Divan Group opens new Greek restaurant in Bucharest

Divan Group, the owner Bucharest restaurants Divan, Divan Express and Meze Taverna, opened the Greek restaurant Kuzina.

The new venue is meant to serve the offices in the Barbu Vacarescu area of the capital and comes with its own store retailing Greek specialties, and a wine cellar. The restaurant, which can seat 95 people, was designed by architect Cristian Corvin, who also worked on the other venues of the group.

The menu of the place includes the beef meat dish Gyro Kavurma. A range of Greek and Mediterranean products can be purchased at the store of the restaurant, including orange comfiture, olive oil, Greek cheeses and balsamic vinegar with a special flavor, kept in a barrel made of chestnut tree wood.

Divan Group is run by businessman Andrei Iușut, and operates on the Bucharest market. The group has two fast-food restaurants under the Divan Express brand, the Turkish restaurant Divan, the Greek restaurant Meze Taverna and the tourism agency AA Travel.

Photo: Corvin Cristian

New ice skating rink opens in Bucharest

The first privately-owned ice skating rink opened in Bucharest this week. The rink, which was developed by the Ion Tiriac Foundation, is located on the Drumul Garii Odai St., in Otopeni.

The rink, called Telekom Arena, was built to international Olympic and International Hockey Federation standards .

The new rink has a total surface of 4,863 sqm, can seat 500 people and has 70 parking spaces, according to Agerpres.ro. The rink cost EUR 3.6 million to build. It is meant to be the first arena in a larger sports complex that the former tennis player Ion Tiriac plans to build on a 20 hectares site in Otopeni. It is the first ice skating rink built in the Bucharest – Ilfov area in the past 64 years and the only one open after the Mihai Flamaropol one closed down in 2013.


Bucharest, a sparkling European city to see this Christmas

Bucharest’s University Square has been likened to a winter wonderland at Christmas time by the Msn.com portal in a list of “14 sparkling European cities you have to see at Christmas time.”

Romania’s capital has made the list alongside Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Madrid or Rome.

The Christmas lights in the city were turned on by Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea on December 1st, the country’s National Day. The Bucharest Christmas Market opened the same day in Constitutiei Square.

Read more about the list of sparkling European cities at romania-insider.com.

Cismigiu: the city’s oldest public garden

The oldest public garden in the capital, the Cismigiu Park is one of the city’s most accessible and popular sites. Listed as one of the city’s historical monuments, it is landscaped similar to English parks, with a varied vegetation and colorful flower beds.

The history of the park begins in 1779 when local ruler Alexandru Ipsilanti ordered the construction of two fountains in the city. (In Romanian a cismea is a type of fountain and a possible start for the formation of the name of the park.) The first one was built on the side of the park which today faces the Stirbei Voda Street, and nearby the Dura the Merchant’s lake could be found. It is the lake that later took on the Cismigiu name. The lake used to flood the city frequently and in 1830 the general Pavel Kiseleff ordered the pond to be drained and turn the land into a public garden. The works take place only in 1847 when landscaper Wilhelm Mayer, the former director of the Vienna Imperial Gardens is called to work on the project with the help of gardener Franz Harer. In 1852 the garden received its first surrounding fence and various other improvements and it was officially inaugurated in 1854.

The winter of 1883 saw the lake freeze and the first ice-skating contests organized here. The same year the park was further enlarged and the statues of Romanian writers were placed here as well as the other monuments or statues, among which the marble one remembering the French soldiers who fought in the World War I. Another distinctive place inside the gardens are the ruins of a monastery built by boyar Vacarescu in 1756, another reminder of the age of the place and its endurance through the years.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Romanian wall-carpet craftsmanship included on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The wall-carpet craftsmanship in Romania and the Republic of Moldova has been inscribed on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Romanian Culture Ministry announced. With the inclusion, the universal value of traditional wall-carpet weaving techniques is recognized, as well as their role in enriching cultural diversity and human creativity.

According to the craft’s presentation on the UNESCO’s website, wall carpets made by weavers in Romania and the Republic of Moldova have served various functions: decorative ones, an insulation one, and they were also part of a bride’s dowry. Based on the motifs woven, they could also indicate where the weaver was from. At funerals they symbolized a passage for the soul to the hereafter.

The craft was passed in villages from grandmothers or mothers to the girls, while in cities it could be learned in craft centers, associations, colleges or museums.

Five other Romanian traditions are currently on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Căluş ritual, the traditional song Doina, the craftsmanship of Horezu ceramics, the Christmas-time ritual of men’s group Colindat (caroling), and the lad’s dances.

Photo: Ministry of Culture of Romania/ www.unesco.org

Bucharest wellness and spa complex opens new area for families

Therme Bucharest, the biggest wellness and spa complex in Romania, is expanding its Galaxy area with a new 4,000-sqm space dedicated to families, regardless of their children’s age.

The new area has a salt library, a playground with 14 Playstation consoles, three thematic wet saunas, and 20 infrared beds. It will include the largest Himalaya salt construction in Europe, with 40 tons of salt having gone into its construction. The library will have around 150 books and ebooks.

The complex currently has three areas, namely Galaxy, The Palm, and Elysium, which can host about 4,000 people simultaneously.

Read more about the expansion at romania-insider.com.

A trip to Little Vienna

For a weekend or more, Timișoara is a city worth discovering for its diversity, history and lively arts and culture life. This is the city where the Romanian revolution of 1989 started and the one that holds the title of European Capital of Culture in 2021. And the one often called “Little Vienna,” for its heritage of Secessionist architecture.

The city standing on the northern bank of the Bega River is the third largest in western Romania and its presence is first recorded in 1212. The city was built on the site of ancient Roman fortress Castrum Regium Themes and its first fortress was Castrum de Tymes, built by the Hungarian Crown. In time, the city welcomed the most diverse cultural influences: Turkish, Austrian, German and Serbian.

A tour of Timișoara can start in Piața Libertății (The Freedom Square), which hosts the Viennese Baroque sculpture Mary-Nepomuk. The monument was transported from Vienna, by water, in 1756. It was started by Rapahel Donner and finished by Wasserburger and Blimm. Also in Piața Libertății stands the Timişoara Garrison Command and the Military Casino, a late Baroque building with rococo influences. The Old City Hall is another landmark building in this area. Its eclectic look comes from the various refurbishments it underwent in time. It was built as the “German community city hall” in 1731 but its façade was rebuilt several times.

bega_canal_0innercloisterPiața Unirii (The Union Square) hosts the Romano-Catholic and Serbian Orthodox Cathedrals, which face each other. The Roman-Catholic Cathedral, known as The Dome, was completed in 1774. It is representative of the Austrian Baroque, with the towers similar to those of the Holy Trinity Church in Salzburg. The Baroque Palace hosts the Banat Art Museum since 1984. Built in the Austrian Baroque style with some Rococo details, it has a large hall that hosted festivities occasioned by the visit of emperors and important cultural personalities, such as the musicians Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, Pablo Sarasate or George Enescu.

Piața Victoriei (Victory Square) has as its main attraction point the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. Able to host about 5,000 people, it has 11 towers, the highest of which reaches 83 meters. It was built between 1936 and 1946, and its green and red roof tiles are arranged in a mosaic design. The Memorial of the 1989 Revolution stands in front of the cathedral, while the Memorial Museum offers further insight into the events that took place in the city. The Piarist Complex, including a monastery church and a school, both created by architect Szekely (together with A. Baumgarten), in the Secession style, can be found north-west of the cathedral.

For day visits from Timișoara you can try a trip to the Recas Vineyards, to Arad or to Hunedoara. If you’re in the city for longer, the city is home to an opera house and to the Banat Philharmonic, and hosts theater venues such as the German State Theatre or the Hungarian State Theatre. Timișoara regularly hosts its own Jazz Festival, a Literature Festival, and a Tango Festival, among others.

More about what to do in the city here.

Photos: Wikipedia/ Gratziela Ciortuz

Bucharest Astronomic Observatory reopens after restoration works

The Bucharest Astronomic Observatory Admiral Vasile Urseanu is reopening this weekend, on November 26th, after undergoing restoration and consolidation works that started in 2014, reports news.ro. Astronomy presentations and workshops had been previously held at the Sutu Palace.

The revamped building will be inaugurated with the exhibition titled “Signs and Symbols. Apophenic Visions in the Fractal Domain.” The exhibition can be visited until May 28th 2017 and opens on November 26th, starting 13:00.

The history of the observatory, the only one open to the public in the capital, begins in 1908 when local astronomer and scientist Victor Anestin started working with Admiral Vasile Urseanu to establish the premises of the institution.

The admiral would become the president of the Romanian Astronomy Society Camille Flammarion and would build the yacht-shaped house with an observation dome. Of the house, which he built through his own financial means, he used to say: “I built my house in shape of a yacht, with an observatory dome so I can look through a telescope and at the same time have the feeling that I’m floating at sea.”

Photo: Mircea Răduțiu, www.astro-urseanu.ro.


New theater venue opens in Bucharest

Apollo111 is a new theater venue in Bucharest, set to open starting November 25th. The theater is open in the B section of the Universul Palace in the capital.

The theater, which will have a new artistic director each season, will stage productions for both grownups and children. “We want to be an alternative to state-financed theaters and cultural institutions and we are looking for an organic growth. We create art by running this project on the basis of a business model based on our own financing,” theater representatives say.

The founders of Apolo111 are actor Bogdan Dumitrache; Cătălin Rusu, CEO of Rusu+Borțun; director Călin-Peter Netzer; and film producer Dragoș Vîlcu.

For the first year the artistic director of Apollo111 will be one of its founders, actor Bogdan Dumitrache. He will be followed the second year by director Radu Afrim and the third year by a playwright. During its first running year it will show five productions, each of them staged for only six weeks. If one production is sold-out, it will be rescheduled after several months for another two or, at most, four weeks.

Children aged 4 to 7 will also find a repertoire for them, with productions highlighting the magic of stories and novel visual concepts.

The theme of the first season at the theater is an interdisciplinary one, combining film and theater. The first performance is directed by Radu Jude, based on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s text Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. The second script to be staged at Apollo11 is Sieranevada by Cristi Puiu.

Apollo111 is located in the Universul Palace, in a space offering an 850 sqm surface for performances, a theater and cinema hall with 140 seats, a hall for concerts and special events, three rehearsal halls, two casting halls and a bar.

The program and the tickets can be found here.

Photo: Apollo111 Facebook Page, the launch event.

The Dacian fortress at Ardeu

On the route linking Rosia Montana to Sarmisegetuza, an ancient Dacian fortress stands proof of a prosperous community that lived in the area 2000 years ago. Built by the same model as other fortress in the Orastie Mountains, the site is lesser known and not included in the tourist circuit, even though it is more accessible. After climbing a steep hill and around 250 steps, the visitor reaches the fortress surrounded by stone walls, built to control the access to the old gold mines on the Aries Valley.

Archeological digging revealed traces that confirm human living in the area since the 1st century BC. The oldest traces belong to the Cotofeni culture. Later, in the Bronze Age and during the first period of the Iron Age new communities settled here. Archeologists say that 2000 years ago the Ardeu fortress had defense walls, a tower that served as a residence, a smith shop and many housing spaces. During the second Dacian-Roman war, a fire engulfed the fortress and the building’s south side fell down, covering most of the interior yard. During the Middle Ages the fortress started being inhabited again and a new fortress emerged, on a smaller surface, protected by walls made out of mortar.

The Ardeu Fortress and the gold mines in the vicinity are often linked to a legends saying that a treasure was hidden in one of the caves in the area. The treasure was guarded by giants who bricked up the cave so nobody would know where it is hidden, hence the interest in exploring the area.

The fortress still accommodates an archeological site and open-doors days are organized here by the Dacian Civilization Museum in Deva, making for a good opportunity to visit the place in case you don’t decide for a self-planned trip.

How to get there:

The fortress is located in the Ardeu village, Balsa commune in Hunedoara county. It is 44 kilometers away from Deva, and can be reached by car by following the county roads DJ107A and DJ705.

The Underwater Church

Close to Cluj, in the village of Belis, the traveler can encounter an unusual kind of church: an underwater one. The Urmanczy church can be seen especially during extremely dry summers as it emerges out of Belis-Fantanele lake, which flooded it in 1972-1973.

The church was built in 1913 by count Ioan Urmanczy and is one of the few remains of the Belis village in its original site. In between 1972 and 1973 the course of the river Somesul Cald was diverged to create the Fantanele dam as part of the works to build the Somes hydro-power plant. The new course of the river ran through an 8,475 meters long underground gallery, powering the plant. In order for the project to take shape, the villages of Belis and Giucuta de Jos, both sitting at the time on the bank of the river Somer, were moved or they would have ended up being flooded by the waters of the accumulation lake.

By 1974 new houses were constructed at a new location but the church remained at its old site. What was taken from it with the move was the rooftop and the steeple. Today, the foundation of the church sits 30 meters deep underwater. Despite its water location, the paintings on the church’s walls, representing angels and biblical scenes, are still visible.

How to get there:

The E60 on the Oradea-Cluj-Brasov route leads to the site. Once at Huedin, you can take the DJ101 to Belis village.

Several other tourist sites can be found in the area: the fortified church in Valeni, the Radesei fortifications, the Scarisoara glacier or the Ursilor cave.

Photo source: exploreaza-romania.blogspot.ro

Open-air ice-skating ring inaugurated in Bucharest’s newest mall

Veranda Mall, the newest one to open in the capital, inaugurated its ice-skating ring. With a 650 sqm surface, it is the first open-air one in the Obor area of the capital.

The ring is open daily, between 10:00 and 22:00. Access costs RON 15 Monday to Thursday and RON 20 Friday to Sunday. Passes options are available, as are discounts for larger groups. Renting a pair of skates costs RON 15 for the entire day. Those who cannot yet skate can find instructors on the premises.

AFI Palace Cotroceni also has an indoor ice skating rink, and Promenada Mall will most likely open a rink on its roof terrace, as it did in previous years.

Read more about the new opening at romania-insider.com.

Sibiu, European Region of Gastronomy in 2019

The central Romania city of Sibiu is known, among others, for having held the title of European Capital of Culture in 2007, for the international theater and jazz festivals taking place there each year, and as the city whose former mayor became Romania’s first president of an ethnic community background.

Its tourist profile has only increased in recent years, and now the food culture of the region is taking center stage as it has been selected to be the European Region of Gastronomy in 2019, alongside the South Aegean region in Greece.

sibiu-turismSibiu placed its bid under the title Sibiu, richness and legendary tastes, highlighting the diverse gastronomy and traditions of the region. Products from the area include the Mărginimea Sibiului cheese; cold meat dishes such as “pomana porcului” (pig’s give-away), sausages, wursts, jelly, pork rinds, meat in lard jars or salt greaves and the Sibiu slami; sweet potato bread, flax seed bread, pumpkin seed bread and sunflower seed bread; Tãlmaciu plum brandy (ţuica) or Sadu brandy (rachiu); and ecologic honey.

In preparation for the title, programs highlighting local products will be developed and restaurants in the area encouraged to use it. The food culture festivals taking place in the county of Sibiu will be further developed.

But there is no need to wait until 2019 to visit the region. The city of Sibiu makes for a good destination all year round and the Christmas Market there is one of the most attractive in the country. The city’s old town, its cultural life and its many pubs and cafes make for a good destination, either for one weekend or longer, but also for a good base to explore the entire region. The Sibiu county hosts many medieval Saxon fortified churches and villages and the medieval town of Medias.

The Sibiu Region, as it applied for the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2019, is made up of the city of Sibiu, the city of Mediaș, Mărginimea Sibiului, Țara Oltului, Valea Târnavelor, Valea Hârtibaciului and Țara Secașelor. It encompasses over 460,000 inhabitants and over 300,000 hectares of agricultural land.

Read more about the bid of the Sibiu region here.

More about the city of Sibiu here.

Photo: SibiuTurism Facebook Page

Bucharest subway operator adds more trains during rush hours

Bucharest subway operator Metrorex decided to increase the number of trains during rush hours (7:00 to 9:00 and 17:00 to 19:00), after several incidents caused chaos in the underground over the past two weeks.

A total of 22 trains will run on the M2 line, which connects the Pipera office district in Northern Bucharest to the Berceni residential area in the South, at every three minutes. Metrorex has added one more train on this line, which is the busiest one during rush hours.

Over 600,000 people use the subway in Bucharest every day. During rush hours when commuters have to wait one or two trains to pass before they can finally get on a train. This happens most often at the Victoriei and Unirii subway stations, where many commuters also change trains.

Read more about these changes at romania-insider.com.


Veranda Mall opens in Obor area of Bucharest

A new mall is opening in the capital this week, the second such opening this year in Bucharest after ParkLake Plaza opened in Titan neighborhood this September.

Veranda Mall, which required an investment of EUR 60 million, is anchored by a Carrefour store. The shopping center counts among its tenants brands such as H&M, CCC, Deichman, Pepco, Yves Rocher, DM or Pimkie. It has over 100 stores, a restaurant area, a parking lot with 1,200 places and a vast green area of over 15,000 sqm.

No malls are located in the Bucur Obor area in the second district of Bucharest, only the Obor commercial center.

Photo: Veranda Mall Facebook Page

The medieval Rupea fortress

The medieval Rupea fortress has turned into a local tourism success story after the rehabilitation it underwent between 2010 and 2013. Also known by the name of the Cohlamului fortress, from the Cohlam hill it stands upon, the fortress sees thousands of tourists yearly, coming here to visit one of oldest archeological sites on Romanian territory.

First documented in 1324, when the Saxon population living in the area rose against King Carol Robert of Hungary and took refuge in its premises, the fortress served throughout the 15th century as an important commercial and manufacturing center.

Rupea Fortress2The site is made up of three types of fortifications. The high fortress is the oldest construction, erected on the ruins of what is believed to be the ruins of the Dacian fortress Ramidava. The middle fortress was built in the 15th century and expanded in the 17th century to add the chapel and a surveillance tower. The lower fortress was built in the 18th century. It served as a place of refuge against the 1716 plague epidemic. In 1790 the spiral-shaped construction was damaged and later abandoned. During communist times, its demolition was planned in order to allow for the exploitation of the basalt from which the hill its stands upon is formed.

You can find the site 50 kilometers away from Brasov, on the Mures-Sighisoara-Brasov tourist route. Close to Rupea is the Fisher (or Schweischer/ Sövénység ) village, home to one of the several fortified churches in Transylvania.

Photo source: Wikipedia.com

IKEA to open barbecue food-truck next to its Bucharest store

Swedish retailer IKEA is set to open a barbecue food-truck next to its store in Baneasa area in northern Bucharest, the only one so far in Romania. A new Bucharest store is planned to open by the end of 2018.

The new food truck is set to open in November this year.

The trailer will be located on the right side of the IKEA store, and will offer takeout only services, as there will be no tables arranged near the food-truck. It will stay open daily between 12:00 and 20:00.

IKEA is already operating a restaurant and a hot dog stand inside its store in Baneasa. The restaurant has grown to be one of the biggest in Romania in terms of sales.

Read more about the planned opening at romania-insider.com.

The street food trend has caught on locally, with many stand-alone food trucks and vans opening lately. Several large restaurants in Bucharest also added street-food units to their existing venues, and events dedicated to the the trend multiplied. More street-food units in Bucharest here.

Ikea recently announced plans to expand to new cities in the country in the following years.

New Stradale restaurant opens in Bucharest’s Oregon Park

A new Stradale restaurant is opening in Bucharest’s office complex Oregon Park at the beginning of November. The restaurant has a 500 sqm surface and works under the “street food” concept, created by Chef Foa (pictured) for the event catering company Flavours.

This will be the fifth Stradale restaurant to open in Bucharest. Clients can see here “live cooking shows” and chefs working to prepare various types of grill or freshly baked bread.

The décor of the restaurant mixes natural wood with metallic elements and is meant to remind clients of the relaxed atmosphere of street festivals.

oregon-parkFlavours was established in 2002, with a team led by Chef Foa, one of the best-known chefs in the country. Stradale will open in building A of Oregon Park, which was delivered this September. The building has a total surface of 21,000 sqm and has US company Oracle as its main tenant. Oregon Park is located at Pipera Road, in northern Bucharest. The complex is set to include three office buildings with a total surface of 72,000 sqm. The B building is set to be delivered in October, with a surface of 24,000 sqm, of which 5,000 are already leased.

Photo: PR

McDonald’s plans to expand food delivery service in Bucharest

Fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s Romania is looking to expand its delivery service McDelivery in Bucharest, according to local daily Ziarul Financiar. The service is currently available in office buildings in the Barbu Vacarescu, Pipera, and Promenada mall area in Bucharest.

The company started delivering food in the Piata Victoriei area three years ago. It was the first McDelivery project in the capital.

McDonald’s network had sales of EUR 115 million in Romania in 2015.

Read more on the planned expansion at romania-insider.com.

Standing the test of time: the Targoviste court

A visit here equates to a lesson in Romanian history, architecture and customs. Located in Targoviste, about one-and-a-half hour’s drive away from Bucharest, the princely court is an ensemble of medieval buildings and fortifications has served as residence for the princes of the Tara Romaneasca province.

Probably its most easily recognizable symbol is the Chindia Tower. It was built during the second half of the 15th century, during the rule of Vlad Tepes. Its construction began on the site of a chapel dating back to the time of Mircea cel Batran.  The tower was built as a defense and served, at the same time, for observation and for guarding the yard and its surroundings. During the 16th and the 17th centuries the tower was also the prison for the princely court. Twenty-seven meters tall, it has a pyramid-shaped basis out of which is cylindrical construction develops. Its external diameter is of 9 meters. The construction has three levels, the last two being marked on the outside by four openings and two balconies. Visitors reaching the site can enjoy a panoramic view of the city once they climb its 122 steps.

Although the Chindia Tower is the easiest part of the ensemble to identify, there are plenty of other places to visit while on site. Take the three churches, one of them dating back to around 1415, and another built by Prince Petru Cercel. The princely homes in the complex can also be visited as are the royal bath, built during the times of Matei Basarab. This rectangular construction houses three rooms and its floors are made of Albesti stone.

Part of the ensemble is also a defense moat, an impressive military construction which prevented the exit and entrance from and to the court and put the enemy in an unfavorable position during battle situations.

How to get there:

Take the DN7 and DN71 as shown.

Photo source: Cristian Chirita/ Wikipedia

The Botanical Garden in Bucharest

Among Bucharest parks, the Botanical Garden holds a special place for not only being home to more than 10,000 species of plants but also for being one of the quietest spots of the capital.

The Cotroceni site is not the capital’s first Botanical garden. The first such venue was established by Romanian physician Carol Davila in 1860 near the Medical School. Its first two directors were botanists Ulrich Hoffmann and Dimitrie Grecescu.  Its third director, Dimitrie Branza, whose name the garden carries, moved it to where it can be found today, spreading on 17.5 hectares, including 4,000 sqm of greenhouses. Belgian landscape architect Louis Fuchs also worked on the project and in 1891 the garden was inaugurated.

In time, the site suffered various damages, most notably at the 1892 flooding and during the First and Second World Wars when it was occupied by the German troops and damaged by the UK-US forces bombings in 1944, respectively. The garden’s Old Greenhouse was built between 1889 and 1891 after the model of the Liege Greenhouses in Belgium. In 2011 the construction was rehabilitated as a tropical rainforest corner and now accommodates several examples of exotic plants. The Botanical Museum, to be found also inside the garden, near the entrance gates, is home to more than 5,000 plant species, including 1,000 exotic plants.

Botanical Garden Bucharest Old Green HouseThe garden is divided into several areas dedicated to ornamental plants, rare plants from the Balkans and the Mediterranean, the Dobrogea flora, an Italian garden, a cascade, a space for mountain plants, a roses garden, and the exotic plants part. Among the must-see plants here are four ginko-biloba trees and the tulip tree.

The Botanical garden is open for visits between 8.00 and 20.00. The greenhouses can be visited between 9.00 and 13.00 on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The Botanical Museum is open from 10.00 to 15.00 from Monday to Thursday and from 9.00 to 13.00 on Saturday and Sunday. Group tours are available, upon request.


The Red Ravine

Rapa Rosie, roughly translated in English as the Red Ravine, is often considered the local version of the Grand Canyon. In the western county of Alba, at 3 kilometers away from Sebes, the traveler can find the site on the road linking this town to the Daia Romana village.

With the status of a geological reservation, Rapa Rosie stands on 10 hectares. Its walls are 80 to 100 meters tall and the varied landscape, shaped like red-looking of columns, towers, pyramids, was formed through water erosion. Deep valleys open left and right and rain water is leaving think creeks behind.  The highest peak in Rapa Rosie has more than 500 meters, offering spectacular views of the area. Dinosaur fossils have been discovered in 2009 in this 60 million years old site, and several rare plant species can also be found here. One of the largest caves in the country is located here, of which locals say it used to serve as a hiding place for outlaws through time.

How to get there:

The site has become more accessible for visits since the Orastie – Sibiu highway opened. The highway runs approximately 2 kilometers away from the canyon. You can take the DN 1-7 (E81) to Sebes from where the communal road leads to Daia Romana. After crossing the Vintu de Jos – Sibiu railroad the country road leads on the left side to the reservation.

Photo source: rapa-rosie.ro

Bucharest gets first automated bike rental service

The capital’s first automated bike rental service, I’Velo Urban, opened this week and is available 24/7.

The paid service is available in six locations in some of the city’s busiest central areas: Universitatii Square, Romana Square, Revolutiei Square, Victoriei Square, Charles de Gaulle Square, and Kaufland Barbu Vacarescu hypermarket.

At first, 210 bikes will be available for rent in these locations. Users can take a bike from one station and leave it at another station.

The service can be used only based on a card and a subscription. A one-day subscription costs RON 10 (EUR 2.25), a one-month subscription RON 35 (EUR 7.86), and a one-year subscription RON 100 (EUR 22.5). Discounts are available for teenagers and youth aged between 16 and 25.

Read more about the service at romania-insider.com.

Ancient Cioclovina

Home to an ancient Dacian defense wall and a lime cave, Cioclovina is found in the Hunedoara country, in western Romania. Part of the Gradistea Muncelului – Cioclovina national park, it is by many accounts part of a world that is filled with history and traditions.

Sitting close to the Dacian fortresses in the Orastie mountains, the village of Ciclovina hosts one of the most impressive Dacian defense walls. The main wall is made up of wood and unchiseled stones and is 2.5 kilometers long. It includes bastions with diameters of 40 to 80 meters. To this main wall, whose construction technique is known as murus dacicus, 33 perpendicular and slanting walls were added with the purpose of weakening the attack of potential enemies. Each of the additional walls is 50 to 100 meters long and 8 to 14 meters wide.

Also in the area is the Cioclovina cave, formed in the North-West part of the Sebes mountains by the waters of the Ponorici river. The cave has two sections: the dry Cioclovina, which sits above the Water Ciclovina. The dry part of the cave is accessible for exploration to the regular tourist although no special arrangements have been made to it but the Water Cioclovina is only accessible to speleology specialists because of its intricacy and difficult routes. This bottom section of the cave hosts the largest mono-crystal formation in the country. A skull capsule, displaying features attributed to Homo sapiens sapiens, and dating back to the Upper Paleolithic was also discovered here, as indicated by three flint objects peculiar to the Aurignacian culture discovered next to it.

Besides the spectacular view of the surrounding mountains, the area is often used for canoeing and climbing trips so if you find your way there these are some activities you can try.

Photo source: Panoramio.com

Naan opens additional location

Naan by Wellness recently opened in the former Wellness Cuisine location. The space is the second one run by the owners of Naan Food & Drink Studio and is open Monday to Friday.

The menu includes many international dishes, with a fixed – priced lunch offer available.

The venue can accommodate events for 120 people and has a playground for children, a conference hall and 40 parking places.

The sea of the Bucegi Mountains

Deemed by many one of the most spectacular sites in the area, the Bulboci lake is also known as the Sea of the Bucegi Mountains, in reference to the size of the lake’s surface. It can be found at the border between the Dambovita and Prahova counties, in the Bucegi Natural Park, between the Tatarului Gorges and Zanoagei Gorges.

Bulboci is an artificial lake, but one of the few with a natural dam, made of soil and rock. It is located at a 1,438 meters altitude, the highest altitude for a lake in the area. It is surrounded by majestic landscapes of forests of conifers, and, behind them, the 2000 meters tall peaks of the mountains. The dam is approximately 55 meters tall and has an accumulation of 18 million cubic meters of water. It captures the waters of the Ialomita river, and is located upstream of the Zanoagei Gorges, another important tourist attraction and a geological monument.

The lake makes a good starting point for exploring various mountain tracks in the area leading to such attractions as the Scropoasa lake, the Padina plateau, the Ialomicioarei cave, the Babele cabin or the Zanoagei Gorges.

For accommodation options in the area you can try the Bolboci cabin, on the shore of the lake. Built in the 1920s, the cabin can house around 60 people.

How to get there:

The lake is 8 kilometres away from Sinaia and 70 kilometres away from Targoviste. Take the DN 71 and the country road DJ 714 on the Moroieni– Bolboci route.

Photo: Sorin Toma/ bern.mae.ro

Multiplex cinema opens in Bucharest’s ParkLake Plaza

Cinema halls operator Cinema City recently opened its 24th multiplex in Romania, in ParkLake Plaza, following a EUR 6 million investment it shared with the mall’s developers Sonae Sierra and Caelum Development.

The multiplex has a total of 1,966 seats in 14 2D and 3D screening halls. Out of these, three halls are VIP ones.

Cinema City has in the country 24 multiplexes with 225 screens, making Romania the group’s third-biggest market, after UK and Poland. The cinema operator will open another multiplex in Piatra Neamt, in northern Romania, this year and reach 25 units.

Read more about Cinema City’s new opening at Romania-insider.com.

Photo: Cinema City

Bucharest Botanical Garden opens refurbished section

The Bucharest Botanical Garden opened the Garden of Remedies, a refurbished sector dedicated to medicinal plants.

The newly-opened section saw the revamping and extension of its species collection, with the long-term purpose of supporting the medicinal plants sector in the Bucharest Botanical Garden and increasing the available information on the health uses of plants.

As part of the refurbishing project the green labyrinth, made up of Buxus Sinensis and delimiting the plants areas, was cleaned and trimmed and all plants were labeled. Approximately 60 percent of the 1,800 sqm Garden of Remedies was landscaped this year, with works for the remaining surface set for the spring of 2017.

The medicinal plants sector has been part of the garden since 1886. It is designed as a labyrinth and includes over 300 species of plants, grouped in 26 categories, according to the therapy areas or domains in which they can be used.

The new section can be visited daily, according to the schedule of the Botanical Garden.

Photo: Secom Romania Facebook page

The Calendar Castle

With 365 windows, 52 rooms and 7 terraces this is a unique building in Romania. Located in Transylvania, the edifice’s architecture combines Gothic and Renaissance elements and stands out not just with its design but also with the story of its construction.

The castle sits on a hill close to the Zau de Campie locality. Besides the number of windows equal to the number of days in a year, the number of rooms to that of the weeks, it also has four towers, as the number of seasons. The castle was built by baron Istvan Ugron, then the ambassador of Austro-Hungarian empire to Russia, to prove his love to one of the daughters of tsar Nicolay II of Russia.  The princess however had great demands about how opulent and luxurious the castle should be and the baron couldn’t undertaken them financially. Their relationship came to an end as the tsar’s family was assassinated by the Bolsheviks and the baron donated the property in 1925 to Istvan Banffy.

During communism, the castle was taken over by the state and in time had various uses: a TBC sanatorium, a school, a grain deposit and, in recent years, an orphanage. The furniture of the castle was confiscated and transferred to Turda, the county capital.

The state of the construction, which is on the list of historical monuments and part of the Mures county council patrimony, is deteriorating each day. Attempts by the followers of baron Urgon have been made at recuperating ownership of the castle, together with lands in Zau de Campie.

How to get there:

If you plan to reach Zau de Campie, you can take the DN1/E60 and DN13/E60 as shown here.

Photo source: Tetcu Mircea Rares/ Wikipedia

Ancient history and nature meet at Macini park

The 300 million years old Macin Mountains in the south eastern region of Dobrogea are the oldest in Romania, offering tourists plenty of sites, flora and fauna to explore.

The mountains, with an altitude ranging between 7 and 475 meters, registered at Tutuianu Peak, are home to the Macin Mountains National Park. Oak, flowering ash, hornbeam and downy oak forests cover the area, which encompasses over 1,770 plant species standing for almost half of the Romanian flora on only one percent of its surface. It is testimony of the century-old woods that covered the area almost 200 years ago. Out of these, around 63,000 hectares were lost during the 19th century when they were turned into arable land and communal pastures. Between 1950 and 1990 ecological reconstruction works were performed on 1,380 hectares of land to upgrade the state of the fields.

The rich biodiversity of the park, is also visible in the plant species that can be identified here. From the species in the park, 72 are protected as rare or endangered. At the same time, the Macin Mountains are the only site in the world where the endangered plant association between Gymnospermio altaicae – Celtetum glabratae with Celtis glabrata is found.

The cultural-historic objectives of the Macin Mountains include the Paleo-Christian Basilica with a crypt in the Niculitel village, the Curing Fountain in the Pricopan Heights, the Dinogetia Roman-Byzantine fortress, the Noviodunum Roman fortress in the town of Isaccea, the Arrubium Roman fortress in the town of Macin, the Aegyssus Roman fortress in Tulcea, and the Thracian-Getic fortress in the village of Turcoaia. Several churches that are historical monuments can also be found in the area: the Celic Dere monastery, the Cocos monastery built around 1833, and the Saon monastery, built around the same time.

Several tourist trails have been established here, among which the Wine Valley one, which starts in Cerna, goes through Cerna Valley and reaches Hamcearca, and references the vineyards typical of the Dobrogea region.

How to get there:

The Macin Mountains are 235 kilometers away from Bucharest, on the way to Braila after crossing the Danube towards Smardan. The route on Google maps is available here.

Photo source: ecomuntiimacinului.wordpress.com