The highest point in Romania is Moldoveanu Peak: 2544 m
There are more than 10,900 caves in Romania
4,340 sq km of the Danube Delta are on Romanian Territory
244 km of the Black Sea coast represents the Romanian Littoral
There are over 825 marked footpaths for climbing, of different difficulty rates, in the Romanian mountains
You can find almost any kind of relief in Romania; from the 2,000m peaks in the Carpatians to the Danube Delta, there is a variety of fascinating ecosystems, many of them being included in world heritage systems like UNESCO sites or Natura 2000 Network.
Danube's Delta - a 5,050 sq km area - is a work in progress of both the Danube and The Black Sea, the home of a rich variety of fish species and a true birds' paradise. In fact, the Delta is the meeting place for birds coming from Northern and Central Europe, as well as for those which arrive from Egypt and the Caucasus, through Crimea. Some of these species, such as the common pelican, the spoon bill, the big and the small egret, the white and the red pigeons and many others have been declared monuments of nature for their beauty and scarceness. Today, much of the delta's territory is a natural reserve, an eternal garden which never ceases to amaze due to its most diverse colours and wonderful surprises.
The Black Sea - connected with the world's oceans through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Gorges - was called Pontus Euxinus by the famous Ancient Greek sailors (int the 7th century BC), meaning the hospitable sea. Later on, other ships used to sail to the prosperous cities established by the Greek settlers, which adorned the Euxine shores, such as Histria, Tomis (Constanta today), or Callatis (Mangalia today). These ships brought the fearless seamen of the Roman Empire and the renowned Venetian and Genoese merchants, drawn by the wealth of these places and the boiling life of the Hellenic citadels. The coastline is different from north to south: the northern part of the coasts are low and formed by a mixture of sandy belts, sand banks and beaches, while the south is characterised by 40-60m high cliffs, with wide, sandy beaches at their feet. Thanks to its orientation, the beach faces the sun all day long, boasting with over 10h of sunbathing/day. Moreover, the beach slopes gently under the waters of the sea, which provides favourable conditions for bathing and walking through the water. Most of the beaches are natural and their wideness ranges from 50 to 500m, while the sand, rich in limestone and quartz rock, is of high purity and medium to fine granulation, which makes it a perfect ingredient for thalassotherapy in sea resorts like: Mamaia, Mangalia, Saturn, Neptun, Olimp, Costinesti, Venus, Vama Veche, Eforie Nord, Eforie Sud or Jupiter. Another jewel of the Black Sea is Lake Techirghiol, once a lagoon, now well encased in the Dobogea landscape, well coated with healing mud of high therapeutic value.
Did you know...?
There are over 2,000 mineral springs in Romania, some of which endowed with remarkable therapeutic qualities.
Romania has a temperate continental climate, with moderate features. On the whole, there is a complex system of climatic patterns, determined by the joined influence of the Western (oceanic), South-Western (Mediterranean) and Eastern masses of air, which also varies according to the altitude. The annual average temperature ranges from 8oC in the north of the country to 11oC in the south, and from 2.6oC in the mountains to 11.7oC in the plains. The vegetation and the fauna follow the same gradual pattern as the climate.
In the summer, Romania's territory represents a bridge between the subtropical, hot and dry climate of Southern Europe and the accentuated continental climate of the Ponto-Caspian steppes.
During the winter, when the Scandinavian anticyclone is frequently present, the Romanian climate is very similar to the sub-polar Scandinavian one, with many rather frosty days.
The temperature differs greatly from winter to summer, but the transition is eased in by the two lovely seasons of spring and autumn.
As a result of the favourable natural conditions, the hydrographic network is rich and varied, having its water house in the Carpathians, from which the rivers spring radially towards the exterior of the mountainous centre (such as the Mures, the Olt, the Siret, the Prut, the Jiu, the Arges, the Prahova, the Somes and the Cris rivers and many others). As well as that, the mountain lakes create spectacular landscapes with their clear waters and various forms and origins: there are lakes left behind by ancient glaciers (like Bucura, Zanoaga, Calcescu, Rosiile, Lala, Buhaescu etc.), lakes originating in former volcanic craters (Sfanta Ana Lake) and even a lake formed by a natural dam Lacul Rosu. The hills are dominated by the presence of salt lakes, which are commonly used for their balneary value in resorts like Sovata, Ocna Sibiului, Ocna Dejului, Slanic Prahova, or Ocnele Mari. Moreover, the numerous ponds along the main rivers are perfectly suitable for recreational fishing. There is also a rather large number of lakes in the plains, which are used either as health centres (Amara, Balta Alba, Lacu Sarat), or areas for recreation and fishing (Snagov, Caldarusani, Mostistea, Galatui. The maritime lakes are also appreciated for their therapeutic and recreational potential: Siutghiol, Neptun and Jupiter are fresh water lakes, Techirghiol is a salt water lake, Mangalia is a sulphureous lake, and Razim-Sinoe is a lagunar complex.
Did you know...?
Romanian language is a Roman language, just like French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian.
The three Romanian states were first united by Mihai Viteazu in 1600.
The present teritory of Romania has been inhabited since ancient times. The multi-millenarian permanence of the natives can be explained by their steady relation to the Carpathian area. These native populations were called by the ancient historians and geographers the Northern Thracians, out of which the most notorious were the Getae people (who inhabited the plains outside the Carpathian arc), and the Dacians (whose strongholds were mostly concentrated in nuclei on the hills and mountains, but also in the valleys and depressions. As regards the per-Geto-Dacian epoch, the vestiges of human activity in the area between the Carpathian, the Danube and the Black Sea go back as far as the Early Paleolithic, as proved by the archaeological discoveries in Campia Romana and the north of Moldavia. The Neolithic archaeological evidences give numerous details about the remarkable artistic sense of the native tribal community, such as the painted pottery found in Petresti, Ariusd, Boian, Gumelnita and most of all in Cucuteni. New forms of civilization were gradually added to the local Neolithic culture, brought along by the South-Eastern (Aegean), South-Western (Llyric), Eastern and North-Western tribes.
Out of this ethnic, linguistic and cultural synthesis, a new population resulted, namely the tribes which inhabited the South-Eastern part of Europe, whose main branch at the North of the Danube River (the territory called Dacia) were the Geto-Dacians, the elite of the great Thracian population. Furthermore, they received they influences from the populations they came in contact with, among which were the Greeks (on the Dobrogea coast), and the Celts, settled in the west of Dacia. The Geto-Dacians (the Getae to the South and East of the Carpathians and the Dacians in the Transylvanian plateau and Banat) are mentioned for the first time by Herodotus, (related to the expedition of Darius, the Persian king, in 514 BC), as a unitary population, both culturally and ethnically as well as linguistically. The king who achieved the unification of the Geto-Dacian political and military formations was Burebista, but after his death in 44 BC the centralized Dacian state divided into several political formations, which were then reunited under the leadership of Decebalus (87-106 AD). The political, military and religious centre of the new unitary state was in the Orastie Mountains, in Transylvania.
Following the two wars with the Roman legions, between 101-102 and 105-106 AD, the Dacians and their allies were finally defeated, after fierce battles, by the Roman emperor Trajan. Thus, the greatest part of Dacia became a Roman province. The massive colonization with Roman elements, the use of the vernacular Latin language and the assimilation of the Roman civilization, as well as the intense development of urban centres led to the Romanization of the local population, and to the emergence of a new one, the Daco-Roman population, due to the symbiosis between the Dacians and the Roman colonists (the main element of the ethno-genetic process of the Romanian people). In spite of the devastations brought about, for almost one thousand years, by the successive invasions of migratory peoples moving from the East to the West of Europe, after the official withdrawal of the Roman army and administration to the south of the Danube, the native Romanian population (resulted from the Geto-Dacians' symbiosis with the Romans) still preserved its ethnic identity and territorial unity.
Prior to the arrival of the Slavs in the 6th century, the Oriental Romanity had spread over the whole Carpatho-Balkan area. But the Slavs managed to slavonize the local inhabitants, breaking into the Roman world and creating Slavonic islands which gradually increased their size, especially to the South of the Danube. However, the Daco-Roman population proved stronger, slowly assimilating the Slavs over time, and becoming an island of Roman culture surrounded by Slavs and separated by the rest of the Latin groups. This is why the Romanians slowly grew more and more different from the other Latins, mostly due to their Orthodox faith (and the use of Slavonic in churches and at the court). The Slavonic-Byzantine influence remained the most important trait of Romanian culture until the 16th century, when Romanian means of artistic expression begun to flowrish.
The prefeudal political formations known since the 9th century were brought together during the Middle Ages, giving birth to three feudal states: Transilvania, Tara Romaneasca and Moldova. The Union between these three formations was first achieved in 1600 by Mihai Viteazu (Michael the Brave), voivode (~king) of Tara Romaneasca, but it didn't last. The Romanian feudal states fought many fierce wars with the Hungarian and polish Kingdoms as well as with the Ottoman Empire, all of which tried to conquer them. During this epoch, the Romanian princes were renowned for their strategic and military skills, and recognized as good defenders of their people and native lands. The next important historic event was the union between Moldova and Tara Romaneasca in 1859, when Colonel Alexandru Ioan Cuza was elected head of both states. He then initiated a series of reform to stimulate the economic, social and cultural development of the country and to ensure the acknowledgment of the new state, for which he is a very important figure of the Romanian history. Cuza's reforms were taken even further by King Charles I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and the other three kings who followed him, until Michael I, the last king of Romania, was forced down the throne by the communists in 1947. Meanwhile, in 1918, the union with Basarabia, then Bucovina and on December 1 with Transilvania completed the union process, giving birth to Great Romania, under the reign of King Ferdinand.
After World War II, Romania was forced to give away part of her territories: Basarabia and Northern Bucovina to the Soviet Union, Northern Transilvania to Horthyst Hungary (this was the only territory which was brought back later on) and Southern Dobrogea (the Cadrilater) to Bulgaria. The end of the war was tragic for Romania in many respects: it meant the occupation by the Soviet troops, the payment of heavy war damages, a war-exhausted economy, and worst of all the instauration of the communist regime. After 45 years of communism, the Romanians have succeeded, by fight and sacrifice, to recover their freedom and the reintegration of Romania among the democratic countries, with a real view for development, especially after joining the European Union in 2007.
Arts and Culture
Did you know...?
For their contribution to the world art heritage, the monasteries in Northern Moldavia have been declared UNESCO monuments and the way they were preserved has been awarded the Pomme D'Or prize by the International Federation of Tourism Journalists and Writers. (The trophy is kept inside the Moldovita monastery.)
At the time of its completion, the The Cernavoda Bridge, over the Danube, designed by Anghel Saligny, was the longest steel bridge in Europe (the end of the 19th century).
In sports, Romania has gathered over 3000 World, Olympic, European and Balkan medals and cups.
Constantin Brancusi, the sculpture genius, was born near the city Targu Jiu, and his complex sculpture ensemble Heroes' Way (which includes the famous Endless Column can still be visited there.
The oldest proofs of wine-consumption on the territory of Romania date as far back as 6000 BC, and the wine-growing begun around the 5th century BC.
The architecture from the 14th to the 16th centuries is represented by the peasant fortresses in the centre and South of Transilvania, and at Rasnov, Codlea, Prejmer and Rupea. Other medieval architectural treasures are the fortified country houses, called cule, which can be found in the Northern part of Oltenia Region, but also in Arges and Valcea counties. Of a particular inportance and charm for the nations past and for Romanian architecture are the medieval citadels and castles of Suceava, Iasi, Bran, Neamt, Hunedoara, Deva, Cluj-Napoca and others, or the townsmen guilds, such as Sighisoara.
The Sutu, Ghica Tei, Stirbei, Cotroceni palaces (all of these are in Bucharest) and Mogosoaia, Potlogi and Golesti palaces are only a few of the prominent architectural complexes of the glorious past of the 17th and 18th centuries. A jewel of 19th century architecture is the Peles Castle in Sinaia, built by king Carol I as a summer residence, today a unique museum of history and culture. Other impressive buildings of the late 19th century are The Central University Library, The Romanian Athenaeum, The Carul cu Bere Restaurant, The Minovici Vila, The Romanian Commercial Bank and The National Bank of Romania buildings in Bucharest.
There are also numerous religious buildings in Romania, such as hermitages, churches, cathedrals, monasteries, temples, basilicas and so on. These spiritual treasures were built approximately during the past millennium, in a multitude of architectonic styles, from Roman to Gothic and from Renaissance to Baroque, due to both Byzantine and Western influences. The churches and monasteries in Moldova, with exterior paintings, have a great historic and artistic value and are world famous. Some examples are: Voronet, Moldovita, Sucevita, Humor, Arbore, Putna etc. To the South of these monasteries, in Neamt county, there are other very interesting monastic settlements: Agapia, Varatec, Neamt, Horaita, Secu, Sihastria, Bistrita, Durau. The picturesque region of Maramures also boasts with its famous wooden churches (although it is true that this type of churches can be found all over Romania, the ones in Maramures have a particular charm). Most of them are located on the valleys of the rivers Mara, Iza and Viseu, and among them, the churches in Surdesti, Sugata, Berbesti, Moisei, Bogdan Voda, Vadu Izei, Ieud, Botiza and Rozavlea are architectonic masterpieces. Other similar historical monuments are to be fount in the North of Oltenia region, namely at Tismana, Horezu, Cozia, Curtea de Arges, Campulung, Targoviste. As well as these monasteries and churches, there are imposing cathedrals in many of the big cities around Romania, built in different architectonic styles, according to the epoch's fashion and religious influence. The Roman-Catholic Cathedral in Alba Iulia (13-15th centuries) combines elements of late Romanticism with Gothic and Lombard Renaissance, which can also be seen in the cathedrals in Cluj-Napoca, Sebes, Timisoara, or Oradea. The Trei Ierarhi Church in Iasi (17th century), with its facade ornaments and Oriental geometrical motifs, is a wonderful monument of Romanian art, just like the religious ensembles found in Bucharest: Radu Voda monastic complex (15th century), Mihai Voda church (16th century), Curtea Veche complex (16th century), Plumbuita (16-18th centuries), the Patriarchal Cathedral (17th century). Other symbols of Christian faith and of the architectonic skills of local people are the cave hermitages, carved directly into stone and the troite, large wooden crosses which are to be found on the side of the roads.
Many Romanian men of genius have succeeded to turn this beautiful country into a unique country over time. Regarding the field of engineering, Anghel Saligny - the constructor of the bridge over the Danube at Cernavoda - proved to be not only a tamer of steel and concrete, but also the most important designer of railroads, bridges and ports. Today's air transport would actually be impossible if it hadn't been for unusual courage and the genius ability to see into the secrets of aeronautics of Traian Vuia, Aurel Vlaicu, and Henri Coanda. As well as that, the original methods and devices of some Romanian engineers, physicists and mathematicians, like the Coanda effect, the Hurmuzescu electroscope, or the Titeica surfaces and many others, have been used in laboratories all over the world.
Almost half of Romania's population still lives in rural areas, so the Romanian village has always been a spiritual centre of the community, and has preserved its amazing artistic ways through the centuries.
The diversity and harmony of the rural scenery is reflected artistically in the traditional costumes, in the aspect of the houses, in the tools the peasants use, in the folklore songs and dances, in the traditional customs, which all differ among regions. The embroidered blouses and shirts (called ii), made of raw silk, cotton or linen, the sheepskins and the wool or hemp fabrics, the renowned pottery of Horezu, Oboga, Marginea, Radauti, the wooden gates in Maramures, the fountains, the roadside crosses (Troita), the icons on wood and on glass, the traditional masks and all the musical or technical instruments are proofs that the Romanian peasant is a skilled craftsman.
poze cu costume, pottery, icoane pe lemn si sticla, masti populare, fluiere si ocarine
The Christian traditions, accompanied by the never failing presence of the carol-singers, are respectfully observed since immemorial times, proofs of a special, uninterrupted civilisation.
Romanian traditional cuisine has always represented a true culinary art, with slight variations from region to region and according to the changing of seasons, although there are some dishes that can be savoured all over the country, at any time, like the grilled minced meat rolls (called mici or mititei), the lamb or veil roast chops, or the traditional sarmale (meat rolls covered in cabbage or vine leaves). Around the holly days of Easter and Christmas, two of the most important celebrations in Romania, there are specific dishes to be found on every table: the pork sausages and caltabosi, sarmale with mamaliga (a kind of corn mush), pork toba and piftie (which is a meat jelly served cool) and the cozonac (Romanian sponge cake) are specific to Christmas, whereas the lamb drob and stufat, the painted eggs and the Pasca (pound cake with raisins and cheese) are common Easter specialties. Romanian dishes are preceded by a drink called tzuica (a kind of plum brandy), and they usually end with one of the various types of wine from numerous Romanian vineyards.