Archives October 2015

A castle looking for a new beginning

The Banloc castle, the only one in the Banat region of Romania, is one of the country’s historical monuments whose potential is left unseen and unexploited, mainly for lack of funding.

Located 50 kilometers away from Timisoara, the once imposing castle and its gardens now stand derelict after years of neglect and a 1991 earthquake that inflicted serious damage. The castle was erected in 1793 by Lázár Karátsonyi. The descendants of the Kárácsonyi family sold the castle in 1935 to the Queen Elizabeth of Greece, the sister of King Carol II of Romania. After the queen left the country in 1948, the property was nationalized. The statues in the surrounding park were vandalized and the library and archives were burnt down. From 1950 to 1958, the castle served as a retirement home and as an orphanage, and it also hosted a school.

MadonaThe castle is seeing recently support for its transformation. The Romanian Cultural Institute is organizing here on October 31st the first concert in a series of events meant to offer a new life to the place. The ancient music ensemble Flauto Dolce and Nicolae Voiculet will perform at the castle, the venue where Franz Liszt gave one of his last concerts for Queen Elizabeth of Greece. More details about this event can be found here.

How to get there:

By car, from Timisoara, take the DN59/ E70 for an approximately one-hour drive.

Photo source: Wikipedia, Panoramio

The home of Romanian aviation pioneer Aurel Vlaicu

A lesser known site but nonetheless interesting is the national museum dedicated to Romanian engineer and aviation pioneer Aurel Vlaicu. The museum can be found at the border between the Hunedoara and Alba counties, in the village carrying the pilot’s name.

The collection of the museum is telling of the aviator and inventor activity that Aurel Vlaicu undertook. Having served in the Austro-Hungarian Navy and on an engineer’s position with the Opel car factory in Rüsselsheim, Vlaicu first built, together with his brother, a glider which he flew in the summer of 1909. He then moved to Romania and obtained financing from the Romanian Ministry of War and the Minister of Public Education to build his first powered airplane. He flew it for the first time in 1910 over the Cotroceni airfield. In 1911 he built his second model, with which he competed in the International Flight Week in Aspern-Vienna. He was awarded in this competition for precision landing, projectile throwing and tight flying around a pole. The third model, unfinished at the time of his death, was built on a contract for the Marconi Company for experiments with aerial radio.

Documents, drafts and graphs related to this activity as well as personal items are all part of the collection of the museum.  Visitors can see here the bicycles the inventor equipped with various engines, his toolkit, and also the project designs of his personal inventions. All in all, a museum worth the visit for those interested in aviation, engineering or local history.

How to get there:

A five-hour drive by car from Bucharest, taking the E81 as shown here.



The Old Mill in Hosman

Hosman is a typical Transylvanian Saxon village in Hârtibaci Valley, preserving one of Europe’s the last authentic medieval landscapes: flowering meadows, forests, haystacks spreading on hills and a fortified church that dominates the panorama with Făgăraş Mountains in the background. In this landscape, the Old Mill in Hosman is a complete snapshot of the life of a Transylvanian village.

Revived by the family that passed on traditions from one generation to another, the places includes a mill, a bakery and a smithy workshop open for both visitors and locals.

In the front part of the building, the old home of the miller, a traditional bakery and an oven on wood for baking bread were set up. Luiza, a baker who took on the family tradition, rediscovered traditional recipes from the region and now makes bread for both tourists and locals. Some bio specialties made here are also available in Sibiu, at the Biocoop association of organic producers in the area.

A second building of this living cultural ensemble consists of the mill and the blacksmith workshop. The actual mill has a simple circuit for grinding corn and a complete circuit for grinding wheat grain, elevators, seed cleaning systems and a restored sieve for flour, made in 1920 in Braşov. Next to them is an old “Langen & Wolf” engine, brought to Hosman after the Second World War. The smithy shop also has a few tools and an old threshing machine. Just like the mill, the blacksmith workshop was renovated on its initial site. Although the main mode of transportation here is the cart pulled by horses, there are no other public blacksmith workshops open in Hosman, so villagers still come at the Old Mill for repairs and other services.

The barn of the household was set up to host small events like workshops and presentations and local events. Besides guided tours of the Old Mill, hosts organize here bakery, smithy and milling workshops of two hours, for both adults and children. They can be accompanied by translation for an additional fee.

Overlooking the street, the mill shop sells bread and pastry goodies, all made at the Old Mill. In an authentic setting with carefully restored furniture specific to shops in Altana region, the small shop also sells souvenirs made by local craftsmen. This is where tourists can also find presentation materials with details on the surroundings, including details on accommodation in the area and visiting routes in the program initiated in 2007, “Traveling among cultures in the footsteps of Samuel Brukenthal”.

A special thing about the Old Mill is that they can organize brunches and picnics with homemade bread and traditional delicacies in the apple tree orchard behind the mill. Tourists can also take their breakfast, lunch or dinner at the mill, based on reservations.


Visiting the old mill

The Old Mill can be visited from May to September, from Monday to Sunday, 12:00 – 16:00. Visits are made based on appointments by e-mail or phone.

Old mill guided tours of 60 minutes are available in English, German, Hungarian and Romanian.


How to get there

Hosman is located 27 km away from Sibiu and can be reached by car on road 106, turning right on road 45, the main street that crosses the village.


The Old Mill/ Moara Veche/ Alte Mühle/ Régi Malom, Hosman village, Nocrich locality, Sibiu County

Phone: +40 748 800 049 (Gabriela Cotarus)

E-mail: [email protected]

Web: (info available in German and Romanian)



Photo source: Moara Veche – Alte Mühle – Régi Malom – Old Mill facebook page

Putna: Europe’s oldest wooden church

Few tourists who visit Romania’s legendary Putna monastery know that the silent little wooden church they pass by to get there, just 1 kilometre away, is Europe’s oldest wooden church. Built around 1350, this is the oldest and the only medieval wooden church known so far in Romania. Although modest and almost forgotten compared to other legendary religious edifices in the country, its remarkable age and archaic plan make it priceless.

According to specialists and historians, the wooden church of Putna was actually built in Volovăţ, another locality in the region, during the reign of Dragoş Vodă, in the mid XIV century, but was relocated by Ştefan cel Mare, Moldova’s best-known ruler and iconic character in Romania’s history. The aura of legend that grew in time around the now famous Putna monastery seems to come from this little, modest-looking wooden church said to have hosted once the tomb of the legendary ruler Dragoş Vodă.

The age of the church was established in 2003, after Romanian architect Alexander Baboş took 16 samples from different old parts of the structure. These samples were analyzed by Swedish specialist Hans Linderson at the Laboratory of dendrochronology in Lund, Sweden.

Just like many other wooden religious edifices in the country, the old wooden church is currently facing several dangers – the main ones are the xylophagous insects, moulder and moisture – requiring urgent conservation and restoration works, currently postponed due to lack of funds.

How to get there

The wooden church in Putna or Dragoş Vodă’s church is located in the cemetery of Putna village in Suceava County, in the Moldavian region of Romania. As you cross the village on road 2H, the wooden church is on the right side of the road, one kilometre before the Putna Monastery (located on the left side).

By car: Road E85: Bucharest – Urziceni – Buzău – Focşani – Bacău – Suceava – Slobozia Sucevei; road 2H: Slobozia Sucevei – Rădăuţi – Vîlcovu de Jos – Putna