Enchanting town plazas that date back to medieval times, rolling hills as far as the eye can see, castles cloaked in the mystery of Count Dracula, craggy mountain vistas, and a seemingly infinite array of fortresses and churches.
And don’t forget the Transfăgărășan – arguably the most spectacular road in the world.
Romania’s natural beauty and cultural diversity will surprise you. Bordering the Black Sea in Southeastern Europe, the country’s assets also include the Danube River and Carpathian Mountains.
Romania gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877, but it’s the post-WWII history as a communist-bloc nation under the iron fist and excesses of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu that is more widely known. In December 1989, a national uprising led to the overthrow and execution of Ceausescu who had been charged and found guilty of genocide. In 1991, Romania became a republic with a multiparty system, market economy and individual rights of free speech, religion and private ownership.
CITIES, TOWNS AND VILLAGES
Romania – particularly Transylvania – is home to some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns.
Nicknamed “Little Paris,” Bucharest is Romania’s largest city and capital, and home to Ceausescu’s Spring Palace and the world’s largest parliament building. But it’s the labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets and architecture of times-gone-by of Bucharest’s old town that attracts visitors in droves to linger in the antique shops, cafes, and galleries.
Built in the 12th century by German settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons, Sibiu’s pristine old town has retained its grandeur and is not just one of the prettiest towns in Romania, but perhaps in all Europe. It’s a pedestrian city, with an imposing medieval wall, well-preserved towers, narrow streets, gabled 17th century buildings, the infamous Liar’s Bridge, and two church-dominated squares – Great Square and Little Square. FITS, Sibiu International Theater Festival complete with parades, live music and performances, fireworks, and free prosecco is hosted by Sibiu every June.