Today, 1st December, we celebrate Romania’s National Day or Great Union Day, marking the unification of Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918. To honour this special day our blog post will look at some unique features that make Romania a truly wonderful place to live in and a great travel destination.
1.It’s home to the world’s heaviest building
Bucharest’s Palace of the Parliament, begun during the final years of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s rule and not finished until 1997 (seven years after his death), is 240 metres long, 270 metres wide, 86 metres high (12 storeys), and cost a staggering €3 billion (£2.5bn) to build.
Inside you’ll find 3,500 tonnes of crystal, 480 chandeliers and 1,409 ceiling lights, while 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze was used for monumental doors and windows. Guinness World Records recognises it as the heaviest building on the planet.
2. And the world’s most beautiful road
In his search for the “world’s best driving road” Jeremy Clarkson declared that he had found it in the middle of Romania – in the form of the Transfagarasan highway. Whichever way you look at it, it is an extraordinary feat of engineering: a stretch of tarmac packed with tunnels, viaducts and bridges and which takes the skill of navigating hairpin bends to new heights. The road was another Ceaușescu creation. He wanted to ensure that in the event of a Soviet invasion there was a speedy way of escaping through the strategic (and scenic) mountain passes of the Southern Carpathians (not that it was ever used for that purpose).
3.Visitors might spot Europe’s largest mammal
Tipping the scales at 1,400lbs, the European bison was nearly hunted to extinction, but in recent years has been reintroduced to several Eastern European countries, including Romania.
The country also has Europe’s largest population of brown bears.
4. Bucharest has one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops
Cărturești Carusel opened in 2015 in a restored 19th century building. It contains more than 10,000 books, 5,000 albums and DVDs and a top floor bistro.
5. Its 4G network is the envy of the world
Romania is one of the best places in the world for 4G speed, occupying an impressive fourth place out of 78 nations, according to OpenSignal. Users in the country can expect speed of 35.61 Mbps, on average, compared to just 21.16Mbps in the UK.
6.It’s the surprising birthplace of good coffee
Francesco Illy, the founder of the Italian coffee roasting company, was actually born in Timișoara, Romania. He later moved to Vienna, and then the Italian city of Trieste. He didn’t make a 2006 list of the 100 Greatest Romanians, however, which was topped by Stephen the Great and featured the likes of Nadia Comăneci and Gheorghe Hagi.
7.The Romanians have invented plenty
And not just long sausages. Nicolae Paulescu discovered insulin (though two Canadian scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 for their studies on the hormone), Henri Coandă has been credited with inventing the modern jet engine, and Petrache Poenaru created the fountain pen.
The country has four Nobel prize laureates: George Emil Palade (medicine), Elie Wiesel (peace), Herta Müller (literature) and Stefan Hell (chemistry).
I hope this list has convinced or reminded you that Romania has a lot of unique things to offer. If you have become interested in Romanian culture, take a step further and book your first Romanian language course with Lektor!