Archives 2016

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/

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

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:

New indoor adventure park in Bucharest

AFI Aventurier is the newest indoor adventure park in Bucharest. The park opened in AFI Palace Cotroceni, one of the biggest shopping malls in Bucharest. It is the biggest adventure park opened in a European mall, according to AFI representatives.

It features a suspended route for adults, with over 25 segments with various degrees of difficulty, and a course for children. The highest point of the park is at 26 meters, which is comparable to the height of a nine-storey building.

AFI Aventurier is open daily between 10:00 and 23:00.

Read more about the new indoor adventure park at

Pietrosu Rodnei, the biosphere reserve in Northern Romania

Pietrosu Rodnei is a biosphere reserve in the north of the country, part of the Pietrosu Mare reservation, spreading across 3300 hectares in the northern side of Rodnei Mountains. Located in Maramureş County near Borșa and Moisei localities, the natural reservation is bordered by Culmea Hotarului in the north, Piatra Albă in the east, Repedea Valley in the north-east, Gropi Mountains and Jneapănu Bătrânii-Râpi in the south and Izvoru Dragoș Valley in the west.

The Pietrosu Mare reservation has the most impressive glacial landscape in Rodnei Mountains: cirque glaciers Buhăescu, Zănoaga Iezerului, Zănoaga Mare, Zănoaga Mică, Rebra and Gropi. Among the most important peaks in the reservation are Buhăescu Mare (2221 m), Buhăescu Mic (2199 m), Gropi (2063 m), Piatra Albă (2061 m), Hotarului (1905 m) and Bătrâna (1770 m). The glacial lakes in the reservation are Iezerul Pietrosului (3450 sqm) located in the Iezer cirque at an altitude of 1825 m, Buhăescu I, Buhăesu II (1700 sqm and 5,20 m deep), Buhăescu III and Buhăescu IV.

How to get there

The most popular place where most tourists start their trip to Rodnei Mountains is Borșa resort in Maramureş County. Borșa can be reached by car on DN 18, coming from Baia Mare and Sighetul Marmației, or on DN 17, coming from Suceava, Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Vatra Dornei and Bistrița.

Where to stay

Victoria Hotel
Address: 9 Strâmtura St., Borşa, Maramureş County
Phone: +40 745 805 353/ +40 744 121 565/ +40 262 342 349
Web: http:

Nordica Guesthouse
Address: 10/B Brădet St., Borşa Resort, Maramureş County
Phone: +40 747 861 500
Web: http:

Charging station for electric cars opens in Bucharest mall

Two charging stations for electric cars opened in Promenada Mall in Bucharest. The stations were opened in partnership with Renovatio e-charge, and charging is free in the Renovatio network until the end of the year.

The two stations have a 22kW charging power and are located at the -3 level of the commercial center in Calea Floreasca.

Renovatio e-charge has twelve charging stations throughout the country in București, Ploiești, Pitești, Arad, Cluj, Timișoara, Constanța, Sibiu, Deva and Iași.

Retailers Cora and Kaufland also opened charging stations for electric cars this year.

ParkLake Shopping Center opens in Eastern Bucharest

ParkLake Shopping Center opened in Bucharest’s Titan neighborhood on September 1st. ParkLake is located next to the Alexandru Ioan Cuza park in Titan, one of Bucharest’s biggest residential areas.

The new, 70,000 sqm mall has seen a EUR 180 million investment from Irish group Caelum Development and Portuguese Sonae Sierra. The mall is expected to be one of Bucharest’s top five shopping destinations, alongside Baneasa Shopping City, AFI Palace Cotroceni, Sun Plaza, and Mega Mall.

ParkLake has more than 200 stores, restaurants and service vendors, a multiplex cinema operated by Cinema City, and a World Class fitness center.

Read more about ParkLake Shopping Center at

Photo: ParkLake Shopping Center Facebook page

Access to Unirea Shopping Center directly from subway station

Unirea Shopping Center in Bucharest can be accessed starting September directly from the Unirii subway station through an underground passage. It is the capital’s second shopping center benefiting from direct access from the subway after Sun Plaza, which is linked to Piata Sudului subway station.

The subway station corresponding to the downtown Bucharest shopping center was renovated and now includes a commercial gallery of 2,000 sqm and 15 stores, according to Digi 24. The gallery, which links to the shopping center, is set to open officially in September.

The refurbishment project was the result of a partnership between Unirea Shoping Center and Metrorex.

Photo source: Wikipedia

The multicultural legacy of Babadag

For the traveler looking to explore more of Romania’s Dobrogea region, the town of Babadag offers the opportunity to get acquainted to the history of the area. The town used to host the ancient Roman settlement called Vicus Novus. Roman era landmarks were found in the center of the city, proving the almost urban development level of the settlement as water pipes made of burnt ceramics were found here. Today, at almost 9,000 inhabitants, Babadag is a diverse city, with a significant Muslim and Turkish population.

Between 1677 and 1678 the town served as the residence of the Turkish pasha. In order to be able to better follow and coordinate the military troops in the confrontations with the Russian Empire, the residence of the Otoman pasha was moved from Silistra to Babadag, where the pasha Gazi Ali ordered a mosque to be built, in the 1610s. As such,  some of the most important tourist landmarks in the city speak of the almost 500 years long Ottoman dominance: the Gazi-Ali-Pasa mosque, the Kalaigi fountain sitting in front of it, the mausoleum of Sari Saltuk Dede and the Eastern Art Museum,  hosted in a 19th century, oriental-style building.

And at about eight kilometers away from the city, on the way to Tulcea, the tourist can find the ruins of the Enisala fortress. Raising on a hill next to the Enisala village, the fortress, locally named Heracleea, was built at the end of 13th century by the Byzantine and Genovese commercial powers. At the beginning of the 14th century it was included in the defensive system of the Romanian principality and was afterwards transformed into a garrison of the Ottoman Empire. The only medieval fortress in Dobrogea, the Enisala site stands proof of a time when the region was part of the Genovese colonies which also included the Chilia and Likostomion towns in the Danube Delta.

How to get there?

To get to Enisala you can take the European route 81 and then follow the national road 2A passing through Slobozia to get to the destination.

Where to stay?

Several lodging options are available to tourists looking to visit the place: Babadag Cabin or the La Parmac hotel.

Photo source:

The medieval charm of Râșnov

Râșnov is known for the fortress of the same name, and it awaits visitors with many other interesting spots and festivals that have started to build a tradition.

Since 2012, the city is the third resort with a ‘national interest’ status in Brașov county, after Poiana Braşov and Predeal. Besides the medieval fortress, visitors can see here the St. Nicolas Orthodox Church, the Evangelical Church, the Historical Center or take a walk in the Sissi Promenade park.

During the Middle Ages the rose was the symbol of the city, first documented in 1331, and a form of the word can be found in the German name of the place, Rosenau. The first Saxon colonists in the area were coming from a settlement called Rosenau, on one side of the Rhine, hence the name given to the place.

The place to visit in the area chosen by many is the fortress of Râșnov, built between 1211 and 1225 as part of a defense system for the Transylvanian villages. The fortress was conquered only once, in 1612 by Gabriel Báthory. In 2002, it hosted the shooting of several scenes from the film Cold Mountain.

In the city visitors can find the Sissi Promenade park, refurbished in 2012. The park was first designed under the name Elisabeta (Elisabethenpromenade) to honor Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

From here, one can stop by the old St. Nicolas Church, a historic monument considered the oldest orthodox church built with an elevation and remaining in the south east of Transylvania. A post-medieval graffiti with the year 1348 can be found in the old altar of the church and on the oldest part of the edifice, the eastern side. The medieval church was built from stone, with gothic elements. Equally old is the Evangelical Church, the place for the Saxon community in town. It is believed to have been constructed in the 13th century, with Roman and Gothic elements to which Renaissance elements were later added.

The Râșnoavei gorges is another attraction close to the city. Several mountain tracks originate here, the best known being Santinela Cheilor and Surplombele de Aur. The Valea Cetății cave is also worth a stop as it is part of a protected area, with unique fauna and flora elements.

If you’re not in town for one of the festivals that are traditionally organized here, among them the Historical Film Festival and the Rockstad rock music festival, you can plan a visit at the nearby Dino Park, the only such one in Romania. Opened in 2015, the park covers an area of 1.6 hectares and hosts 46 real-life dinosaur replicas. It also includes a museum opened in collaboration with Tara Hategului Dinosaur Geopark, where visitors can see an original skeleton of the Balaurul Bondoc dinosaur, a species of dinosaur found on Romanian territory.

Photo: Wikipedia

Ciocanesti: the keeper of traditions

Within approximately 100 kilometers range from Suceava, in Northern Romania, the Ciocanesti villages are a must-see for anyone interested in exploring some of the country’s oldest traditions and crafts.

The commune sits on both sides of the Bistrita Aurie river, along the national road DN18 with a mountain valley landscape as it is part of the Suhard and Obcina Mestecanisului mountains. Those interested in mountain walks have plenty to pick from in the surrounding area where one can find the Icoana peak (1,593 meters), the Faroane peak (1,715 meters), Botosu (1,473 meters), Orata (1,388 meters), Oita (1,294 meters) or Capraria (1,249 meters).

The site preserves rich traditions, habits, and architecture that led to the commune be declared a museum in 2004. The houses in the area stand out with their exterior painting and some of the best-preserved traditional Romanian dress can be found here. From animal breeding to forest keeping, the occupations of the village inhabitants remain connected to traditions.

One of the main attractions in the village is the Museum of the Painted Eggs, where craftily painted eggs can be admired. Ciocanesti also hosts the national festival of Painted Eggs, a unique event in Romania.

There is a peonies reservation in the area, which can be visited until end-July of each year. The National Trout Festival takes place here between August 14th and 16th and throughout summer you can try the whitewater rafting on the Bistrita river. Among the other sites to see in the area are the Ciocanarilor cave and the Sfintii Apostoli Petru si Pavel (St. Peter and Paul) hermitage.

Where to stay:

There are more than 15 guest houses in the area to choose from for accommodation, mostly in the 2 or 3-star category and promising an authentic experience. You can see a list of them here.

You can check the ride from Suceava to Ciocanesti here.

Photo source:

Mediaș: the lesser known medieval town

This town in the north of Sibiu county is home to many well-preserved historical sites. Monuments, churches, old walls and towers carrying a distinct historical significance are all part of the charm of Mediaș. Many of the town’s attractions are very well preserved, even to the smallest details, despite their age.

It stands 56 km away from Sibiu, in a hilly area, at the intersection of the Moșna and Târnava Mare rivers. The area was inhabited since ancient times, and several archeological discoveries attest to this. The city’s first documentary mention is from 1267 and, in time, it knew a multicultural population of Saxons and Székely.

The Ottoman incursion in Transylvania between 1437 and 1438 brought about a marked decay of the economy and demography of the seat of Medias. As many other villages and small towns, it too resorted to fortifying churches as it was unable to secure the defense of high-length walls. In a first stage, in the middle of the 14th century, the town erected walls on a limited surface, consolidated by two towers. After 1400 the existing walls are expanded in height and three more towers were equipped with water moats and guarded roads to protect the area surrounding the St. Margareta church. The ensemble made up of these fortifications carries the name of the Castle.

The St. Margareta Church (pictured) is one of the sites tourists can visit while in town. Set at the center of the entire fortifications complex, it was first mentioned in 1447 as “Die Evanghelische Pfarrkirche der Heiligen Margarethe aus dem Marktflecken Mediasch.” Some of the paintings inside the church represent the coat of arms of the Batoreşti family and of Matei Corvin. The gothic style construction accommodates works by P. Demosch and S. Möss (1679), while the 1678 organ was designed by Sibiu Saxon craftsman Johann West.

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The tower of the construction, known as the Trumpets Tower, is erected on the old structure and stands as a symbol of the town and of the Târnava Mari middle region. At 68.5 meters tall, the tower was among the first constructions in the world up until 1969. The bell dates back to 1488 and signals the hours with the help of a mechanically-actioned hammer.

The many towers of the medieval Mediaș are among the city’s top attractions. The Bells Tower, also called the Gates Tower, used to host the church bells, the oldest one being inscribed with the year 1449. It was initially built out of stone and brick and, at the 1695 repairing works, only bricks were used for the upper levels. The Tailors Tower, given to the care of the tailors’ guild, had dumping holes, highlighted by support consoles and arches surrounding them.

The Tower of Maria has battlements giving it a distinct personality and served as a chapel during pest epidemics. The Tower of Ropers stands on the west side of St. L. Roth house and became the ‘bacons’ tower during the 19th century because the entire Saxon community would store the smoked bacon here. The School Tower can be found at the west of the Ropers Tower, while the Parochial House, built on the outside of the first defense wall of the Castle is the oldest built housing in Medias. The House of the Chaplain was built perpendicular to the wide side of the parochial house, creating the sensation of an interior yard. The covered stairs, a way to access the castle, has a vault built in the late Gothic style and has on its levels access doors to the old prison and kinder garden.
The old city hall, firstly documented in 1583, was built above several vaulted rooms, at the level of the Ferdinand I square. It is here where several landmark houses are located. The Schuller House is remarkable partly because of the restoration works performed by Hermann Fabini. It was first documented in 1588 and served as a residence for the descendants of the Schuller family. A pub and inn functioned here for a long time. Today it hosts a range of cultural and artistic events. Another stop could be the Rosenauer House, built in 1621 in the style of the Transylvania Renaissance. During the renovation works between 1790 and 1793 the façade was improved with rich stuccos. Also to see is the Schuster Dutz House, which belonged to the Saxon poet, was built around 1690 and used to house a pharmacy between 1783 and 1900. In its turn, the Guggenberger House hosted until 1790 a school for a religious order of the Piarists. 

All in all, plenty of sites to see. And when they are exhausted plenty more await in the surroundings, where many fortified churches can be found.

Photos: Wikipedia,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oana Pascu


Iulia Hasdeu Castle, where mystery and culture go together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oana Pascu

Constanța: a harbor of many cultures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Wikipedia/ Roxana Postoiu, Adian Cadar

A castle break in Miclăuşeni

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: Wikipedia.

Bucharest has new Ferris wheel in Tei-Plumbuita park

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

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

The entire park features areas themed after various tales.

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

Oradea, the Art Nouveau city

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A breath of the purest air at Colibița

Colibița, a village in Bistrița Bârgăului commune in Bistrița county, is often described as the area in Romania where locals and visitors breathe the purest air, comparable to what one experiences on the peaks of the Alps.

It is more than a touristic description. An air quality study showed that the value of the maximum ozone concentration measured on site stood at 90 micro-grams per cubic meter. The average value in Romania is of 72.6 micro-grams per cubic meter, while at over 120 micro-grams per cubic meter the air is no longer breathable, authorities with the Bistriţa-Năsăud county council explain in a report of a local news agency.

Air quality aside, the site impresses with stunning views of the lake winding through the mountains, several touristic attractions and trekking options.

Located at an altitude of 900 meters, Colibița sits between the Călimani and Bârgă mountains, in Northern Romania. It used to be a mountain resort from 1923 up until 1975 but accommodation facilities in the area started degrading and after 1980 the resort disappeared with the construction works at the barrage that gave way the lake. After 1990 several private villas were built in the area, and they now offer accommodation to those looking to enjoy the Colibița landscape.

Options for spending time here include hiking trails to Tăul Zânelor, a protected area surrounding the lake by the same name, or to Borcut mineral water spring, trails to Bistricioru peak or to the Tihuta high mountain pass. The later, by its Hungarian name of Borgó, is referenced in Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel as the gateway to the realm of Count Dracula. Mountain cycling, kayaking or fishing can also be added to the list.

Authorities in the region are hoping to turn Colibiţa into a resort again and are working to receive the status. There are however several conditions that need to be met, among which: a modernized, signalized road, public transport between the site and a train station or bus station, furbishing and public lighting for the walking areas, and a minimum 500 accommodation places in tourist housing in the area.

How to get there:

Colibița is 50 km away from Bistrița, on the E576 road to Vatra Dornei, going through Livezile, Josenii Bărgăului and Prundul Bârgăului communes. Once out of the Prundul Bârgăului, take a right through the Bistrita Bârgăului to reach the village.

Photo: Colibita Facebook page


Colorful getaway at Poiana Narciselor flower reservation

The nature reservation “Dumbrava Vadului”, also known locally as “Poiana Narciselor” (the Meadows of Daffodils), is the biggest of its kind in Europe, covering an area of 400 hectares. Dumbrava Vadului became a natural monument in 1967. The reserve lies in Sercaia commune, Vad village, less then 60 km distance from Brasov. Besides daffodils, irises and yellow peonies also grow adding to the vibrant natural colors.  Apart from the specific fauna, roe deer, wild boars, foxes, rabbits, wild ducks and a few ant bears also live in the reserve making the place even more interesting.

In Romanian, the term used for the flower is “narcisa” and it comes from the beautiful young character from the Greek mythology called Narcis, who, it’s been said, fell in love with his own appearance. The legend says that the flower appeared after his death, right on his grave.

The Festival of Daffodils

The Festival of Daffodils is organized in the Meadows of Daffodils every year on the eve of the Day of Saints Constantine and Helen on the 21st of May.

This is the time of the year when the Transylvanian traditions and dishes can be admired and tasted. The young people from the Homorod Valley, dressed in traditional costumes, are head towards the meadow to race against other young people from the surrounding villages and counties.

The festival is a unique opportunity to emphasize the beauty of traditional dances, music and costumes, as well as the local customs and traditions in an incredible environment, surrounded by the beautiful daffodils.

Millions of daffodils bloom in Dumbrava Vadului every year, especially during the month of May, in some places exceeding 150 flowers per square meter. The locals have called them “coprine” and feel very blessed with this gift from God.

The beauty of this place attracts thousands of tourists every year. Dumbrava Vadului was also featured in the Romanian movie “Neamul Soimarestilor”, based on the novel with the same name written by Mihail Sadoveanu.

In case you are planning your getaway from Bucharest, the beautiful reserve is 228 km away in the Brasov county. You need to take DN1 to Predeal, then take the road DN73A to Vad and from there Dumbrava Vadului is just 3 km away on a local road.


Nature and tranquility at Cernica and Caldarusani monasteries

When out of ideas on what to do during the weekend and longer trips out of Bucharest are not an option, we’d recommend exploring the areas around the Romanian capital city. There are plenty of places to choose from for visiting, but this time let’s visit two monasteries. Two of the many surrounding Bucharest.

If you feel like a true explorer, the visit to the monasteries could include a drive through some of the nice villages around Bucharest. Not all of them are worth your time, but some might be just worth the trip.

Cernica monastery is first on our list. The first time we saw it, it was for a funeral, but that didn’t stop us from admiring it, and made a promise to return. Come next weekend and the nice spring weather, and we were there.

The full story here.

The Clock Museum in Ploiesti reopens after restoration works

The Nicolae Simache Clock Museum in Ploiesti, a one-of-its-kind in Romania and southern Europe, reopened last week after undergoing restoration works lasting for more than two years.

The 1890 building hosting the museum went through an ample refurbishment process, supported with EU funding. The collection of the museum includes almost 4,000 pieces, ranging from solar quadrants and water clocks to clocks that need turning once every 365 days, clepsydras, tabletop clocks or pendulums.

Various historical pieces can be found in the Ploiesti museum, such two astronomical clocks manufactured in 1544 and 1562 by Jakob Acustodia (Holland) and Jeremias Metzker (Augsburg). Likewise, two golden clocks that belonged to King Carol I of Romania or tabletop clocks which belonged to local cultural personalities such as ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza and writers Mihail Sadoveanu or Vasile Alecsandri. Another historical piece in the museum collection is the water clock, designed by Charles Rayner in 1654 in London.

The most important category of pieces is that of pocket watches. The oldest piece of this kind in the museum was made by Philip Jakob Bickelman in Linz in 1652. Watches manufactured by famous French and English watchmakers in the 18th and 19th centuries – Julien Le Roy, Antoine Lepin, Abraham Louis Breguet, Benjamin Barber, George and Edward Prior -can be found here. The emergence of the serial watchmaker companies in the 19th centuries is also reflected in the collection with pieces done at Patek Philippe, Genève, Schaffhausen, Omega, Doxa, Longines, Hebdomas or Roskopf Patent.

A lot of other remarkable watches and clocks can be found here, making a visit worth a while. Ploiesti is at a 60-minute drive north of Bucharest, taking the DN1/ E60 or the Bucharest – Ploiesti highway A3.

The Nicolae Simache Clock Museum is located at 1 Radu Stanian St., close to the city’s Art Museum.

Village Museum in Bucharest turns 80, opens new section

A new wing was inaugurated at the Dimitrie Gusti Village Museum in Bucharest, at the same time with the institution’s 80-year anniversary.

Nhe new section includes 30 houses which have been moved from various villages across Romania to the capital. Visitors will be able to find here an inn, a dance area as well as a playground for children visiting the museum. Besides constructions from various areas of Romania visitors will be able to find here a Minorities Alley, featuring a Jewish house from Maramures or an 1896 Saxon house from Sibiu.

The Village Museum in Bucharest was one of the first open-air ethnographic museums in the country and in Europe. It was established in 1936 following sustained theoretical and field research undertaken by professor Dimitrie Gusti, the founder of the Bucharest Sociology School.When the Bucharest museum opened in the 1930s, only two other such museums existed in Europe: the Skansen Museum in Stockholm, opened in 1891 and the Bigdo Museum in Lillehamer, Norway. In Romania, professor Romulus Vuia had opened in 1929 the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania in Cluj.

The museum was designed to show visitors the reality of village life, as it was or is lived by the Romanian peasant. At the opening it stood on 6.5 hectares of land and featured 33 authentic complexes, transferred from the researched villages: houses with annexes, a church, technical installations and fountains.  One of the oldest constructions that can be admired here dates back to 1775. It is a household from Berbesti, Maramures county. Also among the oldest pieces are an 1800 Hunedoara household and a 1772 wooden church from Dragomiresti, Maramures county.

Besides visiting the patrimony of the museum, the public can sample the permanent exhibition selling items created by anonymous craftsmen: ceramics, textiles, wooden and glass icons, wooden objects, toys and furniture.

The Village Museum is taking part in the Night of the Museums event, when access to the New Village area of the place will be free between 19:00 and 22:00.

Photo: A. Anghel/ Photo source: Muzeul Satului Dimitrie Gusti Facebook page


Job offer: Research Intern, City Compass Media

City Compass Media is looking for an intern for an online research project over the summer for our English-language print guide City Compass Romania: Bucharest & Beyond, the 2017 edition; here is an excerpt of the 2016 edition.

The candidate should be a young Romanian native, highly efficient in finding information online, fast and thorough, and should enjoy and strive for clarity and accuracy.

This project – based internship can become a part-time or full-time job in our media organization for the right candidate. Please send an email to state your interest in this internship, as well as a CV, to Simona Fodor, [email protected].

Văcărești Nature Park officially established

The Romanian government adopted this week a decision by which the Văcărești Nature Park is officially established. Also known as the Văcărești Delta or the Delta of Bucharest, the area stands out with its biodiversity and formed naturally, over the past 25 years around the Văcărești lake, in the District 4 of the capital.

The 189 hectares site stands between Calea Văcărești, Olteniței Road, the Vitan-Bârzești Road and Splaiul Dâmboviței. It was brought to public attention after National Geographic Romania ran a story on it in 2012. The article was signed by Cristian Lascu and Helmut Ignat, and was titled ‘The Delta between Blocks.’

The Văcărești lake is an artificial lake, established as part of works alongside the Dambovita river, and it was meant to be part of hydrologic system of defense of Bucharest against flooding. Works on it started in 1986, when the Văcărești monastery was also demolished, but were stopped after 1989 and the site abandoned.

During this abandonment period, a diverse vegetation and fauna developed. Over 95 species of birds and water animals can be found in the area. Several otters, a protected species, were spotted on site in 2014. Specialists say the presence of this mammal at Văcărești is a sign of the health of the ecosystem.

Several species found here, protected by the local and European legislation, are subject to illegal hunting each year. With its new statute, the place will be protected by law and administered following ecological principles.

Photo: Helmut Ignat

Moldova museum ensemble reopens in Iasi

The Palace of Culture in Iasi, hosting the Moldova National Museum Ensemble, is reopening its doors this week. The event marks the end of the restoration works at the Palace of Culture.

The building is the work of architect Ion D. Berindey and blends several architectural styles: neo-gothic, romantic and neo-baroque. It was inaugurated in 1925, by King Ferdinand of Romania, as The Palace of Justice. Starting with 1995 the edifice hosts four museums, gathered as the Moldova National Museum Ensemble: Moldova History Museum, Stefan Procopiu Science and Technics Museum, Moldova Ethnographic Museum, The Art Museum and the Research and Conservation Center for Cultural Patrimony.

The monument has 298 rooms and stands on a 36,000 sqm surface. During the Second World War it served as headquarters for the German and, later, Soviet, troops.

The reopening of the four museums will offer the public the opportunity to visit a series of temporary exhibitions, featuring patrimony items belonging to the Iasi institution, as well as two travelling exhibitions. One comes from the National History Museum in Bucharest and it is titled ‘Ancient gold and silver of Romania’, and the other from the Peles Museum in Sinaia, called ‘Art and ceremony at royal dinners.’
The refurbishment works involved the architecture and historical structures, the conservation and restoration of mural and wood paintings, the restoration of the stained glass, of the stone decorations, ceramics, metal and glass items.

The financing of the works was undertaken in a partnership with Council of Europe Development Bank. The total value of the works performed on site stands at EUR 26 million.

Photo: Ionel Pomana/Wikipedia

Blooming peonies: the steppe reservation in Zau de Campie

The month of May is the time of the year when peonies bloom, and one area of Romania has a unique place where this flower can be seen. It is the steppe peony reservation at Zau de Campie in Mures county. The reservation is 65 kilometers away from the city of Targu Mures and is the highest-altitude place in the world where steppe peonies grow, at 450 meters. Because of the warmer winter this year they started blooming earlier. They usually stay in-bloom for about seven days.
The peonies in the reservation, which covers 3.5 hectares, are between 10 and 30 centimeters tall. There are about 50,000 of them, 40,000 more than in 1950 but the flower can now be found only in the reservation, established in 1932 by Alexandru Borza. He is often regarded as one of the founders of Romanian School of Botanic.
During the Second World War, the steppe peony was saved from extinction and the surface of the reservation was expanded to 3.5 hectares by Marcu Sancraianu, who was the custodian of the reservation for 60 years, until 2005.
Other reservations in Romania where peonies can be seen are the one in the Macini mountains, in Dobrogea and the one at Comana, close to Bucharest. To get to the Macini reservation, one needs to follow the Cozluk route starting in Greci village. The route is accessible by car or by bicycle and is about 16 kilometers long. The reservation in Comana was built to specifically protect the peonies in the area, carrying the name of Scientific Reservation of Peonies. It was designed alongside the thorn plant reservation, on a 231 hectares area.