While most people may still associate Romania with the communist era ended in 1989 (being a revolution with many civilian victims, so people tend to be sensible about the date), this controversial country slowly put itself up on the map of European travel destinations. As one of the cheapest European countries, with magical medieval castles, a breathtaking countryside, and vibrant Transylvanian cities, you’ll fall in love with Romania in no time. Here are some destinations that will make you want to discover this country:
1. Romania has a merry cemetery
Yes, that’s right. Săpânța, a small village in Maramureș region is famous for its unique merry cemetery. The cemetery has more than 800 colorful wooden crosses with funny epitaphs about the deceased life. The poems often highlight in a comical way stories from the deceased life. The first tombstones were sculpted by Stan Ioan Pătraş, who painted his first funny poems on a wooden cross in 1935. Since then the cemetery became an open-air museum, attracting visitors from all around the world.
2. Transfăgărășan is one of the most beautiful roads in the world
According to the famous show Top Gear, Romania is home to one of the most beautiful roads in the world, the Transfăgărășan. The road was constructed as a strategic military route across the Carpathian Mountains under the rule of the Romanian communist dictator, Nicolae Ceașescu. It climbs to an altitude of 2042 meters and it also provides an access to the famous Bâlea Lake. With its 114 kilometers, long S-curves, breathtaking views is one of the most visited touristic areas of Romania.
3. The second largest administrative building in the world can be found in Bucharest
The Palace of Parliament holds a few records according to the World Records Academy: it is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon, the fourth biggest building in the world, the heaviest and most expensive administrative building. It has 9 levels above the ground, and 9 levels underneath the surface (the last one being an anti-atomic bunker). It was a part of an urban development project conducted by the communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, projecting his own narcissism and megalomania into this controversial construction.
4. Transylvania, the mythical land of vampires
Despite a lot of people think that Transylvania is a fictional land, it’s actually a historical region in the center of Romania. The region’s association with vampires is due to Bram Stokers famous novel Dracula, which was inspired by a Romanian ruler, Vlad Țepeș (Vlad the Impaler). The Bran Castle, believed to be the home of Vlad the Impaler is a popular tourist attraction close to the beautiful city of Brașov. Transylvania is home to some magical medieval cities, which attracts more and more tourists every year: Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca, Sighișoara.
5. One of the coolest underground places in the world is in Turda
Turda, a city in Transylvania has one the most beautiful salt mines you’ve ever seen! At 120 meters under the surface the salt mine has even in amusement park and a museum inside its 4 big halls. It was rebuilt in 2008 and it is one of the most visited museums in Romania due to the massive publicity it received in the past few years.
6. There’s a village where the sun rises twice
Rîmetea is a small picturesque village in the center of Transylvania overshadowed by a mountain where it is said the sun rises twice. The village is located at foot of a 1170 meters high rock. Every morning the sun appears at the left side of the Piatra Secului Peak, and after disappearing behind the rocks it takes a while to appear again. This makes Rîmetea a unique village with two sunrises.
7. The ASTRA museum is Europe’s largest open-air ethnographic museum
Five kilometers from Sibiu you can find this enormous open-air exhibition with more 300 buildings representing the ethnographic life of Transylvania. The museum opened in 1905 and was reorganized in 1990 under four cultural themes: Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization, Museum of Universal Ethnography, Museum of Transylvanian Civilization, and Museum of Saxon Ethnography. It has an exhibition circuit of more than 10 kilometers.