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    The name "Romania," which was first used when the three regions of the country were united inreflects the influence of ancient Rome on the nation's language and culture. The three regions—Walachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania—are relatively culturally uniform. An exception is the Hungarian community in Transylvania, which has its own language and traditions and considers itself Hungarian. The Roma Gypsieswho are scattered throughout the country, mostly in small camps on the outskirts of towns and cities, are in many ways culturally unassimilated.

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    Romania is in southeastern Europe at the north end of the Balkan peninsula, bordering Ukraine and Moldova to the north, Hungary to the northwest, Serbia to the southwest, Bulgaria to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. The land area is 91, square milessquare kilometers.

    The Carpathian Mountains cover about one-third of the country; they surround the Transylvanian Plateau and divide it from the other two main regions: Moldavia in the northeast and Walachia in the south. The Transylvanian Alps in the central region contain the highest peak, Mount Moldoveanu. The eastern and southern regions are characterized by rolling plains. The Danube River stretches through the country for six hundred miles, forming its southern border with Serbia and Bulgaria and emptying into the Black Sea in the east.

    It is a source for irrigation and hydroelectric power. Serious environmental problems include soil erosion and water and air pollution from unregulated industrial development. Because of economic hardship, the government has been slow to enforce laws that place restraints on industry. The population was estimated to be 22, in Ninety percent of the people are Romanian, 7 percent are Hungarian, and 2 percent are Roma.

    The remainder is made up of Germans, Ukrainians, and others. Estimates of the Roma population range fromto one million; it is difficult to pinpoint because of the Roma's nomadic lifestyle. Before World War II, there was a large Jewish population, but almostJews were killed during the Nazi years, and many of the remaining Jews emigrated to Israel after the war. Today the Jewish population is estimated at less than 10, The German population has also decreased significantly. In the s, Ceaucescu's government charged citizens large sums for permission to leave the country, a policy Germans felt was aimed specifically at them.

    Since Ceaucescu's regime fell inmany Germans have emigrated. The official language is Romanian, which has Latin roots that date back to the Roman occupation of the area but also contains words from Greek, Slavic languages, and Turkish. In the fourteenth century, the country adopted the Cyrillic alphabet, but it later reverted to Roman lettering.

    The language of the Roma population is Romany, although many Roma combine that language with Romanian. The flag consists of blue, yellow, and red vertical stripes that symbolize Transylvania, Moldavia, and Walachia, respectively.

    The coat of arms, adopted inconsists of a gold eagle against a blue background holding a cross in its beak, a sword in one claw, and a scepter in the other. Emblazoned on the eagle's chest are the symbols of the five provinces: Walachia, Moldavia, Transylvania, Banat, and Dobruja. The first known inhabitants of present-day Romania were called Dacians.

    They were conquered by the Roman Empire in C. Roman domination of the region lasted only until but had a formative and long-lasting influence. Many Romans stayed and intermarried with the Dacians, helping to shape the customs and language of the region. From the s through the s, there was a series of invasions by various tribes from the north, including the Magyars and the Saxons.

    The northern region developed into a principality called Transylvania, the south into a principality called Walachia, and the east into Moldavia. Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Walachia and Moldavia battled repeated invasions by the Ottoman Empire. They eventually succumbed around and spent more than three hundred years under Turkish rule. Inthe principalities of Moldavia, Walachia, and Transylvania were united for the first time under Prince Michael the Brave.

    During Michael's reign, Romania maintained a degree of sovereignty, but after his death, the Turks again dominated the region. They ruled through Greek officials who abused their power to exploit the peasants. In the late s and early s, the Ottoman Empire was weakened by a series of defeats to the Russians.

    Inan uprising in Walachia against the Greek rulers ended in the execution of the Romanian leader Tudor Vladimirescu, which further fanned desires for independence. The Treaty of Adrianpolie replaced Greek rule with Russian. Inthe Russians withdrew. InPrince Alexander Cuza was elected ruler of a united Moldavia and Walachia; three years later, the country was renamed Romania then spelled Rumania. Cuza attempted to redistribute land and improve the living conditions of the poor, but those policies were unpopular with the upper class; inCuza was forced to resign and was replaced by Prince Carol.

    InCarol led a successful joint revolt of Romanian and Russian troops against the Turks. The Congress of Berlin of marked the end of Turkish domination.

    Romania became a kingdom inand Prince Carol was crowned king. Despite the nation's independence, the situation of the majority of the people remained unchanged. Inincreasing discontentment gave rise to a peasant revolt, in which the country estates of the nobility were burned.

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    The army suppressed the uprising, killing ten thousand people. InKing Carol died and Ferdinand I took his place. After the war, the Trianon Treaty doubled the size of the country, uniting Moldavia and Walachia with Transylvania, Banat, Bessarabia present-day Moldovaand Bucovina today in southern Ukraine. In the years after World War I, a fascist movement called the Iron Guard won a large following in response to threats from the communist Soviet Union and rising unemployment.

    Ferdinand died in and was succeeded by his son, Carol II, in Carol II resorted to military suppression of the opposition. In he outlawed political parties, and the head of the Iron Guard was executed. His son Michael took the throne inbut the real power fell to Marshal Ion Antonescu.

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    In an effort to recoup Soviet-occupied territories, the country aligned itself with the German forces, participating in the invasion of the Soviet Union in In AugustKing Michael took power back from Antonescu. Romania joined the Allied forces but was soon occupied by Russia.

    After the war ended inmost of the occupied territories were returned, but the Russian communists retained control. They abolished the monarchy inreplacing King Michael with a puppet government under the leadership of Petru Groza. Business and industry were nationalized, and farmland was taken from the peasants and reorganized into government-run collectives. The communist leadership also imposed harsh penalties for expressing opposition to the government, imprisoning dissidents or putting them to work in extremely dangerous labor projects.

    Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej served as chief of state throughout the s and was responsible for many of the Stalinist policies. In the early s, he worked to distance Romania more from Soviet influence. InNicolae Ceausescu assumed the presidency and presented a new constitution.

    He initiated large-scale development projects, mainly with money borrowed from other countries. Many of those projects failed, sinking the country into debt that Ceaucescu attempted to pay off by exporting virtually everything the country produced, leading to severe shortages of food and fuel. The secret police kept the people in line through terror while Ceaucescu and his family, who controlled most of the government, continued to plunder the country for personal gain.

    In the s, worsening food shortages, along with the toppling of other communist regimes in Eastern Europe, stirred unrest. Protests in were put down with a combination of military force and extra food distribution. In Decemberprotests in the city of Timisoara were met with gunfire, and hundreds of citizens died.

    Other protests broke out across the country, and the situation escalated until troops refused to follow orders and joined the protesters. Ceaucescu and his wife attempted to flee the country but were halted by the army and brought to trial. Both were found guilty of murder and put to death by firing squad on Christmas Day A party called the National Salvation Front assumed power, and in free elections were held. Ion Iliescu, the leader of the National Salvation Front and a former Communist Party member, won the presidency, and a new constitution was adopted in Iliescu put down student protests against the government by calling in twenty thousand coal miners to create a counter demonstration and later used the same tactic to force Petre Roman, a liberal prime minister, from office.

    Despite widespread dissatisfaction with Iliescu's leadership, he won reelection in October Four years later, voters replaced him with the reform-touting Emil Constantinescu of the Democratic Convention of Romania. Despite positive changes during his term, the December elections were a contest between Iliescu and Corneliu Vadim Tudor of the right-wing Greater Romania Party, who espoused a hard-line fascist ideology. Iliescu won the vote of a disillusioned, bitter, and frightened populace.

    The majority of residents share a common culture and history dating back to the Dacians. National identity is informed by pride in the country's resilience and ability to withstand attacks from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Turks and later from the Soviet Union.

    Many Hungarians living in Transylvania consider themselves more Hungarian than Romanian, and some consider the region a part of Hungary. Transylvania was once under Hungarian control, and parts of the region still have an ethnic Hungarian majority.

    Relations between Hungarians and Romanians are tense and have resulted in political conflict and occasional violence. Inthe communist government outlawed the use of the Hungarian language in education and the media in what it claimed was an effort to assimilate minorities into the national culture.

    Sincethe government has softened its stance, but discrimination still exists. Romania has one of the world's largest populations of Roma. The Roma have a long history of persecution throughout Europe and still face discrimination. They have high rates of poverty, unemployment, and malnutrition, and many have left in an attempt to better their conditions. During World War II, Jews were persecuted by both the government and the German military, and many were deported to Nazi concentration camps.

    Today, most of the country's Jews are concentrated in northern Moldavia and Bucharest. Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space Bucharest is the capital and largest city, located in the center of the southern region of Walachia.
    Administrative Palace[ edit ] This building was erected in and and opened on 27 April Like Robescu House, it was designed by Ion Mincu. Other features are two bronze flags and a large clock which plays the waltz, "Danube Waves" by Joseph Ivanovich — Places of worship[ edit ] St.

    Construction continued from to The church has one dome and no side isles. Fromrestoration work has been underway at the church. This includes cleaning of the paint work, paving around the cathedral and the construction of the St John Cassian centre, a building for cultural, pastoral and missionary work.

    At the church's centennial inthe relics of St. It was consecrated as a place of worship in September during the reign of Vasile Lupu. The church was dedicated to the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. It was built from local materials including stone, forest wood, brick and lime, sand from the beaches of the Danube and so on. As well as its typical Romanian church architecture, the monastery has some specific elements of interest such as a bell tower with battlements for observation of the Danube valley and for defense.

    The tower has two levels and a room to hide assets. There are two ramparts and a door to a balcony. The second floor is fitted with windows and battlements. Another of the church's defences is a reinforced bridge consisting of two parts, one above the nave and one above the altar. The bridge has 28 battlements.

    From tothe church was used as a museum. It was restored in the period — There may be a tunnel from the church beneath the Danube. However, the lack of funds prolonged the construction works and the church was only consecrated in The same house would become a hub for Bulgarian revolutionaries persecuted by the Ottoman authorities.

    In —72, Bulgaria's national poet Hristo Botev lived in the house during a part of his exile, as a commemorative plaque still reminds. The church was dedicated to the "Transfiguration" on 17 September by the Bishop and the Archimandrite Melchizedek Eughenie Xiropotamo.

    In the nave is a marble plaque with the names of the founders and two marble plates with the names of the founders and major benefactors. The church is a cruciform tower with two bell towers on the west side. Papadopoulos of Adrianople was the artist. There are large icons representing the holy virgin Mary with child, the resurrection, St.

    There are eight stained glass church windows containing the holy apostles Peter, Andrew, Mark, Thomas, Bartholomew and Luke on the northern side and Paul Simon, John, James, Philip, on the southern side. Its general construction was completed but the interior layout is not. The basement of the Cathedral is a very small space, which will serve as a mortuary chapel. The official opening of the interior was planned for Church Mavromol[ edit ] Mavromol is a former monastery.

    Its name means "black rock" in Greek. It was built in and dedicated to the Assumption by George Ducas died and his son. There was rebuilding between and During the revolution of the church was burned by the Turks. The current building dates from to and respects the original plan. Interior murals and other valuable elements were restored between and They taught in Greek.

    Inteaching was conducted in Romanian under the orders of Constantin Moruz. The church is constructed in the style of a basilica with apses beyond the main walls.

    The church has a carved wooden icon of the "Virgin Mary" from the church of St. Sava Monastery in Bucharest. The ceiling is composed of three parts separated by double arches.

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    The entrance is on the south side through a door marked by an icon and heraldic symbols: Also on the south side is the coat of arms of Moldova, carved in a stone medallion. During communist rule, the church, as a sacred place, was improperly appropriated. The Church of St.

    Spyridon[ edit ] Built inthis church has four buttresses, three towers and a dome supported by crossed arches.

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    Although its murals are not maintained, it contains valuable icons.
    Sibiu's Towers Turnurile Sibiului For hundreds of years, this walled town in the heart of Transylvania was one of the most powerful and prosperous strongholds in Europe. Surrounded by imposing walls, Sibiu's original fortifications included 39 defensive towers, five bulwarks, four gates and five artillery batteries.

    Although the entire network is remarkably well-preserved, the best-maintained section is the southeastern side which has been reinforced several times throughout the centuries since attacks most often came from that direction. Three 15th century towers have withstood the test of time: The th century Great Tower Turnul Gros was the site of Sibiu's first theatrical performance, staged in The Great Square is the site of the Roman-Catholic church and the Brukenthal Palace, where you will find one of Romania's most important art collections.

    The square is linked to the Little Square by a passage beneath the Council Tower, which is worth visiting for the excellent views over the town. The third square, Huet Square, is dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral.

    The Great Square Piata Mare First mentioned in a written document in as a grain market, the Great Square — the largest square in the city, has been throughout the centuries a quiet witness to the town's lively merchant activity, assemblies and even public executions. Located in the heart of the old walled city, the square was designated an architectural monument by UNESCO and features some of the most impressive buildings in Sibiu.

    This beautiful baroque structure with classical decorations was built between and The tower was attached to the nave in and one year later, a cross was seated on the top. The completely renovated interior is magnificent with gold-laced walls and colorful ceiling frescoes.

    Intricate stone carvings cover much of the nave while the side altars and colonnades glisten with pink marble. The fresco behind the altar was painted in by Anton Steinwald.

    Inside the church is the stone grave of Otto Ferdinand de Abensberg, commander of Transylvania between Organ recitals are usually held once a week.

    Council Tower Turnul Sfatului Address: Built in the th century, this tower was used as entrance gate to the second row of fortified walls built around Sibiu. Throughout the centuries, the Council Tower served as a grain storehouse, a fire watchtower, a temporary prison and even as a museum of botany. The roof, originally built in pyramid form, has undergone various changes, culminating in the addition of four corner turrets in On the top floor, an observation deck allows a bird's-eye view of the historic town and the Fagaras Mountains beyond.

    Brukenthal Palace Palatul Brukental Address: Piata Mare 4 - 5 Facing west of the square is the stunning Brukenthal Palace Palatul Brukentalbuilt between by a Viennese architect in a refined late-baroque style. It is now the home of the Brukenthal Museum Muzeul Brukenthalthe oldest and one of the finest art museums in the country. The palace was built by Baron Samuel von Brukenthal to serve as his residence and house his collections of Romanian and Western art, 16th — 18th century religious sculptures and icons, stamps and coins, as well as an impressive library.

    Over the years, the collections have been enriched through acquisitions and donations. See museum details Even though the museum officially opened inits art galleries welcomed visitors 27 years earlierthree years prior to the opening of the Louvre Completing the picture is the fairy-tale Blue House, an th century baroque house bearing the old coat of arms of Sibiu on its facade. This second fortified square was home to the town's most prestigious master craftsmen, who lived in rows of arcaded houses along the north and east sides.

    Today, small shops, cafes and businesses line the square. This impressive structure, featuring five pointed towers, was built in on the site of an old Roman basilica.

    The simple, stark interior is in total contrast to that of the Catholic Church. A gigantic fresco, painted by Johannes of Rosenau incovers much of the chancel's north wall.

    The mural shows the Crucifixion and marks a transition in painting from late-gothic style to renaissance style. On the south side, the choir loft boasts a beautiful fan-vaulted ceiling, home to a baroque organ designed by a German master in Six thousand pipes were installed inmaking it the largest organ in Romania. Here, you can also find the city's only fully German school, the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium, which exemplifies the city's proud German heritage.

    The Lower Town Orasul de Jos The Lower Town comprises the area between the river and the hill, and it developed around the earliest fortifications.

    The streets are long and quite wide for medieval city standards, with small city squares at places. The architecture is rather rustic: The Bridge of Lies Podul Minciunilor Several steep streets and stairways lead from the upper to the lower town. One of them passes beneath the iron Bridge of Lies.

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    Built in by Fredericus Hutte, this was the first wrought iron bridge in Romania. Legend has it that the name derived from the merchants' fiery disputes which flared up around it and the passionate but transitory vows of young lovers who often met here. Built in the 13th century, it is one of the most picturesque places in Sibiu. At one end of the passage stands the city's oldest building which now hosts the oldest restaurant in Romania, The Golden Barrel Butoiul de Aur. Goldsmiths' Square Piata Aurarilor The Goldsmiths' Square, a peaceful and intimate square, is surrounded by charming old houses with medieval windows, doorways and turrets.

    For many years, it was the main point of passage between the Little Square and the Lower Town, the two connected by a 15th century stairway. Haller Bastion Bastionul Haller Address: Spitalelor Located at the north end of Onofreiu Square Piata Onofreiuthe bastion is named after Sibiu's th century mayor, Petrus Haller, who had the red-brick tower built in Mitropoliei 35 Constructed between — on the site of a former Greek church, it shares a similar style with Saint Sofia Cathedral in Istanbul, Turkey.

    The interior is dominated by a massive gold chandelier and features neo-Byzantine decorations. This is the second largest Orthodox cathedral in Romania the biggest one is located in Iasi. Ursuline Monastery Manastirea Ursulinelor Address: Magheru 38 Built inthe site was home to a Dominican Monastery until when the Lutherans took over. Known under the German name of Klosterkirche, it became a Ursuline Monastery in The Ursulines changed the gothic interior to baroque style.

    Outside, the building still features many of its former gothic details, including the portal and the piles. Inside, the church has three altars and beautiful paintings representing various saints and protectors of the church.

    Biserica din Groapa This Orthodox Church, whose name translates Church on the Gorge, was built between - and renovated between The interior of this small church with a tower in three levels was beautifully painted by Nicolae Brana in Jewish Sibiu Although documents attest the existence of Jews in Sibiu since the 12th century, the Jewish community of Sibiu was never among the biggest in Romania. In the town had some 1, Jews, three synagogues, three rabbis, two cemeteries and two ritual baths managed by the Sephardic and Orthodox communities.

    Today, the handful of Jews who remain in Sibiu hold weekly and holiday services at the Great Synagogue. The Great Synagogue Address: Inside, it has a basilica aspect with three naves mounted by lofts.
    The fortified Church of Biertan — The altar is sculptured in wood, and it has 24 icons presenting biblical scenes. The Seven Towers The fortified complex of Biertan is formed of three concentric walls, the interior ones being annular.

    The walls were united by gate — towers. The whole site has seven towers. The Clock Tower is at the North East side of the church, at the first wall, having shooting windows and a wood foot bridge. The clock still works and someone rotates every day the handle which sets going the huge mechanism.

    Then, in the North, there are the Bell Tower and the Mausoleum Tower, which shelters the tombstones of priests and episcopes. The interior of Biertan Church — Sibiu. Historians say that in Transylvania was known as the only country in Europe with four denominations: Then, the Mayoralty Tower is located on the west side of the church, and it is also a gate tower that united the interior and the middle walls.

    The waggon road also passed through this gate. On the South there are two gate towers, also called the Gate Towers, one corresponding to the third precincts wall, and the other corresponding to the second wall. Inside the interior tower the food was stored in time of siege, and this is the reason why it was called the Bacon Tower. There is also the the Prison Tower, which is said to have been used for punishing the husbands and wives that wanted to get divorced.

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    It is no longer known for how long the husband and wife were locked in there, but it is said that there was only one divorce in years. Sincethe yearly meeting of all Saxons takes place at Biertan, on the first Saturday after 15th of September.

    The fortified Church of Biertan — Sibiu. Those who prefer travelling by train can take the fast trains to Medias or the slow trains to Dumbraveni 9 kilometres far from Biertan.

    The altar is sculptured in wood, and it has 24 icons presenting biblical scenes.

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    Since the 16th century, it has housed many organs; the last one, dating fromis a tubes organ — The fortified Church of Biertan. The door of the vestry, built inwhich has 19 bolts and was awarded at the World Exhibition of Paris in — The fortified Church of Biertan. The Mausoleum Tower, which shelters the tombstones of priests and episcopes — The fortified Church of Biertan.

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