10 interesting facts you don't know about Romania


1. The second-largest underground glacier in Europe can be found inside Scarisoara cave


Photo source: http://gazetanord-vest.ro


Scarisoara cave is home to the largest underground glacier in Romania and currently the second largest in Europe.

Geographically, it is located in the Western Carpathians, and the first scientific discoveries date from the second half of the 19th century.

Descending 48 meters deep, on a narrow path, you will reach a hall that stretches over 700 meters in the middle of which is an ice block with an age of more than 4000 years old. Once arrived there, the portal measuring 24 meters weight and 17 meters height impresses both in size and in the rich forms of typical karst relief: ice walls, concretions, and stalagmites.


2. The tallest wooden church in the world is located in Romania


Photo source: http://romaniajournal.ro


Maramures is one of the Romanian regions that best preserves the traditions and the authentic rural atmosphere. For example, Peri Monastery retains the characteristics of the Maramures churches. Although it was built relatively recently, in 1997, it set a new record of being the tallest church in the world. With a height of 78 meters, it surpassed even the Statue of Liberty in New York. Imagine that only the cross at the top of the church measures 7 m high.


3. The most extensive surfaces with virgin forests in Europe can be found in the Carpathian Mountains


The Romania motto is "explore the Carpathian garden," and this is for a reason. It is said that the "wood civilization" appeared in the mountains, and it was the bridge of generations all over the time. Thus, on the territory of the country, there are still virgin forests with trees older than 450 years, reaching heights of over 50 meters.

The first forest to be classified as a virgin forest was in 1906 in the region of Bucovina (Secular forest of Slatioara), and over the time, other forests were classified as well and moreover included in the UNESCO World heritage.

You can venture inside the forest only with a guide, the paths not being reached even by the tourist routes. Here you will have the chance to get a real environmental lesson on the spot, being the last ecosystems where nature thrives in its purest form.


4. Romania is the wealthiest country in Europe in terms of gold resources


The most significant gold mining area in Romania and worldwide, Rosia Montana, can be found in the Apuseni Mountains.

Excessive mining has been practiced here for over 2000 years, since the time of Dacians, who were known for their gold jewelry and vessels. Later, in 106 AD, when the territory was conquered, the Romans were the ones who extracted the gold from the area. At the same time, they set up a mining town so that today, at Rosia Montana Mining Museum, can be found some of the houses, tombs, mining galleries, or inscriptions in Latin dating from that period.

The operations have continued both during the medieval period and under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire so that in 1912, 25% of the total world gold production was provided by the operations in the Apuseni Mountains.

The place also has an interesting legend. It is said that the gold was first discovered by a woman named Cotroanta, who was grazing the goats. That way, she found a ball that shone in the sun and realized it was gold.


5. Baciu Forest near Cluj-Napoca is deemed to be one of the most paranormal areas on Earth


Photo source: http://romania-insider.com


The story of the Baciu forest near Cluj-Napoca begins with the legend that a shepherd entered with his 200 sheep in the woods and never left. As a result, unusual phenomena have never stopped since then, and the number of onlookers increased. The place is also called sometimes the Bermuda Triangle of Romania, and those who have ventured here have reported various strange physical states and light beams that can't be explained. Some even have photographed UFOs, as it was the case in 1968 that attracted paranormal phenomena specialists from all over the world.

Lately, the place has attracted the attention of international publications as BBC, The Guardian, or the Independent. Recently a documentary, where former BBC news presenter Peter Baker is the narrator, was released online. It delimits objectively what is real and what is only a myth about the Baciu forest.


Moreover, there are guided tours organized. Would you try something like that?


6. The Danube Delta is the third-largest region in the world in terms of biodiversity


The Danube Delta is also the wildest wetland on the European continent, and the only delta in the world declared a biosphere reserve, included in the UNESCO world heritage. The area is a mosaic of canals, lakes, reeds, dunes, vegetation, and forests, and extends approximately 40m2 each year. Among the 5 500 species of flora and fauna that can be found here, the place is a real heaven for fishermen having a variety of both freshwater and saltwater fish. Thus, a diverse human community has developed here, and over 25 ethnicities live in harmony (Romanians, Ukrainians, Russians-Lipovans, Tatars, and so on). Even the houses in the area have a unique charm, being in balance with nature: reed roof, whitewashed walls with blue doors and windows. 


7. Romanian is the only Neolatin language spoken in Eastern Europe

At the first hearing, the foreigners would say that the Romanian language resembles the Italian, but with Russian influences, which is true. The explanation is that Romanian is a Romance language, with strong Slavic influence. Romanization of the language occurs with the conquest of the ancient province of Dacia in 106 AD by the Romans. Thus, in the formation of the Romanian language, informal Latin, which was spoken in the conquered Dacia, contributed.

Initially, elements of the Dacian language related to the natural environment and old occupations were also integrated into the language formation process. We can say that three elements completed the formation of the Romanian language: the Daco-Moesian sublayer, the Latin layer (with a share of over 70%), and the Slavic ad-layer from the medieval time.


8. The Romanian territory was home to the oldest civilization in Europe 


Photo source: http://www.planiada.ro


On the current territory of Romania, Moldova and Ukraine, the unique culture of Cucuteni – Trypillia in Europe has developed for over two millennia. The first archaeological discoveries were made at the end of the 19th century. Populating the area between 5500 BC and 2750 BC, the Cucutenians preceded for several hundred years, even the civilizations of Sumer and Egypt.

Perhaps, the first question that comes to our mind is how their daily life used to be?

One interesting fact is that Cucuteni was a matriarchal culture. The woman owned the household, worked in agriculture and pottery, while the man hunted and cared for the animals around the house.  And since we were talking about ceramics, it is worth mentioning that Cucuteni pottery is unique in Europe. Specific are the objects decorated in a spiral, having red, white, and black characteristic colors. These are similar only to a prehistoric Chinese culture, but this one appeared 1000 years later.

From the ceramic objects, it also appears that it was a pacifist culture. The statues representing slaves are missing.

The disappearance of this civilization remains a mystery among specialists. Some theories say they were conquered by an eastern culture known as Kurgan. So after merging with them, they become the ancestors of the later Dacians. Other specialists claim that climate change would have caused a disastrous drought, and this led to population decimation.


9. The Byzantine heritage of the UNESCO painted churches


The picturesque region of Bucovina, in the North East of Romania, still preserves the Byzantine spirit of the past days.

As real fortresses, eight painted monasteries included in UNESCO's World heritage have witnessed history: Arbore, Humor, Moldovita, Patrauti, Probota, Suceava, Voronet and Sucevita. Most of them were built between the 15th and the 16th centuries to strengthen Christianity against the Ottoman threat. They impress by age, originality in architecture, the authenticity of exterior wall painting, and theological symbolism.

The architecture is in the Moldavian style. This style was developed in the time of the Moldavian ruler Stephen the Great (1457-1504) and combined Gothic and Byzantine elements. The paintings in fresco are also a masterpiece of this style. One of the most remarkable frescoes is located on the Western façade of Voronet monastery and represents the scene of the Last Judgement. It is often called the "Sistine Chapel of the East" and is the Byzantine version of Michelangelo's famous religious paintings. What intrigues the specialists is that it has been preserved for almost 500 years.

Included in the UNESCO heritage in 1993, the monasteries still enliven the spirit of the region to preserve its old customs and local identity.


10. Unique in the world – the tradition of dancing bears


Dancing bears is one of the enchanting traditions in Romania. Do not imagine real bears, but people dressed in bears that carry on this ancient custom.

This unique archaic tradition in the world probably dates from the Middle Ages or has roots even from pre-Christian times. The nomadic gypsies roamed the villages with bears dancing on a certain rhythm.

Nowadays, the bears are only people dressed like this, the custom is specific to villages and cities from the eastern region of Moldavia, and it takes place between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Groups of dozens of people, carol dressed in bears from door to door, to wish a new year as wealthy as possible. Publications as Telegraph, Daily Mail, CNN, The New York Times, and Culture Trip had written about Romania's Bear Dancer, so it is quite famous worldwide right now.

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