Jul 18

THE DANUBE DELTA – THE MOST AMAZING SUNRISES AND SUNSETS YOU WILL EVER SEE (DELTA DUNARII)

Delta is not a common and handy tourist destination. Moreover, it could be said that Delta is not a cheap destination. On the contrary. If you plan on getting to the Danube Delta by private car, you must leave it in Tulcea, then take a speedboat to transport you across the forearms, canals and meandres in a hostel, hotel or at a local home.

We can also say that Delta is not a destination table for the masses, and the feeling of exclusivity that it expresses is simply perfect and should remain intact. However, it is a pity that tourists do not visit this place unique in Europe as much as it should happen – in a larger number, but not that much as to create any imbalance in the environment.

Danube passes through 2860 km from the spot where it springs, in the Black Forest Mountains in germany, to the Black Sea, flowing through the three arms which comprise an area of rare biodiversity. Very interesting irds (over 320 species) among which we can count pelicans, cormorants, egrets and others, along with 133 species of fish that give a particular value of economic importance; 1830 species of trees and plants; over 2,400 species insects; 11 species of reptiles and 44 species of mammals – all make Delta a special place to be preserved and, of course, visited.

Delta is the best opportunity for someone who comes for the first time here and wants to mix a little of the following ingredients: relaxing hovering on the canals, fish meals, amazing photos, sunrises and sunsets that come out of the most wonderful dreams.

Whether you sit by the pool or in the hammock, listening to the chirping of birds, whether savor tasty fish soup pot, whether youlet the wind maneuvere the boat on lakes and canals in search of pelicans and swans, either wake up at 5 am as to see the sunrise or to stretch a wire rods in calm waters in any of those moments you discover something of the charm of this wonderful place.

Admire rare birds in their own habitat. Sure, maybe you’re not passioned or “crazy” enough to sit for hours and catch a hawk hawk or an evening falcon on the camera lens in what is called “birding” (or bird watching, as it is said in universal language. But clearly, the birds make the delight of the Delta and as long as you travel the canals by boat, it’s impossible to do not catch in the camera “net” pelicans, swans, herons, egrets, spoonbills, glossy ibis, gulls etc. Get a room with a big zoom lens. Shoots birds from afar, do no stress and do not aggress them; you are their guest, even if some of them are only passing through the delta.

Eat fish soup! You’ve probably heard many times the word that the best fish soup is made with water from the Danube; it’s not clear how tru it is, or if it’s just a legend to make it sound more “exoric”, but you should know that the best fish soup is done on the waterfront, with the soup bowl hung by trivets. You can choose from several species of fish: carp, crucian etc. And the service must separate the fish from the gravy; the fish is put on a platter, along with garlic sauce, polenta and possibly hot peppers.

While in the Danube Delta, you should wake up early to see the sunrise and do not miss the sunset, either! The birds and the sun create a spectacular show that can only bee seen in the Danube Delta. The show is unforgettable and unmissable. Romantic people will have everything to gain and the least romantic will have the most amazing photos that will be perfect and will surely gain some extra likes on social networks. Or not.

Go fishing! Even if you are not fond of fishing anf you are not an amateur fisherman, you can always have fun and try your luck, you’ll be amazed of what you can catch! There is an abundance of fish. Ask him the boatman to take you to the best places.

Go boating! The boatmen will take you along the canals among the beautiful water lilies, or you can go afloat on the mirror-like surface of the lakes, that are chockfull of pelicans and other birds. If you start a conversation with any of the local boatmen and ask them questions, you will be surprised of what you will encounter; some are not too talkative but if you know how to sound the out on any subject, they will open up and begin uttering their stories. Others, however, are walking encyclopedias. If you can afford that, make your trips longer; the longer they are, the more interesting they get. Go to Crisan, Sulina, St. George, Murighiol or Portita. Every square meter is different from the other, every corner has something else to releav and the scenery is simply amazing, and hard to describe in words; if you go to the Danube Delta, you will feel it with every cell of your being.

Photo source:

Picture 1: deltaexplorer.ro; Picture 2: deltaexplorer.ro; Picture 3: patrup.com; Picture 4: vorbareti.ro; Picture 5: deltaexplorer.ro; Picture 6: calatorii.myfreeforum.ro; Picture 7: photomaniacs.ro
Jul 14

THE UNDISCOVERED CASTLES OF ROMANIA (V)

Our trip across the castles of Romania has reached its end. But we still have two wonderful castles to see.

Cantacuzino Castle, Busteni

This beautiful castle in the town of Busteni was designed and built by architect Gregory Cerchez in the year 1911, on the orders of Prince Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, former Minister of Romania, between the late 19th and early 20th century. The architectular style is Neo-Romanian and it preserves elements of Medieval inspiration. Until the nationalization in 1948, the castle belonged to the Cantacuzino family, and afterwards it became a sanatorium. Since 2010 it re-entered the tourist circuit.

Spread over an area of 3148 meters and built of stone and brick, Cantacuzino Castle consists of four buildings and is surrounded by a park where there used to be a cave, several waterfalls and fountains. In the reception hall there is a collection of heraldry, unique in Romania, escutcheons representing families of landowners and their affinity with the Cantacuzino family.

One of the modern attractions nowadays is represented by the Canta Cuisine restaurant, with a capacity of 110 seats. Here you can organize dinners and from the terrace you can admire the staggering panorama of Bucegi Mountains. Preparations are made by the restaurant’s chef, Mrs. Romica Harabagiu, who completed her gastronomic experience in countries like Japan, China and more than 7 years in Marseille. In the restaurant there operates a bar and a cigar lounge.

Schedule and rates:
Cantacuzino Castle is located on the Zamora Street in the neighborhood that goes by the same name. Many events, such as conferences, concerts, product launches, fashion shows, photo shoots, etc. are often organized here.
The castle is open for visit Monday to Thursday between 10 and 18 o’clock and Friday to Sunday between 10 and 19.

Peles Castle, Sinaia

Next to Bran and Corvin Castles, Peles is probably the most famous and most visited in Romania. In 1874, the village Podul Neagului, a town with an area of 24 kilometers, was renamed Sinaia, at the initiative of King Carol I, the first king of Romania. Between 1873 and 1875, again at the same initiative of King Carol, the foundation of Peles Castle is being settled; the King wanted it as a summer residence, vested with political, cultural and symbolic value. The works were conducted under the direction of three architects Johannes Schultz, Carol Benesch and Karel Liman, and they ended in 1883, being completed but, over the years, until 1914 – the year when King Charles I had died – it has been completed step by step. Also, between 1889 and 1903 nearby was built a smaller castle named Pelisor, small-scale replica of the castle, and it was the birthplace of King Michael of Romania.

Between 1914 in 1947, the castle served as a space for official visits, hosting military ceremonies as well. In 1948, Peles has been closed down by the Communist authorities and all heritage assets have been inventoried, some of them being transferred to the Art Museum in Bucharest. In 1953 it became a museum and now it still is open as a part of the tourist circuit. On the day of February 20th, 2007, it was returned to the former King Michael I, still remaining open to the public.

From the architectural point of view, Peles Castle is built in Neo-Renaissance German style. It is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, is equipped from the start with some modern elements: interior elevator, central heating and, in particular, its own power plant, located on the river bank nearby. Peles has 170 rooms, but only 10 of these are accessible to tourists (among them, Maura Hall, the Florentin Salon, Columns Hall, Armory). In the castle there are also several valuable collections of sculptures, armor, paintings, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, silver and porcelain.

Schedule and rates:
During summer it can be visited between May 15 and September 15: Tuesday 11 – 16.15 Wednesday to Sunday between 9.15 and 16.15, Monday is closed.

Remember, these are the 10 best-known castles, but there are many others as well, that will make the subject of other posts.

Photo source:

Picture 1: romanianturism.com; Picture 2: project-romania.com; Picture 3: blogdecalatorii.ro; Picture 4: en.wikipedia.org; Picture 5: en.wikipedia.org; Picture 6: crazysexyfuntraveler.com; Picture 7: deviantart.com
Jul 14

THE UNDISCOVERED CASTLES OF ROMANIA (IV)

In this part of our journey among the legendary castles of Romania we will visit the famous Dracula’s castle, a place which has been the source of inspiration for many writers and movie directors. Ironically, this place has only been visited once by Vlad the Impaler, the famous historical figure who is as the base of the fictional character – the blood-thirsty vampire.

But let us see what this is all about!

Bran Castle, the place where Dracula actually never lived! In 1211, the Teutonic Knights belonging to a Catholic order founded by German crusaders in Palestine in the late twelfth century receive a gift from King Andrew II of Hungary for defending the southeastern border of Transylvania against the attacks of nomad invaders coming from the far-east; that lace was the beautiful and picturesque Barsa district. Teutons raises a fortress at Bran but in the year 1226 they are driven out of there by the locals. This is the first official mention of Bran castle, which will rise after the document issued by King Louis I of Hungary (in 1377) that gives the Saxons seated in the surroundings of Brasov the right to build a new stone castle on their own money and expense.

Over the following years, the castle was used as a strategic base by Sigismund of Luxemburg, who gave it to the Romanian prince Mircea cel Batran in 1407. About two decades years later, the castle became the property of the Crowned King of Hungary, who had to fortify it, expand it and, in 1498, rent it to the leaders of Brasov. Also in the 15th century – more precisely in the year 1459 -, Iancu of Hunyad has commissioned Vlad Tepes to defend the pass to Transylvania by guarding the entrance to this city – which is why the myths about “Count Dracula” have occurred; however, it seems that Vlad Tepes never actually lived at Bran Castle.

On the 1st of December 1920, the castle was donated to Queen Mary as a symbol of gratitude for the contribution to the Great Union of 1918. The Queen of the castle had declared it as one of her favorite places, and under her personal care, Bran has lived one of its most glorious eras since its construction. In 1938, Princess Ileana receiver the castle on testamentary rights, but shortly after, the royal family is to be banished from the country and the castle became the property of the communist state. Continuously degrading, Bran was closed to the public during 1987 – 1993. It was then returned to the touristic circuit and currently it belongs to Dominic von Habsburg, the heir of Princess Ileana. After the handover, the castle was stripped of the most important pieces becoming quite austere. The furniture was moved by the Ministry of Culture and the rooms were decorated with pieces belonging to the owners, but its charm is not diminished, as the amazing architecture and the inner yard and the lovely fountain in the center of it preserve the timeless beauty of this place so heavily charged with history and myths.

You can visit it any time and you can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings, which gets a different hue depending of the season: from bright green during the warm season, to rusty-yellowish shades, during fall and if you necessarily want to feel that horror movie shiver down your spine, you can visit it in winter time, when the leafless trees cast a gloomy and somber appearance over the landscape.

Note that on each Halloween, there are theme parties where you are supposed to have a vampire suit, or at least a set of fake teeth, so enjoy your time at a glad of delicious boiled Romanian wine!

Photo source:

Picture 1: 4x4-tours.com; Picture 2: timpul.md; Picture 3: hotelalpin.ro; Picture 4: infotravelromania.ro; Picture 5: camitravel.com; Picture 6: transylvaniantouring.co.uk.
Jul 14

THE UNDISCOVERED CASTLES OF ROMANIA (III)

On our third visit we shall encounter other two old castles that have represented an important landmark in the troubled history of Romanians.

Both of them can be found in in the beautiful region of Transylvania and the first one is Karolyi Castle in Carei, Satu Mare.

In 1482, Count Laszlo Karoly built a house that would arouse the envy of the nobility of Satmar committee, conflict that was put down by Matthias Corvin. In 1592 Karoly Mihaly needed to strengthen the construction built a century ago to face Turkish incursions; hence, he surrounded the building with thick walls with bastions and dug a ditch outside which had a suspension bridge, turning it into a veritable fortress that was to be noted as an important defense fortress in Transylvania during the late 17th and 18th centuries. At the dawn of the 18th century, after having ended his military mission, Karoly Jozsef demolished the walls and backfilled the trench, reconstructing the castle. The works were finished in 1794 and the new building was built in Baroque style, with 41 rooms and a chapel, plus a riding hall and a botanical park. Unfortunately, the earthquake in 1834 largely demolished the castle, which was restored once more in 1896 in Gothic style, returning to the old military elements – the bastion and moat – but this time only for decoration purpose.

Between the two World Wars, a part of the castle was transformed into a sanatorium, and the other was hosting a casino. During the second great conflagration, Karolyi family gave the permission for the building to function as a military school and later a military hospital. During the communist period, the castle turned into the headquarters of diverse cultural institutions: a museum, the house of culture of Carei town, Town Library livestock but also a high school.

Currently, the castle is managed by Carei City Hall, which implemented a European project of 4 million Euros for restoration and introducing it into the tourist circuit. Here are held various cultural events, exhibitions (three of them are permanent), concerts and you can also officiate your marriage here. Annually, about 40,000 tourists visit the castle of Carei, attracted by its beauty, the local history and interesting legends and the beautiful and unique arboretum that surrounds this castle.

Corvin (Hunyad) Castle, Hunedoara

The best-known medieval fortress of Hunedoara County called Corvin Castle or Hunyadi Castle was built in the 15th century, on a rock near the river Zlasti, by John Hunyadi – the ruler who stood in the way of the Turkish expansion in Europe. Very well-preserved, the Gothic castle covers an area of 7000 square meters, with 42 rooms, two bridges and two terraces. During Iancu of Hunedoara ruling, the castle was not only a point of great strategic importance but also a lively medieval seat of numerous events. The access to the castle is done through a wooden bridge supported by four stone pillars that supports it over Zlasti river bed. Ravaged over time by several fires, the castle has undergone several restoration processes after entering 1997 in a grandiose project of valorization. The museum inside houses a lot of collections of archeology, ethnography, numismatics, ethnography and military equipment.

The Corvin Castle has also served as scenery for several feature films, the last shooting being held in 2015.

All tourists can visit this beautiful and majestic castle between 9 and 17 o’clock, so you are welcome here any day.

Photo source:

Picutre 1: provinciacrisana.blogratuit.ro; Picture 2: statiuneatasnad.ro; Picture 3: voceatransilvaniei.ro; Picture 4: municipiulcarei.ro; Picture 5: descoperaromania.net; Picture 6: thousandwonders.net; Picture 7: touristinromania.net
Jul 11

THE UNDISCOVERED CASTLES OF ROMANIA (II)

We are continuing our travels through the castles of Romania and today we will talk about two such edifices – one in the heart of Moldova and the other in Transylvania -, both of them bearing a very interesting and vast history and a fate that resembles the cycle of the mythical Phoenix Bird: from grace to decay, and then back to grace.

Castle Sturdza, Miclauseni Village, Iasi

Located 65 km from Iasi, the capital city of the historic province of Moldova, Miclauseni Village includes a beautiful castle in Gothic style, built between 1880 and 1904 by George and Maria Sturza, on the site of an old mansion. During the First World War, the castle was transformed into a military hospital, where Maria Ghica and Ecaterina Cantacuzino – the daughter of George Sturdza – were helping the wounded from the position of nurses. Elena remained for a while to manage and take care of the castle up until 1944, when she was forced to leave because of the war.

The castle used to keep valuable collections of documents, medieval costumes, jewelry, paintings, weapons and books – about 60,000 volumes, some of them extremely rare. Unfortunately, in the winter of 1944, with the stationing of Germans prisoners in the castle, many books have been used as fuel for stoves, others were sold and used for packaging goods and some of the remaining ones were saved and safely submitted to Iasi, or sold to the Central University Library in Bucharest.

After 1947, Ecaterina Cantacuzino donated the Castle to the Diocese of Roman, towards the establishment of a place of worship. But the monastery was disbanded after a few years of communist rule, when the castle was nationalized and converted into military warehouse until 1960. Throughout times, several fires have burned the old furniture and the castle walls contributing to its state of degradation, but it was brought back to its original state, becoming an elegant and imposing edifice.

Owned by the Moldova and Bucovina Metropolitan, the Sturdza Castle was reopened and introduced into the touristic circuit after 10 years of restoration.

Castle Pekri Radak, Ozd Village, Mures

A castle whose origins remain in darkness, which allegedly it was built in the tradition of Renaissance before 1705 (some sources state the year 1682) and rebuilt in 1732, by General Lorincz Pekre who participated in the anti-Habsburg uprising led by Francis Rákóczi II, between 1703 and 1711. Set on fire by the Austrian soldiers, the castle was rebuilt by Radak Adam, the son-in-law of Pekre Radak. In the first decades of the 20th century, the owners of this castle were Baron Ianos Kodradshein and his wife, Ilona Teleki, who have been forced to leave the country in 1945 after the nationalization program. The castle become state property and was turned into the headquarters of the local Cooperative of Agricultural Production and house of culture. After 1989 it was returned to the daughter of Ilona Teleki, who donated it to the Christian Bonus Pastor Foundation, which leased the property for 99 years, coordinating the restoration process, as well, which continues until today.

Photo source

Picture 1: iasi4u.ro; Picture 2: melidoniumm.wordpress.com; Picture 3: romania-redescoperita.ro; Picture 4: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 5: mirceaturdean.blogspot.ro; Picture 6: turismistoric.ro.
Jul 08

THE UNDISCOVERED CASTLES OF ROMANIA (I)

Europe is full of castles, more or less imposing and beautiful, but full of history. Regarding Romania, we can say that the castles do not represent one of its touristic strengths; however, if you look carefully, you can discover some surprising ediffices, along with the famous Peles, Bran and Huniad Castles.

We are preparing for you a small serial in which we will present some of the most outstanding buildings that are less known, but deserve a greater exposure.

Banffy Castle in Bonţida, Cluj county

Nicknamed “the Versailles of Transylvania”, this castle with four towers was built between 1437 and 1543 by Dionysius Banffy, adviser to Prince Michael Apafi I of Transylvania. The central unit of the castle was built in Renaissance style and subsequent expansions were made in Baroque (18th century) and Romantic (19th century). Many generations belonging to Banffy family lived in the castle until 1944 when residents were evacuated by German troops, who turned the place into a military hospital and after their leaving, they set it on fire, thus destroying the gallery of portraits and art, furniture and library.

After the war, the building functioned as a warehouse and agricultural cooperative station, falling into decay as time went by. The restoration of the castle began in 1999, the work being done under the patronage of Prince Charles of Welles. Transylvania Trust Foundation currently conducts the restoration of such monuments, depending on the pace of funding. The final assembly will include a restaurant, a cafe, a souvenir shop and a conference center. Note that the Electric Castle festival takes place here, at Banffy Castle. And there are many event that take place to the delight of the tourists; among them we must mention that, since 2002, the Banffy Castle Days are organized in the last weekend of August. The castle can be visited daily between 9 and 18.

Sükösd-Bethlen Castle in Racoş, Braşov

Count Istvan Sükösd is mentioned as the builder of the castle, in 1624, after receiving a piece of land as a gift from Prince Gabriel Bethlen. Although built as a family residence, the castle has the appearance of a fortification on two levels. Over time it had had several owners and it had been burned severely in 1848 and in 1903. Racoş bought the estate and castle from Teleki family. Unfortunately, during the communist era, the castle had entered an advanced state of decay, after being used as barn and granary. The 1977 earthquake put his imprint on the already deteriorating walls, as the northeast tower was demolished. After 1990 the authorities tried to restore it but because of the lack of funds, the works have been left unfinished. The castle can be visited, though, being currently administered and the access to the interior is allowed.

Vlad Tepes Castle, Bucharest

The history of Tepes Castle in Carol Park is relatively recent. It was built in 1906 on the occasion of the Romanian General Exhibition, which marked King Carol I 40 years of reign. Built by architects Stefan V. Burcus and Stephanescu, the castle reproduced Poenari Fortress on a smaller scale; this fortress was built by Vlad Tepes in Arges during his reigning times. Initially, this construction was meant to be a water tower. A huge reservoir of iron was placed in the 23 m high tower with a capacity of 200 cubic meters, but became unfunctional, shortly after the inauguration.

Over time, the Tepes Castle served for several purposes: it hosted several painting exhibitions, it was the barracks for the body guards that defended the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it kept shelter for soldiers who worked on the debris removal resulting from the demolition of the former Palace of Arts, was transformed into a giant dormitory for women workers who worked on arranging the Carol Park and during the communist period was used by soldiers guarding the mausoleum of the park. After 1990, the castle served as dwelling for a subunit of gendarmes.

Tepes Castle is owned by the Defense Ministry and since 2004, it hosts the National Office for the Cult of the Heroes.

These are the first three, but we shall continue our travel across Romania, in seek of spectacular castles.

Photo source:

Picture 1: www.flickr.com; Picture 2: www.urma.ro; Picture 3: transylvaniacam.com; Picture 4: transilvania-medievala.ro; Picture 5: pinterest.com; Picture 6: ziare.com; Picture 7: panoramio.com
Jul 05

HOLIDAY IN BUCOVINA, A PLACE OF LEGEND AND OUTSTANDING NATURE (BUCOVINA)

A holiday in Bucovina will leave you with the feeling that Romania is a country so beautiful that could live solely from tourism. Certainly, before planning your holiday in northern Moldavia, you will ask yourself what are the most interesting sites and landmarks you should see. Of course, among the wonders of the location, the pride of the place is represented by its famous monasteries. But they are not the only highlights of an area where nature and landscapes will delight you, probably more than anything. I will offer you some suggestions, which are obligatory to see in this realm of old history and legends that is the land of Bucovina. The order is random, but there is a certain route to visit them all, one by one. The roads are excellent and all you have to do is let your feet guide you.

Putna is the first monastery built by Stephen the Great – the Romanian Prince who fought against the Ottoman Empire, being also the place where he was laid to rest, along with his family. Its construction began in 1466 and was completed in 1469, it was consecrated in 1470 after winning the battle of Lipinti against the Tartars. The works were completed by Greek architect Theodore and fortifications were committed somewhat later, in 1481. After a fire and devastation made by the Cossack army of Timus Hmelnitchi monastery was practically rebuilt by Vasile Lupu, during 1653 -1662. Putna Monastrery under the patronage of the Assumption.

Putna is one of the most beautiful and imposing monasteries in the country, due to both its architecture and the landscape in which it is placed, bringing it the top choice of passionate spiritual tourism.

You cannot come to Putna without passing by the cell of Daniil the Hermit.

The holy monk Daniil had decided at one moment of his life to withdraw and settle on the bank of Viteu River, nearby, in the village of Putna today, in order to lead a life dedicated to the Lord, where he was going to spend the rest of 20 more years, in complete hermitage. He found a rock in which he patiently carved a room like a small a chapel, which later became a place visited by many believers who came to seek spiritual advice and redemption. After his death (the exact year is not known), Daniil was buried in the narthex of the Voronet Monastery. At Putna Monastery you can see some of his relics: a finger adorned in silver and 11 pearls and a garnet.

Do not expect to find more than a cell, where you meet a monk who prays. But its location is spectacular and spiritual surroundings will fill you with peace and relaxation.

Built in 1488 by Stephen the Great, Voronet is probably the most famous monastery in Romania. That’s because of the famous “Voronet blue” color which is unique and has a formula which has not been discovered up to this day, despite the scientiffic evolvement. Legend has it that the monastery was founded by Stefan after a visit to the monk Daniil the Hermit, who urged the Prince to not surrender in front of the Turks, and if he prevails in the struggle with them, he must raise a monastery in the name of Saint George. Maybe this is why, this particular monastery, Voronet, was the closest to the soul of the Moldovan leader and also of his followers. Today, the monastery is part of UNESCO.

Exterior paintings, elaborated by theologian Grigore Rosca, are absolutely fabulous: unique, bright compositions,  high-impact themes, original an d inspired traditions including, for example, musical instruments speciffic to the Moldovan area, such a cobza or horn. Voronet blue color that is part of Bucovina symbolic colors (along with other colors such as white of Humor, ocre, yellow, rusty etc.) have been preserving their mystery composition for more than five centuries. The vivid hue, which in the sun it gets an incredible shine has conserved it’s liveliness for so long since its application and has become famous worldwide.

Photo source:

Picture 1: hellobucovina.com; Picture 2: lataifas.ro; Picture 3: explorebucovina.com; Picture 4: romaniatourism.com; Picture 5: www.perlabucovinei.ro; Picture 6: bucovinabooking.ro; Picture 7: blog.ultramarintm.ro; Picture 8: discoverbucovina.info; Picture 9: panoramio.com; picture 10: arratour.ro, Picture 11: platferma.ro; Picture 12: bucovina.net
Jun 28

BUCHAREST, A CITY OF WIDE BOULEVARDS AND LUXURIOUS PARKS (BUCUREŞTI)

The Romanian capital, cultural and economic center of the country, was founded more than five hundred years ago and is the best starting point for a tour of Romania. In the ’30s, Bucharest was known as “Little Paris” because of its boulevards delimited by trees. Here you can also admire an Arc de Triumph on the impressive Kiseleff Boulevard that is longer than the Champs Elyses and during springtime you can admire the splendor of the trees in bloom.

Despite extensive reconstruction plan in the ’80s, Bucharest remains a pleasant city full of parks, greenery, with cafes open on sidewalks in the summer and pleasure boats on the lakes and rivers that flow through it.

It is easy to handle Bucharest. The underground network is spread all over the city, and the fare for a journey is unique. The main avenues through the town are displayed on the north-south direction – from the Arc de Triomphe to the Civic Centre -, and are intersected by others that stretch from east to west. Calea Victoriei, which continues the Kiseleff Road, is the favorite promenade place for the city residents especially on summer evenings.

Here you will find majestic public buildings like the National History Museum and the Palace of the Post Office and towards the southern end of the avenue there is Cismigiu Park. Magheru Boulevard is parallel to Calea Victoriei and it contains travel agencies and airlines, cinemas, theatres, galleries and hotels.

You will probably be surprised by the eclectic mix of architectural styles in Bucharest: from Curtea Veche, the remains of the 15th century palace of Vlad Tepes – who was the founder of the city -, the old Orthodox churches, the second Empire style villas, heavy Stalinist architecture of the communist period and ending with the Palace of Parliament, a colossal building with six thousand rooms, the second largest in the world after the Pentagon.

Bucharest is always very interesting things waiting to discover them. While in Bucharest, do not miss its museums, especially in outdoor Village Museum located in Herastrau, near the Arc of Triumph. Here you see examples of architecture and handicrafts from all over Romania, including the famous wooden churches in Maramures and it’s the first such museum ever opened in the entire world.

Other “musts” include the National Art Museum, located in the former Royal Palace, the National History Museum on Calea Victoriei, housing the superb silverware of national treasure, and Curtea Veche / the Old Court, with its painted church in the sixteenth century.

Nearby there is the splendid Patriarchal Church, built in 1657, and now represents a contrasting note of the Civic Center’s modernity. And do not miss the Stavropoleos Church near Curtea Veche, a real jewel of Romanian Orthodox architecture. If you are lucky you are in one of these churches during a christening or a wedding, you will witness an unforgettable ceremony.

Bohemian life in Bucharest

The city’s artistic life has always been at the height of its Parisian nickname and today it is more active than ever. National Opera always keeps a classic repertoire – Puccini, Verdi, Rossini, Mozart.

In the splendid neo-classical style building of the Romanian Athenaeum international concerts are held or supported by the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra. However, the ticket price is much lower than in other countries.

All tourists like to shop; you will find shops in Piata Unirii / the Union Square area and the main avenues. If you want to make a change, you can walk into a small bazaar belonging to the merchants on the streets of Lipscani Street, near the Old Court.

Here you can acquire beautiful souvenirs made by local artists, most of them unique, made of ceramics, glassware, fabrics and wood carvings. Another unforgettable experience would be to visit the bustling Flea Market on a Sunday morning, meaning a flea market on the banks of Dambovita River.

The restaurants of the capital have come to life again; roast beef, chicken or pork are the basis of many typical dishes and are followed by a wide range of pastry specialties or desserts. For a better appetite, taste the Romanian wines and tuica, the national drink.

The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere in bars, restaurants and night clubs is welcoming, brighten up by rhythms and beats from all over the world. Romanians are a full of life people, who like to party and feel good. Join the locals and fun is guaranteed!

And if you get exhausted by the hectic vibe of the city, you can escape for a few hours and discover the surroundings of Bucharest.

Bucharest is surrounded by forests and lakes, with old palaces and monasteries located in this picturesque landscape. Snagov Monastery, which dates from 1408, is treasured by Bucharest citizens who also go to this area to practice water sports on the lake.

Also, the elegant Mogosoaia Palace, built in the eighteenth century, which is at a distance of 14 km (9 miles) north of Lake Mogosoaia is worth visiting. And there are many other places and events – such as theatre, music, handicrafts festivals – that take place all year long, which will leave you a wonderful impression and will make you want to come back for more. eleff

Photo source

Picture 1: torp.no; Picture 2: www.bucharestdailyphoto.ro; Picture 3: ro.wikipedia.org; Picture 4: metropotam.ro; Picture 5: hotelelizeu.ro; Picture 6: snagovclub.ro; Picture 7: hotelarcdetriomphe.ro.
Jun 27

COTROCENI PALACE – THE CORE OF POLITICAL DECISIONS FOR ALMOST FOUR CENTURIES (PALATUL COTROCENI)

In 1679 Mr. Stefan Cantacuzino raised the Cotroceni hill a monastery. In 1888, Prince Carol I of Romania built a palace monastery to serve as residence in Bucharest. Building plans were made by architect Paul Gottereau in classic Venetian style.

Later, Romanian architect Grigore Cerchez redesigned the north wing national romantic style, adding a large room with a terrace and two gazebos above the columns, one of which was a replica of the famous Hurez gazebo.

Cotroceni Palace is part of the Cotroceni National Museu, an institution specialized in presenting the medieval and modern history of the palace, and its evolution and transformation over time. Cotroceni Palace, the church and monastery reflect three centuries of history where political, military, diplomatic, religious and cultural aspects are directly interwoven with the general evolution of Romanian society. Unfortunately, in 1977, former President Nicolae Ceausescu converted the palace into a guest house and in 1985he ordered for the church built by Stefan Cantacuzino to be demolished.

Thus, over three centuries, a long line of remarkable personalities have made decisions and ruled Romania from here, starting with the founder of the palace, the rich prince Serban Cantacuzino. Among them, we should remember Constantin Brancoveanu, Nicolae Constantin Mavrocordat, Alexandru Ypsilanti, Gheorghe Constantin Hangerli, Alexandru Mourousis, Barbu Stirbei, Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Carol I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, and Ferdinand I.

By its content, the museum displays a rich variety of art belonging to Romania’s national values, as well as decorative arts from all over the world. Cantacuzinian space seems to be a space suitable for organizing presentations of works of art that highlights the exceptional value of old age. Among notable items on display there are richly carved tomb stones – an expression of admirable art of carvers and decorators, as testimony of the vigor the art of Cantacuzino and Brancoveanu architectural styles.

Currently the Cotroceni Ensemble proves that architectural design has a clear unity and artistic composition. The core of the ensemble is the monastery built in the late 17th century by Serban Cantacuzino, an exceptional piece of Romanian medieval art and architecture. It has undergone many changes over the three centuries of existence; some are remarkable in design and proportions, and others being totally inadequate. But they did not affect the initial conception of the building, its structure and general expression of volumes.

The interior architecture of the museum and the spaces within the buildings that are part of the Cotroceni ensemble is perceived as a stylistic conglomerate, at first leading to a slight confusion caused by putting together or overlapping several functional and aesthetic remodeling interventions. Until today, the most typical works are the initial construction of the monastery (late 17th century) and the royal palace (late 19th early 20th century), as well as the recent restoration and expansion of the whole.

Photo source

Picture 1: www.presidency.ro; Picture 2: mediafax.ro; Picture 3: paginadepolitica.ro; Picture 4; romaniadacia.wordpress.com; Picture 5: garbo.ro; Picture 6: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 7: panoramio.com; Picture 8: cultural.bzi.ro
Jun 23

CASA CAPSA – THE MOST FAMOUS DELICACIES IN THE BALKANS (CASA CAPŞA)

One of the most famous families of Bucharest was the one of Dimitrie Capsa. Shopkeepers by vocation and having traveled all over Europe with strong business and connections all over the continent, the Macedonian by origin Capsa Family decided to settle in the heart Bucharest

Up to 1850 being a merchant, bringing loads of great fairs, mean danger, uncertainty. Dimitrie Capsa was lucky, had 12 children and had never faced any dangers; four of his sons established a bakery-confectionery that become famous throughout Europe.

One of the brothers was educated in France at Boissier, the foremost master chocolatier of the time. Two other opened in 1852 the sweet store named  “Two brothers”. The wonderful sweets soon began to put in the shade all oriental goods (baklava, sarailie, Tukish delights, cataif, sorbet) made by other chefs.

At the beginning of the Crimean War, one of her brothers leave to Sevastopol with merchandise; on the way it had spoiled and arrived in Bulgaria without a penny in his pocket. But there, on borrowed money, he began preparing jams. And this is when fame and legend begin. He moves in the center of Bucharest to the place where the cafeteria- restaurant stands today. They begin importing merchandise from France that are being introduced to a new and curious clientele that is astounded at the impressive delicacies: absinthe, pineapple, ice-cream in forms of perfect compositions.

In just two decades, Capsa defeated all competition. A new restaurant was added to the confectionary; the walls of the new place were adorned with red marble – hence the name “tomb of the pharaohs”.

Grigore Capsa invented the “Joffre” cake.

At the invitation of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary of Romania, the famous French Marshal Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre arrived in Bucharest in 1920. The grand confectioner Grigore Capsa, who meanwhile had become the supplier of the Royal House, created in honor of the Marshal a chocolate cake in a cylindrical shape suggesting the French military helmets.

Marshal Joffre had diabetes, and because of this fact the master pastry chef who studied in Paris invented a cake that could be consumed without risk of the guest. The cake was named after the acclaimed French personality and was made of butter, sugar, eggs, flour, flavorings, cocoa of the highest quality, and was dressed in chocolate. The “Joffre” Cake began to circle the world being taken over by French cuisine, from whose tradition was inspired. However, the recipe has entered the Romanian confectionery offer and there is virtually no confectionery in Romania that does not prepare the cake in question.

The regulars clients of the place were politicians, diplomats, journalists, painters and musicians. The atmosphere at the tables inside or outside was similar to that from Paris (Procope) or Vienna (Sacher). You could hear a lot of French being spoken.

In December 1916, at the outbreak of war, Bulgarian occupation troops established their headquarters at Casa Capsa. They robbed the cellars of all the treasures gathered by Capsa brothers: French wines from the cellars of Napoleon III since 1848-1858. Until 1918, Bulgarian troops now ate, bean soup in clay bowls at the tables once belonging to one of the most elegant restaurants in Europe. It was a reason for them to feast, with undisguised pride, at the most famous culinary Balkans location.

Between the wars, Capsa acquired a new profile, becoming a literary café. All the country’s brightest minds have been there. Gossip, words of wisdom, they all formed under an unequaled intellectual emulations.

At the same time, Casa Capsa was providing the most sumptuous dining for restaurants belonging to the Royal Palace, Jockey Club, diplomatic missions, ministries. The menus were printed, painted or written by hand and on their back there have signed the customers: from royalty, ministers, parliamentarians, famous artists – it all represents today an archive of the Romanian royalty and high class.

The outcome of Warld War II and the arrival of the Communist regime meant a steamroller over the elitism promoted at Capsa. The classic menus that were pieces of art on their own were now typed, some in Russian; the place was renamed simply called “Bucharest”, the silver cutlery was replaced with ordinary pieces, waiters of “healthy origin” – all these have trivialized the place, so proud not long ago.

But still, Capsa was a flashy café during communist times as well, but without the spiritual meetings and discussions that once took place here. After 1989, the attempt of regaining the cultural vibe, but the glory and importance of yore failed to lift to the level that was once known, remaining but a select local with many memories and a history that cannot be overlooked when we refer to Bucharest past.

Photo source

Picture 1: en.wikipedia.org; Picture2 welcome2romania.wordpress.com; Picture 3: getlokal.ro; Picture 4: cazari.ro; Picture 5: booking.com; Picture 6: amfostacolo.ro; Picture 7: mancare.ro.