44 Unknown & Interesting Facts About Romania

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More Than Dracula’s Homeland: 44 Interesting & Unknown Facts About Romania

Its fair to say that most people don’t know too much about Romania. Ceausescu’s communism, Dracula’s legend and… that’s about the whole extent of some people’s knowledge of Romania. But there is more than meets the ignorant eye to this amazing country. Here are just 44 facts about Romania that make it a surprising and unique country.

  1. 7 Romanian landmarks are declared UNESCO patrimony. These locations are the Danube Delta, the painted churches in the north of Moldavia, the Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains, the historic center of Sighisoara, the Horezu Monastery, the villages with the fortified churches in Transylvania and the wooden churches in Maramures. The churches in Moldavia are adorned with beautiful frescoes, and Voronet Monastery is also known as the Romanian version of the Sistine Chapel. 
  2. The highest wooden church in the world and the second largest wooden structure in Europe is Peri Monastery located in Maramures, Romania. The church is 78 meters high and it has a 7-meter-high cross.
  3. One of the most important traditions in Romania, the Martisor, has been included in the cultural heritage of the UNESCO patrimony. The name Martisor is the diminutive of the word March.  This object is a symbol of spring, and it looks like a little talisman tied with a red and white string. It is believed that the person who wears it will be strong and healthy for the year to come. 
  4. Romania is on the UNESCO List of Immaterial Cultural Heritage with its ritual dance, named Calusul. This dance is extremely old and it is believed to represent both the galloping of a horse and dances with the fairies. The dancers belong to a secret, men-only society and they are known for “their ability to create the impression of flying in the air.” It is believed the dancers are able to cure the victims of the fairies, through their dance performed in the two-three weeks preceding Easter.    
  5. Being the second largest delta in Europe, after the one of the Volga River, the Danube Delta is the best-preserved in Europe. It has 3540 square kilometers of rivers, canals, swamps, lakes and reed islands and 23 natural ecosystems with unique flora and fauna.
  6. Romania has more than 60% of the brown bear population in Europe.  Here the tourists can also find the largest mammal in Europe – the bison. This animal was hunted almost to extinction, but now it can be found running free in several European countries, Romania included.
  7. The British newspaper The Telegraph considers the Transfagarasan to be the most beautiful road in the world. Built in the 70’s as a strategic military route, the road is an extraordinary piece of engineering that challenges your driving skills. Transfagarasan has 90 kilometers, tunnels, viaducts, bridges, and breathtaking landscapes. Romania Travel Blog_Things to do in Romania_5 Sights not to be missed in Romania
  8. In the Carpathian Mountains you can find the largest virgin forests in Europe. They are also home to over 400 unique mammal species, including the Black Goat.
  9. Baciu Forest in Cluj Napoca is considered the most paranormal area on the planet. The place is eerie and if you are a fan of getting spooked, even being near it will be enough.  
  10. The Scarisoara Cave Glacier is the second largest underground glacier in Europe. It is located at the foot of the Bihor Mountains, it has a volume of 75,000 cubic meters and it is more than 3,500 years old.
  11. Romania is the home of the second largest administrative building for civilian use in the world, after the Pentagon. The construction is 270 meters wide and 86 meters tall, has 1,100 rooms, most of which are empty, 8 underground levels, and a nuclear bunker linked to other government buildings through tunnels. This construction contains 3,500 tons of crystal, 480 chandeliers, and 700,000 tons of steel and bronze. Guinness Book has ranked the Palace of Parliament as the most expensive administrative building and the heaviest one in the world.  
  12. Bucharest, the capital, has a Triumphal Arch like the one in Paris.
  13. Romania is ranked 13th in the world in terms of wine production.
  14. One of the Romanian bookstore chains, called Carturesti, has been shortlisted for the Bookstore of the Year Award at the 2018 Excellence Awards of the London Book Fair. Carturesti has more than 20 bookstores across the country, and each location has its own unique design concept. Located in Bucharest, Carturesti Carusel is, probably, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. It holds over 10,000 books, 5,000 albums and DVDs, and a top-floor bistro.
  15. The most famous novels inspired by places in Romania are “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and “The Carpathian Castle” by Jules Verne. 
    Facts About Romania - Dracula's Castle - Transylvania
    Dracula’s Castle – Transylvania
  16. Bram Stoker created his character, Count Dracula, having as inspiration the fictional version of the reign of Vlad the Impaler. Dracula was said to live in Bran Castle, which can still be visited and is one of Romania’s numerous old castles.
  17. The movie “Cold Mountain”, starring Nicole Kidman was filmed in Romania. Also, the American series “Hartfields & McCoys”, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton, was filmed there.
  18. The scenes from Sacha Baron Cohen’s movie in which Borat’s hometown is presented were filmed in the Romanian village called Glod.
  19. Charles, the Prince of Wales, is involved in the rehabilitation program of several old Transylvanian Saxon villages from the 12th century, part of which is UNESCO patrimony. The Prince even bought a number of old houses in Romania which can be rented by tourists.  In Viscri, Transylvania, the Prince opened “Prince of Wales’ Training Center” which hosts the first course of traditional fabrics for apprentices from various regions of the country.
  20. The tallest sculpted rock in Europe is in the west part of Romania. It represents King Decebal, the last ruler of Dacia, it is 55 meters tall and 25 meters wide. Similar to Mount Rushmore, this attraction is only visible from the Danube.  
  21. Romania is the richest country in Europe in terms of gold resources. Also, this country has the only museum in Europe dedicated to gold. This museum exhibits over 2,000 pieces from all over the world.  The most valuable exhibit is pure gold, identical to the one that can be found in the mountains of Romania.
  22. The Astra Museum located in Sibiu is the second largest open-air museum in the world. This museum has works of traditional, pre-industrial folk civilization. The houses and the buildings are located around the lake. The whole museum has approximately 1,000 square meters, 15,000 exhibits, 300 homes and buildings, including water mills and windmills, huge wine presses, hydraulic forks and much more.
  23. The Romanian language is 1,700 years old and it is the only Latin language spoken in Eastern Europe. 44 Interesting facts about Romania
  24. In 2009 World Records Academy officially declared Luceafarul as the longest love poem in the world. It has 98 stanzas, and it was written by a Romanian poet, Mihai Eminescu. This poem is considered a masterpiece and one of the last milestones in Europe’s Romantic poetry.
  25. The oldest oven in the world was discovered in Campeni, Romania. It was established it has approximately 6,000 years.
  26. The oldest humanoid fossils in Europe were discovered in southwestern Romania. The fossils were dated 35,000 years ago or 45,000 years ago if using calibrated data.
  27. In 1869, Timisoara, Romania, became the first European city to introduce horse-drawn tram. Twenty years later, Timisoara became the first city in Europe to introduce street lighting.
  28. The city of Brasov, Romania, has the third narrowest street in Europe, after Spreuerhofstraße in Germany and Parliament Street in England. Its width varies between 1.11 and 1.35 meters and it is 80 meters long.
  29. Brasov also has the largest church in Romania, called the Black Church. This is one of the most representative monuments of gothic Architecture in the country, dating back to the 14th – 15th century. The Black Church has a length of more than 89 meters and, due to its size, when it was finished, it was awarded the title of the greatest church between Vienna and Constantinople. The church also has the largest organ in Europe (it has 4,000 tubes) and the heaviest bell in Romania. 
    Romania Travel Blog_Things to do in Romania_Transylvania_Brasov Panoramic
    Brasov panoramic. Photo: Andrei-Daniel Nicolae
  30. According to OpenSignal, Romania occupies the 4th place out of 78 when it comes to 4G speed.
  31. The rail network is also impressive in Romania: even though is the 81st largest country in the world, the Romanian 22,298 kilometers rail network is the 15th largest on Earth.
  32. The Romanians invented a lot of important things. In 1910, Paris hosted the second edition of the International Aeronautics Exhibition, where Henri Coanda participated with his airplane powered by the first modern reaction engine. Wanting to check the engine, Henri Coanda also made an accidental demonstration on how it worked and actually flew by plane on a short distance. Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin and demonstrated the effectiveness this substance has in reducing hyperglycemia. He used it to treat diabetes. Ioan Cantacuzino, academician, and microbiologist, has conducted vast research on cholera and he invented the anticholeric vaccine. Petrache Poenaru invented the pen in 1821. Romanian Anastase Dragomir designed the ejectable chair, which is now used worldwide and Lazar Edeleanu was the first one to discover and synthesize amphetamines. He also invented the modern oil refining method. 
    Romania Travel Blog_Things to do in Romania_Mud Volcanoes
    Mud Volcanoes. Photo
  33. Romania also has 4 Nobel laureates: George Emil Palade (Medicine), Elie Wiesel (Peace), Herta Muller (Literature) and Stefan Hell (Chemistry).
  34. The first Olympic gymnast to ever score a perfect 10 was the 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci
  35. In 2008, at the Beijing summer Olympics, 38-years-old Romanian athlete Constantina Dita became the oldest athlete in the world to win a marathon. 
    Calea Victoriei_The National Library. Romania_shutterstock_792758884
    The National Library Romania
  36. Romanians are known for facing troubled times by making fun of themselves and the situation.  So, it shouldn’t be a surprise when you visit the Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, Maramures County. The cemetery is full of brightly painted wooden crosses that give its merry look. The paintings represent scenes of the deceased’s life. Also, on some of the crosses, there are epigraphs that describe with humor the life the deceased had or reveal a dirty secret.
  37. Peles Castle was the first one in Europe entirely lit by electricity. The castle’s own facility produced the electricity and its heating system (built in 1888) it’s still functional today.
  38. The Danube-Black Sea Canal is the third man-made navigation path regarding length, after the Suez and Panama Canals. During communism, several tens of thousands of political prisoners worked on its excavation, and many of them even died on this site. You can find this and more travel tour idea here. 
  39. The Unitarian faith emerged in Transylvania, Romania, in the middle of the 16th century. Today, this religion is spread in Hungary, Scotland, Netherlands and United States of America.
  40. There are some archaeologists who believe that the three clay tablets discovered in the village of Tartaria, Romania, might be the oldest forms of writing in the world. This could prove the existence of writing from the early Neolithic (about 6600-5500 BC), but the tablets are still the subject of controversy.
  41. The only whole papyrus in Europe was discovered in Romania. It dates back to the 4th century BC and it is written in ancient Greek.  
  42. Romania also has a natural bridge, and it is the only one in the world open to road traffic. It is called God’s bridge, and it is a vestige of the Bridge Cave that resulted from the collapse of its ceiling.
  43. The Red Ravine located in Alba County is considered the Small Canyon of Romania. It is a natural monument and a geological and botanical reserve because there are many rare and endemic plants in the area. Its walls rise to a height of 80-100 meters, and the rock formations are naturally carved with shapes of columns, towers, and pyramids over centuries of erosion by rainwater.
  44. The smallest national banknote put into circulation was the Romanian 10-bani note in 1917. It measured 27.5 X 38 mm.

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Comments (2)

  1. Hi,

    We loved this post. We had a chance to visit Timisoara a couple of years back and loved it. We really want to return and spend a lot more time to explore the country, and this list has plenty to motivate us. If I may be so bold, I have another little fact – Johnny Weissmuller, the Olympic swimmer and later actor, famed for his performance as Tarzan was born in what is now Timisoara.

    Great post, now inspired to return to Romania.

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