Archives 2015

Three places with winter wonderland scenery

Balaban Inn in Bran, Transylvania

Near Bran Castle in Transylvania, on a hill high above Simon village lies the Inn on Balaban, a place with a remarkable panorama of the Carpathian Mountains. The 360 degrees scenery includes the Piatra Craiului mountain range, the Bucegi mountains to the east and the Rucăr – Bran corridor to the south.

Location: Simon village, Braşov county (near Bran)

Phone: +40722 606 138


GPS coordinates: 45.4830, 25.3675

How to get there by car:

From Bucharest (2 1/2 hours): Go north from Bucharest on Route 1 (direction of Otopeni Airport) to Ploesti, continue towards Sinaia until you reach the town of Azuga. A few miles later after crossing a large curved concrete train overpass, turn left onto Route 73A and go about 12 miles (21 km) to Rasnov. Turn south at the intersection to Bran about 7 miles away (12 km) and at the small but busy town center ask for instructions or call at the Inn.

From Brasov: Pass through the village of Bran, about 1 km after passing Bran castle take a left following the signs for Simon village. In Simon turn left at the church and follow the signs and the gravel road for approximately 4 km.

Check out more information on the Balaban Inn in a Romania-Insider article written by Friederich Niemann.


cabana-dochia-ceahlau-romania-smallCabana Dochia, Eastern Carpathians

At 1750m altitude in the Eastern Carpathians, in the upper region of in the Ceahlău mountain range, on the plateau, between Lespezi (1805 m) and Bîtca Gheodon (1845 m) peaks, Cabana Dochia opens a dominant view towards east, south-east and south. Open for the first time in 1908, it is the only high-altitude retreat with accommodation in Ceahlău. If you’re in for winter hiking, firewood heating with terracotta stoves and thirst for adventure, Cabana Dochia is a must-visit place this time around.


Phone: +40730 603 801, +40730 603 802

How to get there:

By marked tourist paths, from the base of the mountain, from all cardinal points; from Ceahlău village in 4½5 hours; from Izvorul Alb or Secu localities in 5½-6 hours; from Izvorul Muntelui retreat in 3½ or 44½ hours; from Neagra village in 6-7 hours; from Telec village in 5-5½ hours; from Pintic village in 5½-6 hours; from Durău resort in 3-4½ hours.


domeniul-cerbilor-facebook-smallDomeniul Cerbilor, Bucovina

This is a peaceful place at the heart of Bucovina. It offers a beautiful view over gentle slopes and forests surrounding it. The sunset on the horizon and the fog settling among pine trees are even more awing if enjoyed behind the glass wall covering one side of the guesthouse’s ground floor.

Lucky visitors can even see deer in the area.

Location: Delnita, Colacu village, Fundu Moldovei locality, 72271 Suceava county

Phone: +40737 864 577 (reception), +40744 597 407 (manager)


The Brancoveanu Palace in Potlogi

Romanian history fans and particularly those interested in the personality of Prince Constantin Brancoveanu can now add a new spot on their list of sites to visit as the Potlogi court is now open to the public.

Built in 1689, it includes the Brancoveanu palace, the ruins of the old princely house, of the help house and those of a repair shop for carriages. The court is surrounded by a tall brick wall and its entrance is marked by an arched gate. The court is divided into three parts: one for the staff, one for the military and one exclusively for the princely family. The Sf. Dumitru church can also be seen on the right side of the entrance.

The estate is representative for the residential architecture of the end of the 17th century, and is designed in an elaborate style, featuring gardens and water areas.

The ensemble, which is now open following RON 40 million restoration works, has first underwent repairing in 1915. After Brancoveanu was killed in 1714, the palace was devastated. During communist time, its decay further advanced and the site even served as an animal farm.

Now, with a new outlook, the ensemble will be included in a national tourist circuit alongside the Mogosoaia palace and the Targoviste court.

How to get there:
The Potlogi commune can be found 45 km north of Bucharest, following the E81.

City Compass Romania: Bucharest & Beyond, 2016 edition [PHOTOS]

The City Compass Romania: Bucharest & Beyond 2016 edition is now freshly out in print.

More than 25 years since the fall of Communism, Romania seems to have truly come of age. This 8th yearly edition of the City Compass Romania: Bucharest & Beyond guide dives into the past to reveal the old, the forgotten and the recently remembered, and highlights changes in the Romanian society – from arts and culture, to politics and social life.


  • Back to Romania – Letters from Repats
  • Culture, traditions and places
  • Multicultural Romania
  • Changing times: society, politics, justice.

We’re not forgetting the practical sides of life – our regular chapters with places to visit across Romania have been updated, and so has been the Bucharest directory, including the highlighted Old Town, and Pipera – the expat neighborhood.

CC 2016 ipadThe expat letters in the beginning of this book bring diverse views of Romania, and so do the practical features such as life in the Romanian countryside, opportunities for expat spouses, or inspiration for family life in Romania, among many others.

The updated business directory contains places and businesses we recommend, or which come highly recommended by the community: restaurants, hotels, shopping, education, transport, home & much more.

Over 20 contributors wrote content for this edition, or shared their recommendations of places to see and things to do in Romania. The book was coordinated by Corina Chirileasa – City Compass Media Managing Partner and founder of



The guide is available as an ebook on Amazon.



The new edition of the City Compass Romania: Bucharest & Beyond 2016 guide is now available in print and can be purchased from Anthony Frost bookshop, Carturesti, and from My Romanian Store (6 Episcopiei St., Bucharest)

To buy copies of this book, you can also email [email protected]. We will offer discounts for companies that buy several copies.

Browse through topics in the table of contents below. Scroll down for a gallery of pictures from our launch event, where over 100 guest joined to celebrate a new edition of the guide.

Table of contens visual CC2016

Check the alphabetical index of the guide here and here.

Photos from the launch of the new guide; November 25, 2015, Noblesse Palace in Bucharest.

Photos courtesy of Kathrin Weident, Alexandra Pasca & Mihai Constantineanu.

Cotroceni: the place of Romanian royalty

As old as the 17th century, the Cotroceni complex in Bucharest has its beginning tied to the local prince Serban Cantacuzino who built it, west of Bucharest, between 1679 and 1681. Standing out within the complex, which is today the residence of the president of Romania, were the church, similar to the episcopal church in Curtea de Arges and the palace, built according to baroque architecture, typical of the Western Europe civilization of the time.

The complex was modernized during the rule of Prince Barbu Dimitrie Stirbei, who in 1852 establishes the Cotroceni gardens, one of the largest in the capital. French architect Paul Gottereau built the princely palace between 1893 and 1895, redone after 1977. A new wing was added to the palace at the same time, hosting today the headquarters of the Romanian presidency.

Through time Cotroceni served as residence for the local princes. In 1895, the newly built palace was meant for Ferdinand de Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. After the 1918 union, Queen Marie left her mark on the palace, with various improvements bearing her artistic vision.

Those visiting the Cotroceni can get the opportunity of finding out more not only about the many landmark events in local history that took place here but also see its many and varied parts. These include the old royal cellars, the pavilion, the annexes of the palace (the garage, the gardener’s house), the military buildings, the chapel, the royal train station, several funerary monuments and the extensive gardens. All in all, plenty of history on site, the only residence in local history that kept its initial purpose for such a long time.

The museum is open Monday to Sunday, from 9.30 to 17.30. Visits can be made only with previous appointment, in groups of maximum 15.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Intercultural Consulting new partnerships and services

We offer in integrated training concept combining Romania-specific intercultural business and cultural insights with an emphasis on facilitating the interactions and operations of your employees.

We are proudly announcing our partnership with ICUnet.AG, European leader in cross-cultural management.



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Our 7 promises

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–> We know Romania

–> We generate solutions

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–>You benefit from our experience with over 400 projects for over 50 customers in Romania


The 6 most requested approaches, solving the 6 most frequent business needs


„Working successfully in a multinational corporation“

­Your request: Onboarding of junior talents at your multi-national corporation

Solution: Your employees meet specific expectations of international customers and colleagues even better

Content: Develop excellence at pro-active communication, sense of responsibility, customer-orientation, and out-of-the-box thinking.

Business Target: Increase customer satisfaction, reduce conflicts and escalations.


„Excellent performance at international meetings“

Your request: Confident and successful presentations of your employees at international web-conferences and meetings.

Solution: Provide strong presentation skills for your team members

Content: Clear understanding about international audience expectations, and ways how to meet and exceed them.

Business Target: Increase the standing and the visibility of your Romanian site within your corporation.


„Leading Romanian Teams successfully“

Your request: Romania-specific leadership skills (for expatriates).

Solution: How to lead and inspire Romanian teams successfully.

Training target: Develop cross-cultural leadership skills.

Business target: Create high-performing local teams.


„Cross-Cultural Facilitation for M&A“

Your request: Smooth international M&A integration.

Solution: Benefit from diversity as a strategic resource.

Content: Develop smart solutions for cross-cultural challenges.

Business Target: Reach a fast break-even.


„Successful Change Management“

Your request: Move your international organization from A to B.

Solution: Benefit from shining examples and don‘t repeat the epic fails of others.

Content: Win all involved people in favor of their new roles, tasks, responsabilities.

Business Target: Implement your new structure better, faster, smoother.





THILO BEYER, from Stuttgart is a passionate ‚business culture ambassador between Romania in Germany in both directions and both languages. He represents our first-rate cooperation partner ICUnet,AG. After graduating from Berlin and Iasi universities, he has supported more than 25 Western companies in Romania since 2006 – IT, BPO, automotive, retail, life science, finance, construction, FMCG etc. Together with his team of multi-lingual business culture experts from a wide range of backgrounds, he takes care for well-designed solutions with a clear international focus.


Volker MoserVOLKER MOSER, Co-founder and Partner, Intercultural trainer

Volker is a Partner and Co-Founder of City Compass Group and runs its media business services. He also works as a City Compass Intercultural Consultant and is specialized in trainings, workshops and consulting services, targeted to the needs of international executives and their families coming to Romania. Delivers in German, English and Romanian.


Bogdan Popa 2015


BOGDAN POPA, Cultural Historical Expert

Born, raised, educated, and currently living in Bucharest. Holds a PhD in History from the University of Bucharest and, as his title describes best, he is a cultural and historical consultant for City Compass. Been featured in several international TV-documentaries about Romanian history and delivers tours in English, German and Romanian.

Please contact us at [email protected] for more details or a personalized offer.


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

The Romanian Banat: a land of gorges and wilderness

Just like its inhabitants living together – Romanians, Hungarians, Germans and Serbs – the land of Banat in Western Romania reflects harmony and diversity in its surprising variety of landscapes: from the depths of caves, the wilderness of forests and mountains to the peaceful flow of the Danube through the gorge where it enters Romania. Banat’s natural attractions make up a long list worth taking the time to travel there. We came up with a top 5 places, each of them worthy of a long article:

Clisura Dunării

The name comes from the Serbian word “klisura” and means the Danube Gorge or Gate. The place also known as Defileul Dunării is actually the area where the Danube enters Romania. Located in southern Romanian Banat, at the border with Serbia this place includes tourist attractions like the Baziaş Gulf, the Dead Nera (Nera Moartă in Romanian; Nera is a river crossing Banat region and entering Danube in Clisura) natural reservation, the Dacian fortress or the castrum (Roman camp) in Divici or the Martins’ Lavin (Râpa cu lăstuni in Romanian) natural reservation in Divici. A lacustrine village opened with European funds in gulf Berzasca in Clisura should make 30 bungalows available to tourists starting this spring.

By car, Clisura Dunării can be reached from Timişoara on road DN 57 up to Oraviţa, then Moldova Nouă. In Naidăş locality take the road to Zlatiţa, Socol and Baziaş, all three of them localities in Clisura Dunării.


Cheile Nerei – Beuşniţa National Park

The wilderness in Cheile Nerei is still untouched thanks to the difficult access in the area. Spreading on almost 37000 hectares around the middle course of the Nera River, this karst area hides an amazing floral richness, very diverse and unique landscapes. The main attractions here are the gorge dug by Nera River and its tributaries, the karst lakes Eye of the Bey (Ochiul Beiului in Romanian) and Devil’s Lake (Lacul Dracului in Romanian), the waterfalls Beuşniţa, Bigăr and Şuşara, the caves and abysses Plopa, Ponor, Dubova and Ox’s Cave (Peştera Boilor).

Cheile Nerei- Beuşniţa national park is located in the south region of Aninei Mountains in Caraş-Severin County. The park can be reached on roads: Resita – Oravita – Sasca Montană, Reşiţa – Oraviţa – Anina – Bozovici, Reşiţa – Anina – Bozovici, Bozovici – Şopotu Nou – Cărbunari.


The abyss in the Clearing of the Pit (Poiana Gropii in Romanian)

With a difference of level of -236 meters and a length of 1029 meters, this is the deepest abyss (very deep chasm) in Banat. It is actually a chain of steep wells and galleries with a creek at the end of it, the trail of which gets lost in a deep gallery. Unfortunately, the abyss can be visited by experienced speleologists only, but a visit to its impressive entrance can be very interesting.

The abyss is located at about 6 kilometers from Cuptoare locality in Caraş-Severin County, close to the mountain trail marked by the blue dot which starts behind the forest canton Poiana Bichii.


The Semenic – Cheile Caraşului National Park

Canyons, caves, pit caves, sinkholes, ridges, valleys, pasture and forests that stretch on Anina and Semenic Mountains form eight natural reservations brought together under the name of Semenic – Cheile Caraşului National Park. In this strictly protected area, any form of use or exploitation of natural resources, any form of usage of the land is forbidden.  That is why, tourists can experience untouched wilderness in the caves Răsuflătoarei, Comarnic, Popovaţ and  Exploratorii ’85 (Explorers ’85 in Romanain), Nera’s Springs (Izvoarele Nerei in Romanian), the gorges Cheile Caraşului and Cheile Gârliştei, Caraşului Springs (Izvoarele Caraşului in Romanian), Buhui, Turbării.

From Bucharest, the Semenic – Cheile Caraşului National Park can be reached on road E70 (Bucharest – Craiova – Drobeta-Turnu Severin – Orşova – Topleţ) and national road DN6 – Mehadia.

By car, access to the park is possible from any locality surrounding it: Reşita, Iabalcea, Carasova, Anina, Prigor, Crivaia or Gărâna (the last of them hosts of one of the most popular jazz festivals in Romania).


The Sphinx of Banat

Also known as the Sphinx in Topleț, this enigmatic megalith is still a reason for controversy among specialists. According to some, the 16 meters high and 8 meters wide rock resembling the head of a man was naturally formed in time, through wind and rain erosion. Others believe that its striking resemblance with an impressive, mysterious human profile is the result of an anthropomorphic representation.

The rock is located on Cernei Valley in Caraș-Severin County, on road E70 Bucharest – Timisoara. It can be seen from distance, across the Cerna river, on the right side of the road to Timisoara, after Toplet, about 3 kilometers before reaching the train station at Băile Herculane.


Photo source: Clisura Dunării facebook

Schitul Dărvari, a hermitage at the heart of Bucharest

If you didn’t know it’s there, the thick walls at 3 Schitul Dărvari Street would tell nothing about it. Although the name of the street makes it clear enough for a child to figure out the riddle, it is still hard to believe that this is a hermitage at the heart of the capital.

However many books and articles are being written about Bucharest, some places remain unknown by most passers-by and tourists, to the delight of hunters of urban hidden treasures. Regardless of religion, this hermitage is an oasis of tranquility for anyone to enjoy, just a couple of minutes away from the heavy traffic in Romană Square.

Schitul Dărvari was founded in 1834 in the central area of the city, near the Grădina Icoanei (Garden of the Icon in English) park. Some years later it hosted 12 nuns who cared for the church and sang at the offices. In 1864, the hermitage was closed, only to reopen five years later when Romanian monks returning from the famous Athos Mountain in Greece found shelter here. In 1933, Schitul Dărvari was restored by the grandson of the founder and the church was painted in fresco by Iosif Keber, in neo-Byzantine style. In 1959 the hermitage was closed by the communist authorities, leaving the hermitage to reopen only in 1996, after the fall of the communist regime.

Today, Schitul Dărvari is inhabited once again and has been officially declared a historical monument.

Visiting hours

The gate of the hermitage opens every morning at 07:30 and closes in the evening at 19:30.

Office hours

For those who want to listen to an Orthodox office, the church at the hermitage holds daily offices: in the morning, from 07:30 to 10:30, and in the evening, from 17:00 to 18:30.

Frankincense workshop

Schitul Dărvari opened a frankincense workshop using the original recipe and technology from the monasteries at Athos Mountain in Greece. Frankincense (tămâie in Romanian, from thymanea in Latin) is used in all Orthodox rituals and symbolizes a gift offered to God as a sign of thankfulness. It is actually an aromatic resin of exotic trees of the genus Boswellia from India and South Arabia.

At Schitul Dărvari, you can find six fragrances: Bizantino, Pascalia, Athos, Bethleem, Jasmin, Gardenia and Rose. A 50 grams box costs RON 5 and a 10 grams box – RON 1.5.


Photo source: Schitul Dărvari official website

Taking a walk on the wilde side: Retezat National Park

Probably the most impressive mountains in the country, the Retezat National Park –is the place to visit for those looking for wild adventures in Romania. With twenty peaks of over 2.000 meters (the highest peak, Peleaga, reaches 2.509 meters) and 80 glacial lakes, including Bucura Lake (pictured) – the largest glacial lake in the country – this is the most complex mountain massif in Romania’s Carpathians. Located in the Southern Carpathians, in Hunedoara County, this UNESCO biosphere reserve covers over 38.000 hectares of the Retezat-Godeanu massif. Not only does it have spectacular, truly breath-taking views, it is also the home of the rare chamois, lynx, wildcats, roe deer, red deer, bears, wolves or wild boars. Retezat is also famous for its floral diversity, sheltering around 1190 superior plants species of the 3450 species known in Romania. Out of them, 130 are rare ones, included in the “Red list of superior plants in Romania”.

To enter the park costs only RON 10, while for kids under 14 years old entrance is free. The ticket is valid for one week, regardless of the number of times you enter the park during this period. The ticket can be paid at the visiting points in Nucşoara, Gura Apei, at the Codrin (Cârnic) Hut, the Pietrele Hut and at the other access points in the park available on the official website (page in Romanian).


Tourist attractions nearby

  • The Dinosaur Geopark in Ţara Haţegului – a special protected area where dwarf dinossaurs, unique in the world, have been discovered;
  • The bison reservation in Haţeg – Slivuţ – read more about it here;
  • Defileul Jiului National Park – a gorge formed by the Jiu River between the Vâlcan Mountains and Parâng Mountains;
  • The ruins of the Roman camp at Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, the former capital of Roman Dacia and the museum with artifacts from that period;
  • The Prislop Monastery – one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Romania, built in 1400 by the monk Nicodim with the help of legendary ruler Mircea cel Bătrân.


How to get there from Bucharest, by car

The easiest way is to take the road E81 from Bucharest to Râmnicu Vâlcea, then road 67 up to Târgu Jiu. From Târgu Jiu turn right on E79 and enjoy the view as you cross the national park Defileul Jiului. When you reach Ohaba de Sub Piatră, turn left on road 667 A and drive through villages Sălaşu de Jos, Sălaşu de Sus and Mălăieşti to reach Nucşoara. This is where you will find the park administration, at number 284.

The administration of the Retezat Park can be contacted by e-mal at [email protected] or by phone at +40 733 888 586.


Where to stay (guesthouses)

Pensiunea Retezat
Address: 351 Nisipoasa St., Clopotiva village, Râu de Mori locality, Hunedoara County
Phone: +40 254 897 119, +40 758 836 582

Cabana Retezat
Address: 321 Clopotiva village, Râu de Mori locality, Hunedoara County
Phone: +40 754 037 921, +40 374 901 243

Casa Iulia
Address: 112 Horea St., Haţeg, Hunedoara County
Phone: +40 761 320 778

Cabana Foresta
Address: 10 Cabanelor St., Câmpu lui Neag, Lupeni, Hunedoara County
Phone: +40 741 155 151

Address: 82, Sarmizegetusa, Hunedoara County
Phone: +40 744 794 051

Weekend escapade: Ploiesti

At around one hour drive from Bucharest, on the way to Prahova Valley, sits Ploiesti, a city of around 200,000 people and the ninth most populous in Romania. A transport hub and an important industrial and oil industry center, Ploiesti emerged as a trade and manufacturing town in the 17th and 18th centuries. During the 19th century the city was an important oil extraction and refinery site, which also made it the target of the Allies during the World War II. Ploiesti is also known as the place of the self-proclaimed Republic of Ploiesti, a short-lived 1870 revolt against the Romanian monarchy.

Although not a traditional tourist destination, the city is home to several unique museums in the country. The Oil Museum opened in 1961 and hosts several historical oil extraction equipment, oil-based street lamps and various items documenting the history of the oil industry in the area and in the country. The Clock Museum, currently undergoing renovation, hosts almost 1,000 items from all over Europe, among which a 1634 wood pendulum activated by a water fall, the first pocket watch, tower horologes and many other pieces crafted by British, French or Swiss master watchmakers.

Also on the cultural side, the city is home to the Ploiesti Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the top-rated philharmonic orchestras in the country. Architecturally, there is a wealth of 19th century buildings to see but also the 1785 Hagi Prodan Museum. Built by local merchant Hagi Prodan, it exemplifies old Romanian architecture and for a short time it also hosted the first museum in Ploiesti – the county museum.

Halele CentraleYou can see some of the city’s most historical parts by taking a walk on the Chestnuts Boulevard (Bulevardul cu Castani), which links its South train station to the center. On the way, you can check the building of the Clock Museum, the county Art Museum – hosting pieces by landmark Romanian painters such as Nicolae Grigorescu, Theodor Aman, Gheorghe Tattarescu, Ion Andreescu or Stefan Luchian – or the History Museum. A visit through the city wouldn’t be complete without a stop to the main market – Halele Centrale (pictured), hosted in a 1930 building designed by architect Toma Socolescu, whose name is linked to many works in the city whose mayor he also was.

Macea Botanical Garden

Close to Arad, in western Romania, the locality of Macea hosts a beautiful historical monument and botanical garden surrounding it.

The botanical garden today belongs to the West University in Arad but started as a park developed by Tibor Karolyi around the castle his father had bought from its initial owner, Petru Csernovics. He hired gardener Josif Prohaska to manage the landscaping works and a pool, a fountain, a tennis court, rows of flowers and new alleys and many new species of plants and trees were added to the park between 1900 and 1902.

In 1935 the castle changes owners again, and approximately 10 hectares of woods are being cut from the site. After undergoing a period of unfortunate transformations between 1935 and 1968, the park receives the statute of ‘dendrologic site’ and under the supervision of professor Pavel Covaci the network of alleys is being rebuilt, new species are introduced and a greenhouse is set up.

If in 1968, around 60 ligneous species were growing in the park, over 2,000 species of plants and trees can be found today as part of the garden. Some of the species to be found here are the Maidenhair tree, the red cedar, the European ash or the Pagoda tree.

Macea CastleWhile visiting the garden, an important attraction point remains the Macea castle, built starting with 1724 by Serbian family Csernovics. Ranked as a historical monument, the castle combines baroque and byzantine elements with details of modern architecture.

How to get there:

You can take the E81 and DN7/E68 as shown here.

Alternative Bucharest: Halele Carol

For those interested in the alternative venues of the capital, Halele Carol make a good example of a re-conversion that turned the former Hesper plant into a culture and events site. Along with other former industrial sites of the capital, such as the Bragadiru Palace and Factory or Customs Warehouse – the Ark, it stands proof of attempts to recover the city’s industrial heritage.

The plant started as a small shop established by Swiss engineer Erhardt Wolff in 1877 in Ghencea and transferred in 1887 on its current site. Soon the establishment expanded its activity and started manufacturing military equipment and installations for the heating industry. In 1921 the plot upon which the plant stood had a 15,000 sqm surface, it had its own internal railway and was directly linked through a deposit line to the railway station. During the Second World War, the plant manufactured mainly army-related equipment, while afterwards the production was geared towards equipment for the construction industry. The changing activity of the site is reflected also in the various names it carried through the years, from the Wolff-Hesper Factory to Steaua Rosie (the Red Star) to the present day Hesper.

Halele Carol3Once a new the urban plan for the Carol Park area was elaborated, the site was included in the green area, where the existing constructions would be turned into multi-functional spaces, serving as locations for sports, exhibitions and performances. Since the beginning of the year Halele Carol accommodated music concerts of alternative bands, music festival Rokolectiv, a Nordic Film night and many other architecture and design events.

If you manage to visit the site by September you can still catch the current exhibition of works by Norwegian artists and architect. Tackling the theme of post-industrial design, the exhibition is organized in partnership with the Norwegian art center USF Bergen and includes five large wood and metal objects that are meant to improve the appearance of the space.

Photo source:

The whirlwind Vida lake

Spectacular water colors and an unusual development are the trademarks of the Vida Luncasprie lake in Bihor county. What sets the lake apart is the overflow in its middle, creating the impression of a whirlwind.

The lake is actually the accumulating site of a dam, built with a funnel-shaped overflow, meat to prevent the lower the water pressure on the dam in case of heavy rains. The overflow now sits in middle of the lake and gives it its unusual appearance.

The surrounding woods mirror on the lakes six-hectare surface making it change its colors with the seasons. The lake is about two kilometers long, running alongside a forestry road from where the entire scenery can be admired, away from noise, crowds and traffic.

The Vida Gorge is nearby and is also worth a visit. For those with a drive to explore more, the Rosia valley in close vicinity is home to tens of caves, the best-known of which are the Farcu crystals cave and the Meziad cave. The roads nearby are used for off-road sports while the lake is a good destination for fishing.

How to get there: take the E81 and DN76/E79, passing through Ramnicu Valcea, Sibiu and Hunedoara. The route can be checked here.

Photo source:

Weekend escapade: the Tepes Castle in Bucharest

Romanian 15th century prince Vlad Tepes inspired many thrilling stories, most famously Bram Stocker’s Dracula character. What is less known is the Tepes castle in Bucharest, found in the Carol Park.
The castle is a replica of the Poenari fortress in Arges county, built at the beginning of the 13th century. The Bucharest castle however was built in the 19th century by King Carol I of Romania. The castle was inaugurated in 1906 as part of Romania’s General Exhibition held in the Carol Park to celebrate the king’s 40 years of reign. The exhibition was also meant to showcase the way in which Romania had progressed between 1866 and 1906.
Architects Stefan Burcus and V. Stephanescu worked on the plan of the building for which Carol I ordered a water tower. This was incorporated in the castle’s 23 meters tall tower and has a capacity to 200 cubic meters. Winding wooden stairs take the visitor to the tower platform where they can admire the view of the Carol Park and of Bucharest. The entire building is dressed in stone and red bricks.
After inauguration, the castle accommodated many exhibitions and was visited often by Romania’s royal family. During the 1920s it became a site where troops guarding the Monument of the Unknown Soldier were stationed and between 1942 and 1944 several additional barracks were built in the vicinity to accommodate further troops.
Starting with the 1990s, the castle was used as headquarters for a gendarmerie sub-unit and in 2004 it became the official headquarters of the National Bureau for the Celebration of Heroes, an institution under the custody of the National Defense Ministry.

Nowadays the castle opens for visiting only on Museums’ Night but you can still take in its architecture while taking a walk in the Carol Park. The address is 6 General Candiano Popescu St.

Photo source:

Weekend escapade: Chiajna Monastery

The site of the Chiajna Monastery, until recently abandoned, has given rise to plenty of urban legends, outside of its historical and architectural value. The site was even used as an escalating wall by training mountain climbers or as a screen set for various local music videos.

Located in the North West part of Bucharest, at the periphery of the Giulesti – Sarbi neighborhood, the monastery is a historical monument dating back to the 18th century. Its construction started during the reign of Prince Alexandru Ipsilanti and was finished during the time of Phanariot ruler Nicolae Mavrogheni (1786 – 1790). It is a neo-classical monument, impressive in size for the constructions of the time: 43 meters long and 17 meters wide, with walls as thick as 1-2 meters.

Chiajna MonasteryArchitecturally, the monastery is unique in the sense that it merges local and post-Bracovan architecture with neo-classical construction. Because of its fortress-looking aspect, it was bombed by the Ottoman army in 1814 and in 1821 it was completely abandoned to the ruin it is today. The monastery never accommodated a religious service as it was bombed before being consecrated. Despite its deterioration, the building survived several earthquakes and attempts to have it tore down as theft of bricks from the construction began to happen. The building of the railroad linking Bucharest to Craiova, which is about 30 meters away from the site, also weakened the structure of the monument.

Several attempts to restore the monastery were made between 1950 and 1970 but the site only deteriorated further as after 1977 when the ruins of the Bucharest that fell down at the earthquake were discarded nearby, at the former Chiajna garbage dump.  In 1993 a perimeter of 10,000 sqm was added to the monastery to support its restoration and in 2008 the monastery was reactivated as a religious site, carrying the name of Marry, Mother of God and of Saint John Jacob the Romanian. In 2012 a wooden church, designed after the model of the ones that can be found in Maramures, was built on the site and religious services began to be held there.

You can find the Chiajna Monastery at 172 Drumul Sabareni. The route there on Google Maps is available here.

Photo source: Wikipedia

Weekend escapade: Nucsoara village – nature & history

In Southern Central Romania sits the Nucsoara commune, often recognized as an idyllic place, still capturing the ways of a traditional local village. The commune is made up of four villages: Gruiu, Nucsoara, Sboghitesti and Slatina, all in Arges county, some 180 km from capital Bucharest.

It sits at the bottom of the Fagarasi mountains, at an altitude of 879 meters and the richness of landscapes that can be admired is only enhanced by the two peaks framing its borders: the Magura peak and the Varful Strungii peak, each at a height of approximately 1,000 meters. The Gruiu hill, covered with wide pastures and fruit trees, and the Neagului and Dealuri hills, heavy on beech and fir trees woods, are also in the vicinity. The place is perfect for hiking, mountain trailing or simply relaxing over a quiet weekend.

Besides its natural beauty, Nucsoara also stands out for its recent history, as one of the places hosting one of the tens of groups of resistance against communism. The anti-communist resistance began in 1945 and lasted for more than 20 years, some groups of isolated fighters making it into the 70s. The people enrolled in the resistance movement hid in the mountains and were hoping to intervene to change the regime in the event of a war between the UK – US alliance and the Soviet Union. The group in Nucsoara was the longest standing in the country.

There are a few villas in the area where you can check in and you can probably find a place as the tourist traffic is not very high, making Nucsoara perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Photographer Cezar Machidon recently captured the beauty of the place in the Spring in Nucsoara series.

To find Nucsoara on the map, and figure out your way there, check Google Maps here.

(Photo source:

A Romantic escapade: going through the Tunnel of Love

South Western Romania is home to a recently discovered and less-traveled site with photographic potential and dreamy atmosphere. Getting there requires dedication as it is not formally signalized but the photos of it that emerged so far look like it is worth taking the time to do it.

The Tunnel of Love, as it was called for its resemblance with the similarly-named Ukrainian one in Klevan, was accidentally discovered by two amateur photographers from Otelu Rosu city, in Caras Severin county. Florin Avramescu and Mihai Tamasila stumbled upon the place while looking for an area to shoot a sunset. They saw the location, realized the photographic potential and decided to return in spring-summer, when the green nature would add more color and personality to the setting.

The site is located in between Obreja and Glimboca villages in the South-Western Romanian county Caras-Severin, on the railroad linking Otelu Rosu to Caransebes. The ‘tunnel’ denomination comes from the overgrown foliage on both sides of the tracks meeting and forming a natural corridor. It can be reached by getting on the road that connects Obreja and Glimboca and then going out on the left hand road (coming from Glimboca), although it is best to use a GPS and ask around once there.

The photographers posted the images online but didn’t mention where they were taken, which led most to believe they were shot in Ukraine. An explanation and further images followed and the site was included in 2014 on a list of off-the-beaten-path gems of the European Union, put together by the European Parliament.

As far as the accessibility of the area is concerned, the place is not signalized and until rising to online fame the inhabitants of the area didn’t identify it as more than a less-traveled railway portion.  Representatives of the Romanian Railroads have even argued that the overgrown foliage should be cut in order to make room for the train wagons to circulate properly as a safety measure. The railroad is currently circulated by several freight trains supplying the companies in the area.

Iron GatesIf you do make it to Caras Severin county to see the local Tunnel of Love, there are several other sites worth the stop, such as the Baile Herculane and Semenic resorts, the national parks of Beusinta, Cheile Carasului and Valea Cernei or the spectacular Danube Iron Gates park (pictured).

Photo of the Tunnel of Love: Florin Avramescu

Weekend escapade: star gazing at the Bucharest Astronomic Observatory

The recent partial solar eclipse was the kind of astronomic event which requires insights from professionals, like the ones to be found at the Admiral Vasile Urseanu Astronomic Observatory in Bucharest.

Built in the first decade of the last century, the building inaugurated in 1910, something the Romanian astronomy magazine Orion documented in its pages at the time. The history of the observatory, the only one open to the public in the capital city, 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.”

The observatory was endowed at its opening with a 150 mm Zeiss telescope with a focal length of 2.7 meters, being the third largest in the country at the time. After the admiral died in 1926 the telescope was dismantled and the activity in the building stopped. In 1933 the admiral’s widow donated the building to the Bucharest municipality, under the condition that it keeps the memory of its initial use.

In May 1950 the observatory reopened for the public and a first exhibition on astronomy topics opened in 1952. Starting with the 60s, the observatory started being endowed with new equipment and in 1968 the Bucharest Astroclub, a group of amateur astronomers, was established here. After 1990 the building accommodated the headquarters of the Romanian Spatial Agency and in 1996 the Observatory was re-inaugurated as the Municipal Astronomic Observatory.

In 2008, the Observatory was endowed with a MEADE LX200R telescope with a diameter of 30 centimeters and a lens that allows Sun observation at a different wave length. In 2009 it inaugurated a new presentation called, Traveling through Universe, a virtual tour of the universe that several thousand visitors took part in so far.

Bucharest Astronomic Observatory 3Starting with October 2014 astronomic observations are being held at the Old Court (Curtea Veche) in the Old Town of Bucharest, close to Hanul lui Manuc. Observation sessions are held only if the sky is clear according to the following schedule.

The Astronomic Observatory can be visited individually or in groups. Guidance is free and available in Romanian and English.

Weekend escapade: Bucharest network of fortifications

As Bucharest is continuously expanding its boundaries, there is however a reminder of the city’s 19th century limits in the form of a network of fortifications built by King Carol I after the Independence War, which brought the country the exit from the Ottoman Empire.

In line with the military and strategic thinking of the time, 18 forts, placed at distances of 4 kilometers each, were built. The forts were placed in a 70-kilometers ring around Bucharest and between each fort an artillery battery was set. This defensive ring of Bucharest used to stand about 7 kilometers from the city’s limits, in order to ensure increased protection in case of a siege. They were named after localities which now are very close to the city’s limits: Chitila, Mogosoaia, Otopeni, Tunari, Stefanesti, Afumati. The surface of the constructions totals over 120 hectares and some forts spread on over 11.60 hectares.

Construction works, drafted by Belgian military architect Henri Alexis Brialmont, began in 1884 and ended officially in 1895 but various other works were performed until 1903. The costs of the project also increased to what was estimated at three times the time’s annual budget of the army. The project ended up costing 111.5 million gold lei, compared to a set initial budget of 15 million.

JilavaBesides the network of tunnels, all forts were connected by a road and a railway, which today is Bucharest’s ring road DN100. Once air strikes began to be used and other military advances were made with explosives, the use of forts fell into obsolesce. To this day, most the forts continue to be abandoned. The Fort 18 in Chiajna was used as a market for pickled goods during communist times. Fort 13 Jilava (pictured, small) was turned, starting with 1907 into a military prison and was the place were political prisoners were held o executed during Communism. It still is a penitentiary today.

The landmark constructions surrounding Bucharest stand now covered with vegetation and are disintegrating but some initiatives have emerged to make the story known and restore them, perhaps with a different use.

How to get there?

The forts are close to the Bucharest ring road. The car is probably the best option, followed by walking, although it is advisable to go there with someone who knows the area.

Weekend escapade: Xenofon stairways street in Bucharest

The road to Bucharest’s highest altitude point is a unique one in the capital. The Xenofon street, as it is named, is often referenced as the city’s only stairways street. The 200 years old and narrow road is less than 100 meters long but has over 100 steps, and links the Constantin Istrati street to the Suter alley. It is named after Greek philosopher Xenofon, author of famed Anabasis, describing the adventures of returning home of an army of 10,000 Greek mercenaries, as they were passing through the Persian Empire.

The only Bucharest street cars never travelled is divided into two sections, linked by a small passage. On the right side, going up, the visitor sees a grey wall, on the left side the yard of two families.  At the end of the stairs one can find the Suter rotunda and the building of the former Suter palace, more than a century old.

In 1895 the swamps surrounding the site were turned into a park, to mark the General Romanian Exhibition of 1906. Swiss architect Adolf Suter worked on designing and building the park and bought the land on the top of the Filaret hill to build a small palace here. The palace is called today Carol Park Hotel. It accommodates one of the largest Murano crystal chandeliers in the world, stretching over four stories tall.

Xenofon street unpaintedLast year, the street got a facelift when, as part of a socio-cultural project, painter Eva Radu colored the street with eight images of some of Bucharest’s cultural and historical landmarks. The steps leading up to the Carol Park hotel were painted with representations of the Romanian Atheneum, the Triumph Arch, the Carol Park Mausoleum, the People’s Palace, the National Art Museum, the Romanian Peasant Museum, the National Theater and the National Opera. The paint used was meant to last at least a year so you can still check them out and see how it compares with Rio de Janeiro’s Selaron or San Francisco’s 16th Avenue Tiled Steps.


Bucharest film viewing: where to get the retro experience?

Up until 1990, there were approximately 450 cinemas in Romania in the publicly-owned network. After the revolution many of them were closed for lack of funding, their locations were turned into supermarkets or gaming venues, and they started to loose viewers to the recently developed multiplexes inside of malls. Some estimates say less than 30 such cinemas can be found throughout Romania today. Consequently, the distribution of local or independent films remains limited as mall cinemas distribute mostly international releases. Last year the organizers of the Transylvania International Film Festival started the Save the Silver Screen campaign, trying to prevent the further closure of older cinema in neighborhoods and raise funding for their modernization. You can still support the initiative by choosing to see films at any of these non-mall venues, where in most cases tickets are priced about half of what they do at a mall cinema.

Cinema Europa is one of the longest-standing cinema halls in Bucharest, having been built 1935. Standing at 127 Calea Mosilor, the 274 seats cinema is now part of the Europa cinemas network, which distributes European films. The building was refurbished and the viewing conditions have improved with a dolby stereo sound system, upgraded heating system and air conditioning. A Facebook page was recently created to support this place.

Cinema Corso, located close to the Cismigiu park, was also refurbished in 2009. With a 273 seats capacity, it draws an audience looking for a more intimate and welcoming atmosphere. It usually runs local and European films.

The Patria Cinema on Magheru boulevard adds to the list of the traditional cinemas still standing in the capital city. It accommodates 1,014 seats and offers special tickets for the elderly, children under 14 and people with disabilities. It also features a 3D Caffe Cinema and a 50 seats VIP room.

Known as the venue hosting most of the film festivals in Bucharest, Cinema Studio is located in one of Bucharest’s art-deco buildings. It is equipped with a digital projector, a new screen and its surround sound system was also refurbished.

If you’re more into modern cinema, or you’d like an alternative, here’s a list of cinemas, including multiplexes, across Bucharest.

(photo source: Cinema Europa)

How to make a traditional Romanian Easter lunch

This is a good time of the year to impress you dear ones with how much you know about your new home and its cuisine. Whether it’s you family back home or your new friends in Romania, plan a surprise and cook them a Romanian Easter menu. It is rather simple to do it and fun. You can even invite them over to cook together. We came up with the best-known dishes Romanians cook on Easter. Here are the recipes:


Drob (similar to a haggis; cooking time: about 120 minutes)

Ingredients: lamb guts (heart, liver, kidney), 5oo grams of chicken liver, 4 boiled eggs, 4 raw eggs, 4 bunches of spring onions, 3 bunches of fresh parsley, 3 bunches of fresh dill, 2 slices of bread, one cup of milk, salt, pepper and bread crumbs.

Place the lamb guts and chicken liver in a saucepan with cold water for about an hour. Wash them well and boil them in clean water with salt. If they make foam, make sure you clear the foam with a spatula or sieve. Boil 4 eggs for about 5 minutes from the moment the water starts boiling. Chop finely the spring onions, the parsley and the dill. Let the lamb guts and chicken liver cool well and then grind them together with the two slices of bread soaked in milk. Mix them together with the chopped herbs and raw eggs and add salt and pepper. Grease a baking pan (the form is the same as the one used for the cozonac recipe, see below) with oil and dust it with the bread crumbs. Place half of the mixture in it, put the boiled eggs and then pour over the rest of the composition. Bake it for 40 – 45 minutes.


Lamb sour soup (cooking time: about 45 minutes)

Ingredients: 1 kg of lamb meat and bones, 2 or 3 bunches of green onions, 1 dry onion, 2 carrots, 1 parsley root, 3 or 4 spoons of vegetable oil to cook the vegetables, 30 – 40 grams of rice, 2 bunches of fresh lovage, 1 liter of fresh borş (fermented mix of bran and water) or the juice from one lemon, 2 yolks, cream and salt.

Chop finely the green onions, the dry onion, the carrots and parsley root, then cook them just a bit in oil. Wash the meat well put it in cold water to boil. Once it starts boiling, throw away the water, wash the meat well and the put it back to boil in fresh water. Put the cooked vegetables to boil together with the meat. When they are almost done, wash the rice and add it in. after the rice is boiled, add the borş or the juice from one lemon. Let it simmer until the meat is well cooked. Turn off the stove and add the fresh herbs. Mix the two yolks in a bowl and add soup from the cooking pot, little by little, until the bowl fills, mixing gently. Add this to the soup and mix well.


Cozonac (traditional cake Romanians make on Easter and Christmas) – check out the recipe for cozonac here


Pască (pictured; traditional round cake with cottage cheese and raisins Romanians make on Easter and Christmas; cooking time: about 50 minutes)

Ingredients: Dough – 2 ½ teaspoons of dried yeast, 1 cup of warm milk, ½ cup of sugar, 80 grams of soft butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 eggs, 4 ½ cups of flour (type 000, available in any hypermarket). Filling – 500 grams of cottage cheese, sugar, 3 eggs, 3 teaspoons of vanilla-flavored powdered sugar, raisins, 5 tablespoons of semolina and lemon zest.

Put the yeast in warm milk, adding the soft butter. Mix well the eggs with sugar and add salt. Pour it over the milk, add the vanilla-flavored sugar and the flour. Knead until you have an elastic dough, slightly sticky, but which doesn’t stick to hands. Cover it and let it rise until it doubles its size. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing together all its ingredients. Split the dough into three unequal parts. Spread one in a greased and dusted baking pan. Split the second into two: from one, make decorations to put on top of the cake, and from the second make a ribbon to place around the walls of the cooking pan. The last part of the dough is used to make a braided ring to be placed on top of the ribbon. Add the filling, grease well the top of the cake with a mixed egg and put it in the oven. Take it out when it is browned enough.


Painted eggs (cooking time: 15 minutes)

Ingredients: 10 eggs, kit for painting eggs (available in any hypermarket in various colors), 7-8 tablespoons of grape vinegar, oil.

Wash the eggs well and put them to boil in water for about 10 minutes. In another pot, boil 200 ml water, add the egg paint from the kit and the grape vinegar, add the eggs. Take them out after 2 minutes (or the time mentioned in the instructions on the kit) on a plate to cool. Grease them with oil for shine, once they are dry.



Train stations to visit in Bucharest

Whether for a historical curiosity, an interest in the capital’s less visited sights or a search for good photo opportunities, a tour of Bucharest’s train stations has something to offer to everyone.

The oldest train station in the capital is Gara Filaret. It was inaugurated in 1869 as the capital’s first and the only one until 1872, when the Gara de Nord station opened. In 1960 its use was changed into a bus station but since its establishment, the area surrounding Gara Filaret was one of flourishing trade. In its close vicinity one can find the Carol Park but also many other industrial-purpose sites such as the Matches Factory, the National Minting and the Stamps Plant. The first train to leave the Filaret station had King Carol I of Romania as passenger.

Gara de NordThe construction of Bucharest’s and the country’s largest train station – Gara de Nord – kicked off in 1868. When it opened in 1872 so did the Roman-Galati-Bucuresti-Pitesti route. The building of the station combines classical architecture elements with ArtDeco details. The area itself where the station stands is filled with ArtDeco and Modernist-style buildings. Initially the station was called Gara Targovistei as one of the streets upon which the building overlooks today – Calea Grivitei – was called Calea Targovistei. The building is U shaped and made of two parallel buildings linked through a corridor. Nowadays, almost 200 trains make their way in and out of the station. There is a direct link from here to the Henri Coanda International Airport, through a train operated by the Romanian Railways Company CFR Calatori. Around 10,000 people are estimated to pass through the station daily. When getting to and departing the station beware of over-priced cabs parked in the area and offering transport.

Very close to Gara de Nord stands Gara Basarab. Built in 1959, it is used mainly as a railway node for short-distance running trains. It is served by the Basarab subway stations and several bus lines. A visit there can be a good opportunity to admire the views from the recently built Basarab overpass to which it links.

Also in the historical sites series is Gara Baneasa. Although rarely used today, it remains known as the Royal Train station because it was built in 1936 with the purpose of accommodating guests of the royal family of Romania. It had this purpose until 1947 when it was turned into a presidential station. After 1950, the communist authorities used it to welcome foreign dignitaries here. You can find it close to the Miorita fountain and Miorita bridge in Northern Bucharest, to which it shares common architectural elements. Another royal train station is to be found in Sinaia, the city accommodating the Peles castle.

And for the ultimate railways enthusiast, the tour of Bucharest train stations can be expanded with visits to sites out of use or of changed used today. The two now-extinct stations of the capital are Gara Herastrau, which used to stand close to the Herastrau park and Gara Dealul Spirii. The latter was part of the destroyed Uranus neighborhood.  Currently under renovation works is Gara Progresul, hosting the rail link of the country to Bulgaria. A transformed station is Gara Cotroceni, which lends its name to two train stations in the capital city. The first one used to stand close to the Cotroceni palace and was used by royal trains. After 1950 it was put out of use and turned into an entrance building for the Cotroceni palace.


Festivals in Romania to go to this year

Besides the upsurge of festivals that Bucharest has seen over the past years, Romania is home to many other arts& music festivals catering to the hippest and edgiest of audiences.

One of the oldest-standing such event is the Transylvania International Film Festival, scheduled to take place this year between May 29th and June 7th in Cluj Napoca. Established in 2002, it was the first international film festival in Romania and has its 14th edition approaching. The multitude of screenings, events and concerts, outstanding films selection and high-spirited atmosphere make it a go-to event each year for cinema die-hards and newbies alike. It is the event at which the most important domestic productions are released nationally, from Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr. Lazarescu to Alexandru Maftei’s Miss Christina. Over the years, it awarded many personalities of European and worldwide film, such as Julie Delpy, Vanessa Redgrave, Catherine Deneuve, Claudia Cardinale, Wim Wenders, Jacqueline Bisset, Geraldine Chaplin or Jiri Menzel, who came to Cluj to collect their distinction.

Classical music lovers will get their share of entertainment when the George Enescu Festival begins in Bucharest in September. Running once every two years, the festival is expected to bring this year around 2,500 foreign artists and 500 national artists at 58 concerts. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra will play at this year’s event for the first time, led by conductor Sir Simon Rattle. Other top orchestra lined up for the 2015 edition are: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, San Francisco Symphony, Munchen Opera Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Sankt Petersburg Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Bayerische Staatoper, Royal Liverpool Symphony Orchestra and Monte Carlo Philharmonic while the Romanian side will be represented by the National Youth Orchestra, George Enescu Choir and Orchestra Philharmonic and the Radio Hall National Orchestra with the Radio Academic Choir. Among artists headlining the event are: Anne Sophie Mutter, Fazil Say, Murray Perahia, Yfrem Bronfman, Andras Schiff, Pierre Laurent Aimard, Maria Joao Pires, Renaud and Gautier Capucon, David Garett, Alexandra Dariescu and Janine Jansen. Subscriptions to the event sold out the day they were put on sale but individual tickets are still available on

On the other side of the musical spectrum comes the Electric Castle Festival, getting ready for is third run this year. It is held on the domain of the Bontida Banffy Castle, close to Cluj-Napoca, and documented since the 16th century. It offers participants all-day urban activities, ranging from extreme sports to audio-video production workshops, and a variety of electronic music, all set in a historical location. This year over 150 artists are expected to line up. You can get there by car, with buses running from Cluj to the location over the duration of the festival or by train (to Cluj-Napoca).

As far as theater experiences are concerned, the Sibiu International Theater Festival has become, during the 19 years since its establishment, a landmark for attendees in more than 68 countries. This year the festival is scheduled to run from June 12th to the 21st. Besides the performances shown over the span of ten days, the festival hosts the Sibiu BookFest fair and the Visual Arts Platform supported by Romanian graphic artist Dan Perjovschi.

A similarly long tradition has the Garana Jazz Festival, taking place for 18 years now in the village of Garana, in Caras-Severin county. It is Europe’s only open-air jazz festival and the lineups worth the travel. The location can be reached by car, within 50 Km from the Timisoara airport, or by train, within 20 minutes from the Resita train station. Artists stopping so far at Garana included: Eberhard Weber, Mike Stern, Jan Garbarek, Charles Lloyd, John Abercrombie, Miroslav Vitous, Zakir Hussain, Bugge Wesseltoft, Lars Danielsson, Avishay Cohen or Nils Petter Molvær

Another open-air festival, this time of alternative music and located close to Bucharest, on the Stirbey domain, is Summer Well. It is at about half-an-hour drive from the capital and usually gathers top names, as previous years’ Bastille or Placebo. The two day event is set for August 8th and 9th of this year.

And to cover even more of musical tastes comes Rokolective, at its tenth edition this year. Focused on abstract electronic music, the festival will run from April 23rd to April 26th and line up around 25 artists. The opening night is taken by Aisha Devi (previously known as Kate Wax) and other confirmed artists are Fatima Al Qadiri, Objektand Abdulla Rashim, and appearances by Ninos Du Brasil, Lena Willikens and Mondkopf. The event is set in venues such as the National Museum of Contemporary Art MNAC or Halele Carol.

Survey: a quarter of Romanians discard culture, while half of them read books

Almost 25% of Romanians believe culture is ‘not very important’ while 63% of Romania’s population never goes to the theater. These are some the findings of the Cultural Consumption Barometer to be launched next week.

However, Romanians are not ignoring culture altogether: almost half of them read a book or more a month and 43% visit museums once a year or more often.

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Saving the Romanian wooden churches

The European heritage organization Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute have a plan to save wooden churches in Romania’s southern Transylvania and northern Oltenia regions while creating some jobs in the process.

The churches were included in ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ heritage sites in Europe in 2014, following a nomination by the national heritage NGO Pro Patrimonio Foundation.

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New mall in Western Romanian city of Timişoara

South – African fund NEPI recently started work on its new shopping mall in the Western Romanian city of Timisoara. The mall will cover 70,000 sqm in southern Timisoara, and will include a 4,000 – sqm multiplex cinema. NEPI will invest EUR 78 million in the new mall, whose completion date was not yet announced.

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