Travel Bucket List is a series based on places I want to visit, where I do a bit of research on their history, culture, and attractions. I don’t intend to make this into a history lesson, but I want it to at least pique your interest, so that perhaps you add these places to your bucket lists. The first of these places is Romania, a country rich in history and tradition; a land of castles, mountains, and legends. Join me in exploring more about this wonderful country.
Romania is located in Eastern Europe and has been part of the European Union since 2007. Its capital is Bucharest, was nicknamed the “Paris of the East” due to its architecture and sophisticated vibes. However, large parts of the city were destroyed during World War II and after the communist regime, so many of those old buildings have been destroyed.
Rather than being known for its cities, though, Romania is best known for its small villages, medieval towns, and mountains. The province of Transylvania is well known for being the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler and of countless vampire stories.
Have you ever heard someone speak Romanian? You will notice that it is vastly different from the languages spoken by their Slavic neighbors. That is because it is a Romance language, based from Latin. The history behind this fact is fascinating, here is a quick summary:
Romania was once occupied by Romans, after Emperor Trajan conquered Dacia, a region that includes mainly present-day Romania and Moldova. After the 3rd century A.D., Romania was invaded by the Bulgarian, Hungarian, and Ottoman empires and then became protectorates of Russia after the Russo-Turkish War, which ended in 1829. This period of Slavic invasions, influenced the Romanian language; however, during the 1800s, the Romanian language was re-Latinized in order to better preserve their Romance roots.
Romania went through a lot of changes until a new democratic government was installed and a new constitution was adopted in 1991. I decided to focus on the language part of the history of Romania because it is a reflection of its history and culture: a country that has managed to survive being conquered time and time again by other civilizations.
Places to Visit
You will probably arrive to Romania through Bucharest, so you might as well take a couple of days to explore the city before heading out to explore the mountains and smaller villages. Here are some things to do in the capital:
- Walking tour – I feel like this is the best way to get to know a city. There are a lot of free walking tours available, but don’t forget to tip!
- Visit the heaviest and one of the largest buildings in the world – the Palace of the Parliament. Tours of the building are available for purchase online.
- Visit a museum – Bucharest has tons of museums to explore, from historic buildings at the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum to works of art in the National Museum of Art.
- Explore on of the cities beautiful parks, such as the Herăstrău Park or the Cismigiu Gardens.
Transylvania is Romania’s largest and most well-known region. Full of vampire lore, forests, and medieval villages, you cannot miss this area if visiting the country.
- Explore the castles and fortified churches. Bran Castle is known as the Dracula Castle; however, there are hundreds of castles in Transylvania that you can visit, such as the Corvin Castle and the Peles Castle (technically not in Transylvania, but close… and apparently worth the visit).
- Get lost in the Carpathians (but not really). The Carpathian mountains are one of Europe’s most beautiful regions. It is also home to Saxon villages, which appear to be stuck in time, were centuries-strong traditions are part of everyday life.
The Danube Delta
The Danube River flows to the Black Sea and forms the second largest delta in Europe with 2,200 square miles filled with wildlife – around 3,450 species of animals are found here.
Monasteries of Bucovina
These monasteries date to sometime between the 15th and 16th centuries. They are famous for their frescoes displayed on the outside and they depict religious imagery. They are a striking sight, even for people who are not into religion.
Now, there are a lot more places of interest in Romania, but hopefully this post makes you feel a bit more curious about visiting the country.
Have you been to Romania? What are your thoughts on it?