Sep 21

PULA, THE REVEALED SECRET OF CROATIA

Turquoise bays, stunning beaches and towns that seemed detached from the stories: Croatia has earned the reputation of being one of the most enchanting places in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, Croatia is no longer the best kept touristic secret of Europe, since the influx of tourists in search of low prices and uncharted territories. Yet you will find something perfect for your stay in Croatia. Below there are some valuable information about the wonderful historic town of Pula.

Located east of Italy in the Adriatic Sea, Croatia adopted several architecture and cuisine from its neighbors after the Istrian peninsula was conquered by the Romans in the year 177 B.C. Nowadays, Pula still retains many monuments dating from the Roman Empire, as a tribute to the history of the Romans whose writing contributed greatly. Pula became a part of Croatia during the war, when residents fled Italy back in their homeland, leaving the locals build the city by themselves.

Things to visit in Pula

If you think about it, do not go on vacation to stay in a hotel room, so explore and discover what Pula has to offer. There are a lot more to do and see than you expect, that will keep the family occupied during the entire length of the stay. Besides admire the Roman architecture that you encounter everywhere, you can do a lot of activities: visits to museums, sunbathing on the beach, racing kart that you can participate with friends and family, observing the marine life at the aquarium.

No trip to Pula would be complete without a visit to the Roman amphitheater, where gladiators fights used to unfold once, and even up to our contemporary days, the amphitheater is still working as a stage, hosting concerts of the biggest names, such as Pavarotti, Jose Carrerras, Elton John, Sting and Jamiroquai.  The Arena in Pula is the sixth largest of the remaining Roman Empire and the only one with all four side towers intact, along with three series of Roman architectural series that rule proudly inside the amphitheater.

Food and drink

If you want to try the local cuisine, among the recommended restaurants there are Galeb, Milan 1967 and Valsabbion, where many of the dishes are inspired from Italian cuisine. But there are also Croatian, Austrian and Hungarian influences. Seafood is not missing from the menu, with fish and shellfish species, a very popular choice among locals. If you want to try a traditional Croatian dish, then you can order the traditional dish named buzara with Kvarner shrimp.

Photo source:

Picture 1: pulacroatia.net; Picture 2: istriatravelguide.com; Picture 3: croatia.de-weekend.ro; Picture 4: planetware.com; Picture 5: zepelintour.ro; Picture 6: croatiansocial.com
Sep 21

THE MERY CEMETERY OF SĂPÂNȚA – THE LIVING PROOF THAT THERE IS ETERNAL FUN (CIMITIRUL VESEL DIN SĂPÂNȚA)

The name of the cemetery comes from the multitude of colorful tomb crosses and satirical poems which are emblazoned on the tombs. The fame of Săpânța town comes from its renowned Merry Cemetery that has become a major tourist attraction.

Legend has it that the cheerful attitude in the face of death is a custom of the Dacians who believed in eternal life and death for them was just passing to another world. They did not see death as a tragic end, but as a chance to meet Zamolxe, the supreme god.

The cemetery dates back to the mid 1930s and is the creation of folk artist Stan Ion Patras, sculptor, painter and poet at the same time. Patras’s creativity has revealed this monumental and famous artwork. Over 50 years, the artist has created hundreds of wooden crosses emblazoned in this characteristic style. After his death in 1977 his work was continued by his apprentice, Dumitru Pop Tincu.

The material used for the crosses is oak, which is writable by hand after it having been cut and dried. At the top of each cross there is a bas-relief with a scene from the life of the deceased. The scenes are simple and we might even say naive style but villagers bring the past alive, presenting a relevant aspect of everyone’s life. They present women spinning wool, weaving carpets or making bread, men who cut wood or till in the garden, shepherds with their flocks, wood workers, musicians and many other traditional occupations.

After the cross is carved it is usually painted with a blue background, the so-called “Blue of Săpânţa”. The scenes are painted using vibrant colors: yellow, red, white and green.

No cross is finished without a short poem, a few simple rhymes, between seven and 17. The epitaphs are sincere, spontaneous and written in the first person – the deceased’s messages to the living. The style is lyrical but satire is found frequently. Each poem contains the name of the deceased and an essential aspect of the life of that person.

With their drawings and poems Stan Ioan Patras and Dumitru Pop Tincu managed to recreate an entire village and gave people a second life after death. The more than 800 painted crosses, which constitute a vast archive preserve the history of the inhabitants of Săpânţa.

Photo source:

Picture 1: agerpres.ro; Picture 2: vezi-lumea.blogspot.ro; Picture 3: infopensiuni.ro; Picture 4: descopera.com; Picture 5: roncea.ro; Picture 6: i-tour.ro; Picture 7: adypetrisor.blogspot.ro
Sep 21

THE LEANING TOWER OF MEDIAS AND ITS MASONIC SYMBOLS (CETATEA MEDIAŞ)

At the end of its era of glory in the eighteenth century, Medias used to have 19 towers, seven gateways and defensive walls seven meters high, stretching over 2.3 km. A legend speaks of a maze of secret tunnels that would go under the city. Another one says that in Mary’s Tower, one of the four that are still sanding near the parish church, Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned. Beyond the myths, however, the Trumpeters’ Tower is one of the top ten inclined towers in the world.

The History of the Citadel

Medias settlement was mentioned for the first time in a document from 1267. It was the only settlement in the area called a city since 1359, but during the fifteenth century, since 1407 more precisely, it was going to return to the status of fair.

The Turkish incursions in Transylvania between the years 1420 and 1438 led to a sharp economic and demographic decay of Medias. Under the threat of the Turkish invasion, locals began the fortification works of the old core and, later, of the entire city. In the first half of the fifteenth century, the outer walls have been built and together with another five towers joined by belts, equipped with water ditches and guard roads raised to protect the area around the church of Holy Margareta. All these fortifications will bear the title of castle, as first mentioned the archives in 1450. The city has gradually dowry filled with a dark belt, gates and defensive organization supported by the guild. Of these, some were demolished even by the descendants of old the builders, to comply with the requirements of modern urban planning.

The Construction Process During the Ages

In 1477, Medias’s capacity of defense was to be restored by the order of King Matthias Corvinus. He ordered that all inhabitants, regardless of their social position, to participate in this work, but the work itself bigins much later, in 1490. The ensemble around the parish church was also completed entirely. Another fortification was added to the city,  fortified with wooden palisades, coupled with water ditches. These amounted to a total length of 2,360 meters, a thickness of about one meter in height of seven meters. There were three main access gates to the city, fortified with towers. Construction of the new fortress was completed around 1534, a period status of the town changed again into “civitas” that Medias was never going to lose since then. The climax of the fortification process was reached in the eighteenth century, when the city of Medias had 19 towers and bastions, and to the three main gates were added four more secondary gates.

Saint Margaret Church, along with the entire complex of fortifications around it are called “Castle”. The construction was completed apparently in 1488 and is recorded in the chronicle of Georg Soterius. The inside of the church offers a broad set of garments and pictorial iconography, with heraldic keystones, shrines and medieval fonts gathered from neighboring villages. Among the tombstones, here is the ledger of Christian Schesaus, a proeminet cultural figure of Medias.

Under the weight of the new construction, the foundation for the tower gave way and began to lean toward the northwest almost two and a half meters. Now Trumpeters Tower is one of the top ten towers inclined in the world. To stop it from tilting, the teams of architects and engineers have made two consolidation works: first in the years 1927-1930, when they mounted a belt of concrete to a height of 14 meters, and second in 1976  and 1977, with another belt eight meters long. In 1880, on the tower there was mounted a watch equipped with four weights, 100 kilograms each, that keep the mechanism working.

The Bells Tower, also called the Gate Tower, is located on the western side of the fortification. On the top floor the church bells are placed, the oldest having been imprinted in the year 1449.

The School Tower is located in the north-west, embedded in the school building.

Ropemakers’ Tower is characterized by sobriety, elegance and proportionality. The last level of the tower is provided with a series of throwing holes. In the nineteenth century, the tower got the moniker of “the Fat Tower” where the Saxon community store their smoked bacon.

Mary’s Tower stands out from other towers thanks to the roof of its desk. The access level contains a beautiful painting dating from the late fifteenth century. It is considered that the room served as a chapel for the service of the dead during the epidemics.

Tailors Tower is located on the south side. Inside the high walls, Medias retains some of Masonic symbols: owl, pound, the twins, chrysalis, the square hammer and the compass, the ivy, the poppy, the eagle, the rosa-croce, the octogoans and the seeing eye, just to mention a few of the symbols found in the citadel.

The mysteries of Medias are supprted mostly by the few public information related to its history. One says that in the city there is a labyrinth of tunnels; another is related to Mary’s Tower. It is said that the prison tower, Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned for four hours. Even the grapes in the vine heraldry of the city has its legend: the goldsmiths’ guild had been put up to three bunches of grapes made of gold to hide them in places known onlh by them. The Myth of the Ggolden Grapes turned many adventurers into treasure hunters, but without succeeding.

Of the total of 2,360 meters of defensive walls from the early eighteenth century, the main three gates, four secondary gates and 19 towers and bastions, 1,845 meters of fortifications are still standing, including the towers and 11 bastions.

The leaning Tower, the covered staircase, the old buildings full of Masonic symbols and legends that combines mystical beauty of the past, make Medias an ideal place for a return to the medieval past of Transylvania.

Every year, Medias is the host of a popular and famous Medieval Festival, so you have one more reason to come and visit.

Photo source:

Picture 1: mirceahodarnau.ro; Picture 2: vacantaesoterica.blogspot.ro; Picture 3: vasile-antipa.blogspot.ro; Picture 4: vasile-antipa.blogspot.ro; Picture 5: vasile-antipa.blogspot.ro; Picture 6: cavalerintaramea.ro; Picture 7: turism-blog.ro