Fun Facts from Romania

The capital of Romania is Bucharest. If you are like me, I've always pronounced it BOO-ka-rest. However, if you live in Romania, you call it BYOU-ka-rest.

Many people associate Romania with vampires and Count Dracula.  However, that's because of the imagination of Irish author Bram Stoker.  He wrote about a fifteenth century Romanian ruler, Vlad Dracul.  Vlad is a hero in Romanian history.  If you go to Transylvania, you can see his birthplace and castle. However, you won't see a single vampire.

It's also not too likely you'll see the linx, the national animal of Romania.  You might have a better chance spotting the national bird, the white pelican, if you go to the Black Sea.

PETRACHE POENARU, from Romania, invented the fountain pen.  Other famous Romanians include gymnast NADIA COMANECI, the original Hollywood Tarzan JOHNNY WEISSMULLER, and tennis star ILIE NASTASE.

The Palace of Parliament, located in Bucharest, is the world's second largest office building. (Just in case you don't know the largest, it's the US Pentagon.) The palace was built by Ceausescu, the former dictator of Romania.  And, dictators can have grand plans.  Ceausescu wanted to wake up from his palace, look out his balcony, and see a grand boulevard that rivaled anything in Paris.  But, to have a five kilometer boulevard in the center of Bucharest, a whole section of the city had to be bulldozed.  It really is a grand boulevard with fountains and lovely apartments on both sides.  But, it certainly was a high price for anyone living in his pathway.

Timisoara was the first city in Europe to have electric street lights.

The monasteries of Southern Bucovina, built in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, are a "must see" destination while in Romania.  The monasteries were painted inside and out as a means of educating the illiterate of biblical events. Thankfully, they were built with large eaves that helped to protect a lot of the art.

Another unusual destination is the cemetery in Sapanta.  It's hand-carved, hand-painted crosses make a visit to the cemetery a celebration about the life of those resting there.