ROMANIA TOURISM GUIDE
Legend says that the Romanian capital was founded by a shepherd called Bucur, whose name is recognisable in the Romanian version of the name Bucharesti. Located midway between the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea, in southeastern Romania, Bucharest has not earned the nickname Ã¢â‚¬ËœParis of the BalkansÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ by accident. Its astonishing range of architecture Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from Wallachian wooden and bell-towered mansions to Byzantine-style chapels, neo-classical buildings, striking 1930s modernism and even the post-Stalinist absurdities of CeaucescuÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s megalomaniac regime Ã¢â‚¬â€œ cannot help but leave the visitor in awe at the varieties of vision that have taken place in this city over the centuries. But Bucharest has also been the epicentre of the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s many upheavals, with the stages of the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history like vivid tattoos etched across the cityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s surface, each telling a different chapter of the story. There are a number of buildings which are of constant interest to visitors: The 19th-century Roman Atheneum, the Palace of the CEC, the University, the Palace of Justice, the Town Hall and the Old Parliament Building, built in 1907. Churches of interest include the 18th-century Stravropoleos and the 17th-century Partriarchal Cathedral. Bucharest is also home to the second largest building in the world, after the Pentagon. The Parliament Palace, built in the 1989, was initially called the People's Palace and it admired for both its colossal size and its exceptional facilities.
Among the most important streets in Bucharest is Calea Victoriei (Victory Road) which holds the The Vernescu House and The George Enescu Museum (Museum of Collections). Boulevards Gh. Magheru, Carol I, Calea Mosilor, Calea Dorobantilor and Soseaua Kiseleff are also important. The Romanian capital has many interesting museums such as The Museum of the Romanian Peasant which was awarded the 'European Museum of the Year' in 1994, The Museum of History of Bucharest, The National History Museum of Romania, The Art Museum of Romania (situated in the former royal palace) and the National Museum Cotroceni within the Cotroceni Palace.
Bucharest now boasts trendy bars and clubs, some capitalising on the history of Vlad the Impaler, BucharestÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most infamous son, with cobwebs and dank underground dancefloors. Beyond Bucharest are the palaces of Mogosoaia, Buftea and Heresti and old buildings and monasteries in Snagov, Cernica, Pasarea, Caldarusani and Tiganesti.
BLACK SEA COAST
This coastline is the principal tourist area of Romania and ideal for family holidays. Its 70km (43 miles) of fine white sandy beaches boasts many resorts, the main ones being Costinesti, Eforie Nord, Eforie Sud, Jupiter, Mamaia, Mangalia, Navodari, Neptun, Olimp, Saturn, Techirghiol, Venus and Aurora. There are boating centres for watersports on the sea and lakes, and both daytime and evening cruises. The curative properties of the salt waters and the mud from Lake Techirghiol (whose thermal springs have a year-round temperature of 24Ã‚Â°C/75Ã‚Â°F), Mangalia, Eforie and Neptun make the Romanian Riviera popular with those seeking spa treatments, especially for rheumatism. The Greek/Byzantine port of Constanta, founded in the sixth century BC, merits a visit, and inland there are interesting archaeological sites including the ancient Greek city ruins of Histria, Tomis and Callatis. The area is inhabited by foxes, otters, wildcats and boars and in the migratory periods one can see over 300 species of birds.
Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this vast expanse of protected watery wilderness in the north of the Romanian Black Sea coast comprises three main arms of the Danube with numerous little waterways, wetlands, small patches of forest and a rich and varied wildlife. The backwaters can be explored by fishing boat or floating hotel, and several hotels and campsites welcome visitors. The main town of the Delta is Tulcea with its excellent Danube Delta Museum.
This beautiful and densely forested mountainous area lends itself to many sporting and leisure activities such as skiing, bob-sleighing, horseriding and tennis. Situated in picturesque valleys and on mountain slopes are many health and winter resorts, open all year round and well equipped with ski-hire facilities. The major resorts are: Borsa, Busteni, Durau, Paltinis, Poiana Brasov and Predeal (both of which have illuminated ski slopes), Semenic and Sinaia (bob-sleigh tracks). All are equipped to cater for a long winter sports season running from December to April. Spectacular mountain lakes are found in the Fagaras and Retezat ranges, and caves in the Apuseni, Bihor and Mehedinti regions. The Hurezi Monastery, in the VÃƒÂ¢lcea county, has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
An area in the northern Carpathian foothills which has unique churches and monasteries with exceptional frescoes dating back 500 years. Sucevita is the home of a monastery with the largest number of frescoes in the region. 29km (18 miles) west of Sucevita is Moldovita, renowned for its spectacular paintings. The Moldavian region has 48 monasteries in total, nearly all of them built to celebrate victories over the Turks in the 14th and 15th centuries. There are also numerous beautiful old churches, notable for their painted exterior walls decorated with 15th- and 16th-century Byzantine frescoes. Seven of them are now included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Since Roman times, Romanian spas have been known for their miraculous healing powers. Transylvania holds many well-equipped spa towns, such as Baile Felix, Baile Herculane, Covasna and Sovata, some of which have facilities offering acupuncture, acupressure and slimming cures. It is here that the myth of Dracula, immortalised in Bram StokerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s famous novel, originated. The original Dracula was a medieval King known as Ã¢â‚¬ËœVlad the ImpalerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, owing to his unpleasant habits. One of VladÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s original abodes is Bran Castle; set in a commanding position, with its thick walls and peaked tower, it offers a dramatic view and a chilling atmosphere (tours are available to Bran Castle from the mountain resort of Poiana Brasov, where it is possible to ski in winter and undertake mountain climbing and walking in summer). From here it's possible to travel to Sibiu which has a great market. Transylvania is also known for its numerous Saxon fortified churches, including the Biertan Church, which stands on top of a hill overlooking the village of Biertan and is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.