luni, 30 martie 2015


An ice hotel is a temporary hotel made up of snow and sculpted blocks of ice. They may be visited by adventurous travelers that are comfortable with the outdoors. Ice hotels are dependent upon sub-freezing temperatures, are constructed from ice and snow, and typically have to be rebuilt every year. Ice hotels exist in several countries, and they have varying construction styles, services and amenities, the latter of which may include ice bars, restaurants, chapels, saunas and hot tubs. Ice hotels are promoted for adventurous travelers who are interested in novelties and unusual environments and are comfortable with the outdoors. Customers have to be prepared to sleep in beds made of snow or ice, but in the warmth of furs, blankets and sleeping bags designed to withstand extremely cold temperatures. Temperature in the rooms is below zero Celsius, but much warmer than outside.
 Lobbies are often filled with ice sculptures, and food and drinks are specially chosen for the circumstances. For instance, glasses in an ice bar can be made of ice and people sit on benches made of ice. An ice bar, sometimes associated with an ice hotel, is a drinking establishment primarily made of ice. Ice hotels are dependent upon sub-freezing temperatures (colder than 32 °F or 0 °C) during construction and operation. This imposes time constraints on construction and makes the hotel's season short. Construction typically begins between November and March when snow can be compacted and thick levels of ice form. Although constructing an ice hotel is more labor-intensive than a regular building, building materials are cheaper.Ice hotels have to be reconstructed every year. This is not entirely detrimental to the operators; if an ice hotel does not meet its financial goals, the owner can simply let the building melt in the spring and is left with no building to permanently upkeep.
The walls, fixtures, and fittings are made entirely of ice or compacted snow, and are held together using a substance known as snice, which takes the place of mortar in a traditional brick-built hotel. Sometimes steel framing is used in their construction.

Bâlea Lake Ice Hotel, the first ice hotel in Eastern Europe was built in 2006 in Romania, deep in the Făgăraș Mountains, at an altitude of 2034 meters. In the winter, it is only accessible by cable car, because national road DN7, the Transfăgărășan, is closed in the winter.  This picturesque setting is next to Bâlea Lake, where each year local craftsmen wait for the lake to freeze, before using the ice to build the small 12-room Ice Hotel and its adjacent Ice Church, Ice Restaurant and Ice Bar. Local artists imitate sculptures by Romanian modernist sculptor, Constantin Brâncuși.
Typically the hotel is completed in December and is open until it melts in late March or April.
Bedding, furs, specialist sleeping bags are all provided, with bathroom facilities nearby. There are two chalets within walking distance, which also provide accommodation. Activities such as skiing, sledging or riding a snow bike are on offer. Those who are more organised and adventurous can arrange heliskiing.
The Bâlea Lake Ice Hotel is Romanian owned, but has a relationship with a travel company Untravelled Paths Limited, based in the United Kingdom.

sâmbătă, 28 martie 2015


Corvin Castle, also known as Hunyadi Castle or Hunedoara Castle, is a Gothic-Renaissance castle in Hunedoara, in Romania. It is one of the largest castles in Europe and figures in a top of seven wonders of Romania. As one of the most important properties of John Hunyadi, the castle was transformed during his reign. It became a sumptuous home, not only a strategically enforced point. With the passing of the years, the masters of the castle had modified its look, adding towers, halls and guest rooms. The gallery and the keep - the last defense tower (called "Neboisa" which means "Not afraid" in Serbian language), which remained unchanged from John Hunyadi's time, and the Capistrano Tower (named after the saint, Franciscan monk from the Battle of Belgrade in 1456) are some of the most significant parts of the construction.
  Other significant parts of the building are the Knights' Hall (a great reception hall), the Club Tower, the White bastion, which served as a food storage room, and the Diet Hall, on whose walls medallions are painted (among them there are the portraits of Matei Basarab, ruler from Wallachia, and Vasile Lupu, ruler of Moldavia). In the wing of the castle called the Mantle, a painting can be seen which portrays the legend of the raven from which the name of the descendants of John Hunyadi, Corvinus came.

Tourists are told that it was the place where Vlad III of Wallachia (commonly known as Vlad the Impaler) was held prisoner by John Hunyadi, Hungary's military leader and regent during the King's minority, for 7 years after Vlad was deposed in 1462. Later, Vlad III entered a political alliance with John Hunyadi, although the latter was responsible for the execution of his father, Vlad II Dracul.. Because of these links, the Hunedora Castle is sometimes mentioned as a source of inspiration for Bram Stoker's Castle Dracula. In fact, Stoker neither knew about Vlad's alliance with Hunyadi, nor about Hunyadi's castle. Instead, Stoker's own handwritten research notes confirm that the novelist imagined the Castle Dracula to be situated on an empty top in the Transylvanian Călimani Mountains near the former border with Moldavia.
 In the castle yard, near the 15th-century chapel, there is a well 30 meters deep. According to the legend, this fountain was dug by twelve Turkish prisoners to whom liberty was promised if they reached water. After 15 years they completed the well, but their captors did not keep their promise. It is said that the inscription on a wall of the well means "you have water, but not soul". Specialists, however, have translated the inscription as "he who wrote this inscription is Hasan, who lives as slave of the giaours, in the fortress near the church". In February 2007, Corvin Castle played host to the British paranormal television program Most Haunted Live! for a three-night live investigation into the spirits reported to be haunting the castle. Results were inconclusive.

miercuri, 25 martie 2015


 The Negrași Daffodil Meadow  is a protected area near Negrași Commune, in Argeş County, Romania. It was declared as a natural reservation on June 24, 1966.

The Daffodil Meadow is situated in the southern part of Argeș County, in the Găvanu-Burdea Plains, near the confluence of Dâmbovnic River and its tributary, Mozacu. It is a remote, unpolluted area. It is located at 40 km (25 mi) from Piteşti, in the area of Negrași Commune, at about 12 km (7.5 mi) from Rociu. The access route is the county road DJ503. It is usually closed in winter.

 The reservation has 4.3 hectares (11 acres) and protects a rare daffodil, Narcissus poeticus, ssp. Radiiflorus.

Every May 13, a daffodil festival is held in Negrași.

luni, 23 martie 2015


Lake Sfânta Ana  meaning "Saint Anne Lake" in both languages) is the only crater lake in Romania located in the volcanic crater named "Puciosul" (Büdös-hegy or Stinky Mountain) of the Eastern Carpathians, near Tușnad in the Natural Reserve of Mohoș, Harghita County, Romania.

 Palynology studies concluded that the history of Lake Saint Anne began about 9,800-8,800 years ago, at the stage of peat bog and shallow lake. It has an oval form and an area of 220,000 m². According to measurements made in 2005, the maximum depth of the lake is 6.4 m and the sediment thickness is about 4 m. 
 The lake is supplied exclusively from precipitations, therefore the degree of mineralization of the water is very low. The water purity approaches of that of distilled water, with only 0.0029 ml mineral.
 In winter, the lake is covered with a layer of ice of up to 1 m. Near the lake there is a Roman Catholic chapel dedicated to Saint Anne.


The Putna monastery  is a Romanian Orthodox monastery, one of the most important cultural, religious and artistic centers established in medieval Moldavia; as with many others, it was built and dedicated by Prince Stephen the Great.
Putna was founded on the lands perambulated by the Putna (which has its source in the Obcina Mare mountains, Bukovina). Stephen the Great is famous for building and influencing the building of dozens of churches and monasteries all over Moldavia (allegedly, he founded a religious edifice after each important military victory).
The Putna Monastery houses the tombs of Stephen —nowadays, a place of pilgrimage —, and several of his family members. The icon veils and tombstones are held as fine examples of Moldavian art in Stephen the Great’s time.
Right after Stephen the Great won the battle in which he conquered the Kilia citadel, he began work on the monastery as a means to give thanks to God, on July 10, 1466 - the church was to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Previous eremitic life (on the place the monastery was built) was proven by humans buried deep under the foundation of the oldest buildings from Stephen the Great. A chronicle of the time mentions that Stephen bought the Vicovu de Sus village in exchange for 200 zlots, and awarded the land and revenue to the treasury of the monastery.
Putna was completed in three years, but was consecrated only after one more year passed, given that the Moldavians engaged in other battles. On September 3, 1470, during a ceremony attended by Stephen and all his family, the monastery was consecrated, and subsequently became the most important religious site in the area.
The present church was practically rebuilt between 1653 and 1662 by Vasile Lupu and his successors. Although the building follows the ground plan of a typical 15th and 16th century Moldavian church, it has many architectural and decorative features that are characteristic of 17th century architecture.
For long, the site was believed to have been designed by a Greek architect named Theodor - the interpretation of the Kilia chronicles on which this was based has since been proven wrong.
The oldest embroidery of the monastery, dated at the end of the 14th century, is an epitaphion made with silk and gold thread by Euphima, a Serbian nun, daughter of Vojihna, together with her daughter Euprasijka.

duminică, 22 martie 2015


 This is an overview of the geological subdivisions of the Romanian Carpathian Mountains. The Carpathians are a "subsystem" of the Alps-Himalaya System and are further divided into "provinces" and "subprovinces".
 The broadest divisions are shown in the map on the right. The last level of the division, i.e. the actual mountain ranges and basins, is usually called "units". The lowest-level detail for those units is maintained on separate pages.
 Traditional Romanian naming conventions differ from this list. In Romania, it is usual to divide the Eastern Carpathians in Romanian territory into three geographical groups (North, Centre, South), instead in Outer and Inner Eastern Carpathians.

The Transylvanian Plateau is encircled by, and geologically a part of, the Carpathians, but it is not a mountainous region and its inclusion is disputed in some sources. Its features are included below.
The Outer Carpathian Depressions lay outside the broad arc of the entire formation and are usually listed as part of the individual divisions of the Carpathian Mountains,of Western Carpathians, Eastern Carpathians etc.
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly 1,500 km (932 mi) long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe (after the Scandinavian Mountains, 1,700 km (1,056 mi)).
European populations of brown bears, wolves, chamois and lynxes, with the highest concentration in Romania, as well as over one third of all European plant species. The Carpathians and their foothills also have many thermal and mineral waters, with Romania having one-third of the European total.Romania is likewise home to the largest surface of virgin forests in Europe (excluding Russia), totaling 250,000 hectares (65%), most of them in the Carpathians, with the Southern Carpathians constituting Europe’s largest unfragmented forested area.
The name "Carpathian" may have been derived from Carpi, a Dacian tribe. According to Zosimus, this tribe lived until 381 on the eastern Carpathian slopes. The word could come from an Indo-European word meaning "rock". In Thracian means "rocky mountain". The Carpi tribe may be similar to or identical to another tribe which lived in the area called the Carpodaces, literally "the Carpi Dacians".
In late Roman documents, the Eastern Carpathian Mountains were referred to as Montes Sarmatici (meaning Sarmatian Mountains). The Western Carpathians were called Carpates, a name that is first recorded in Ptolemy's Geographia (2nd century AD).The area now occupied by the Carpathians was once occupied by smaller ocean basins. The Carpathian mountains were formed during the Alpine orogeny in the Mesozoic and Tertiary by moving the ALCAPA, Tisza and Dacia plates over subducting oceanic crust (see maps). The mountains take the form of a fold and thrust belt with generally north vergence in the western segment, northeast to east vergence in the eastern portion and southeast vergence in the southern portion.

The external, generally northern, portion of the orogenic belt is a Tertiary accretionary prism of a so-called Flysch belt created by rocks scraped off the sea bottom and thrust over the North-European plate. The Carpathian accretionary wedge is made of several thin skinned nappes composed of Cretaceous to Paleogene turbidites. Thrusting of the Flysch nappes over the Carpathian foreland caused the formation of the Carpathian foreland basin. Iron, gold and silver were found in great quantities in the Western Carpathians. After the Roman emperor Trajan's conquest of Dacia, he brought back to Rome over 165 tons of gold and 330 tons of silver


The Village Museum (Muzeul Satului in Romanian) is an open-air ethnographic museum located in the Herăstrău Park (Bucharest, Romania), showcasing traditional Romanian village life. The museum extends to over 100,000 m2, and contains 272 authentic peasant farms and houses from all over Romania.
It was created in 1936 by Dimitrie Gusti, Victor Ion Popa, and Henri H. Stahl.

There are other "village museums" throughout Romania, including ASTRA National Museum Complex in Sibiu, and those of Cluj-Napoca, Râmnicu-Vâlcea, Timișoara, a.s.o.

There are more than 60 original houses, farmsteads, windmills, watermills and churches from all of Romania's historic regions: Transylvania, Oltenia, Dobrogea and Moldavia. Every exhibit has a plaque showing exactly where in Romania it was brought from. 

Most of the houses date from the mid 19th-century, but there are some, such as those from Berbeşti, in the heart of Romania - celebrated for their intricately carved entrances - which date from as early as 1775.

The highlight of the museum is probably the steep belfry of the wooden Maramureş church, complete with exquisite but faded icons. You should also not miss the earth houses of Straja, dug in to the ground and topped with thatched roofs, or the brightly painted dwellings of the Danube Delta.
. The museum has a great souvenir shop, and a stall selling traditional Romanian sweets and cakes.
It even has a restaurant, La Francu, set in an original 19th-century inn. Children love the museum, and it makes for a perfect  family outing.
Admission 10 lei, pensioners 5 lei, students/children 2.50 lei. Audio guides available for 50 lei, guided tours in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian 300 lei: call in advance. Note that while the museum is open on Mondays, the houses are not.