Luminiţa Dinu-Huţupan

Luminiţa Dinu-Huţupan (née Dinu) (born 6 November 1971 in Piatra Neamţ) was the best keeper in the history of the Romanian handball and maybe the best in the world.

Luminiţa began playing handball in 1985 and she has played for CS Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea, HC Kometal Gjorče Petrov and Krim Ljubljana. She is 3 times winner of Champions League Cup (2001, 2002, 2003), 2 times winner of European Super Cup (2004, 2007), 5 times winner of Romanian First League of Women Handball, 4 times winner of Romanian Cup, Winner of Romanian Super Cup, 6 times winner of Slovenian Championship, 6 times winner of Slovenian Cup, Winner of Cup Winners' Cup (2007), Winner of Champions Trophy. She is also Vice-champion of the World with Romania in 2005.

She was declared the best goalkeeper of 2000 European Women's Handball Championship and the best goalkeeper of 2005 World Women's Handball Championship. International Handball Federation has launched this days an online poll on its website ( for choosing the best all-time women goalie, Luminiţa Dinu-Huţupan leading for now. She retired in 2009.

Photos from here and here.

Jazz Made in Romania

In a steady Saturday night, some of my favorite Romanian jazz players... Enjoy!

Teodora Enache - My Favorite Things

Marius Popp - Xybaba

Aura Urziceanu - Paganini, Capriccio no. 24

Dan Mândrilă - Ballade

Aura Urziceanu - J.S. Bach, Air from Suite no. 3

Decebal Bădilă - Georgie's Pub

Teodora Enache - Erev Shel Shoshanim

Cantacuzino Castle of Buşteni

Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino (September 22, 1833 – March 22, 1913) was a Conservative Romanian politician who twice served as the Prime Minister of Romania: between 23 April 1899 and 19 July 1900 and between 4 January 1906 and 24 March 1907. He was born into the Romanian noble Cantacuzino family and was a descendant of Romanian voivods (ruling princes) and Byzantine Emperors. Prince Cantacuzino was known as "the Nabob" due to its fabulous richness, being the the largest owner of land in Romania at that time. He built the Cantacuzino Palace in Bucharest (The George Enescu Museum) and the Cantacuzino Castle of Buşteni.

Buşteni is a small mountain town in the north of Prahova county, in the center of Romania. It is located in the Prahova Valley, on Bucegi Mountains, and it is one of the most popular mountain resorts, offering spectacular views with lots of year-round tourism opportunities, ranging from skiing to mountain climbing. Cantacuzino Castle was built in 1911 in the park owned by the Prince and is one of the top castles in Romania in terms of architecture. During the communist regime, the castle was nationalized and transformed in a TB sanatorium of the Ministry of Internal Affairs; after 1989 it was returned to the heirs of the Prince, who sold it in 2004 to a group of investors that restored it and reinstated in the tourist circuit.

The castle has 1200.30 sqm ground surface, composed of basement, ground floor and first floor with a developed surface of 3148.09 sqm, with concrete foundation, walls of carved stone, and covered with tiles. It has also a service pavilion of 201.90 sqm ground surface, ground floor and first floor with developed surface of 403.80 sqm; an administrative mansion of 114.41 sqm ground surface, one level; the chapel.

Vizualizare hartă mărită

Impressive in terms of architecture, the castle is compared to other buildings completed in neo-brâncovenesc style. The interior decorative repertoire consists of polychrome molding, ornamental and figurative painting, stained glass windows, carved carpentry, tiled ceilings, railings carved in stone, wrought iron or wood, floors in decorative sandstone slabs or floors with parquetry, which confer a romantic feel to the interior, even if the molding of the interior columns and door framing sculpture reminds us of the decorative Brâncoveanu style repertoire. The interior polychromy supported by the geometrical motifs of the receptions hall arcades reminds us of the paintings found in religious spaces due to neo-byzantine style.

Stained glass windows, railings, the stairways of the hallway and the ceilings with visible beams some of them painted, remind us of the romantic decorative repertoire. All this decorative repertoire emphasizes the unique character of the building, bringing forward the ensigns of the Cantacuzino family as well as those belonging to families related to this, painted in the reception room next to the fresco of the most outstanding members of the Cantacuzino boyar-related Wallachian branch. The complex is in full coordination with ample exterior decorations, terraces and walls of support, ramps and stairs with railings of stone that besides functionality makes perfect integration of this complexity in the mountain area. The castle is surrounded by waterfalls, caves and fountains. In addition, the complex is located in an area scientifically proven as being an important energetic pole and studies stand for it.

Photos from here, here, here.

Rural Romania

Images from rural Romania...

From here

Jazz Made in Romania

Romanian-American Jazz Suite - Transylvanian Dance

Emy Drăgoi & Jazz Hot Club Romania - The Skylark

Marius Preda - Cimbalom Piece

Marian Petrescu Jazz Trio - Lacrymosa

Andrei Roşulescu & Răzvan Slama - Virtual Seasons

Cheese in fir tree bark

The cheese in fir tree bark is a exquisite cheese specialty prepared by the Romanian shepherds from Carpathian Mountains, especially from Bran, Sibiu and Braşov areas. The cheese has a special flavor due to the fir bark resins.

The bark of a fir tree with a diameter of over 20 cm is cut to form a cylinder and two lids. The shiny inner layer must be separate from the outer layer. Cylinder and the inferior lid are assembled with thick rope. The fresh sheep cheese is cut in slices 1 cm thick and is introduced in water with salt. After a day, it is well drained, then shredded (and well-mixed with salt if needed). After one hour, small pieces are placed in the bark cylinder and pressed, until the cylinder is filled, the superior lid is assembled, then it is placed on a grating and left for one day to drain completely. The cylinders are then smoked for two weeks and kept under 20 0C.

Images from here and here.

The Red Ravine

Râpa Roșie (English: Red Ravine), is a geological park of 25 hectares, located about 3 km from Sebeş, Alba County, and was declared nature reserve since 1950. Its walls with heights between 80-100 m, have very unusual shapes: columns, towers, pyramids, all with reddish color.

Vizualizare hartă mărită

The Red Ravine detritic deposits consist of sequences of red clay, gray and red sandstone, white sandstone, loose, red marl, white calcareous marl; by erosion, subsidence and collapse processes was sculpted the richness of forms that make the Red Ravine a natural monument of rare beauty. Here are some of the largest caves in the world developed in earth, of which one of 25 m.

Here can be found also several rare plant species (Cotoneaster integarrima, Ephedra distachya, Centaurea atropurpurea, Dianthus serotinus, Cephalaria radiata, Asplenium nigrum).

Images from here.

The 100 million years concert hall

Românești Cave is located in the south-east of the Românești village, on the left slope of Fărăşeşti Valley, in Poiana Ruscă Mountains, Timiș County, Banat, South-Western Romania. The cave is famous for its great acoustic and the concerts played here.

The Românești Cave is 1,450m long and has three different levels. The entrance is oriented north by northwest and is 9.5m wide by 2m high, allowing a diffuse illumination for 70m. The three levels have sub-fossil character, and the main rooms were formed at the intersection of several faults. The third level is accessible only for speleologists. Geographer T. Orthmayr made the first geological and natural research and exploration in 1872. He, and later researchers, found archeological artifacts from the Musterian Culture (over 15,000 years ago), from Tisa and Coțofeni Cultures, bear cave bones - that are on display in the Banat Museum in Timișoara and the Museum of Natural History in Lugoj.

On October 11, 1984, Romania had a unique and beautiful cultural event - the first symphonic concert in a cave. Three hundred and sixty visitors entered into the cave-hall lighted with candles, lamps, projectors, to hear it. Since then, every October comes with a new concert. Live concerts in caves are extremely rare, and Romania hosts the only annual speleo-concert. In Gibraltar are sometimes concerts in a small cave that can fit 30 people, while in the Românești Cave were 5,000 spectators at the concert of master Ştefan Ruha!

Images from Agenda, Speleophilately and Wikipedia.

A device that detects cancer in 6 minutes

Cancer strikes without mercy; doesn't matter who you are and what you did - everything happens with devastating speed. The most times, it is a war with one winner: death. Each year, eight million people die of cancer in the world. More than those killed by HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Annually 12 million people are stroked by this disease. In the U.S., cancer kills 1,500 people a day and is the second most prevalent disease after heart disease. In Romania, the latest statistics monitors 420,000 patients, and are diagnosed annually between 95,000 and 96,000 other people, of which more than half in an incurable phase. The number of patients increases, however, by 8-10% every year.

However, the problem has a much closer solution than we imagine. The Romanian engineer, researcher and businessman Tudor Mircea (53), owner of MB Technology, will release in 2011 the first device that will detect the predisposition for cancer in the very early stages, when treatment is more effective and easier to apply . The device identifies in a blood sample, in four to six minutes, the specific bio-markers of cancer, six months before the disease begins. The MB Technology team works with the Romanian researcher Raluca van Staden, the inventor of a revolutionary sensor for cancer detection, and the device is registered as a common patent.

In a first stage, the device may provide clues to susceptibility for four types of cancer: gastrointestinal, breast, prostate and ovarian cancer. The prototype will be validate by the end of 2010, then the device will enter clinical testing, and in mid 2011 will come into production. MB Technology is working on three versions: the simpler, for mass production (which will cost less than EUR 1,000), a medium variant, for medical offices (EUR 5000-6000) and a laboratory version, with maximum capacity of processing and entering into the detection area (EUR 20,000 to 25,000). Thus, cancer test could be done by anyone, even at home - and that could save millions of lives. Early detection of cancer is an important step in clinical diagnosis because it reduces the number of patients. There is medication for this early stage of cancer that can cure from 80% to 100% of the patients.

The device includes three components: the sensor itself (which can be used for about a hundred tests), covered by a round semi-elastic plastic hood; the input preamplifier input; the data processing unit. One drop of blood is placed on the sensor and the analysis sequence triggers automatically (it takes four to six minutes). Showing results can be achieved in three ways. The basic version offers only quantitative results (YES or NO), the medium variant displays he concentration and the type of bio-marker, while the laboratory version allows the user access to plasmograma. About 85% of production will be exported, mainly to USA, Germany and Israel.

Images from here.

A promising discovery

Two Romanian scientists coordinated the teams that discovered a very promising element in cancer detecting. A team of researchers from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (or INSERM; France), led by Dr. Nicolae Ghinea, in co-operation with a team from Mount-Sinai Medical School (New York), led by Dr. Aurelian Radu, announced the discovery of a unique biological marker for 11 different cancers, according to AFP. The marker is the FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone), found in the human reproductive organs.

Analyzing 1336 biopsies performed for patients suffering from 11 various cancers, researchers have found in all tumors, the presence of a receptor of this hormone. Were studied prostate, breast, colon, pancreas, bladder, kidney, lung, liver, stomach, testicles and ovaries cancers. Other cancers have not yet been studied. The receptors were found on endothelial cells covering the inside of blood vessels at the tumor periphery. These receptors were missing completely from the body's healthy tissues, including the healthy parts of the organs affected by the tumor. It's a long way to a universal therapy, say researchers. The next steps are the extended analysis of other types of cancer, to confirm the discovery of the receptor by other procedures, to undertake studies to improve clinical procedures and possible therapies. Research results are published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

HRH Prince Charles talks about Transylvania

For the past ten years, The Mihai Eminescu Trust has led the revitalization of the built and natural heritage of South-Eastern Transylvania. Under the Patronage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, it has completed over 600 projects, restoring the integrity of buildings, resurrecting crafts and professional skills, and developing the region as a unique destination for art lovers and eco-tourists.

The exhibition 'Transylvania - Heritage and Future' takes place from 14 to 31 October 2010 at the Embassy of Romania to the United States, 1607 23rd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008. The exhibition focuses on the Saxon villages of South-Eastern Transylvania, known in German as the Siebenburgen, and their recent rebirth as self-sustaining rural communities. It tells in words and photographs the story of the projects accomplished by the Trust, with images and texts of the villages' historic architecture (peerless fortified churches and streetscapes), their crafts and their landscapes. A part of the exhibition illustrates the rich Jewish heritage in Transylvania.

Karate Shotokan World Championship

The karateka from Fudokan Karate Sports Club Timişoara, trained by sensei Zoltan Nagy 4-dan, won this month 3 Gold medals and 3 Silver medals at 18th Karate Shotokan World Championship (9-10 October 2010, Lons le Saunier, France).

Kumite, men team, Gold Medal
Kumite, mixed team, Gold Medal
Kata, individual, Robert Stemler, Gold Medal
Kumite, individual, Robert Stemler, Silver Medal
Kata, individual, Alex Schein, Silver Medal
Kata, individual, Emilian Jian, Silver Medal

Images from Fudokan Karate Timişoara.

Săruleşti Lake

Săruleşti Lake is one of the most famous lakes in Romania, and one of the best carp fishing trail in the world. It is located 55 km from Bucharest, in Săruleşti-Sănduliţa village, Călăraşi County. The lake was created in 1980, by the communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu in an attempt to transform Bucharest in port by building the Dâmboviţa-Danube Canal . Three villages were flooded, after which the project was abandoned, but fishermen have benefited from the union of some famous fish farms. The lake covers an area of about 500 hectares, has a maximum depth of only 16m, with an average of 5-6m. The bottom of the lake varies from very muddy to very hard.

Image from here

The Săruleşti Lake is populated with carp, bream, cteno, zander, bass, perch, pike, catfish, roach and other secondary species, but it is a real heaven for carp fishermen, being named “Jurassic Carp” or “Big Fish Mecca”, frequently being captured specimens over 30 kg. In the World Top Ten carp catches, eight are from Săruleşti. Here is organized the Carp Fishing World Cup and were established several world records.

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The shepherds year

The sheep breeding in our country has a millennial tradition. The pastoral year in Romania is dominated by other rules than the regular year, as it has two crossing points: Sângiorz Day (St. George, who closes the winter and opens the summer) and Sânmedru Day (St. Demeter, the saint who closes the summer and opens the winter). They have received the keys of the weather from God and wear them at the belt, "lest someone steal them and play with the weather as they like". These two pastoral "seasons", are closely related to the animal biological rhythm, the fertile and sterile season.

The beginning of pastoral year is associated with numerous organizational and economic measures (closing of meadows for cattle grazing, the deals with shepherds and cowboys, the composition of the flocks and herds, solving the problem of grazing during the summer, shearing sheep before they climb the mountain, building huts and pens), legal (the amount of sheep and lambs, milk measurement for determining the rate of cheese that will be received by each sheep owner) and ritual (eg, purification of cattle and sheep, of the shepherds and animal owners, to prevent the attack of wild beasts, etc.).

Three shepherds from Sibiu, early 20th century

Significant Dates:
Sângiorz (St. George's Day), the beginning of pastoral year. Now the owners of the sheep and the shepherds decide how to organize their flocks.
The Choose (April 22), - the first milking, the selection of lambs of goatlings.
Sântilie (St. Elias's Day, July 20). Now the shepherds' wives trim the lambs' wool - an activity that has a practical purpose, but also an emotional one because the shearing of lambs represents the first meeting of the shepherds with their wives and fiancees since the departure of flocks (shepherds are not allowed to see women until Sântilie, because they must keep "clean"). On Sântilie (July 20) or on Sântămărie (St. Mary' Day, August 15) the shepherds organize Nedeia, a fair where they exchange products; young people could get to know, to get married on the spot or on future Nedeia.
Sântămărie (St. Mary' Day, August 15). After spending all summer in the mountains with the sheep, the shepherds bring their flocks to graze on pastures, hay-fields, and stubble fields near the villages until occurs răvăşirea oilor, the dissolution of the flock to the sheep owners (end of September). Sânmedru. On this day ends the deals between shepherds and sheep owners and begins the wintering of the sheep. Although slightly altered over the years, the custom has survived until today as a symbolic event marking the end of pastoral year.

Shepherd from Maramureş

The departure and the return of flocks and herds are the most important events in the life of mountain villages and are traditionally celebrated by popular shows resembling thousands people.

Images from Romanian Museum, Quadratus's Weblog, Klever Tavel.

Lucian Bute

Lucian Bute (a.k.a. Le Tombeur; February 28, 1980, Pechea, Galaţi County, Romania) is a Romanian professional boxer living and fighting out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Bute is the current IBF Super Middleweight champion.

As an amateur, Bute won the bronze medal at the 1999 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Houston, Texas, and the Gold Medal at the 2001 Francophone Games. Bute has a professional record of 27 wins (22 KOs), 0 losses and 0 draws. He is trained by Stéphane Larouche, who also trained former world champions Éric Lucas and Leonard Doroftei.

Lucian Bute fought and won 19 matches until the IBF Super Middleweight title eliminator against Sakio Bika. As a result, he got his shot at the IBF super middleweight champion Alejandro Berrio on October 19, 2007. Bute beat Berrio via TKO in the 11th round. With this victory, Bute became the third Romanian professional boxing world champion after Leonard Doroftei and Mihai Leu. He defended his title six times, against William Joppy (2008), Librado Andrade (2008 and 2009), Fulgencio Zúñiga (2009), Edison Miranda (2010), Jesse Brinkley (2010).


The most widespread form of Romanian folk music is the doina. Doina is poetic and often melancholic, sometimes compared to the blues for that reason. In the Romanian folkloric tradition, doina was played mainly orally or accompanied by a single instrument, being the song of elegy, played for self comforting and not intended for festive events because of its sober nature. The Romanian verb "a doini" denotes a particular way of singing, using long, slow-paced, polyphonic arrangements which can be done with voice modulation or with a musical instrument, often woodwind instruments.

The doina is played with a slow, free rhythm melody against a fast accompaniment pattern in fixed tempo, giving an overall feeling of rhythmic tension. Melodies are sometimes repeated in differing songs, and typically follow a descending pattern. Most doinas are about the feeling of "dor" - a Romanian word for "intensely missing" (similar to German Sehnsucht and Portuguese Saudade).

Here are some instrumental doinas, played at trumpet, taragot, pan-pipe, cimbalom:

Constantin Gherghina - Doină din Banat

Dumitru Fărcaş - Doină bănăţeană

Gheorghe Zamfir - Doină de jale

Toni Iordache - Doină de jale

...and some vocal doinas:

Achim Nica - Lasă-i puşca ruginită

Drăgan Muntean - Sara bună, bade Ioane

Ileana Sărăroiu - Munte munte, frăţioare

Tudor Gheorghe - Doină haiducească

Traian Ilea - Lae chioru'

Anuţa Tite - Doina lui Pintea Viteazul

Myriam Marbé

Myriam Marbé (April 9, 1931, Bucharest – December 25, 1997, Bucharest) was a Romanian composer and pianist, considered one of the most valuable international contemporary music composer.

She received her first piano lessons from her mother, Angela, who was a pianist. Between 1944-1954 she studied at the Bucharest Conservatory - piano with Florica Musicescu and Silvia Capăţână, and composition with Leon Klepper and Mihail Jora. From 1953 to 1965, she was a film director in Bucharest. She taught counterpoint and composition at the Bucharest Conservatory from 1954 to 1988, where her refusal to join the Romanian Communist Party prevented her from reaching the rank of Professor. After the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, she was awarded a working grant from the German city of Mannheim for the year 1989-90.

Besides being a composer, Marbé worked as a journalist and musicologist. She coauthored a monograph on George Enescu and also wrote critical essays and analysis on musical style.

Baked polenta with cheese

A traditional shepherds' dish is the delicious mămăligă cu brânză la cuptor (baked polenta with cheese). A simple, easy to cook, cheap recipe...

You need a fresh cook polenta, butter or oil, cheese, cream, possibly two eggs, bacon, sausages, or ham. In a thermo-resistant bowl smeared with butter or oil you put a thin layer of polenta, a thin layer of broken cheese and cream, a layer of polenta, and so on. The last layer must be one of polenta. On top you add some cheese and/or two scrambled eggs. In the cheese you may add some bacon, sausages, or ham. Insert the bowl in the oven and cook until the crust is slightly browned. Good appetite!

Images from Bucataria Denysei.

The adventure of a song

Sanie cu zurgălăi (English approx. Sledge With Bells) is probably one of the most sung songs in the world. It was composed in 1937 by the Romanian Richard Stein, with lyrics by Liviu Deleanu. In 1952, the American composer Les Paul plagiarized the song under the name Johnny Is The Boy For Me. Because the song already acquired an international reputation, the theft could not go unnoticed, so Richard Stein sued Les Paul and the copyright dispute was won by the Romanian. The adventure of the song has not been done yet. The song was made famous by Edith Piaf in 1953, as Johnny tu n'est pas un ange, and in 2000, 8 years after the composer's death, Vaya Con Dios released Johnny, with Les Paul indicated as songwriter... then followed a new trial.

Here are five versions of this song: the first one is the interpretation of one of the greatest folklore singer of Romania, the second has a Jazz flavor, the 3rd is the instrumental version, the 4th and the 5th are the versions of Piaf and the cover of Vaya Con Dios.

Maria Lătăreţu - Sanie cu zurgălăi

Aura Urziceanu - Sanie cu zurgălăi

National Radio Orchestra - Sanie cu zurgălăi

Edith Piaf - Johnny tu n'est pas un ange

Vaya Con Dios - Johnny

National Military Club Palace

Cercul Militar Naţional is a institution of the Romanian Army, with cultural-artistic and educative profile, serving for representation, public relations and protocol.

On December 15, 1876, was founded in Bucharest the Military Club of Officers. In its Statute was expressly stated the need to purchase a club seat. In 1899, through a public competition, was selected for the Military Club building the project developed by Dimitrie Maimarolu, outstanding personality of Romanian architecture. The works started in 1911, and in 1914, at the beginning of World War I, the building was finished in red and with roof. On 12 November 1916, following the occupation of Bucharest by the Central Powers' troops, the palace was evacuated. In 1919, at the return of the central government in Bucharest, the building was found devastated. Finally, on February 4, 1923, in the presence of King Ferdinand and Queen Mary, was officially opened the National Military Club. During the communist regime, it was named Casa Centrală a Armatei (Army's Central House).

The palace has an underground, a floor, and two levels. At the underground one can visit the Byzantine Hall, the Norwegian Hall, the Gothic Hall, and the Tudor Vladimirescu Rotonda. The floor comprises the Gallery of Arts, the Military Restaurant, the Show Hall, and the Cinema. At the first level are the Marble Hall and the Moorish Hall. The second level comprises the Alba-Iulia Hall, the Nicolae Grigorescu Rotonda, the Marshalls' Rotonda, the St. Gheorghe Hall, the Mirrors' Hall, and Stephen the Great Hall.

Images from Wikipedia, YouMago, Jurnal Românesc.

Bucharest National Opera House

The history of the Bucharest lyrical performance closely mirrors the evolution of the Romanian society over the last two centuries, more and more naturally integrated into the European civilization. Thus, the beginnings of professional music in the Romanian Principalities coincide with the staging of musical shows, the opera performances opening for the audience perspectives beyond imagination, on the cultural and knowledge levels of musical masterpieces.

At the time, the Romanian territory was crossed by a great number of foreign companies halting in the big cities, offering performances with Italian and German repertoires, as early as the end of the 17th century. In 1843, the first Italian theater was inaugurated in Bucharest, staging Norma by Bellini, followed by Lucia of Lamermoor by Donizetti, The Barber of Seville and Cinderella by Rossini. The launching of the Bucharest lyrical company on the 8th of May 1885, was an event to remember. The foundation of the lyrical company by George Stephanescu in 1892 was followed by a series of initiatives meant to impose the idea of the Romanian Opera in the native cultural life.

In 1921, the Society “The Opera” received the necessary funds for observing the criteria for the institutionalizing a national musical theater, and became the Romanian Opera House. The inaugurating performance wass a remarkable event, namely the premiere of Lohengrin by Wagner, staged by the director Adalbert Markowski, under the baton of George Enescu. After 1950, the Opera received, finally, a new location, meant to replace the former one which had been destroyed during the World War II bombardments of the capital. Thus, new better conditions were provided in order to stage top lyrical and choreographic productions. The inauguration of the new building of the Opera House was marked, on the 9th of January 1954, with the premiere The Queen of Spades by Ceaikovski, followed by the premiere of the ballet Coppelia (on the 10th of January 1954), in a production signed by the choreographer master Anton Romanowski.

Bucharest’s Opera House is the main venue for seeing opera and ballet performances in Bucharest, in annual season that runs from October to June. The edifice was built in the years 1952-1953 after the design by a group of architects led by Octav Doicescu. These were the first years of communism in Romania and the style condoned by the regime was called “socialist realism“, the official artistic movement of the Soviet Union. The socialist realism required an artificial return to the classical theme, away from the modernist tendencies of the day, which is why the Opera building has a neoclassical design. One example of the socialist realism touch are the bas-reliefs on the facade. The interior is in the tradition of the 18th century Italian Opera, with a central dome and three tiers of balconies. It has a capacity of 1,200 seats and houses at the top floor the Opera Museum and contains documents, photographs, costumes depicting the development of the lyric genre in Romania.

Images from Wikipedia
Official site here

Palace of the Patriarchate

During the 17th century, Dealul Mitropoliei (Metropolitanate's Hill), later Dealul Patriarhiei (Patriarchate's Hill), in Bucharest, was covered in grapevines owned by the country's voivodes (ruling princes), with others belonging to the Metropolitanate's monks. The idea of placing the seat of legislative power in the middle of a religious complex was not mere coincidence, but has its roots in customs of the period. According to these customs, the Metropolitan was ex-officio president of the boyars (noblemen), the only citizens with the right to vote, when assembled in formal session (divan). Moreover, it was necessary to have the seat of legislative power on the hill because by tradition, the Metropolitan could not leave his residence. Consequently, the practice of organizing legislative meetings at the Metropolitanate became entrenched, so that part of the monks' cells were transformed into a building that could accommodate official legislative sessions.

In 1881 the old building, which had housed the princely divan, was repaired and refurbished. To this structure, which originated in the modified monastic cells, was added an amphitheater similar to that which would soon be found in Berlin's Reichstag building. The amphitheater was large, well-decorated, spacious, and had two sets of private viewing boxes and a gallery. The deputies attended meetings in a session hall, seated in a semicircle; in front of them was a speaker's platform, to the right of which was the ministers' bench. The building was open for public visiting only at hours when the legislature was not meeting, following an agreement won by a bureaucrat working there. Romanian citizens could attend legislative sessions only if a deputy signed their entrance ticket; foreign citizens needed a signature from their country's embassy.

In 1907, the former princely divan building was replaced with the present-day palace; Dimitrie Maimarolu was the architect. The façade, done in a neo-classical style, is 80 m long. The imposing ground floor is dominated by the centre of the façade, the entrance area, detached and having a peristyle featuring six Ionic columns, the four in the center grouped as pairs.

The cupola, similar to that of the Romanian Athenaeum and located above the assembly hall, is raised, fitted with windows, and topped by an eagle; it forms the palace's central axis. The main façade has two side wings, architecturally subordinate to the entrance. The side façade, on the northeast, is symmetrical and its ordered style confers upon it an imposing status. It is decorated with pilasters on two levels, these being decorated and dominant on the sides. When seen from United Nations Street, the palace’s four levels can be observed. The first level has the appearance of a massive base and is made of stone; the second is powerfully carved; and above this is the level through which one enters the main façade, coming from the cathedral.

Infos from Wikipedia, images from

One Piece of Wood Monastery - just photos

Today, some new photos from the monastic complex "One Piece of Wood Monastery", presented in our previous post here.