10 Best Unusual Trivia On Romania No One Will Tell You – My Balkan Experience 2

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The Romani Gypsies of Romania

Port of Constanta, Romania

Located at the Black Sea coast of Romania is the Port of Constanta. It functions as a hub for the Black Sea region and a distribution center for Central and Eastern Europe. It is about 200 km east of Bucharest (the capital). This modern port is connected to the oil fields of Ploiesti region of Romania by pipelines. The 3,926-hectare Port of Constanta handles petroleum products, ore, coal, chemicals, containers, rolled goods, general cargoes, steel products, timber and passengers. It is the east gate of the European Union and goods that arrive from China and along the Silk Road countries are quickly transferred to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe via the Port of Constanta.

In a country of fascinating stories and awesome terrain, Romania is indeed an amazing land. Located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, it shares borders with Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, and Moldova. Its coast opens out to the Black Sea. Romania is another country of the Balkan peninsula. Its name is derived from Latin word “romanus” which means “citizens of Rome”. Inhabited by the Dacian tribes from the 1st-7th centuries then went to the Romans (Byzantine) thereafter and to fall under Ottoman rule later. In the early Middle Ages, Hungarians settled in the Transylvania region together with the German Saxons (who built 6 walled towns that are UNESCO Heritage Sites today). Romanian national revival movement started in Transylvania in the late 1700s and the Kingdom of Romania was born. Soviet occupation following World War II led to the formation of a Communist People’s Republic and its king abdicated. Between 1967-1987, it was headed by Communist President Nicolae Ceausescu who turned the country in the brink of starvation. In 1989, an army-assisted coup led to his overthrow, trial and execution. Communist government ended and in 1990 it has undergone into a very difficult transition from Communism to democratic form. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and a full blooded EU member in 2007.

I saw Romania in 2009 while I was under contract with the oil tanker M/T Edgeless. Because of its isolation to the outside world during the Communist regime, I don’t know that much about this country. Well except of course about Ceausescu, the 14-year old gymnast who scored a perfect 10 in the Montreal Olympics of 1976 Nadia Comaneci and Count Dracula in his Transylvanian castle. But then after setting my feet on this land, I realized there is a lot more of Romania than meets the ignorant eye of this Pinoy seafarer. Take a look of the 10 best unusual trivia on Romania no one will tell you.

It Has 6 Incredible UNESCO Heritage Sites

the Medieval town of Sighisoara in Transylvani

Medieval towns, bastioned Churches, painted monasteries, ancient Dacian ruins- they are just some of the attractions that make up Romania’s atypical cultural heritage. It has 6 incredible UNESCO Heritage Sites, an unusual trivia on Romania no one will tell you. The historic center of Sighisoara for one is a quaint town in the center of Transylvania that looks today as it was 500 years ago. This Medieval town was also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula (or Vlad The Impaler). He was actually a political leader who fought against the Ottoman invaders in the 1400s. Vlad Dracula was the inspiration of Bram Stoker’s fictional character, Count Dracula. Sighisoara was founded by the German Saxons and this town played an important commercial role in Medieval Europe for several centuries. These days, this town features a historic center with high turret houses decorated in lively facades. With its cobbled streets, it is deemed as the best example of the German Saxons culture in Transylvania.

A Medieval street in Sighisoar

It is Europe’s Heart of Gold

The gold lizard

An unusual trivia on Romania no one will tell you is that it is Europe’s richest country in gold reserves. In fact, it has the only museum dedicated to gold in all of Europe. A main tourist attraction in the Apuseni Mountains, the Gold Museum (Mineral Collection of Brad) contains a collection of 2000 exhibits from around the world. Said exhibits resemble the shape of a feather, a Dacian flag, a crystal and even a lizard. The lizard-shaped piece, though it is 7/10th gram of pure gold is valued at 3 million Euros.

The Gold Museum

Romania Is Full Of Pretty Castles Like The Bran Castle

Castles are among the unusual trivia of Romania no one will tell you. They are widely recognized for their fame throughout the world. Each is as very unique as the other. Most of them are located in Transylvania and the most popular is Bran Castle and which is more made famous by the “Count Dracula” story. Irish writer Bram Stoker invented Count Dracula which he got his inspiration from Bran Castle. The real resident of Bran however was Queen Marie of Romania. She received the castle as a gift in 1920. During her reign, she transformed the property into her summer residence. She loved Bran Castle that much and in her final days she wished that her heart be buried in the castle when she dies. Her daughter Princess Ileana inherited the castle but in 1946 it was seized by the Communists and made into a museum. Post Communist rule later awarded the ownership of the castle to Dominic von Habsburg, son and heir of Princess Ileana. Bran Castle is located on a cliff of 2,500 feet and is surrounded by hills and valleys. It is a major tourist site in Transylvania. And of course there is no Count Dracula in there, but the resting place of a royal heart.

Queen Marie of Romania

The Royal urn containing Queen Marie’s heart as it is being taken for its resting place at Bran Castle.

Resting place of Queen Marie’s heart.

Sarmale Is The National Dish

Officially the national dish and one of the unusual trivia of Romania no one will tell you. Sarmale are grilled cabbage rolls wrapped around pork, rice, chopped onions and minced garlic. Though it is of Turkish origin, Romanians claim that their version is the best.

It Has A Merry Cemetery

You know, in Romania death has its lighter side. Somewhere in a village in Sapanta, Maramuros, Romania is a cemetery with colorful tombstones. They describe in a poetic (but funny) manner of what the deceased persons have done during their lifetime. Well Sapanta is a small town with few secrets and sometimes the details of their dearly departed’s colorful lives are revealed on their tombs crosses, an unusual trivia on Romania no one will tell you. Examples are:

Here lies Ioan Toaderu. He loved horses. And one more thing that he loved very much. To sit at a table in a bar. Next to someone else’s wife.

Underneath this heavy cross, lies my mother-in-law so poor. Had she lived 3 days more, I would be here and she would read. You that are passing by, try not to wake her up. For if she comes back home, she will bite my head off. But I will act in the way, that she will not return. Stay here my mother-in-law.

The Capital City Bucharest Is Dubbed “Little Paris” Of Eastern Europe

Many European capitals are full of wonders and the amazing city of Bucharest is an unusual trivia on Romania no one will tell you. Although some travelers may confuse it with Budapest (capital of Hungary), Bucharest is known as the “little Paris” of Eastern Europe. Between 1900-1930, this elegant capital was considered one of the most beautiful cities of Europe during that time. In terms of architecture and other details it has its close resemblance to Paris. It has its own Arc Du Triomphe (Arcul de Triumf in Romanian) but with smaller dimension. It also has its own Champs Elysees (Boulevardul Unirii in Romanian). The version in Bucharest however beats the Parisian one in size by at least 3 meters.

Romania Is Equidistant Between The North Pole & The Equator

Another unusual trivia on Romania no one will tell you is that its position on the globe has half distance between the North Pole and the equator. Thus, the country is endowed with temperate-continental climate with oceanic influences in the western and central regions. In the south and eastern part is Mediterranean climate, in the north is Scandinavian-Baltic and in the southern part is influenced by climate from the Black Sea.

Hoia Baciu Forest Is The Spookiest In The World

Sometimes called the “Bermuda Triangle of Romania”, Hoia Baciu forest is also an unusual trivia on Romania no one will tell you. Local legends tell that ghosts and spirits lurk among its crooked trees. One tale tells of a young girl who disappeared into the forest. She later re-emerged after 5 years unable to remember where she had been, still wearing the same dress when she disappeared and did not grow older at all. There are also rumors of alien encounters. The strange activity in the forest is centered on a clearing which is devoid of plant life. Scientists however have studied the soil and confirm that nothing is wrong with it. Still, people in Romania claim it as an opening to another realm. Hoia Baciu forest is found in Cluj-Napoca, the spiritual capital of Romania.

Ghost Rider 2, Transporter 3, Cold Mountain and Anaconda III Were All Filmed in Romania

The village of Reci in Romania, where the epic war drama Cold Mountain was filmed

Of course, you come to love a certain place because of the movies filmed in that area. An unusual trivia on Romania no one will tell you that it served as backdrop for some Hollywood movies starring the likes of Nicholas Cage, Harrison Ford and Nicole Kidman. The epic war drama, Cold Mountain was almost fully shot in Romania in the village of Reci and in Bucharest. Because of its exquisite landscape and rich cultural heritage, Romania is a favorite location for foreign film directors and producers.

Transfagarasan Road Is Named By Top Gear As The Best Road In The World In 2009

Balea Lake along Transfagarasan Road in Romania.

When I was in Romania in 2009, it was also the time when Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear came to spend a day filming Transfagarasan Road. An unusual (and wild) trivia on Romania no one will tell you. Top Gear presented a unique highway to the world and because of that it is one of the must-see sites in Romania. Clarkson even called it “the best road in the world.” This highway crosses Fagaras Mountain or sometimes referred as Transylvanian Alps. It divides Northern and Southern Romania. Ceausescu argued during his regime that Transfagarasan Road is needed for military purposes. The goal was to ease the distribution of resources in case Russia invades just like what it has done to Czechoslovakia. The invasion never came and the highway has become the most magnificent, challenging yet rewarding drive to enjoy Romania complete with tunnels, bridges and viaducts.

Transfagarasan Highway

Scenes way up the Transfagarasan Highway

That was fun for me giving the 10 best unusual trivia on Romania no will tell you. Now you know more about this Eastern European country what it has to offer. Certainly one of the places you ought to visit at least once in your lifetime. And you know, beyond its amazing sights, Romania ranks 4th in the fastest internet speed in the world. Nicolae Paulescu, a Romanian scientist discovered the insulin. Another Romanian, Henri Coanda discovered the modern jet engine. This country indeed has proven to be a place of elegance and significance.

Reference: Wikipedia