Archive for the ‘Bucharest and Wallachia’ Category

Craiova

Craiova

Craiova is a capital city of Oltenia, west part of historical land of Wallachia. As a important centre, it was highly changed during the rule of  Ceaușescu. Huge part of old city was destroyed, and at that place was built modern buildings. However, some of the monuments avoided destruction. The oldest church in Craiova dates back to 15th century, the oldest non-religious building – 17th. It is called  Baniei House and houses Oltenia Museum, which present the history of a region from the prehistoric settlements, up to the wide collection of folk craft work  and costumes.
The other important museum is museum of fine arts (Muzeul de Arta). It is placed in  Palatul Jean Mihail a neo-baroque building create by Paul Gottereau, French architect in the beginning of 20th century. Museum contains collection of Romanian and European painters, and reconstruction of Constantin Brâncuși atelier. This famous Romanian sculptor was studying on Craiova Art School, and here he made some of early works, which can be also seen in a museum.

Drobeta – Turnu Severin

turnu severin

Drobeta was a name of Roman colony, existing at this place for several centuries. Modern city was create much later, in 1833, and was called Turnu Severin. Communists join both names, to commemorate Latin past, but people still rather use only second one. Founders of the city planned regular streets, but only in the city centre this planning is still visible. The present chaos of later expansion is calmed down by a beautiful view of a Danube river. The cruises on a Danube are one of more popular attractions of the city. During the cruise tourist can see a dam with a water-power station, built in sixties and called Iron Gate. The same name has a huge regional museum consisting three parts – historical, natural and ethnographic.
In the city there are also Museum of Fine Arts, placed in beautiful neo-baroque building, and a little museum of the dam.

Targu Jiu

targu jiu

Targu Jiu is known for its connections with Constantin Brâncuși, famous Romanian sculptor. He was born in the village close to the city, majority of his life spent in Paris, but one of his best known works can be found in Targu Jiu. They are a memorial of First World War victims, who died defending the city. Three monumental statues, called the Silence Table (Masa Tacerii), the Kiss Gate (Poarta Sarutului) and the Endless Column (Coloana Infinitului), make a straight line from west to east. On the same line lies church of st. Peter and st. Paul, and it was also a part of sculptor plan.

Second famous citizen was Ecaterina Teodoriu, who concealed a fact, that she is a women, and fought at the front line of First World War. She was awarded the Military Virtue Medal, and now has her own museum in the city.

For those more interested in a history of region in Targu Jiu there is also a County Museum, with a relics from presence of Celts, and with a wide collection of folk art. Interested in craftsmanship can visit Topi New Glass Design, where artists create and sell precious things from glass.

Oltenia Monasteries

oltenia monasteries

The western part of Walachia is called Oltenia. This land is famous from its monasteries, the oldest of them dates to 14th century, the newest – to 19th. Monastery Horezu is one of the most famous. Located on a UNESCO world heritage list, from the distance looks more like castle, than a place of prayer. Inside the walls there is church from 1690, in which local style combine with Byzantine and Muslims influences. The church interior is decorated with frescos, with the biggest in Wallachia presentation of the Last Judgement, very popular motive in sacral art of Romania. Despite of the monastery, Horezu town is famous from traditional pottery.
Next interesting monastery is monastery Lainici, which is famous because of monk Nicodemus, who built the first church at that place. He was a hermit, and one of the first orthodox monks in Romania,who came there at an invitation from Wallachia ruler Vladislav in 14th century. Today buildings are much newer, the last one was built in 1990.
Not far from those two monasteries lay also peaceful Govora Monastery, Cozia Monastery, Polovragi Monastery, Frasinei Monastery and Dintr-un Lemn Monastery. The name of the last one means “from the one piece of wood” and a legend says, that first church at this place was made from a single oak trunk.

Curtea de Argeş

curtea des arges

Curtea de Argeş, small city, lying on the bank of Argeş River, South from the Făgăraş Mountains was shortly the capitol of Muntenia region. From that period originate first castle, Curtea Domanesca, and orthodox churches of st. Nicoar and of st. Niculae. The second one is one of the oldest, still working churches in Romania, and is located on a UNESCO world heritage list, because of its interesting walls design of brick and river stones, and because of the original fresco from 14th century.
The most amazing church in Curtea de Argeş is dates to 16th century and is called “bishops church”.  There is a legend about the architect, Manole, who had a dream, that only by death of someone he loved, he can build the most beautiful church in the world. He sacrificed his wife, and walled her  between churches walls. When he finished the building, the bishop imprisoned him on the roof of church, to be sure, that he will not build more beautiful one. Manole died trying to escape, and at the place where he fell down, we can find now a spring of water.

Târgoviște

targoviste

From 14th to 17th century, Târgoviște was a capital of the region. Now it is industrial city, but some beautiful monuments remind of important role, which Târgoviște took in Romanian history.

In 1397 Mircea cel Bătrân (Mircea the Elder) built here first palace, which was later reconstructed by following rulers. Now we can visit ruins from the reign of Petru Cercel (Peter Earring), containing also amazing Turkish bath. Peter Earring built also an orthodox church, extant till today. In 1596 near Târgoviște took place the important battle in which prince of Walachia, Mihai Viteazu (Michel the Brave) defeat Tatars. The portrait of Michael can be found in the vestibule of the church.

Other interesting buildings of Târgoviște are Chindia Tower, built by Vlad the Impaler in 15th century which is now the musem of the famous Dracula, Casa Bălașa, which was created as a shelter for Christians, and Stelea Monastery.

Eight kilometers from Târgoviște lies Dealu Monastery, famous from high quality limestone masonry.

Bucharest – the capital of Romania

bucharest

Bucharest, capital city of Romania, is one of most surprising European cities. In the beginning of XX century was known as „Little Paris”, and even radical changes during Ceaușescu  dictatorship did not destroy this impression.
Bucharest became a capital in XV century, when Vlad Tepes (better known as Vlad Dracula) chose this small town, and moved here his court. The ruin of Vlad’s Palace, which is the oldest building in the city, can be still visited. It is located in Lipscani, old, romantic district, where you can find many other relics from the past – Orthodox Churches from 16th and 18th century, or Hanul Iui Manuc (Manuc’s Inn) – the last caravanserai in Romania. Now Lipscani is mainly pedestrian district, with little shops, galleries, many restaurants and cafés.
On the other bank of Dâmbovița river lies monumental Parliament Palace. It is the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon. Nicolae Ceaușescu destroyed 1/5 of the city, to make place for Parliament and for representative boulevard, which leads to Piata Unirii – central square of the city.
Another interesting boulevard is Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue), on which are located many famous Bucharest monuments and museums, such as National Museum of History of Romania, National Museum of Art of Romania, CEC Palace – built in 1900 as a headquarters of national savings bank and Romanian Athenaeum – concert hall, which is one of the city landmarks.
Calea Victoriei finishes on Piata Victoriei (Victory Square), famous from Arch of Triumph, built after Romania gets independence. Now it is the place of military parades.
Farther north extend a district of Garden City. Designed in the beginning of 20th century as a place with more greenery, more friendly for the citizens. In the Garden City, lay some of most beautiful houses in Bucharest, and some of most interesting museums – Grigore Antipa Natural History Museum, Museum of the Romanian Peasant, National Geological Museum. At the end of the district lies outdoor Village Museum, with collection of 50 rural buildings.