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Discover Romania

About Romania

Located halfway between the Equator and the North Pole, Romania is the 12th largest country in Europe.
Romania’s territory features splendid mountains, beautiful rolling hills, fertile plains and numerous rivers and lakes. The Carpathian Mountains traverse the centre of the country bordered on both sides by foothills and finally the great plains of the outer rim. Forests cover over one quarter of the country and the fauna is one of the richest in Europe including bears, deer, lynx, chamois and wolves. The legendary Danube River ends its eight-country journey at the Black Sea, after forming one of the largest and most biodiversity wetlands in the world, the Danube Delta.
About a third of the country consists of the Carpathian Mountains (also known as the Transylvanian Alps). Another third is hills and plateaus, rich with orchards and vineyards. The final third is a fertile plain, largely devoted to agriculture

The Carpathian Mountains

Although not as high as the Alps, the Carpathian Mountains extend over 600 miles in Romania, in the shape of an arch. They are divided into three major ranges: the Eastern (Oriental) Carpathians, the Southern Carpathians (also known as the Transylvanian Alps), and the Western Carpathians. Each of these ranges features a variety of landscapes, due to the different types of terrain (glacial, karstic, structural, and volcanic).

Romania’s mountains are a great destination for numerous outdoor activities including: climbing, hiking, biking and river-rafting. Some of the most popular ski resorts are Poiana Brasov, Sinaia, Predeal, Vatra Dornei, Lake Balea and Paltinis.

The Danube Delta

Danube River ends its journey of almost 1864 miles through Europe in south-eastern Romania. Here the river divides into 3 frayed branches (Chilia, Sulina, Sfântu Gheorghe) forming the Danube Delta. It is the newest land in the country, with beaches expanding almost 65 feet into the sea every year.
Overall, the delta is a triangular swampy area of marshes, floating reed islands and sandbanks. It is a UNESCO Biosphere Reservation as well as a protected wetland and natural habitat for rare species of plants and animals.
A bird-watchers’ paradise, the Danube Delta offers the opportunity to spot more than 300 species of migratory and resident birds, including eagles, egrets, vultures, geese, cranes, ibises, cormorants, swans and pelicans. Located on the 45th parallel, the Danube Delta makes for a perfect stopping-off point between the Equator and the North Pole for millions of migratory birds.

Some of the most important species include:

The White Pelican (pelecanus onocrotalus)
In March, swaths of white pelicans leave the Nile Delta and the Red Sea to come nest in the Danube Delta. The Delta is home to Europe’s largest breeding population (some 3,500 pairs).
Best seen: March to October

Dalmatian Pelican (pelecanus crispus)
After decades of decline, this species’ numbers have slowly begun to increase in the Delta.

Currently, some 150 pairs have been spotted in several small colonies.
Best seen: April to October; some pairs may stay over the winter.

Small Egret (egretta garzetta)
A migratory species protected by law, the small egret lives in marshy areas and nests in small willows.
Best seen: April to October; some pairs may stay over the winter.

Pygmy Cormorant (phalacrocorax pygmeus)
Best seen: April to October; some pairs may stay over the winter.

Ferruginous Duck (aythya nyroca)
The Danube Delta may be the last place in Europe to see this declining species. In August and September, large numbers often gather at Somova Lake, just west of Tulcea.
Best seen: March to October

Red-breasted Goose (branta ruficollis)
In winter, thousands of this species – almost half of the entire world population – reside on the Razim-Sinoe lagoon and coastal plain to the south of the Delta.
Best seen: Late October to March

Glossy Ibis (plegadis falcinellus)
More than 30% of the European population nests in the reed beds of the delta.
Best seen: April to September

The Delta is very important for fish with 45 fresh water species present including threatened representatives of the Acipensenidae.

Otter Lutra lutra, stoat Mustela erminea, and European mink Mustela lutreola, as well as wild cat Felis sylvestris are to be found on the floating islands.

The forest areas contain several rare reptiles, including Vipera ursini, Elaphe longissiuma, and Eremias arguta deserti.

Vegetation
This is the largest continuous marshland in Europe which includes the greatest stretch of reedbeds probably in the world. The marsh vegetation is dominated by reeds Phragmites australis which form floating or fixed islands of decaying vegetation (‘plaur’) with some Typha angustifolia and Scirpus sp. Reeds cover some 420,000 acres and ‘plaur’ 247,000 whilst the total area not included is only 36,570 acres.

There are also water lilies Nymphaea alba, Nuphar luteus and Stratiodes alloides. The higher ground supports stands of Salix, Populus, Alnus and Quercus. Sandy areas are covered with feather grass Stipa sp. and other steppe species.

Forest elements are best observed in Letea Forest, occurring in a series of bands along dunes up to 820 feet long and 33 feet wide, where trees reach 115 feet in height. The species present are Quercus robur, Q. pedunculiflora, Populus Alba, P.nigra, Fraxinus ornus, F. angustifolia, F. palisae, Pyrus pyraster, Tilia tomentosa, Ulmus sp., and the occasional Alnus glutinosa. Among the shrubs are Crataegus monogyna, Euonimus europea, Cornus mas, C. sanguinea, Rhamnus frangula, R. catharctica, Viburnum opulus, Berberis vulgaris, Hippophae rhamnoides, Tamarix spp. and occasional Corylus avellana. The distinctive feature of the forest is the abundance of climbing plants including Periploca graeca, Clematis vitalba, Vitis sylvestris and Humulus lupulus. In spring, the ground is carpeted with Convallaria majalis. Particularly rare and threatened plants include Convolvulus persica, Ephedra distachya, Merendera sobolifera, Plantago coronopus and Petunia parviflora.

Local human population

Estimated at between 12,000 and 16,000, depending on the definition of the area covered and residence status. The population is distributed along the three main waterways, Chilia, Sulina and Sfintu Gheorghe, the main source of drinking water. The local population has been involved in small-scale, low-intensity use of natural resources supplemented by outside interests, such as fishing (10,000 boats are registered), cattle grazing and beekeeping, thought on the whole to be integrated to preservation of natural heritage.

The centre of commercial activity in the Delta is the freeport of Sulina. In the late 1980s the town underwent rapid expansion with 500 new dwellings being built, a hotel and a shipping centre to handle 3,500 ships annually. Other urban developments have taken place at Chilia Veche, Sfintu Gheorghe.

Conservation value

The Delta is the meeting point of Palaearctic and Mediterranean biogeographic zones and represents a unique dynamic wetland ecosystem containing a rich biodiversity of wetland habitats. The site is internationally significant for birds, both breeding and migratory, including a number of globally-threatened species. It is also a vitally important buffer system between the hydrographical basin of the River Danube and the Black Sea.

Transylvania Highlights

Transylvania is home to some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, most notably Brasov, featuring Old Saxon architecture and citadel ruins; Sibiu with its cobblestone streets and pastel-colored houses, and Sighisoara, adorned with a hilltop citadel, secret passageways and a 14th century clock tower. Tiny shops offer antiques and fine hand-made products by local artisans and artists.

Visitors to Transylvania will also encounter stunning castles such Bran, near Brasov, – a Gothic fairy-tale structure, often associated with 15th century Walachian Prince Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While the connection with Vlad is tenuous, the deep bond of local villagers with the legend is not.

In close proximity to Brasov and Bran are the fortified churches at Harman, with its massive 13th Saxon towers, and Prejmer, the largest fortified church in Southeastern Europe. The 15th-century Corvinesti Castle, the most beautiful in Transylvania, located nearby Hunedoara, has a sumptuous Knights Hall – that can be used for functions or parties, as well as towers and buttresses reminiscent of the medieval times.

Transylvania’s multi-ethnic heritage (including German and Hungarian) is delightfully apparent in the folk costumes, architecture, cuisine, music and festivals.

Colorful centuries-old traditions are alive and well in the small villages of Transylvania. People here still make a living at such time-honored occupations as shepherds, weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters.

The Apuseni Mountain range, in the western Carpathians, is a landscape of exquisite beauty and mystery. Here, you’ll find ancient legends of mountain spirits and rare species of wildlife, along with 4,000 caves, many of which can be explored. Scarisoara Glacier, a national monument, shelters the second largest underground glacier on the continent.

Dobrogea Highlights

Dobrogea region is home to the Danube Delta, a 2,200-square-mile wildlife reserve designated by UNESCO as a “Reservation of the Biosphere;” the ancient port city of Constanta, and the seaside resorts stretching along Romania’s 152-mile Black Sea coast. From the port city of Tulcea, day cruises through the Delta’s waterways give travelers a glimpse of the abundant wildlife and the traditional fishing villages. Floating reed islands, sand dunes and waterways offer shelter to over 300 species of birds, countless fish and 1,150 species of plants.

South of the Delta, the historical city of Constanta serves as a major port on the Black Sea. Featuring several museums, historical monuments, fine mansions and a grand casino, the city is the focal point of Black Sea coast tourism. A strip of fine-sand beaches dotted with seaside resorts named after women and mythological gods, such as Eforie, Jupiter, Neptun, Olimp, Saturn, Venus and Mangalia, stretches from Constanta to the Bulgarian border.

Did You Know?

» The Palace of Parliament, located in Bucharest, ranks as the biggest office building in Europe and second-largest in the world, after the U.S. Pentagon?

» The city of Brasov (Transylvania) is home to the largest gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul?

Brasov’s famous landmark and Romania’s leading gothic church, the Black Church was built between 1385 and 1477 and got its nickname after the Great Fire of 1689 blackened its the walls.

» The meaning of the word “Transylvania” is the land beyond the forest?

Transylvania was first referred to in a Medieval Latin document dating from 1075 as Ultra Silvam (Ultra meaning “beyond” or “on the far side of …” and Sylva (sylvam) meaning “wood or forest”).

» Romania has the second-largest air museum in the world?

Astra Museum in Sibiu features more than 300 buildings as well as watermills and windmills, gigantic presses for wine, fruit and oil, hydraulic forges and structures representing village architectural styles from many parts of Romania.

» The Romanian city of Timisoara was the first in Europe to have electric street-lighting?

Timisoara was the first European city to introduce horse-drawn trams (in 1869) and electrical street lighting (in 1889).

» The Bruckenthal museum in Sibiu opened its doors to the public three years prior to the Louvre Museum in Paris?

Founded in 1790 by Samuel Brukenthal, the governor of Transylvania, the museum opened to the public in 1817. It is the oldest museum in Romania and one of the first museums in Europe. The art collection includes paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Teniers, as well as works of German, Austrian and Romanian masters.

» The insulin was discovered by a Romanian physiologist?

Only after two Canadians received a Noble prize, some 50 years later, for the same invention Nicolai Paulescu’s precedence was finally recognized and he was rightfully acknowledged as the true inventor of insulin.

» The jet engine used by modern airplanes was invented by Bucharest-born inventor Henri Coanda?

Romanian inventor and aerodynamics pioneer, Henri Coanda designed and built in 1910 the world’s first jet powered aircraft, known as the Coandă-1910, which he demonstrated publicly at the second International Aeronautic Salon in Paris. Coanda died in Bucharest November 25, 1972 at the age of 86. Romania’s main international airport, Henri Coanda, is named after the great inventor.

» Romania features the youngest continental land (Danube Delta) in Europe?

The mighty Danube River flows 1,788 miles from its springs in Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea. Just before reaching the sea it forms the second largest and best preserved of Europe’s deltas: 2,200 square miles of rivers, canals, marshes, tree-fringed lakes and reed islands. The Danube Delta is a wildlife enthusiast’s (especially a bird watcher’s) paradise. Formed over a period of more than 10,000 years, the Danube Delta continues to grow due to the 67 million tons of alluvia deposited every year by the Danube River.

» Brasov is home to what is said to be the narrowest street in Europe?

The Rope Street (Strada Sforii) is approximately four feet wide and links Cerbului Street with Poarta Schei Street. The street was initially used as an access route by firefighters..

Transylvania

9 tours

Traditional Villages

1 tour

Monasteries of Bucovina

4 tours

Medieval Towns

5 tours

Maramures

2 tours

Danube Delta

1 tour

Castles and Fortresses

6 tours

Bucharest

9 tours

Black Sea Resorts

1 tour