Yesterday it was the World Music Day, so this post is a little bit late. Nonetheless I want to share some of my favourite Romanian songs with you, and through this give you an inkling on Romanian music.
The first piece is by George Enescu, it’s called The Romanian Rhapsody No 1, and it’s classical music. I think it perfectly captures the Romanian spirit, it’s like a musical definition of us as a people, especially if you listen to No2 as well.
The second piece will be Romanian folk music, or traditional music, from Transylvania. Traditional music is tailor made for the soul of a people, and it’s very hard to understand and appreciate by other people. Still, you can give it a try…
I have just realized that out of the people that I’ve met, only those who haven’t visited Romania have bad things to say about it. Those who have seen it can’t find words to praise its beauties and the wonderful people they’ve met there.
This year I met a man and his wife who have been to Romania 34 times and they can’t wait to go again! And this weekend I met a lovely lady who had been there 4 times if I’m not wrong, and says she absolutely loves it!
Romania doesn’t have many motorways. And to some extent, this is a good thing. Strolling accross country you get the chance to discover so many gems that have been forgotten under the thick dust of time, or left at the mercy of nature to defeat time through their own forces. Old churches, castles, fortresses, manor houses, towers..They all tell stories about a past rich in events and culture. If only more had ears to listen to these stories!
If you embark on a trip from Targu Mures to Bran, you’ll be amazed that on a distance of around 170km you can see so many testimonies of the Romanian past. People don’t look at them anymore. I didn’t use to look at them anymore. But now I do. Now that I don’t have them anymore, I savour every bit of them.
Targu Mures is an treasure for whoever is interested in architecture and history.
From its medieval fortress and the gothic cathedral, to its Hungarian Cultural Palace, from its medieval high-school to the modern and unique National Theatre, there is something to amaze your eyes everywhere.
We embark onto the journey to Bran on the E60 road, which takes us through Romanian, Hungarian and German villages.
We then arrive to Sighisoara, where we have to stop for at least a couple of hours. This is a place oozing history. Its narrow streets are buzzing with tourists who want to see one of the few if not the only currently inhabited medieval fortresses in Europe, the place where Vlad Tepes, aka Dracula was born.
Sighisoara – Medieval church
And then we arrive to Brasov.. What an amazing city…
And we’re getting closer to Bran… On our way, we go through Rasnov..
An finally we arrive to the amazing Bran. This journey is worth taking over a few days. There is no way to describe its beauties here, you have to see these things with your own eyes…
We haven’t covered a great distance, but the amount og things we have seen is mind blowing! That is because Romania is such an amazing country, and unfortunately people misjudge it and don’t give it a chance. They don’t give themselves the chance to discover it, and they’re missing out. I’m proud to be Romanian, and I’m proud to belong to these wonderful places!
Dracula, the most famous symbol of Romania in the Western conscience, is not Romanian. May I say that some people will only now find out that Transylvania is a part of Romania, and not a mythical place or a country of its own. And why am I saying that Dracula is not Romanian? Easy answer. Because it came to life in the mind of an Irish writer called Bram Stoker, after reading quite a lot on European folklore and stories of vampires.
It is known that the character of Dracula was to a certain extent based on the Wallachian ruler Vlad III, also known as the Impaler. But what intrigues me the most are the incosistencies that exist in the story, the differences between what is real and what is fiction, as these have created a big mess in the mind of the Westerners.
First of all, Vlad the Impaler was not known to drink people’s blood. He became infamous for his cruel methods of punishment, of which his favorite one was impaling the enemies of the country. Wallachia was being persistently attacked by the Ottomans (Turks), and Vlad made his best to defend his country, which gained him a high place in the Romanian history, and in European history as well, because if it hadn’t been for his efforts, the Turkish would have occupied a large part of Europe, and its culture and layout nowadays would probably be different.
Secondly, Bran castle, which everybody calls Dracula’s castle, is not in fact Dracula’s castle. It is not even Vlad’s castle. The first documented mentioning of Bran Castle is the act issued by Louis I of Hungary on November 19, 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt (Braşov) the privilege to build the stone citadel on their own expense and labor force. It is not even likely for Vlad to have used the castle as a residence since it belonged to a different country, Transylvania, which was under the control of Hungary. The only connection between Bran and Vlad was the fact that he used the Bran Pass for his incursions in Transylvania, as it was relatively easy to cross the mountains through this point. Also, he was held captive in the castle for a couple of months when the Hungarian king thought Vlad had betrayed him.
What’s more, the castle is not even mentioned in Stoker’s book, so there is no reason to relate Bran castle to the character of Dracula.
Whereas Bran castle is situated on the border between Transylvania and Valachia, the castle that Stoker envisioned in his book was situated on the border between Transylvania and Moldova, in Tihuta Pass, near Bistrita. There is no castle there nowadays, but the legend is based on some mysterious ruins that still can be seen on the Rachitaua Peak.
There is a local legend that is passed from generation to generation, which says that Vlad Draculea saw the ruins during his travels and tried to uncover the treasure that was said to lay underneath. But the place was cursed, and Draculea made a pact with the Devil in order to finf the treasure. The Devil betrayed him and took all his powers away with the help of a beautiful maiden, so Draculea had to write with his own blood that he will give up on the treasure if he wants his powers back. He cursed the place, and ever since all kinds of strange things happen there to people who are looking for the treasure.
Vlad’s residence, that could be called Dracula’s castle by people who identify the two characters, is Cetatea Poienari, in Arges County. Unfortunately, not many people know about it, this being the reason why tourists are drawn towards other places such as Bran and Tihuta Pass.
These are only a couple of the false ideas that revolve around the myth of Dracula, but if you want to find out more, read Stoker’s novel and then read the history of Romania.
You will be amazed how much you don’t know about this amazing country! Google „Pasul Tihuta” to see images of the area that inspired Bram Stoker when he chose the location of Dracula’s castle. Also click here to access the official website of the Bran Castle.
For a guide to Sighisoara, the place where Vlad was born, click here.
Since 2006, all tourists that visit the Romanian mountains in winter time are invited to spend a night in the amazing Ice Hotel built every winter at Balea, in the Fagaras Mountains, at more than 2000 m altitude.
The hotel is completely carved in ice, and comprises 10 bedrooms, a restaurant, a bar and a church. It hosts various events such as concerts, parties and weddings.
What makes it special? Not only its beauty but also the fact that it is the only ice hotel in Central-Eastern Europe. One would expect to find an ice hotel in a northern country, that’s why this is a surprise for foreign tourists, especially for those who are not familiar with the geography of Romania.
So if you are not scared to sleep at -4 degrees Celsius, have a look at the links below to find out what else you can do in the area, and book a room now, if you are lucky enough to still find one available.
The Fagaras area is absolutely stunning in any season, and well worth visiting. But if you want to go for a ride on the Transfagarasan, and feel like Jeremy Clarkson, wait until the summer comes, as the road is closed during the cold season, due to snow hazard.
A murit poetul nostru.. o mare pierdere pentru Romania, mai trista si mai dureroasa decat criza financiara, decat rusinoasa batalie dintre orbii astia ce ne conduc tara, si probabil la fel de trista ca si prostia si ignoranta in care traiesc mutli din romanii nostri, ec isi blestema tara in fiecare zi, si uita ca ei sunt parte din ea, si uita ca si ei ar putea face ca ea sa fie mai buna.
Si sper ca memoria lui, mereu vie, sa nu fie patata de sporovaieli mediatice. Si sper ca poezia lui, daca nu suficient de apreciata pana azi, sa fie citita cu luare aminte de acum, si inteleasa, si cei ce o citesc sa se simta umiliti si rusinati, in fata unei tari pe care acest om a iubit-o atat de mult, si de care cu totii ne batem joc.
Purtaţi-vă de grijă, fraţii mei, Păziţi-vă şi inima, şi gândul, De nu doriţi să vină anii grei, Spitalul de urgenţă implorându-l. … Vă văd pe toţi mai buni şi mai umani, Eu însumi sunt mai omenos în toate, Dă-mi, Doamne, viaţă, încă nişte ani Şi ţării mele minima dreptate.
Adrian Păunescu, 31 octombrie 2010, Bucureşti, Spitalul de Urgenţă