Romania: An Unusual Factsheet for An Unusual Country
Many times, we come across the same information presented in exactly the same way- in the case of Romania, it’s about the Parliament (2nd largest building in the world, yawn) or that Romanian is a romance language.
We’ve found what we think are truly unusual facts about the truly unusual country of Romania. Take a look at our list and see what you think:
Interesting Sites to See
The Bigar Cascade Falls in Caras-Severin has been voted the most beautiful waterfall in the world, and it’s easy to see why: the lush greenery combined with flowing water does look gorgeous.
The Scarisoara Glacier, which is an underground ice glacier, is filled with stalagtites and stalagmites that have developed over thousands of years.
The Vacaresti Lake just outside of Bucharest was supposed to be an artificial lake/Delta but the engineers got it wrong. Instead, it’s become a vibrant marshland bordered by cement and has the renown of an artificial lake that’s never actually been filled with water.
The Danube Delta holds roughly 23 different ecosystems and is a bird watchers paradise. Many of the sites can only be visited by boat or ferry, which makes it a special type of natural tour.
The Muddy Volcanoes are close to Buzau, and are more earthly eruptions in the surface. A unique site to visit for nature lovers.
The Abandoned Art Nouveau Casino in Constanta was a grand palace for the elite in the early 1900s, a hospital in WWII and a restaurant under the Communist regime. It now stands empty, yet beautiful, facing the Black Sea.
The Turda Salt Mine is close to Cluj. It’s a spa and boasts of having an underground theme park, all salt-based. A very unusual place to visit.
The Transfagasan Hiway this curvy, twisting road isn’t for the faint of heart. It not only has sharp mountain corners with sheer drop-offs but you also have to plan for braking for the local sheep.
Bears and Other Random Romania Facts
Romania has the largest bear population in Europe (with about 60% in Transylvania) and has created a ‘garbage bear’ scene. It’s not unusual to spot bears going through the trash even in some more urban areas. Also, they don’t celebrate Groundhog Day on February 2. They have something like a Groundbear Day– if the bear returns to hibernate it means a longer winter.
Romania is the richest gold resource in Europe.
Romanian money (the leu/lei) literally translates to the lion. This is because of the former Austro-Hungarian currency that had two lions as its symbol.
The second language spoken in Microsoft, after English, is Romanian.
A ‘Black Magic Tax’ was begun in 2011, specifically targeting fortunetellers, witches and other similar livelihoods.
Romania is exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole as one of the 45th parallel north places in the world.
One Romanian superstition is if you plant a conifer/evergreen tree in your yard, a member of your family will die in 12 months.
Gheorghe Panculescu, an innovative Romanian engineer, helped influence Gustav Eiffel on the design of the Eiffel Tower for its completion.
The writer Elie Wiesel, the actor Edward G. Robinson and the gymnast Nadia Comaneci (the first to score a perfect Olympic 10) were all Romanian born.
Nicolae Paulescu originally discovered insulin, but the fact was ignored for years due to some prejudices he was believed to have.
The sculptor, Constantin Brancusi (famous for kiss piece ‘The Kiss’) is Romanian. Another surprise is Francesco Illy, of the international Illy coffee, was born in Timisoara.
Unlike popular mythology, the actor Bela Lugosi of monster film notoriety wasn’t Romanian but of Hungarian descent.
Dracula and Vlad Tepes
No factsheet about Romania would be complete without digging into the vampire legends the country is so known for.
Romanians view Vlad Tepes as a historical hero, a patriot who used Turkish methods (impalement- which he learned when he was held by the Turks) back on the invaders. By placing his enemies on spikes along roadsides he scared the rest of them away and protected his people.
The book Dracula was written by the Irishman Bram Stoker, who never stepped foot into Romania.
- The inspiration of Dracula (and Frankenstein) came from a rainy weekend with writer friends challenging each other to ghost stories. Laudanum was used as extra inspiration.
- Both Vlad Tepes and Elizabeth Bathory are rumored to be the sources for the character of Count Dracula.
Romanian peasants believed vampires could be created not by drinking blood and sharing it, but from a mere stare or a light touch.
According to local legends, you don’t use a wooden stake to kill vampires but a heated iron rod or a burial at a crossroads. Garlic is used to ward off all evil spirits.
If you’re being chased by a vampire, throwing down a handful of poppy seeds will make them pause- they’re compelled to count them.
Romania has a Vampire Tourist Trade that typically involves Bran Castle and the place Vlad Tepes is said to be buried, Snagov Monastery. However, Targoviste and Poienari Fortress are more historically accurate.
That’s our unusual factsheet for the beautiful, unusual country of Romania. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. -WDN
Please feel free to add any of your own fun facts about Romania- we’d love to hear from you!