This Eastern European country’s beauty is often overlooked or understated. Here we have 10 interesting things you didn’t know about Romania that will change your perspective and might make you want to book a trip to Bucharest for your next city break.
10. The self driving car
Romanian have a knack for technology, so it was no wonder when a Romanian 19 year old student announced he designed a car that drives itself. Equipped with webcams, this car can spare you the hassle of paying attention to the road. It managed to pass 47 out of 50 trials and, with systems that would cost less than 4000$, it’s definitely a serious rival for Google’s self driving car.
9. World Wars
Romania participated in both World Wars, sacrificing the lives of 300,000 soldiers only in the first one. Romania was recompensed by the allies with the territory of Transylvania. But not before long, Romania was engaged in World War II, which didn’t go too well for the Eastern European country, costing it lives and money.
8. Nadia Comaneci
This super gymnast was the first to achieve a perfect score, in 1976 at the Motreal Olympics. This came as an unexpected surprise and the judges’ computers weren’t even programmed to show the perfect score. Nadia Comaneci returned to Romania with 3 gold medals when she was only 14 years old.
7. Traian Popovici
Romanians too have a Schindler of their own. Admittedly, Traian Popovici is not as famous as Schindler, but his acts of kindness were equally big. In order to save the lives of thousands of Jewish workers who were being sent to their death, he argued with general Ion Antonescu on their behalf. Antonescu had been appointed by the Nazi, but he relented to Popovici and managed to produce an allotment of exemptions for the workers.
6. Dracula’s Castle
Set in a in a Transylvanian forest, Bran Castle is creepy but famous for his history and traditions. However, you might be disappointed to find out that Vlad the Impaler, whom we associate with Dracula might have only set foot in this castle once or twice in his lifetime. Instead, he resided in a different castle, located a bit further. The confusion was mainly caused by Bram Stoker’s book, in which Dracula lives in a Transylvanian castle.
5. A Tax on Black Magic
A labor law was passed in 2011 which states that the government will receive a cut of the money made by witchcraft and sorcery. Romania has no shortage of fortune tellers, so you can only imagine they were upset by this law. Since black magic is now considered a professional trade, magic practitioners will shortly start being taxed while they can only watch their profits diminish.
4. An Anthropological Treasure
In 2002 Romanian anthropologists were amazed to discover a cave filled with human bones that was as interesting as it was unexpected. The 40,000 years old remains show signs of both earlier and later hominid species. One of the mandibles that the specialists found displays characteristic of morphology that is associated with neanderthals.
3. The Transfagarasan Highway
This twisting road was built during the communist years as a strategic military route stretching for almost 90km between Romania’s highest peaks, Moldoveanu and Negoiu. With hairpin turns bordered by amazing scenery, the Transfagarasan Highway is any racer’s dream come true. It reaches 2034 meters altitude and it’s a real attraction for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle aficionados. Although it is usually impracticable from late October to the middle of June because of the snow, you can find hotel and cabanas along the way at all times during the year.
2. The Palace of the Parliament
Another symbol of the communist Romanian “Golden Era”, the Palace of the Parliament can be found in the center of Bucharest and is one of the world’s largest building. Designed by Anca Petrescu when she was only 28 years old for Ceausescu, the Palace of the Parliament was initially called the People’s House. The building site started in 1980 and it required demolishing a large chunk of Bucharest’s old city center, sacrificing a monastery, a stadium and a hospital, as well as relocating 40,000 people in the area.
1. Smuggling cigarettes
Romanians really enjoy their smoking, so there’s no wonder the cigarette business is highly prosperous. Only in 2012 law officials confiscated 10 million cigarette packs, busting 30 smuggling crews. Despite the efforts of the police, the smugglers are getting more and more inventive. One impressive method involved smuggling the products in hollowed out logs.