Feb 26

Maramures

Evolution is not only necessary, but desirable, because it marks our constant progress towards a better and superior stage of our existence. But during this constant transformation, the past seems to inevitably get lost on the way and thus traditions, customs and artistic expressions are lost in the mist of forgetfulness.

But there are still areas in the world where people manage to maintain century-old traditions alive. Such a place is Maramures, a region located in the northwestern part of Romania. It is amazing how the inhabitants of this area refuse to change their cultural heritage and continue to perpetuate it in different aspects of their day to day life.

http://impressivebuildings.com/wooden-churches-of-maramures-romania/

http://impressivebuildings.com/wooden-churches-of-maramures-romania/

The traditions which date back since the Dacian period are still preserved to the present day and tourists who venture in this part of Romania would be captivated of the world they were to discover.

A relevant trait is the wooden churches which impress through their unique architecture. The structures are defined by tall pinnacles and shingled roofs. Although they are definitely not the expression of gradeur, the churches captivate through their simplicity and craftsmanship. There is a multitude of elements which harmoniously combine to complete the houses of pray.

http://landscape-akbar.blogspot.ro/2012/08/top-10-tourist-attractions-in-romania.html

http://landscape-akbar.blogspot.ro/2012/08/top-10-tourist-attractions-in-romania.html

The history behind the emergence of the wooden churches is quite complex, as it is that of the other cultural elements which have been infused throughout time in the area. The geographical, social and political influences are noticeable in each distinct part of art and architecture.

For instance, the mixture of various Orthodox religions, as well as the Gothic influences, have put their mark on various forms of artistic expression.

There are eight churches in Maramures which respect to the fullest the traditional timber architecture. These, as you have probably already guessed, are erected almost completely out of wood, with only the base of the church being constructed out of stones and pebbles.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/ba/Biserica_de_lemn_din_C%C4%83line%C5%9Fti_Susani.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/ba/Biserica_de_lemn_din_C%C4%83line%C5%9Fti_Susani.jpg

To give an example, the Church of Saint Nicholas, dates back to the middle of the 17th century (1643) and it is considered an architectural ‘wonder’, especially if we are to take into account the timeframe in which it was constructed. The rectangular church awes through its dimensions, but more so through its traditional mural paintings which date back to the 18th century (1762). It is no surprise that the church is a part of the UNESCO World Heritages since 1999.

But artistry is easily noticeable in another traditional element. The inhabitants of Maramures are renowned for their carved wooden gates. It is a tradition which has been kept for centuries and today tourists visiting this part of the world will see how the entry to each home is presided by an enormous gate which abounds in traditional symbols and leitmotifs, such as the sun, the twisted rope, the tree of life. These symbols stand for life, continuity, youth, faith, protection from evil spirits and so on.

http://holeinthedonut.com/2013/11/03/breb-romania-maramures-transylvania/

http://holeinthedonut.com/2013/11/03/breb-romania-maramures-transylvania/

The conclusion is this: Maramures has preserved it ancient traditions alive and the unique forms of art which one seldom finds in other parts of the world are present here at every step. So if you want to take a journey into another realm, where the reality you are used to seems to vanish in an instant, then visit Maramures.

Nov 01

The Merry Cemetery

If we were to take a country and start exploring it carefully, we would be surprised of the many grand discoveries we were to find. And I would like to narrow this statement to a specific domain, namely to tourism. Nowadays, we have a multitude of websites from where we can gather the needed information in terms of tourist attractions in a specific country or area, so if we embark on a journey of discovery, we already have a picture in our minds of how the trip will unfold.

But even so, nothing compares to actually being there, and to the impression you are left with after seeing in person a monument, a historical building or a breathtaking natural setting.

sapanta-merry-cemetery

There is a particular area in the northern part of Romania which has capture my attention a long time ago and which I have failed to present to you so far. I am talking about Maramures and while it is definitely impossible to tackle the subject adequately in one article, I will only focus on a particular attraction – even though a simple overview will not do justice to this land which abounds in cultural objectives, traditions and impressive landscapes.

http://02varvara.wordpress.com

An important attraction, which gathers thousands to these parts of Romania, is the Sapanta Cemetery, which is widely known as the Merry Cemetery. The name of the cemetery might seem puzzling at first sight, as it incorporates two words that have opposite meanings – for how can death have anything happy in it? But when you see the gravestones you immediately understand the meaning of the name. The gravestones are actually works of art which depict certain elements from the deceased life in a humoristic way. While death and the burring ceremony itself have always been treated as solemnly as humanly possible, the Sapanta Cemetery seems to give a new interpretation to human demise. It is indeed a sad moment when you lose someone, but instead of grieving, we should celebrate the individual’s life. And this is what the gravestones do: they portray the ones who had passed to the other side in a lively manner.

http://www.nydailynews.com

The first such gravestone was developed in 1935, by an unknown sculptor, Stan Ioan Patras, who made the inferior side of the cross wider in order to leave room for an epitaph. Soon afterwards merry gravestones sprung throughout the entire cemetery, being dyed in vivid colors and having funny and witty pictures on them.

But the idea for the cemetery did not spring out of nothing. There is a legend according to which the Dacic population had a joyous approach on death because for them it was a mere passage into another realm. Their belief was that life was infinite so death should have been cheered for it equated to transcendence to a better world where they were given the opportunity to meet the almighty god, Zalmoxe.

http://www.messynessychic.com

The work of Patras has brought to life a monumental artistic expression in which history, legend and tradition are intertwined. The scenes represented on the gravestones are connected to the cultural traits of the area meaning that women are represented baking bread, knitting or performing other household activities, while the men are portrayed as wood cutters, sheep herders or while working the land. None of the gravestones is completed without a small poem with simple rhymes. Access within the cemetery is possible after paying a small fee and even if the charge was high, I have to admit that it was worth it because you will see something that you have never seen before and which will change your view about the life- death dichotomy.

Oct 28

Marasesti Mausoleum

The Marasesti Mausoleum has been constructed in celebration of the 1917 glorious battle of Marasesti and commemorates the heroes that have fought in the National Unification War. The shrine has been erected in the exact place where the conflagration took place, on what is now the national road that connects Focsani and Adjud cities.

Romania is a country that prides itself with many mausoleums which have been constructed so as to honor various heroes or landmark historical events, but among all of these, the Marasesti Mausoleum stands out due to its imposing stature. The impressive architecture and grandeur has made the monument renowned in all of Europe.

http://postcard-travel-guide.blogspot.ro/2012/01/they-shall-not-pass.html

In order to better comprehend the impact that this battle had on the country’s past, it is worth mentioning that the outcome of this battle wrote the history of Romania and it is safe to say that it also determined its present. In the First World War, the enemies were steadily but surely advancing on Romanian territory, but their advancement came to a hold the moment they planned to enter Moldova by passing through Marasesti. There, the Romanian army was waiting, prepared to crush anyone who attempted to go past it. The battle of Marasesti lasted for one month, between 21st of July and 21st of August 1917, and its denouement consisted in a glorious victory for the Romanians.

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/12123855

The total number of casualties (in what concerns the Romanian army) was 21.480, of which 480 were officers, while the remaining majority consisted of soldiers. It is to these brave individuals to whom the monument is dedicated. The mausoleum has 154 individual crypts and 9 collective ones spread throughout the 18 floors where the heroes who have sacrificed their life for their country have find their eternal sleep. It is no wonder that on the main façade, on its most upper part, the following words are inscribed: ‘Praise for the national heroes.’

http://www.crestinortodox.ro

http://www.crestinortodox.ro

The initiative to construct such a masterpiece worthy of our fallen soldiers was taken by the National Orthodox Society of Women who has presented the idea in front of the Congress in the summer of 1919.

The architects in charge of the project were George Cristinel and Constantin Pompeiu who have designed the plans and have seen the mausoleum come into being throughout its 15 years of construction (between 1923-1938). The construction of the mausoleum occurred in several stages, but what is noteworthy is the summer of 1924 when the earthly remains have been deposited within the finished crypts.

http://www.viajoa.ro/jurnaledecalatorie/franturi-din-drumul-bucuresti-piatra-neamt

http://www.viajoa.ro/jurnaledecalatorie/franturi-din-drumul-bucuresti-piatra-neamt

In august, the relics of General Eremia Grigorescu, the commander-in-chief of the 1st Romanian Army during the Battles of Marasesti, were deposited in their rightful place, in an individual crypt, in honor of him leading his army towards victory.

The Mausoleum was inaugurated in the presence of King Carol II on the 18th of September 1938.

Jun 03

Gura Portitei

Now that summer is here and we are awaken each morning with the sunrays gently piercing through our windows, maybe it is time to consider a much deserved vacation in a quiet place where we can enjoy the sun every single day.

Gura Portitei is a village situated in the Danube Delta, in Romania, and has become quite renowned in the latter years due to the tranquility with which it inveils its visitors. This is an alternative to a standard resort near the seaside because unlike the latter, which is most of the time too crowded for many not only in the sense of too many tourists but also because of the multitude of stands which invade the sidewalks, Gura Portitei can be regarded as the epitome of peacefulness. Visitors can reach the village only by boat which means that we are definitely talking about a secluded holiday getaway.

http://www.infotravelromania.ro/

Depending on what it is that you are interested in, you can rent a room at a nice vila or you can opt for an appartment fully equipped with everything you needed. But while comfort is the number one factor for some in determining the quality of their vacations, others depict their perfect holiday in different terms. At Gura Portitei, individuals have the chance to become closer to nature so to speak in the sense that they can camp on the beach, just a couple of meters from the sea. This is how many envisage their vacations: leaving the crowdiness of the city with a backpack on their backs and heading for a quite place where they don’t see anything in sight except sand and water. Lying on the beach all day with the sun warming them is everything they need to detach completely from their day-to-day routine.

http://guraportitei.ro/galerie/

There are other attractions in the area so boredom is something you will not experience while staying here. There are motorboats you can rent either to take a trip on the water or to go fishings, there are tennis and voleyball courts at your disposal if you are interested in practicing your skills and you can  choose to go on a boat trip on the Danube. You can even benefit from the services of a local tourist guide who can show you the surroundings. If you decide to visit Gura Portitei, do not miss out on the trips on the Danube because you are going to be taken aback by the picturesque image you are offered in which the flora and fauna combine harmoniously in order to convey a unique portray of nature.

Apr 29

Curtea de Arges

We will once again venture on Romanian land and uncover a new tourist attraction which will definitely be to your liking. This article is dedicated to Curtea de Arges, a unique city located amid the sub-Carphathian hills. Why is this specific place the topic of a new article? Probably because it comprises distinctive attractions in which history and myth combine harmoniously.

The city is situated in a mountainous setting, in close vicinity of the Arges River, which can only mean that you are going to enter into a picturesque site which will indulge your senses. Those seeking peace and tranquility are bound to find that Curtea de Arges and its surroundings display such qualities.

http://turism-arges.ro/despre-arges.html

http://turism-arges.ro/despre-arges.html

It is not certain how the city came into being but there are several speculations revolving around its development. Some consider that the archaeological diggings conducted in the area revealed that Dacians were inhabiting the place in the year 500 B.C. Others however, who base their presumptions also on archaeological discoveries, deem that the area has not been inhabited prior to the 11th century. But if we cannot say for sure when the city was formed, then we ought to focus on the architectural jewels it offers to its visitors.

Venturing on the streets of the city we will come across various constructions which will undoubtedly capture our attention such as the Municipal Museum, the Episcopacy or the Arges Monastery. Remnants of the Old Royal Court are still preserved. The court was constructed in the 14th century, shortly after the victory obtained in the Battle of Posada and while the centuries that had gone by have gravely deteriorated the court, the remaining fragments still allude to the glorious past of the Wallachians. In fact, this is the reason for which the city is known as Curtea de Arges (Court of Arges).

http://www.adielatravel.ro/statiuni-montane/curtea-de-arges-campulung-muscel_s42.html

http://www.adielatravel.ro/statiuni-montane/curtea-de-arges-campulung-muscel_s42.html

The Royal Church was constructed in the same period as the court, but unlike the later, the former has managed to be kept untarnished by the devastating marks inflicted by time. Not only did the building itself managed to survive throughout the years, but so did the mural painting which wonderfully adorned the church. This was possible due to the several renovations the church underwent. The church was constructed in the Byzantine architectural style and consisted of three distinctive rooms: the nave, the narthex and the altar.

The Arges Monastery is another place of interest especially since there is a legend which revolves around its construction. The myth of creation through sacrifice is deeply ingrained into the Romanian culture and the construction of the monastery is the embodiment of this myth.

Legend has it that the ruler of Wallachia, Radu Voda, was determined to build the most beautiful monastery anyone has ever seen as a way to thank God for the victories he had attained in battles. So he chose the mason Manole to accomplish this task. However, the master mason could not fulfill what he was appointed to do because everything he and his team had managed to complete during the day, was shattered by some unknown force during the night. This occurred for several nights and nothing could explain why this happened. Devoid of other ideas which might lead to the monastery actually being constructed, Manole turned to the mythical interpretation that any act of creation is in need of a sacrifice. So he has decided that a living woman should be put into the walls of the monastery so that the construction could stand erect. Since they could not decide which woman to sacrifice, they decided to let fate intervene and appoint the victim.

http://www.trilulilu.ro/imagini-calatorii/manastirea-argesului-1

http://www.trilulilu.ro/imagini-calatorii/manastirea-argesului-1

The plan was to sacrifice the first woman who would arrive at the construction site in the morning. But the masons could not stand by and watch how one of their wives was sacrificed so they warned them to stay at home the following morning. Manole  was the only one who did not inform his wife about the plan because he believed that his fellow workers would respect the agreement and thus fate would decide for them. But Anna, unaware of what was going on, arrived at her husband’s work only to face her doom. Manole had to hold true to his words so he took Anna and sacrificed her in order to allow his creation to come to life.

The truthfulness of this story is questionable but the outcome of it is that a beautiful monastery was erected in Curtea de Arges and that it constantly impresses the passers-by through its craftsmanship.

Dec 21

The Brukenthal Palace (Palatul Brukenthal)

In Avrig, right beneath the Carpathian Mountains, lies an architectural treasure which undoubtedly deserves the attention of the passers-by. This is the Brukenthal Palace, a unique castle which is the singular one in Romania to be surrounded by a park wonderfully created in the Baroque style.

The palace was constructed as the summer residence of the Governor Samuel von Bruckenthal. It was erected on the highest point in Avrig and it faces the River Olt. The craftsmanship with which it was designed has led to it being renowned throughout the country as the “Eden from Transylvania.”

Brukenthal Palace- http://commons.wikimedia.org

The artistry of the architectural design is mainly the result of the fine tastes of von Brukenthal, the influential political figure who had been the governor of Transylvania for 13 years. The castle contains a wonderful collection of paintings, books and ancient manuscripts, as well as elements of numismatics.

The palace, which has been constructed in the 18th century, together with the garden by which it is enclosed, extends over a surface of 16 hectars.  The construction was in fact initiated in the second half of the 18th century by the then governor Adolf Nicolaus von Bucow, but the one to stand by it in the later stages of the construction and the one to leave his mark on it was von Brukenthal – who had fashioned it to its particular taste. Due to the fact that the Governor of Transylvania had travel around the world it was impossible for him not to draw inspiration from some of the well renowned buildings in Europe. So it is basically no surprise that the constructions after which the Brukenthal Palace was fashioned are the Luxembourg Palace in Paris and the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.

http://www.lapensiuni.ro

In terms of structure, we are talking about a U shaped building which consists of a central body and two lateral wings. In order to comprehend the fondness that Brukenthal had towards art you should know that the palace contained 212 paintings and 129 engravings displayed on its walls. The passage of time had not destroyed these works of art, in fact those who want to have a look at a beautiful collection should know that these works are preserved in the Brukenthal Museum (which is located in Brasov). The same thing cannot be said by the palace itself as this has not been preserved adequately. In time, the building had passed through several hands and the numerous owners did not look after it as they should have. The degradation of the edifice was further enhanced in the Second World War when it had been used as a military hospital.

U-shape structure – http://www.flickr.com

But with all the tumultous moments it had seen in its lifetime, the building had survived and it can still be admired by people interesed in fine architectural designs and in historical monuments. At present, the palace is protected under the law.

The park posed quite an interest due to the fact that it follows a Baroque design, being organized in terraces. The gardens were not characteristic to a singular architectural pattern, these being arranged after the French, English and Dutch models. This variaty was definitely enticing in the sense that, depending on your location in the park, you had a different perspective over the entire arrangement. Due to the fact that, like the building itself, the park had not been tended to properly, the original design got lost.

Intensive restoration is required in order to regain the former look. But in spite of it all, the Brukenthal Palace, as well as the park, still maintain a glimpse of their original self, their historical character still “beaming.”

Oct 12

Sturdza Castle (Castelul Sturdza)

Sturdza Castle has been erected by Gheorghe Sturdza and his wife Maria during 1880 and 1904 in Miclauseni. The neo-gothic castle is at present a part of the historical monuments which are under the patrimony of the Moldova and Bukovina Metropolitan Church. The ensemble  which comprises this castle also contains two other monuments: the Church of the Annunciation which dates from the 18th century (1787) and the parc which dates from the 19th century.

The castle was built in the place of an old mansion which dated from the middle of the 18th century. The beautiful neo-gothic construction took inspiration from the architectural design of the eastern feudal castles, as well as from the Palace of Culture located in Iasi – the most important city located in the northeastern part of Romania. The architects behind the castle were Iulius Reinecke și I. Grigsberg.

http://zeceintop.ro

One of the walls of the castle comprises an inscription which in a few words depicts the historical evolution of the palace. The short description informes the reader about the origins of the castle, its founder, as well as about the other modifications and improvements whcih have been brought to the palace in the years to come.

During the time of Gheorghe Sturdza, the castle sheltered an immense collection of valuable items. These referred to books and documents of relevant significance, medieval costumes, items of weaponry, jewelry, paintings, busts sculptured out of Cararra marble, silverware, as well as archeological, epigraphic and numismatic pieces. Just to make an image of the value  of the literary works encountered here, you should know that the library comprised 60.000 books, many of them being rare books and first editions.

http://www.nikonisti.ro

In the First World War, the castle housed a military hospital, while during WWII it was used for incarceration purposes, many German prisoners having been stationed here during this period.

Unfortunately, the castle was badly devastated during the war and one of the most relevant damages inflicted by the Russians was when they took the books from the library and used some of them as fuel while selling others to several stores where these were used for packaging purposes. None truly understood the value of the grand library and thus ruined what could have been an important legacy to the Romanian people.

Along with the books, gone were the exquisite pieces of furniture and the personal collections of the Strudza family.

http://ro.wikipedia.org

Ecaterina Cantacuzino, the daughter of Sturdza, had remained a widow in the later part of her life, and due to the fact that she had no children, she decided to become a nun and donate the castle with all its adjacient edifices to the metropolitan church with the promise that the ensemble will be properly arranged as a nunnery.

But in the second half of the 20th century, the communists closed the monastic abode and transferred the complex to the state.

The scope of the castle had shifted greatly, being transformed into a military warehouse for explosives and later on into a center for mentally disabled children. By this time only a small number of original furniture items remained, but these had subsequently perished due to a fire that turned the entire attic (where the furniture was stored) into ash. The water used to annihilate the flames infiltrated into the walls and this contributed extensively to the slow but sure deprecation of the construction.

http://www.flickr.com

It was not until 2001 that the castle was given back to the metropolitan church. But it took another 2 years until any type of reconstruction work was initiated. The government intervened in 2003 when it gave an ordinance according to which the castle was to be subjected to a refurbishing project.

The reconstruction was meant to convey the castle with its original look. Some parts of the construction were severely damaged and the contractor turned to old photographs in order to recapture the decorative elements which were no longer distinguishable on the facade.

While the neo-gothic architectural design predominates, there are also Baroque elements noticeable. In terms of structure, the castle consists of a downstairs, uperfloor and garret.

http://nicustancu48.ning.com/

The facade of the edifice is definitely impressive. The decorations include sculptural elements in alto-relievo, some being the blazons of the Sturdza family. Among these coats of arms, one can find the representation of a lion with a sword and an olive branch. There are other symbolic depictions as well, the majority of them created in the Art Nouveau architectral style. The castle comprises several gothic towers, medieval armors, and Latin inscriptions on the walls.

The Sturdza Castle is a valuable piece of architecture as the elements which adorn the palace are representative for specific styles, mainly for the neo-gothic and baroque styles. Besides the architectural importance, the castle is also representative for the Romanian culture due to the historical importance it carries, having been linked to several events that have marked the history of the country.

Sep 28

Porolissum Fortress (Cetatea Porolissum)

Archeological sites, especially those well-kept, carry an important value because they are statements of ancient cultures and they allow individuals to get a glimpse of the way of life of their ancestors. Porolissum represents one of the best preserved archeological sites on the Romanian territory.

The construction was erected by the order of Emperor Traian with the purpose of blocking the passageway between the Carpathian Mountains and Dacia Porolissensi. But this region had flourished in the following years, being transformed into an important commercial center. Due to this development, the scope of the city had shifted in as much as it had become the capital of the region.

http://www.ghiduri-turistice.info

The initial construction was erected on a stone foundation, with the superior part being made out of wood. The structure could contain within its walls as much as 5000 soldiers. There are some aspects left shrouded in mystery. For instance, the name attached to the citadel has Dacian resonances, but in fact the archeological diggings conducted in the area have not revealed any Dacian settlements to have preceded the Roman fort.

As the region experienced a considerable growth, the citadel was refurbished, the new edifice being erected from stone. While there is no consistent evidence in this regard, there is a general belief that the reconstruction process occurred during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was around this time that human settlements started to encircle the citadel. In the year 124, the basis of a new province was set by Emperor Hadrian who had appointed Porolissum as the administrative center of the new location.

http://leosuteu.rdsor.ro

But after the quick expansion and the flourishing period it traversed, the citadel was abandoned. This occurred more than a century later, in 271, under the ruling of Emperor Aurelian. But even so, the data collected by the archeologists who had examined the area closely revealed that the citadel was not completely deserted. Only those who have founded the construction had left it behind, but soldiers still remained behind to protect the citadel. Remains of Dacian settlements were found, but the investigations conducted revealed that these were constructed at a later period, after the citadel already reigned proudly over the valley. Also in the region, archeologists found plates which had engraved on them the names of the most important individuals of that time, names of Daco-Roman origin.

http://www.magazinsalajean.ro

The site began being explored at the beginning of the ‘70s, but the diggings continue to this day. The ruins of the city and of military installations have been revealed, such as public baths, a temple, amphitheater and several dwellings. At present part of the stone wall has been reconstructed and diggings are underway in the forum of the city. To the north west of the main entrance, lies a small Dacian fortress.

The area is definitely worth visiting due to the fact that it contains several markers of ancient civilizations. Tourists will be able to see the innovative developments that existed in the construction of such edifices in antiquity. The methods used were definitely impressive if the constructions are still standing after so many time, even if only partially.

Sep 13

Lake St. Ann (Lacul Sfanta Ana)

Lake St. Ann is the sole volcanic lake located on the Romanian territory. It is situated in Ciomatu Mountain, in Harghita County, and was formed on the crater of an extinct volcano that has erupted tens of thousands of years ago – the last eruption being the most recent phenomenon of this kind to occur within the Carpathian Mountains.

The altitude at which the lake can be found reaches almost one thousand meters (946 m). Lake St. Ann is circular and resembles a painter’s palette, measuring 620m in length and 460 m in width (at its widest point). The total surface is of 19.50 ha and the maximum depth reaches 7 m. Why are these pieces of information relevant in this article? Even if the main theme of the texts presented revolves around the tourist attractions which can be found in a specific area, relevant data concerning the formation and presentation of a tourist objective is necessary because it allows people to get a general idea about the place they are about to visit.

http://turistuhai-hui.blogspot.ro

When tourists venture into the “wilderness” in order to visit various monuments of nature, they usually try to find information concerning the weather so as to avoid being taken by surprise by extreme meteorological conditions, but when it comes to Lake St. Ann, these data are easily obtained. The two fissures formed within the volcanic mountain can predict the way in which the weather is about to change. People who dwell in the region will correctly foresee if the day will be characterized by a sunny or a stormy atmosphere. If the emissions coming from the fissures pinch the nose, then storm is underway, otherwise, the day will be sunny, thus allowing tourists to go hiking.

These predictions should be taken for granted because there is a scientific explanation behind the phenomenon. While the volcano is dormant, its core still preserves some of its characteristics, in the sense that some sort of post-volcanic activity still occurs within the mountain and this captures any change in the atmospheric pressure, as subtle as it might be. When the pressure drops, the gases that are located inside the mountain come to the surface, being released in the atmosphere through the aforementioned fissures. These gases are responsible for the pungent smell.

http://www.zborpestetransilvania.ro/lacul-sfanta-ana/

St. Ann Lake is a natural reservation, being a treasure of the environment due to its geological characteristics, as well as to the species of flora and fauna found here.

Besides the fact that they have the opportunity to gaze at a volcanic lake, singular of this kind in Romania and in Eastern Europe, tourists are also drawn to the idea of escaping the agitation of everyday life and retreat into a beautiful natural setting. And this is what Lake St. Ann has to offer. There are no springs which flow into the lake, all the accumulated water comes from the rain.

The location is definitely appropriate for spiritual redemption as it offers the perfect conditions for a retreat into the self. Not to mention that right on the bank of the lake one will find a Roman Catholic chapel dedicated to Saint Ann.

http://www.panoramio.com

There is a legend according to which a girl was to be married, but she resented the idea as the marriage was arranged for financial purposes. In the eve of her wedding, she ran away and threw herself into the lake. Her body was never found and as a result the lake was named after the girl who gave up her life instead of being forced into doing something she did not want.

The natural setting is characterized by several myths, thus there is this sense of mystery revolving around the lake. Maybe neither of the legends is trustworthy, but some might be connected in a way or another to the historical facts. The bottom line is that you are bound have a unique vacation if you choose to visit Lake St. Ann.

Aug 31

Durau Monastery (Manastirea Durau)

Durau Monastery is located in the eastern part of the Ceahlau Mountains, in the balneal climatic resort which bears the same name, Durau, and it has been erected on the site of an old nunnery which dated from the beginning of the 17th century. However, the dwellers of the hermitage changed at the beginning of the 19th century, when the Hierarch of Moldova of that time suggested that the hermitage be transformed into a friary.

The monastery which presents itself before us dates from the 1800s. The construction work was initiated in 1830 and lasted for 5 years. In the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, several hermitages were constructed around the monastery. However, at present, not many of these are still standing, the majority having been demolished with the construction of the balneal climatic resort, Durau – which occurred after the 1970s.

http://www.turismland.ro

 

The position of the religious edifice was cherished for quite a number of years due to the fact that it was located right under the Ceahlau Mountains, having been isolated from the rest of the world and thus conveying the perfect atmosphere for meditation and spiritual uplifting. Not to mention that the natural scenery is breathtaking.

Initially a hermitage, the construction was lifted to the rank of monastery with the help of Gheorghe Panu, a well-known political figure, journalist and columnist, who had contributed extensively to the improvement of the edifice. With a considerable financial help received from the state, Durau Monastery came into being. The main church was restored and the bell tower, the small church within the cemetery, as well as the guest houses, were constructed.

http://www.panoramio.com

The history of the monastery is quite tumultuous. After having been transformed into an actual monastery, this rank was taken away in 1959, when it became an anointing church. After 1989, it was transformed into a friary, and after two years it shifted to a nunnery, 20 nuns having been brought from the Varatec Monastery.

The materials used in the construction of the church were stones and bricks and the plan which it followed was shaped as a cross, the only additional elements incorporated in the structure were two slightly emphasized lateral apses and an additional apse which was located at the altar. The body of the monastery follows the standard design, being divided into the nave, the narthex and the altar. From an archeological point of view, the church is representative for the traditional design used in Moldova for the construction of monasteries. Some elements of ornamentation were borrowed from laic monuments.

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The iconostasis is masterfully carved in gilded lime wood and illustrates Constantinople – as it was structured the moment the iconostasis was created, in 1835 .

The nave differentiates itself from the narthex by means of two side piers which are actually part of the lateral walls. These have been incorporated in the structure of the monastery with a designated purpose: that of sustaining the archway, which in its turn supports the cupola. Both the nave and the narthex receive natural light through the two windows each contains in their design: one oriented towards the north and one towards the south.

The façades of the church with three blind steeples appear to have been formed by several sections coming together, similar to puzzle pieces. However, this is a mere optical illusion due to the pillars used to sustain the entablature.

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The western façade is neo-classical in design, being covered with frescoes. One of the most relevant architectural jewels of the edifice is found on this side of the monastery – the central part of the portico is characterized by a beautifully engraved door, made out of massive oak tree.

The bell tower, which is located within 40 m of the altar, is shaped as a square and contains three levels. The first floor of the tower holds a permanent exposition which is dedicated to sacred art. One of the pieces from this exhibition is a gorgeous iconostasis from the 18th century which incorporates traditional elements, combined with Byzantine features.

Tourists who come to Durau Monastery will not regret their decision to visit this monastic construction. Besides the beautiful paintings which adorn the edifice and the wonderful architectural design used, this tourist attraction will also impress through the beautiful natural scenery it offers.