16 Fun facts about Romania

A country of legends and fairy tales sustained by epic scenery and natural wonders, Romania is probably one of the most exciting countries in Europe. From its best-preserved Delta on the continent to the vast woods and medieval fortified villages, the country never ceases to amaze. We’ve gathered a list of fun facts about Romania you should know first hand before visiting it. 

 

 

Romania has the world’s most spectacular roads 

Top Gear’s host Jeremy Clarkson declared that the Transfagarasan Road in Romania is the ‘world’s best driving road’. Stretching over 90 kilometres, cutting through the Fagaras Mountains, the Transfagarasan is filled with hairpin turns. The views get more and more spectacular as you go higher, the top being at 2.134 meters. 

A hidden underground glacier 

The Scarisoara Glacier is located underneath the Bihor Mountains and is the second-largest underground glacier in Europe. With a volume of 75,000 cubic meters, the glacier has been in existence for more than 3,500 years. It can be visited and will definitely make your trip there worth it! 

Good coffee was born here 

Well, not coffee itself but Francesco Illy, the founder of the Italian coffee roasting company, was actually born in Timisoara, Romania. He moved later to Vienna, and then the Italian city of Trieste. He didn’t make a 2006 list of the 100 Greatest Romanians but his invention is being enjoyed by millions every day. 

 

 Romania has spectacular churches 

Romania has seven Unesco World Heritage Sites, including the eight churches of northern Moldavia, painted in wonderful frescos (the Voroneț Monastery which is dubbed as Romania’s Sistine Chapel), and the wooden churches of Maramures.  

There’s an unusual colourful merry cemetery. 

Located in the northern village of Sapanta, the Merry Cemetery is surely the most unique of its kind. The cemetery exhibits painted crosses adorned with satirical epitaphs, revealing the deceased’s message for the living world. This joyful attitude towards death comes from the Dacians, Romanian’s ancestors, who believed that death was only a passage to a better life. 

Bucharest has the world’s second-largest buildings. 

Besides the US Pentagon, the Palace of Parliament is the second-largest administrative building in the world. A symbol of Ceaușescu’s megalomania, the building is 240m long, 270m wide and 86m high. Built with 12 floors, the monument has 1,100 rooms. Its 6 levels underground also stand for a cover against nuclear attacks. According to Guinness World Records, it is also the heaviest building on the planet. 

Romanian inventors changed the world 

Romania is also home to some of the scientists and engineers who have actually changed the world. Some of these include Nicolae Constantin Paulescu – discoverer of insulin; Eugen Pavel – inventor of Hyper CD-ROM; Aurel Persu – the first engineer and car designer to build a car with the wheels inside its aerodynamic line; Petrache Poenaru – inventor of fountain pen; Emil Racoviță – founder of speleology (the study of organisms living in caves); Anastase Dragomir – inventor of parachuted chair, an early version of today’s ejection seat. 

Moreover, Romanian engineers have successfully contributed to the history of flight. Henri Coanda, Traian Vuia, and Aurel Vlaicu – all of them have played an important role as pioneers in aerodynamics and aviation. 

 

Romanian Carpathians claim the largest population of brown bears 

Approximately 6,000 brown bears are to be found in the Romanian Carpathians, from a total of 200,000 brown bears worldwide, forming the largest population in Europe outside of Russia. 

Romania has its own version of  Mount Rushmore 

Alongside Danube’s banks, carved in stone, is the statue of the former Dacian ruler and ancestor of the Romanians, Decebal. It was sculpted by 12 alpinist-sculptors over a period of 10 years, the statue is 55m tall, and is the highest stone sculpture in Europe. 

The world’s first top-scoring Olympic gymnast is Romanian 

Nowadays known throughout the entire world, Nadia Comăneci, a Romanian gymnast, was the first in the world to receive a 10 in an Olympic Competition of Gymnastics during the 1976 Olympic Summer Games organized in Montreal, Canada. She boasts several gold Olympic medals and is part of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. 

A lot of gold. 

Romania’s one of the richest countries in Europe in terms of gold resources. Actually, the country’s underground is filled with metals which are extracted and exported for several purposes. Here, there’s the only museum on the continent dedicated to gold. It exhibits over 2.000 pieces from all over the world and also some pure gold pieces  – some of the rarest – which can be found in the mountains of Romania. 

Romania has the fastest 4G internet in Europe 

According to dospeedtest.com, Romania has a peak internet speed of 58.7 Mbps, which makes it the 7th nation with the fastest internet in the world, compared to the US where peak connection speeds are about 48.8 Mbps, placing it 17th. Moreover, Romania consumes more internet on average than any European country, having monthly traffic of 91 GB for fixed broadband lines. 

 

The Martisor 

Martisorul, one of the most popular traditions in Romania has been included in the UNESCO patrimony. It is a celebration welcoming the spring and Martisor is a diminutive for March. This month, people exchange tiny objects, symbols of spring. The talismans are tied with a red (colour of blood – symbolises love)  and white (symbolising purity) string. It is believed that the person wearing it will be strong and healthy and will be loved for the year to come. 

Romanians love a drink 

Romania is the 5th booziest country in the world, behind four more Eastern European states: Belarus, Russia, Moldova and Lithuania. The average Romanian consumes 14.4 litres of pure alcohol each year, compared to 11.6 litres in Britain. The local specialities include palinka and tuica (a spirit made from plums with more than 70% alcohol) but also a liquor like beverage with less alcohol, made from different fruits and berries whose name contains the name of the fruit and the ending -ata. Like Caise -> Caisata (apricots); Afine -> Afinata (blueberry). 

Romania’s name origin 

Romania’s name actually comes from the Latin language. “Romanus” means “citizen of the Roman empire” and this dates back to the years 100 when the country was known back then as Dacia which was later conquered by the Romans.  

Romanian is the only Latin language in Eastern Europe 

In spite of a common belief that the Romanian language is very similar to those spoken in Russia or other Slavic countries; in reality, Romanian is a Latin language closely related to Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese. This also explains the facility Romanians can learn new languages especially the Latin ones. 

 

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