MUNTENIA REGION

Muntenia is situated between the Danube to the south and the east, The Meridional Carpathians and the Milcov river to the north. It is a historical region in the south of Romania. The name of this region first appeared in the chronicles of the first Moldavian rulers, and Muntenia referred to the entire territory of Wallachia. 

Together with Oltenia, Muntenia formed the medieval principality of Wallachia, starting with the reign of Basarab I, up to the unification of the principalities in 1859. Until the 18th century, the name of “Muntenia” also extended to Oltenia, which started to be perceived as a distinct historical region only after the Habsburg occupation. A trip to Muntenia will lead to the most important cultural centres, such as Curtea de Arges, whose fortress is mentioned in documents ever since 1330. The city also hosted the first Metropolis of Wallachia since 1350, and the Monastery of Curtea de Arges is considered to be one of the most beautiful monuments of Romanian architecture from the 16th century.

A special, well showcased component of Muntenia is folklore, but also popular customs that are emphasized on important religious celebrations over the year and rural parties. Thus, the Romanian space of Muntenia proves to be a strong keeper of old traditions and customs, of the authentic popular dress, as you get the chance to admire the most beautiful fabrics and embroidery in the villages around Muscel.

Bucharest

The Palace of Parliament

 

Starting from an older idea, the Palace of Parliament was built under the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu in a time of great economic deprivations. The dictator’s tendency was, on the one hand, to gather all the central organs of the state into one building, and on the other hand, Ceausescu wanted a safe building that was earthquake-proof and would withstand a possible nuclear attack.

From an architectural point of view, The Palace of Parliament is one of the most controversial buildings of Romania: Anca Petrescu identified it with Buckingham Palace in London and The Palace of Versailles in France, and the architects of the time saw it as “the little Phenian”, with an eclectic, heavy style, filled with contradictory elements.

The building has a surface of 365.000 sqm and it is ranked first in the Guinness World Record in terms of administrative buildings (for civil use), and third in the world from the point of view of volume; it is the heaviest and most expensive building in the world.

The Arch of Triumph

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arch of Triumph, built between 1921 and 1922 after the project of the architect Petre Antonescu, is a symbol of Romania’s victory in World War I, and it symbolically connects Bucharest both to ancient Rome – the civilization which enforced the arch as a symbol of victory, as well as to its Latin sister France; the Parisian Arch, commissioned by Napoleon represented a model for the one in Bucharest.

Queen Mary and King Ferdinand’s medallions are the pride of the Arch of Triumph. On the northern façade the medallions of “Faith” and “Manhood” stand –  works of the sculptors Constantin Baraschi and Ion Jalea.

The monument is not the first Arch of Triumph of the capital, as it was preceded by temporary monuments dedicated to the victory of the Independence War or the 40-year anniversary of the reign of the first King of Romania, Carol I.

The Romanian Athenaeum

A symbol of national culture, the Romanian Athenaeum, built in the heart of Bucharest 120 years ago (1886-1888), became the architectural and spiritual embodiment of not just a city, a capital, but also a nation.

Designed by the French architect Albert Galleron, following the scientific research and indications of Alexandru Odobescu, revised and completed by a group of Romanian specialists (Al. Orascu, Ion Mincu, Ion Socolescu, Grigore Cerkez, Cucu Starostescu), the circular-shaped building was due to the valorization of the existing foundations from the garden of the diocese which were about to serve for the building of a circus. Inspired by the ancient Greek temples, the building catches one’s eye at a first glimpse through a historical colonnade which supports a triangular gable.

Few people know nowadays that the Palace of the Romanian Athenaeum was built with money from a public subscription, following the organization of a national lottery (500.000 tickets of 1 leu), and he appeal addressed to citizens by the naturalist Constantin Esarcu (1836-1898), the founder of The Romanian Athenaeum Society, sounded like a popular call, with a slogan that was downright funny and dull: “Give a penny for the Athenaeum!”

The Large Fresco

Source: pxhere.com

Following the same interest for decoration is the constant preoccupation of C. Esarcu and Al. Odobescu ever since 1888, for the creation of a monumental fresco on the circular wall of the hall, a fresco which was supposed to evoke the most important moments of our national history, but at the same time to render a faithful image  of the peculiarities of the Romanian spirit.

In 1901, the painter Stefan Popescu put forward a project in the spirit of the above-mentioned principles, and he wished to create this 300 sqm painting on canvas, thinking that the hall would not have to be closed for a while this way. However, due to lack of funding, the project was stalled for many years.

The work,75 sqm in length and 3 m in width, begun in 1933 using the “al Fresco” technique, was to be dedicated on May 26th, 1938. On balance, the fresco is made in a somewhat free manner, what one would call a flat realistic style. The dominant chromatics is cold, abounding in shades of gray. From here on the general effect is slightly blurred, without special touches.

The Stavropoleos Monastery

The Stavropoleos Monastery was founded in 1724 by the Greek archimandrite Ioanichie. He built the church and an inn that only lasted to the end of the 19th century. Nowadays the monastery complex comprises the church and the area surrounding the inner courtyard, which was built at the beginning of the 20th century in a Neo-Romantic style, following the design of the architect Ion Mincu.

The Stavropoleos complex can be placed stylistically in the time of Brancoveanu, being a unitary expression of this architectural period in Romanian art through its stone decorations, furniture, interior and exterior mural paintings. In spite of its small size, the church possesses monumentality, being an architectural space typical of Byzantine tradition. Through its sculpted decoration and its ornamental motifs, it expresses both a baroque sensitivity and an oriental taste.

The exterior painting and the turret were rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century and harmonize with the stone decoration which replaced the old stucco. The names of the builders and the stonemasons are unknown, the only one mentioned being that of Iordan the stucco master.

Traditional crafts

Glass / wood painted icons

Weaving, sewing

Source: Facebook – Muzeul National de Arta al Romaniei

Source: Facebook – Muzeul National al Taranului Roman

Source: Facebook – Muzeul National al Satului “Dimitrie Gusti”

Decorated eggs

Braids

Sources: Facebook – Muzeul National al Taranului Roman

Source: Facebook – Muzeul National al Taranului Roman

Traditional gastronomy

Source: Facebook – Muzeul National al Taranului Roman

Handmade jewelry 

Source: Facebook – Muzeul National de Arta al Romaniei

Woodworking- sculpting, carving

Source: Facebook – Muzeul National al Taranului Roman

DOBROGEA REGION

Standing at the crossroads of two paths, one of which united the North Sea with the Black Sea by crossing Central Europe, and the other, which united the harbours of the Oriental Mediterranean with those of the Pontic plains, Dobrogea was destined a tormented fate by history throughout different centuries. One by one the armies of the Persians crossed the land, then the Romans, and later the invasions of the migrating peoples were followed by the Muslim rule, while in the meantime Dobrogea became the middle ground of invasion of the armies  from the Russian plains to the Balkans and Constantinople. 

In the 6th-4th centuries B.C., the Black Sea shore was colonized by the Greeks. On the territory of contemporary Dobrogea the colonies of Histria, Callatis and Tomis were founded. The Greek colonies were organized following the model of the Greek polis. The colonies exerted their influence on a larger territory than just that of the city itself.

The province plays an important role in the defence system of the Roman Empire, being part of the Danube limes. 

Given the fact that in the 14th-16th centuries, The Ottoman Empire advanced towards Central Europe, Dobrogea was a peripheral possession, with a great strategic or economic importance. From the point of view of the church, it was part of the Proilavon Exarchate, with its seat at Braila, and which comprised Bugeac as well. But as the years passed, the number of Muslims grew, so that in some places they were the majority of the population. This situation continued at the beginning of the demise of the Ottoman power (the 17th century). The situation dramatically changed, however, once the Russian Empire extended its territory.

Dobrogea became part of Romania after its Independence was decided at the Congress of Berlin.

CONSTANTA

The Casino

The Casino was projected by the architect Daniel Renard, in an Art Nouveau style. It was then projected by the architect Petre Antonescu. In his view, the Casino’s function would be that of a theatre. When the liberals came to power between 1907 and 1908, Renard reimposed his Art Nouveau style. Thus, the Casino’s foundations were modified three times.

The gorgeous building was inaugurated on the 15th of August 1910, in the presence of Prince Ferdinand. It was the largest building of this type in Romania. The works cost 1.300.000 lei, money which served to build the most beautiful building of Constanta. Some said that the symbol of the city resembles a hearse if you look at it from above, and its windows are shaped like a tomb. The explanation is also provided by Radu Cornescu: “The hearse has elements of Art Nouveau, just like the Casino”, said the architect.

Art Nouveau was a phenomenon of unprecedented magnitude in history and it represented, first and foremost, a release from the artistic straps of the time, a tendency towards novelty and nonconformism. Up to 1912, several Romanian and foreign orchestras offered their services for the Casino, but the one which had a firm contract with the City Hall was the I. Paschill orchestra.

The Genoese Lighthouse

 

 

 

The Genoese Lighthouse, built in the Ottoman Kustendje at the middle of the 19th century by the British firm Danube&Black Sea Railway and Kustendje Harbour Limited, with a French engineer of Armenian origin as its Head of Works, was constructed with the purpose of guiding ships towards the harbour. The lighthouse was destroyed and rebuilt on several occasions, and approximately 65 years ago it was officially considered a tourist objective.

The Genoese Lighthouse is 12 metres high, but since it has been standing on an artificially raised cliff over the years, it seems much taller from the sea.

The bas-relief from above the door, which shows a magnificent Genoese galley and its sailors is reminiscent of the times of yore. Thus, the bas-relief made by Carl Ferdinand Peters in 1864 is still the oldest modern sculpture of Constanta.

The Lion House (Casa cu Lei)

 

 

 

 

The wealthy Armenian merchant Dicran Emirzian finished his house in 1902, which is now known as the Lion House. Emirzian’s house, standing at the crossroads of the Diana and Elena streets (turned into Lascar Catargiu and now Nicolae Titulescu) is placed in a space that is distinct from all the other houses on Titulescu street. Headed towards the north, with its entrance on the small Diana alley and not onto Titulescu street, like all the other constructions in the area, Emirzian’s house , directly overlooked the central square of old Constanta at the time of its construction.

Built after the plans of the architect Ioan D. Berindei, the one who also built, two years later, the Manissalian Palace, destroyed in 1941 by the Soviet bombardments, or the Palace of Culture in Iasi, the building, extending over two floors and an attic, was designed in a stunning eclectic style, with touches of the Italian Neo-renaissance and Neoclassical elements.

The Lion House thoroughly reveals both the successful stories of the previous century, as well as the toxic relationships between mayors, investors and the patrimony of contemporary Constanta.

ANCIENT HISTORY

The Roman Mosaic Edifice

Built between the 3rd and the 4th century A.D. , the edifice is an architectural jewel of the early Byzantine period,west of the Pontus  Euxinus. The Edifice is well-known for the sumptuousness of its interior decoration: polychrome mosaic paving extending over the entire surface of the room at the upper terrace, walls covered in marble decorated in a various ways.

Decorated with complex geometrical motifs, the mosaic is the work of crafty artists, probably itinerant masters who executed a special commission from citizens of Tomis. If on the marble slates zoomorphic and anthropomorphic motifs were etched, apart from the vegetal or geometric ones, on the mosaic ground only one image apart from the last two aforementioned categories was kept: that of a white pigeon, carefully hidden between the dominant vegetal motifs.

The main characteristic of this building is the heating system. The main building, built in the same technique as the mosaic edifice, was heated with the hot air which ran under the pavement and through the double walls. This edifice was probably built in the 3rd century A.D., or later when the mosaic edifice was also built.

The Roman Thermae

Towards the southern tip of the seafront, the ruins of an ancient constructions were discovered and partially investigated in 1964. Due to the nature of the building material and the architectural style, it was proved that this was the place of the public baths, which was in close connection to the Roman Mosaic Edifice, and it represented its southern continuation. Probably built at the same times as the Roman Mosaic Edifice, the Thermae comprised several halls and rooms (vestibules), largely destroyed by modern municipal works.

The longitudinal eastern wall, built with its back to the seafront, is relatively well preserved (a maximum height of 5.40m). It is actually made up of two walls with alternative layers of bricks and lime slates, in the style of an “opus mixtum” – at a distance of 0.5 m from each other – and in which many orifices where created in order to allow a permanent circulation of the air. Both in the former and the latter case, these are common solutions in Roman technique, as they aimed to protect constructions from the danger of mold and to ensure the equal warming of the buildings, especially during the cold season, by circulating the hot air produced in the subterranean heating installations- “hypocaust”.

A particularly important element in the functionality of this complex is the discovery of an inscription;  deciphering the inscription in Greek led to the conclusion that the current building housed one of the public baths of the city.

Hypogeus Tomb

Source: dezvaluiri.ro

Discovered in 1988, the tomb dates back to the Roman and Byzantine period, with evidence that it functioned between the 4th and the 5th centuries. When the archaeologists first entered the tomb, four wooden coffins were discovered, with a poor inventory, but later on it was established that over time, at least six people were buried here. It has about 3 metres in length, 2,3 in width and 2 m in height, but it is enough, as its value is given first and foremost by the treasures on the brick walls. The funeral banquet in which two of the dead people (probably husband and wife) are depicted together with other guests is situated up on the front wall, while just by the front door, above the heads of the “intruders”, one can admire four pigeons stooping over a bowl which probably contained water. In fact, all the walls were painted with Christian zoomorphic and phytomorphic motifs (but also pagan ones). The paleo-Christian symbols abound and the artistically drawn partridges and peacocks are elements used in paleo-Christian art, also influenced by pagan elements.

The Archaeological Park

The Archaeological Park of Constanta is a space with a lush vegetation in which the spirit of the old fortress Tomis is still alive. The park extends over a generous surface, between the City Hall of Constanta and Ferdinand Avenue, and its alleys seem to be exhibition halls from a history museum. They are flanked by columns, ceramic vases and other historic vestiges which date back to the Roman-Byzantine period of the fortress. The side of the park which gives onto Ferdinand Avenue is still marked by the Roman wall of the enclosure, a construction which dates back to the 3rd century A.D. and which showcases two entrances in the fortress. The ruins of the Butchers’ Tower can also be observed here, a construction which was remade during the reign of Iustinian, and a series of architectural fragments of ancient Tomis. On the wall of the Eastern outermost side of the park one can observe the Map of ancient sites of Dobrogea, a large-scale objective made of natural stone.

MULTICULTURALISM AND RELIGION

Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral

 

 

This monumental church, built between 1883-1885, was the first Romanian church in Constanta after the Independence war of 1877. The construction plans belong to the famous Romanian architect I. Mincu, who distinguished himself for the style he initiated in Romanian architecture. The church is shaped like a club with ecclesiastical elements of architecture, in a complex which highlights the three turrets which are in good proportion with the rest of the building. The porch, supported by marble columns with ornamental chapiters and vegetal motifs shows the lateral sides which are reproduced on the inside and open wide, with hospitality, towards the church entrance. The interior is filled with architectural lines shaped as arches, which support the main dome framed by large windows, in keeping, at the same time, with the loftiness of the Holy Altar, under the calotte which majestically closes off the entire symmetry of decked alcoves and side balconies.

What truly renders this church special nowadays is the new painting executed in the fresco technique between 1959-1065 by prof. Gh. Popescu from the Institute of Fine Arts in Bucharest and Niculina Dona Delavrancea. This Neo-Byzantine painting is acknowledged as an exceptional contemporary achievement regarding representative monuments of our country  and especially those of Northern Moldavia, which evolved in an obvious manner both regarding historical and Christian documentation, as well as artistic execution.

The monumental aspect of the building, with concrete belts and pressed brick, with decorative profiles and marble columns, the open space towards the Black Sea through the park in its immediate vicinity, as well as the interior, rich in theology and artistic vibrations, all make this church a monument of art and a gist of the ancestors’ faith, an altar to spiritual generosity and virtuousness.

The Grand Mosque

 

 

CAROL I MOSQUE, situated in Ovidiu square is the main building the main Muslim cult building in the country and also one of the most beautiful architectural monuments on our land. The construction of the building began in 1910, at the initiative of King Carol I (which is why the building bears his name) and was completed in 1913. The inauguration took place on May 31 in the presence of the Royal family and representatives of the Muslim cult in Romania.Sharing a beautiful and unique mixture of Egyptian-Byzantine and Romanian architectural elements, Carol I Mosque is the first building in our country for whose construction reinforced concrete was used. A distinctive element of the building is the huge dome, built from the innovative material mentioned above. Although typical of many places of Muslim worship, the dome is an architectural element of Christian inspiration, more precisely, Byzantine.

Another element that draws attention to the Constanta mosque is the 47-meter-high minaret that dominates the landscape of the area, and can even be seen from the sea.  Inside the tower there are 140 steps that guide visitors in a spiral that seems endless towards the terrace at the top of the minaret, a beautiful place from which they can admire the panorama of the city. Both at the top of the minaret and on the dome, the symbol of the Muslim world, the crescent, rises. The access inside the Carol I Mosque is made through the two massive black marble doors with bronze ornaments, made according to the model of those found at the palaces of the sultans. The mosque has many heritage objects, including the carpet of Abdul Hamid, one of the oldest oriental carpets in Europe. The carpet has an area of 144 square meters and weighs almost 500 kilograms.

The Greek Church

The Greek Church “Metamorphosis” is the oldest Orthodox church in Constanta. It was built between 1862-1868 through the contributions and donations of ethnic Greeks from Constanta and from other localities in the country, as well as Greeks from all over Europe.

The building has a rectangular shape with a flat roof, without bell towers and it is quite low. The shape and height are due to the clear instructions given by Sultan Abdel Azis in his Imperial Firman (Dobrogea was part of the Ottoman Empire at that time) issued to the authorities of Constanta and by which the Sultan approved the donation of land to the Greek Community of Constanta, established the size of the church and prohibited the Turkish authorities from delaying the construction of the church or claiming taxes from it.

The building has a rectangular shape and is devoid of bell towers. Originally, to the right of the church entrance there was a small wooden bell tower, which was replaced in 1945 with another one taller than the church and made of masonry, thanks to a donation made by Ilia Arapi Spano, son of Emanuil, as evidenced by the plaque marble embedded in the bell tower. Also, on the right side of the church entrance there was the access to the 1st floor of the Elpis Theater, which, just like the Church, was built by and belonged to the Greek Community. The church was surrounded by a courtyard and could be bypassed through it. To the left of the entrance, in the courtyard, there was a small building used as a parish house, where members of the church’s vestry met.

The Roman-Catholic Church Saint Anton of Padua

 

 

The basilica dedicated to “Saint Anton of Padua” was built in 1938, during the pontificate of His Holiness Pope Pius XI (1922-1939), in the days of King Charles II of Romania (1930-1940), as he was Pastor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bucharest Archbishop – Metropolitan Alexandru Theodor Cisar (1925-1949), through the efforts of His Holiness Father Emanoil Kreis, parish priest of Constanta (1935-1951), assisted by the Church Committee, according to the plans of the architect Romano de Simon (1900-1981), with the generous contribution of parishioners, benefactors of any religion, as well as institutions and enterprises from Constanta and other localities of Dobrogea.

The style is Romanesque (13th century), typical of the churches in northern Italy, made of exposed brick (exterior and interior), with a roof initially made of Turkish tiles, and now of tile.

The Armenian Church

 

 

 

The current Armenian Church operates in a building erected in 1880, which was intended as a school for children of the Armenian community. The old wooden building was destroyed by fire.

Initially, the Armenians had a church in the old cemetery until 1760, when it was shut down. In 1879, the foundation of a new church was laid, dedicated to Saint Mary, dedicated in 1880 by Torosian Nazareth, but burned by fire in 1940. Since then, the Armenians from Constanta use as a place of worship the building of the former Armenian school, properly arranged. The floor is arranged as a prayer hall, and the ground floor houses the offices and the parish hall. Due to the lack of students, the school was closed in 1948, and the Church took over the entire building.

Given that the Armenian Church of Constanta was housed in a former school, its architecture is different from that of traditional places of worship. The bell tower, typically Armenian, was added to the rectangular basilica in 1990, according to the project of the architect Dan Rusovan. Inside, the walls of the church are not painted, but they are covered with large icons. The place of worship was renovated between 1990 – 1991 and 1998 – 2002, when improvements were made to the interior, roof and exterior plaster. Inside, the architectural changes led to the construction of wide arches and an open altar, without iconostasis.

The Bulgarian Church St. Nicholas the Elder

 

 

The church „St. Nicholas the Elder”, also known as the White Church of the Bulgarians, preserves the characteristics of the Romanian architectural style, with paintings executed by Ioanid the Elder.

After 1940, the Bulgarian church dedicated to St. Nicholas was taken over by the Bishopric of Tomis and handed to the Romanian Orthodox cult. Because the inscriptions were in Bulgarian and the painting needed to be redone, Constanta City Hall hired the well-known church painter Ion Musceleanu to redo the entire painting, while changing the inscriptions in Romanian. The church functioned as a cathedral between 1941-1946 (after the bombing of the cathedral by Russian aviation). In 1961, with the demolition of the Lutheran Church, the evangelical Lutheran community held its services in this place for more than 10 years. Between 1975 and 1987, only the patron saint of the church was served on December 6. Since December 6, 1987, it has reopened and operates under normal service.

In 1998, the fresco was restored by painters Mihail Fordea and Florin Vlad from Bucharest.

Traditional crafts

Glass / wood painted icons

Tapestry, decorative items

Weaving, sewing

Source: Facebook – Muzeul de Arta Populara Constanta

Examples of folk costumes 

Aprons

Traditional shirt

Traditional costume

Source: Website – Muzeul de Arta Populara Constanta

TRANSYLVANIA REGION

Transylvania, whose name derives from the Latin ‘Transilvana’ (which in literary translation means ‘country between forests’), is located in central Romania, being surrounded by the Carpathian mountains to the south, east and west. Currently Transylvania is divided into 10 counties, on a total area of 96,837 km2 and has over 4 million inhabitants.

Throughout history, apart from the Romans, Hungarians, Germans, Szeklers, Armenians, Jews, etc. also settled on the territory of Transylvania. This is also the explanation why Transylvanian architecture is a mosaic of styles, represented today by civil, religious and military buildings that combine the characteristics of different cultures and civilizations. A wide range of visions and styles are displayed, forming a fascinating mixture of Romanian, Gothic and neo-Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and neo-Byzantine elements.

Saxon settlements, peasants and merchants who lived in Transylvania between the 12th and the 20th centuries left behind unmistakable signs. They laid the foundations of the seven main medieval fortresses: Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara, Cluj-Napoca, Bistrita, Sebes and Medias. The exterior walls, towers, bastions, bridges, stairs, narrow streets, squares, public and civil buildings, churches, were built to protect the inhabitants of the fortress against the frequent sieges of the Tatars and Turks in the Middle Ages. As an effective way of defence, which we also find in villages, in the Saxon localities the fortification of the churches was used, an architectural formula which is now considered to be unique in Europe.

Brasov

The Black Church

The Black Church, one of the symbols of the city of Brasov, is the parish church of the Evangelical Church C.A. of Romania. It received its current name after the fire that engulfed the entire city in 1689. After the Reformation it was known as the “Great Church”, but the popular name after the fire, the “Black Church”, was officially accepted in the 19th century.

The Buchholz organ, built during the early Romantic period, is the largest mechanical organ in Romania. Its sound attracts organists both from the country and from abroad every year, who want to perform here. At the time of its construction, it was one of the largest organs in Europe. With the exception of Turkey, the Black Church has the largest collection of oriental rugs in Europe, dating from the 15th-16th centuries. In the tower of the Black Church there is the largest mobile bell in Romania, weighing approx. 6,000 kg. 

Inside, the visitor can discover countless works of art: the Baptismal Font (1472), the mural painting of St. Mary (1476), pews from the 17th-19th centuries that attest to the intense activity of Brasov guilds, the neo-Gothic altar (1866), along with many other pieces made of gold and tombstones of Brasov personalities. At the back of the church there are two permanently open exhibitions that tell the story of the Black Church and the life of the Reformer Johannes Honterus.

The Council Square

The “Kilometer 0” of the city is the area with the highest density of cultural objectives, where the most numerous and various events take place. If in the first centuries of existence, the center of the “Citadel of Brasov” had a different configuration; in 1420 the main square of the city had a perimeter close to the current one and the constructions of the Council House were located in its centre.  In the square, the stream that flowed from “Schei”, on the Horse Fair (today George Baritiu), was divided on Saint Peter (Muresenilor) and Portii (Republicii) streets, next to the Pillar of Infamy, where the Bridge of Lies also lay, mentioned for the first time in 1523.

The sides of the market bore the names related to the trade practiced over time: The Flax line (on the north), The Coopers’ line (on the west), The Flowers Line and The Fruit fair (on the south), The Wheat line (on the east).

The buildings, which delimit the perimeter of the square, mostly have a late appearance, due to the restorations after the fire of 1689. However, medieval remains of residential buildings are preserved (George Baritiu Street 2, Council Square 20 and 25), Renaissance buildings, such as the House of Merchants (no. 14) or the houses of the urban patrician (no. 15-16), highlighted by the restoration works in recent years.

In the Council Square there are several museums and memorial houses, housed inside historic buildings.

The White Tower

 

 

 

Distributed to defend the guilds of tinsmiths and coppersmiths, the White Tower was built on the slope of the Romurilor Hill, in the second part of the 15th century (1460 or 1494), dominating the city.

The access to the tower was on a mobile ladder, and the supply and change of the garrison took place between the palisades, directly from the Graft Bastion.

The construction has a closed semicircular plan, five levels of defence galleries provided with openings, battlements and throwing bellows for liquids.

The tower burned during the fire of 1689, being repaired in 1723 and 1902. Restoration work took place in 1974 and 2003-2005, when it was arranged as a museum.

The Black Tower

 

 

 

On the same slope as the White Tower, the Black Tower was built at the same time as the first walled enclosure of the fortress, next to the Blacksmiths’ Bastion, with the double function of observation and defense. The connection with the fortifications of the western corner of the fortress took place through a drawbridge, suspended over the Graft canal.

The Black Tower was struck and set on fire by lightning on July 23, 1559.

Hit again by lightning, it was repaired in 1669, 1827 and 1901. In 1991, the southern wall of the building collapsed, and the tower was rebuilt in 1996 and arranged as a museum in 2001.

The Graft Bastion

 

  

The Graft Bastion was built between 1515 and 1521 to ensure the communication of the defenders of the White Tower with the fortress. For this purpose it had a movable gate. Rectangular in shape, based on a thickness of about 4 meters, the fortification is provided with firing holes with wooden locks and casting holes. It was defended and maintained by the saddlers’ guild (saddlers, harnesses, belts).

Due to a torrential rain on August 24, 1809, the city walls weakened in the Graft area and a consolidation was needed. In 1822, three support arches were built over the stream, one of which still exists today.

In the 14th century, the excess water coming from the springs that flowed through Scheii Brasovului and crossed the streets of the medieval fortress was diverted through an artificial canal, called “Graft” (ditch) at the foot of Romurilor hill. The canal was also used as a natural obstacle in the defensive system of the fortress.

The Schei Gate

 

It was built (1827–1828) to streamline traffic between the “Brasov Fortress” and the “Upper Suburb”. The monumental construction, built in classical style, was provided with a central opening for vehicles framed by two side entries for pedestrians.

The Latin inscriptions, due to the notary Joseph Franz Trausch, mention the name of Emperor Francis I, as well as the names of the primary county judge Johannes Jacob Mylius, the district judge Johann Georg von Trauschenfels and the year of completion of the construction.

The Scheii Gate was restored after the earthquake of March 4, 1977 and repaired several times, the last time in 2004.

Traditional crafts

Carpentry

Sculpting, carving

Wood painted icons

Source: Facebook – Muzeul de Etnografie Brasov

Traditional Customs, Celebrations and Ceremonies

Iele, Calusari, Sanziene, Paparude

Iele

Source: folclor-romanesc.ro

The Iele are feminine mythical creatures in Romanian mythology. There are several differing descriptions of their characteristics. Often they are described as faeries (zane in Romanian), with great seductive power over men, with magic skills and attributes similar to nymphs, naiads and dryads found in Greek mythology. They are also similar to the Samodivas in Bulgaria. They mostly appear at night by moonlight, as dancing Horas, in secluded areas such as glades, the tops of certain trees (maples, walnut trees), ponds, river sides, crossroads or abandoned fireplaces, dancing naked, with their breasts almost covered by their disheveled hair, with bells on their ankles and carrying candles. In almost all of these instances, the Iele appear to be incorporeal.

Calusari

Source: Facebook – Muzeul National al Satului “Dimitrie Gusti”

 

Calusari – The Calusari (Romanian pronunciation: [kəluˈʃarʲ]; Bulgarian: калушари, русалии; Macedonian: русалии) were the members of a Romanian fraternal secret society who practiced a ritual acrobatic dance known as the calus. According to the Romanian historian Mircea Eliade, the Calusari were known for “their ability to create the impression of flying in the air” which he believed represented both the galloping of a horse and the dancing of the fairies (zane). Due to their connection with the fairies, the Calusari were believed to be able to cure the victims of fairies and for around two weeks – from three weeks after Easter till Pentecost – would travel to all the local communities where they would dance, accompanied by a few fiddlers, in order to do so.

Sanziene

Source: observatornews.ro

 

Sanziene – Sanziana is the Romanian name for gentle fairies that play an important part in local folklore, also used to designate the Galium verum or Cruciata laevipes flowers. Under the plural form Sanziene, the word designates an annual festival in the fairies’ honor. Etymologically, the name comes from the Latin Sancta Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt and moon, also celebrated in Roman Dacia (ancient Romania). Diana was known to be the virgin goddess and looked after virgins and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, Diana, Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry. People in the western Carpathian Mountains celebrate the Sanziene holiday annually, on June 24.

Paparude

Source: acasalaromani.ro

 

Paparude – In folklore, Paparuda is a ritual of bringing rain, a magical ritual, belonging to the typology of agricultural cults. In times of drought, the young girls of the village dance the Game of Paparude, a rudimentary dance, in symbolic skirts of leaves; while the women of the village sprinkle them with buckets of water. The game is played on the third Thursday after Rusalii; however, it can also occur on any summer day, after a prolonged drought. It is played by young girls, less often by boys, all under the age of 14. The procession that accompanies the Paparuda is made up of several characters, of which at least one or two must be masked. They are undressed and then wrapped in leaves and garlands of boz (burdock, beech, oak, and hazelnut). Paparuda is accompanied by a procession that goes through the village from one house to another, and in the yard, the companions sing a song, clapping, while the Paparuda plays a jumping dance.

“Descending to the old town” – horse riding parade of cohorts of “juni” of Brasov region through the city in an annual celebration. The ceremony takes place in a particular Sunday. Examples of “juni” ( juni – young boy, youngster):

June Curcan

Source:  wikipedia.org

Junii Brasovecheni

Source: parohiabrasovulvechi.ro

June Rosior

Source: brasovistorie.ro

Folklore music

Constanta – Folk Ensemble “Izvoare Dobrogene”

Brasov – Folk Ensemble “Crai Nou”