania is home to the fascinating Carpathian mountains and the best preserved delta in Europe. In southern Romania, the Danube flows into the Black Sea and forms a pristine delta which welcomes over 300 species of birds during the summer.
The delta includes sparkling lakes, colorful rivers, mystical forests and one of the largest dams in Europe. Romania's natural resources are not well known and are certainly among the most remote and underrated destinations for nature lovers.
The Palace of the Parliament
The second largest administrative building in the world is located in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. The Palace of the Parliament was built by the former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu to become the “House of the Republic”, uniting all the administrations of the country in a single building.
The imposing building it is only surpassed by the Pentagon in terms of area of administrative buildings. The palace is also the heaviest building in the world and the building that contains the largest amount of marble.
The building now houses the two chambers of the Romanian parliament as well as conference rooms and parts of the university. Despite its current use, 70% of the building remains completely empty.
Home of the "best street in the world"
This is the best road in the world - Jeremy Clarkson said in an episode of Top Gear comparing the Transfagarasan Highway to a Formula 1 track. The road looks like a combination of all the great tracks in the world and is a great reason to visit Romania.
But the highway also has a dark past. It was built in the 70s by order of Ceauşescu and its construction caused the deaths of at least 40 workers.
In fact, Ceauşescu wanted a quick escape route through the Carpathian mountains in a strategic position in the event of a Soviet invasion. The road obviously never fulfilled this specific purpose.
Transfagarasan offers one amazing driving experience through the imposing mountains of Fagaras through tunnels and winding roads that needed 6.500 tons of dynamite to build.
It has one of the most bizarre cemeteries in the world
The village of Sapanta is home to the Merry Cemetery, one of the most extravagant of its kind. Designed by local folk artist Stan Ioan Patras, the crosses show satirical messages written by the deceased.
The cemetery represents a playful approach to death that is inspired by the ancient Dacians who believed that a person's death would precede their journey to a better life.
It is home to the largest mammal in Europe
Romania is one of the few countries where the European bison has reappeared in recent decades. Almost hunted to extinction, the 635 kg colossus can now be encountered in herds in the Carpathians.
We often hear of extinct or near-extinct species, but the European bison is a great example of the fact that protective measures can sometimes lead to the resurrection of a large mammal.
It boasts beautiful churches and castles
Romania boasts the tallest wooden church in the world and the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul, the Black Church of Brasov.
In addition to churches, Romania has some of the most picturesque and evocative medieval castles in all of Europe. Some of the best include Corvin a Hunedoara e Peles in Sinaia in addition to the aforementioned Dracula's house.
It served as a backdrop in Borat
Borat may be one of the most famous Kazakhs, but few know that the scenes in his hometown were actually shot in Romania. The film used the city of Glod and the inhabitants of the area were chosen as extras. Later, the residents took unsuccessful legal action against the film's creators, claiming they were unaware of its topic.
He copied the Hollywood signs
What's better than a Hollywood sign? Exactly, two Hollywood signs. The Romanian cities of Brasov e rasnov they both erected signs with their names placed on top of the Transylvanian mountains and overlooking the cities. Both signs are clearly visible from all respective city centers and both are illuminated at night.
Signs aren't the only ones that remind you of Hollywood. The entire region with its landscapes has been used in countless US films, most notably Cold Mountain and Anaconda III. This is an excellent reason to visit Romania.
Among the most interesting facts about Romania there are certainly also the numerous Romanian inventions that nobody knows about. If you love coffee, you should know that the inventor of the automatic espresso machine, Francesco Illy, was born in Romania.
In addition to coffee, the Romanian scientist Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin and Romanian inventor Traian Vuia was the first European to build and fly one of the first fully self-propelled airplanes in 1906. It was in fact the first vehicle to take off without any outside help.
Romania has a local Mount Rushmore
On the banks of the Danube is a giant stone sculpture carved into a cliff between 1994 and 2004, a must see when visiting Romania.
The statue is located at the so-called "iron gates" on the border with Serbia and represents Decebalus, the last king of Dacia who defeated the Romans in the 42,8st century AD. Carved on the rock at XNUMX m, it is the tallest stone sculpture of Europe.
The oversize of Bucharest
If you want to see a completely oversized city with megalomaniac monuments and communist symbols, Bucharest is the first address in Europe.
The city has the largest palace in Europe, the largest street in Europe, one of the largest triumphal arches in the world, and many other reminders of what Communist architecture stood for.
These buildings are still present, but their significance is now a distant memory. Romania has gone on to become a modern republic and a member of the European Union.
It has one of the largest underground glaciers in Europe
The beautiful Scarisoara glacier it is located under the Bihor mountains and is defined as the second largest underground glacier in Europe.
A popular tourist attraction, the glacier has a volume of over 75.000 cubic meters and its formation dates back over 3.500 years.
It has the largest European population of brown bears
In addition to the bison mentioned earlier, the Carpathians also have the largest brown bear population in Europe outside of Russia.
The Romanian mountain range is home to over 6.000 brown bears, an impressive number for a medium-sized European country, considering there are only around 200.000 brown bears in the world.
It is the only Eastern European country with a Roman language
Among the most interesting facts about Romania there is undoubtedly also its language. The Romanian language is spoken by around 26 million people and is part of the Eastern Roman language family.
Unlike other countries in the area, Romanian has no Slavic but Latin origins. The language is in fact part of the so-called Balkan novel which separated itself from several vulgar Latin dialects between the fifth and eighth centuries.
Today the language is mostly spoken in Romania and Moldova, apart from immigrant communities in other countries. Romanian is also one of the 25 official languages of the European Union.
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