Archives July 2016

St. Ana Lake, one of the most beautiful in the country

Romania is known for hosting a large amount of lakes. This week we want to present you one that strikes through its uniqueness- the only volcanic lake in Romania situated in the only intact volcanic crater in East-Central Europe. As the summer has indulged us in the past weeks with sunny days and pleasant breezy evenings, it’s time to gather all our camping gear and have a weekend getaway at Saint Ana Lake (Lacul Sfanta Ana).

Lake St. Ana lies in the cold crater of a dead volcano, at an altitude of 950 meters. In the prehistoric ages, there were other lakes in the crater, which, by now, got filled up with decaying remains of old trees, dry leaves, and the area turned into lightly forested, boggy land, called the Mohos-láp with an unique flora and fauna. The lake is supplied exclusively from precipitations, therefore the degree of mineralization of the water is very low. The water purity approaches of that of distilled water.

The area of the lake was not only believed to be a hiding place for pagan gods or genies, but also has been and still is one of the most adored and respected sacred place for the Christian Székelys, who always come here with a spirit filled with piety.

The St. Ana Lake is surrounded by legends, mysteries and miracles. Etymologically speaking, the name of the lake comes from the legend of a girl, Ana, who would become a wife. She did not want to marry because their parents forced to marry only to get the property of the young boy, who was quite unpolished in the marriage. In the evening of the wedding, the bride ran away and jumped in the lake, her lifeless body was not found not even today. Every year, on the day of St. Ana, the metropolitan consecrates the lake. Also, in her honor, there is a small chapel, set back from the water.

According to another legend, long ago, hereabouts lived two tyrants who were brothers. One mastered a fortress on the top Puciosul nearby, the other, a fortress located on the site of the current lake. Lord of the fortress of Puciosul had a beautiful carriage, won from the dice game, which has aroused the envy of his brother, who promised that the next day he would come and visit with a more impressive carriage. To gain the bet, the tyrant ordered the carriage to put a harness of eight of the most beautiful girls in the neighborhood.

The carriage was very heavy, they could not move it, which has aroused the master’s fury, who began to beat them. One of the girls, named Ana, cursed the hideous master. The curse materialized at once: an awful storm started, with lightning and thunders, earthquakes, and the fortress, together with its tyrant, immersed in flames. Here a blue and quiet lake was formed, called by the inhabitants of the area the “Lake of Saint Ana”. Also, the locals claim that the lake is bottomless.

In case you want to visit the lake and you want to take a refreshing bath, St. Ana Lake is 244 km away from Bucharest: take the DN1 to Brasov, then follow DN12 to Miercurea Ciuc. Then follow DJ113 for another 17 km.

Oana Pascu


Iulia Hasdeu Castle, where mystery and culture go together

What do the Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, The Tower of London, the UK and the Iulia Hasdeu Castle in Romania have in common?

Romania is home to more than 190 castles and palaces, Castle Bran being the most famous due to its connection to Dracula. Some of them have fantastic stories, being linked to spiritism, magic or the ghosts still haunting them. This castle is rather unknown in Romania, and offers a lesson of spiritism, architecture and culture. The Iulia Hasdeu Castle is a place where mystery and culture go together and it’s a wonderful place to stop if you are on your way from Bucharest to Brasov.

The Iulia Hasdeu Castle is a folly house built in the form of small castle by historian and politician Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu in the city of Câmpina, Romania. Work on it began in 1893, after Hasdeu’s daughter, Iulia (en. Julia) Hasdeu, died at the age of 19, an event that dramatically shook and changed his father’s life. Since his child’s death, the scholar B. P. Hasdeu consecrated a veritable cult to his daughter. The same as Victor Hugo, he chose the path of spiritualism as the only way to comfort himself and to experiment the communication with the other world. He claimed that his belated daughter provided the plans for building the castle during sessions of spiritism (which took much of Hasdeu’s imagination and time after Iulia’s death). The building was completed in 1896. It is said that Iulia reportedly haunts the castle still, walking through the courtyard in a white dress and holding daisies.

The castle has two towers on the sides, one for Iulia, his daughter and one for another Iulia, his wife, whom he also loved deeply. In the middle, there is a larger space that B.P.Hasdeu used for spiritualistic experiments. Even today, there is a “Celebration of the two Julias” held every year on the 2nd of July.

The castle, which required a lot of revamping even when Hasdeu was alive, has been affected by the First World War. In 1924 the People’s Atheneum of Câmpina “B.P.Hasdeu” tried to take it over for restoration. The Second World War affected the castle again and it kept its state until 1955, when it was included in the Listing of Historical Monuments.

Since 1994 the Iulia Hasdeu Castle has been housing the “B.P.Hasdeu” Memorial Museum, which displays furniture, personal belongings of the Hasdeu family, photos and original documents, manuscripts, Hasdeu’s reviews, many paintings made by Nicolae Grigorescu and Sava Hentia.

So in case you want to see a castle that appears next to the Edinburgh Castle, Scotland and The Tower of London, the UK as one of the most haunted places on Earth, make sure you visit the Iulia Hasdeu Castle.

Wondering how to get there? From Bucharest, it will take you around one hour and a half if you take DN1 towards Brasov to DJ101R in Cornu de Jos (Campina) for 96 km and then follow the latter road for another 2 km.

Oana Pascu

Constanța: a harbor of many cultures

While this city on the Black Sea coast makes for a perfect summer destination, it has plenty of sites tourists can visit in any other season. One of Romania’s largest cities and an important port, Constanța is also one of the oldest settlements on the country’s territory. It was established around 600 BC and used to be known by the name of Tomis. Museums, historical monuments, a micro-reservation and sunny beaches are just some of the attractions the city has to offer.

One of the city’s best known symbols is the Casino, a historical building (pictured) which is in heavy need of restoration. Although currently closed, visitors can still admire it while talking a walk on the city’s pier. The Casino was erected during the reign of King Carol I. It was built in the Art Nouveau style, according to the plans of Daniel Renard, and inaugurated in August 1910. In May of this year a new a tender was announced for consolidation and renovation works estimated to require EUR 7 million.

An ethnically diverse city, Constanța hosts several mosques, testimony of its Turkish and Tatar population. The Grand Mosque of Constanța or the Carol Mosque is one of the most important architectural monuments in the city. It was rebuilt also during the reign of King Carol I and inaugurated in 1913. It took the place of the old Mahmudie mosque, named after Sultan Mahmud (1808-1839) and built in 1823 by Pasha Hafız Mehmed. The new edifice displays a unique style, combining the Egyptian- Byzantine style with Romanian architectural insertions. It stands in Ovidiu Square, which visitors can admire from the top of the mosque after climbing the 140 spiraling steps of the 47 meters minaret of the construction.

Orasul_antic_Tomis_-Postoiu RoxanaThe Ovidiu Square bears the name of the Roman poet Ovid, who was exiled here by emperor Augustus. A contemporary of Virgil and Horace, he is often considered, alongside them, as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature. The Island of Ovid can be found ten kilometers away from Constanța, on lake Siutghiol. The island is said to be the place where the poet used to do his writing. Although specialists found no evidence of the poet’s stay here, it is still a nice site to visit, within the reach of a boat ride. For more insight into the ancient settlements here, the Constanța Archaeological Park keeps the ruins of the Tomis city.

Also on the city’s pier is the Genoese Lighthouse, honoring the Genovese merchants who established a prosperous sea trade community here in the 13th century. The 7.9 meters tall lighthouse was rebuilt in 1860, on the basis of a 1300 Genovese lighthouse on site, by Armenian-born French engineer Artin Aslan.

The city’s History and Archaeology Museum is also worth a stop. It hosts various pieces belonging to the Neolithic cultures of Hamangia and Gumelnița, including the statues of ‘the sitting woman’ and the ‘thinker’ of Hamangia, dating back to the 5th millennium BC. The museum also counts in its patrimony various agricultural tools, Greek-Roman amphorae, statues of Greek gods, and more notably, the white-marble Glykon snake and the Scythian kings- engraved coin collection.

The Romanian Naval Museum offers visitors an insight into the history of the local naval forces with the help of more than 37,000 pieces, from coins and drawings to tens of ship reproductions. Another good site to visit is the micro-reservation, part of the city’s Natural Sciences Museum. Inaugurated in 1985, it gives visitors a sample of the rich vegetation and wildlife in the Dobrogea region.

Photos: Wikipedia/ Roxana Postoiu, Adian Cadar

A castle break in Miclăuşeni

The Sturdza castle in Miclăuşeni, Iasi county, is ready to receive visitors after spending almost ten years undergoing restoration works. The castle can be found in the park of the same name and its reopening is part of the Travel to 1900 project, which aims to gather further funding to continue works on the edifice.

The Sturdza castle, property of the Moldova and Bucovina Metropolitanate, is now a Neo-Gothic construction built between 1880 and 1904 by Gheorghe Sturza and his wife Maria. The ensemble on site includes three monuments, all of them historical monuments: the 1787 Buna Vestire church, the castle and the surrounding 19th century park.

The castle dates back to the 17th century, it was rebuilt in 1752 and again in the 19th century. The Miclăușeni park was first documented in 1410. Simion Stroici built here a mansion at the beginning of the 17th century, the ruins of which could still be found on site at the beginning of the 20th century. By the end of the 17th century the domain enters the property of the Sturdza family and in 1752 Ioan Sturdza rebuilds the mansion. His son, Dimitrie Sturdza, built between 1821-1823 a church close by. Alecu Sturdza Miclăușanu, the son Dimitrie, sets up a 42 hectares surface around the mansion as a park, landscaped in English style, with ornamental trees and alleys surrounded by flower beds. A late Neo-Gothic style castle is built on the site of the former mansion between 1880 and 1904, after a project of architects Iulius Reinecke and I. Grigsberg. The castle is inspired by the Princely Palace in Ruginoasa and the Culture Palace in Iasi.

The castle can be visited Saturday and Sunday, between 12:00 and 17:00. Accommodation is available close by at Casa Macrina.

Miclăuşeni is 66 km away from Iasi, on the DN28.

Photo: Wikipedia.

Bucharest has new Ferris wheel in Tei-Plumbuita park

A new entertainment park opened in the capital, in the Tei-Plumbuita park, in District 2 of Bucharest.

The main attraction of the park is the Ferris wheel, which is 63 meters tall and counts 44 cabins. Other entertainment options in the park are the 15-meter tall roller coaster, the electric cars, a swings area, slides and inflatable mattresses. A smaller Ferris wheel exists in the park. It 12 cabins which lift 16 meters high.

The entire park features areas themed after various tales.

The main attractions are open Tuesday to Friday, from 10:00 to 21:00, and Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 to 22:00.

Oradea, the Art Nouveau city

The city with a rich Art Nouveau heritage welcomes tourists interested in seeing its many monuments or sampling the life in East-Northern Romania. Close to the border with Hungary, Oradea is the capital of the Bihor county and is well known locally for its proximity to Baile Felix thermal resort, only eight kilometers away. The city stands on the banks of Crișul Repede river, which cuts the city in two.

Starting with February 2012, Oradea is a member of the Art Nouveau cities network, an initiative of the Brussels Region Monuments and Sites Department. The Romanian city is a member alongside other European cities with a rich Art Nouveau heritage such as Helsinki, Barcelona, Glasgow and Budapest. The Art Nouveau decorative art and architecture style was prominent in western Europe and the USA from about 1890 until the First World War and is recognizable by its intricate linear designs and flowing curves. The Art Nouveau network found Oradea’s most impressive capital of artistic and architectural heritage to be the Secession style buildings, palaces built around 1900.

A tour of the city can start in Unirii Square, where the churches and palaces found on site combine seven architectural styles: Baroque, Classicist, Eclectic, Historical, Secession, Romantic and Neo-Romanian. Palatul Vulturul Negru (The Black Eagle Palace) is found here. Built in the Secession style on the former site of the Black Eagle Inn, the construction was meant to host a theater, ball rooms, a casino and offices. It stands out with the Y-shaped passage and the three entrances with floral and figurative motifs.

Biserica cu Luna (The Moon Church) has an astronomical clock depicting the phases of the moon. It was built in the style of late Baroque, with Classicist elements.

The Oradea Fortress is one of the most important late medieval architecture monuments in Transylvania. It was a significant religious, cultural and military landmark in its time.

The Baroque Palace of Oradea, which today hosts the Țara Crișurilor museum, was designed by Viennese architect Franz Anton Hillebrandt with the help of Italian engineer Giovanni Battista Ricca. It is one of the important Art Nouveau monuments in the city. The edifice counts 282 windows on its three levels. The palace belonged to the Roman Catholic bishop until 1945, when the Communist regime took it over. It was returned to the Roman Catholic Church in 2003. The museum hosts four sections: natural sciences, history, ethnography and art.

Standing at the heart of the city is the State Theatre, hosting the Regina Maria Theater and Szigligeti Theater. It was designed by architect Rimanóczy Kálmán Junior with plans by Vienna firm Fellner and Helmer. The two Austrian architects had built around 100 theaters and opera houses in Europe by the end of the 19th century

Various tours can get one acquainted to the city: a tour of churches, its palaces or a tour of the Secession. Oradea is also home to beautiful parks, art galleries, and many sites of rich history and culture to discover.

For a quick visit the option of taking the plane there is available and the Oradea International Airport re-opened in 2015. By car, the city can be reached via E81.