Romania has had a plenitude of important figures throughout its entire history; figures that are still mentioned and appraised to this day. Here’s a list of five most famous male figures of Romania’s medieval era, romantic period, monarchy and communism.

Vlad Tepes, known as Vlad the Impaler or Dracula, was the ruler of Wallachia. He lived between 1431 and 1476 and ruled Wallachia three times from 1448 to his death. Vlad got his notorious pseudonym of “the Impaler” due to his favorite method of execution, impalement, whereas the name of Dracula has its roots in the blood line of House of Draculesti. All crimes were punished by impalement: lying, stealing, killing, as Vlad Dracul was a very honest ruler.

Stefan cel Mare / Stephen the Great was the voivode of Moldavia between 1457 and 1504. The extensive rule of Stephen was a period of stability in Moldavia’s history and such he is remembered as a great ruler, today even regarded as one of Romania’s greatest national heroes. He is often regarded as the protector of the peasants against the noblemen or foreign invaders. Stephen has fought 36 battles and only lost two of them, although his army was often outnumbered. After his wars with the Ottoman Empire, Stephen got into cultural development, with dozen churches, monasteries erected in a unique Moldavian Architecture.

Mihai Eminescu was a poet, novelist and journalist of the Romantic Era. Born in 1850, the revolutionary poet only enjoyed 39 years of his life. He is regarded as the most famous and influential poet of Romania. Mihai Eminescu began writing poetry at the age of 16 as Mihail Eminovici. The national poet delivered an inestimable treasure of verse for which he is considered one of the greatest poets in the world of literature. His most famous work is Luceafarul, a dramatic idyll between an astral spirit and an earthly woman.

Nicolae Ceausescu was the communist dictator who brought Romania to its knees for two decades, from 1967 to 1989. After a short time of a moderate rule, Ceausescu became more and more brutal and oppressive. Although he led Romania through times of industrial development, he was also the cause of human misery and denial of culture and religion. As he became a power-hungry dictator, he started huge constructions like the Palace of the Parliament and abolishing everything that reminded of the monarchic era. His great ambition was to pay all of Romania’s debt, but he did this in such way that people got poorer and more miserable. Eventually, the whole of Romanians rose against his tyranny in the 1989 Revolution, when he was executed and the communist regime was abolished, although his imprint is still highly recognized today.

Michael I of Romania was the last king of the Kingdom of Romania. He reigned between 1927 and 1930 and again from 1940 to 1947. Born in 1921, his first rule was just at 8 years old and this was due to his father running away with his mistress. In 1930, Carol II returned to the country and replaced his son as king. After returning to the throne, Michael I had several endeavors to avoid the promotion of the communist party, but to no avail, as he was forced to abdicate in 1947. The communists took all his properties and his citizenship and thus he settled in exile in Switzerland. After the 1989 revolution, Michael tried to return to Romania but he was arrested and forced to leave. He was allowed visit in 1992 where he was highly appraised by Romanians, thing which alarmed the government. In 1997, Michael’s citizenship was given back to him as well as the confiscated properties. The still alive last King of Romania always raises nostalgia between Romanian people, as they regard the Kingdom of Romania as times of flourish.

The Snagov Monastery, the resting place of Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad Dracula, is one of the most important historical places in Romania, built on the Snagov island located in the north part of Snagov Lake. The building was founded by Mircea cel Batran, Vlad Dracula’s grandfather, in 1408 and rebuilt by his nephew and Mircea Ciobanu. The monastery is known by its byzantine style with Romanian traditional decorative elements that delights every eye.

One of the most remarkable rooms inside of the monastery is the prison for traitors and thieves, built by the one and only Vlad the Impaler, the underwater tunnel for retreat during the wars and the great bell which is made of massive brick.

Also, citizens say that the place where the monastery is built, is haunted by thousand souls of soldiers who died during wars led by Constantin Brancoveanu, Prince of Wallachia between 1688 and 1714, Matei Basarab, Prince of Wallachia a between 1632 and 1654, and Vlad the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia three times between 1448 and his death in 1477. The paintings were restored just once, in 1815 by Gheorghe Zugravu, and all travelers have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the original medieval Romanian culture.

At Snagov Monastery, tourists can recreate from all daily routine and taste the smell of first books printed in Romanian language, cheers to Constantin Brancoveanu. The monastery has activated as typography between 1700 and 1714 and the first book printed here is „Orânduiala slujbei Sfinților Constantin și Elena”.

The Snagov Monastery tour is ended with an interesting legend about  the tomb of the most powerful reigning of Vlad Tepes,  which was killed in a battle with the Turks, in 1476,  and his body was  buried here. If tourists want to visit the historical buildings and to feel the age of wars on Romanian territory, this tour is dedicated to them. In addition to superb views, you can discover the real vampire hunters through the time lived by Vlad Dracula and present.

Besides this, you can make a detour to visit the marvelous Snagov Lake (Snagov Lac) that opens more nature views. The town is very popular because of its calmness. Likewise in Snagov Town you can admire rare species of fauna and flora in natural reservation that is located in Ilfov, near Snagov Village.

If you asked yourself how to get to Snagov Monastery from Bucharest you should know that near Snagov Monastery you will find the beautiful capital of Romania, Bucharest that is well-known by its second name “Little Paris”, according to its elegant architecture and the sophistication of its elite.

Today’s fast-changing, and travelers have amazing travel opportunities. Romania is one of the most beautiful country located in Southeastern Europe, and charms millions of travelers year by year with its picturesque landscapes, unique culture and historically noteworthy landmarks. Whether you’re looking for climbing mountains, balneary resorts or Black Sea coast to relax, Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation to taste the best fish recipes,  forests and waterfalls to discover, Romania offers each person the opportunity to enjoy life.

Danube Delta

Romania’s history is very rich. Over the years, the country was part of the Sovietic Bloc, a group of communist states. In Romania, the Revolution from 1989 marked the end of the Communist regime of president Nicolae Ceausescu.

Transylvania is the most known region, together with vampire Dracula, a fictional character from this area. From myths, legends and fairy tales to folklore, these ancient tales reappear in our modern world, and travelers are looking for them. Romania is the perfect place for this kind of adventure, offering some of the most astonishing castles, fortresses and palaces built hundreds of years ago.

And because it’s not enough to figure out how to start your vacation in Romania, we will try helping you decide what to visit during your trip or holiday.

  1. Palace of the Parliament – Bucharest

The Palace of the Parliament, also known as the People’s House, is the world’s second largest administrative building, after the Pentagon from situated in Washington D.C. The Palace has around 330,000 m2 and is one of Romania’s biggest attraction. Also, according to the specialists, the building is 2% larger related to the Pyramid of Keops from Egypt and can be seen from the moon.

After the earthquake from 1977, Romania’s dictator – Nicolae Ceausescu was devastated by the effects and started to demolish the fading capital and rebuild it in his own revelation. Therefore, this building Nicolae Ceausescu’s effort to reshape Bucharest by building a series of extraordinary constructions meant to evidence to the world how rich and influential was the Socialist Republic of Romania. The construction of the building started around six years after the earthquake, and by the time of the Romanian Revolution from 1989, the edifice wasn’t yet finished. The building development involved 400 architects and, coordinated by a young woman called Anca Petrescu.

Palace of Parliament - Peoples House1

After 1989, no one had the wish to finish this enormous building, a symbol of president Ceausescu’s autocracy and of the excessive lives lead by the former communist leaders.

Travelers are able to visit the Palace daily between 10 am and 4 pm (from November to February) and 9 am to 5 pm (from March to October) and the fees depend on the tour’s type.

Nearby attractions: Sinaia (123 km), Brasov (170 km), Bran Castle (180 km),  Black Sea Coast (around 230 km), Danube Delta Biosphere Reservation (around 300 km).

  1. Turda Salt Mine

Turda Salt Mine is a real museum of salt mining in Transylvania. The growing number of visitors arriving from each corner of the world to visit the mine are a validation of interest and historical importance.

The improvement of the salt mine was made between years 2008-2010. Thus, some criteria of modern visiting, were built-in. The developers installed an elevator, boats, recreation spaces, mini golf ground, billiard and tennis tables, bowling runway and one unique amphitheater.

Turda Salt Mine is one of Romania’s treasure, and probably is one of the most irreplaceable place to see.

Tourists can visit Turda Salt Mine individually, or in organized groups, with a dedicated guide.

Nearby attractions: Cluj-Napoca (35 km), Alba-Iulia (70 km), Sighisoara (120 km), Sibiu (140 km), Maramures County (200 km), Oradea and Baile Felix Spa Resorts (200 km).

  1. Dracula’s Castle

Dracula is probably the most known character from Romania, together with dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, condemned to death by a military court on several charges against Romanian people, like genocide.

Dracula’s Castle, also known as Bran Castle is an exquisite, 13th-century palace near Brasov in Transylvania. Every year, many tourists come to Transylvania on October 31, the night of Halloween, to taste an inimitable experience at Dracula’s Castle, which inspired the myth of this blood-thirsty vampire. Dracula is a fictional character created by Bram Stocker based on a real person, known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Tepes. Vlad was a ruler of Transylvania and a dictator with an incredible hunger for cruelty. His blood-thirst acted a muse for Bram Stoker’s vampire called Dracula, in the novel engraved 450 years later.

One of his most common punishment was hanging, which was doubtless an horrible and cruel habit. In Romania, travelers can find a collection of castles known as places where “real Dracula” lived, but Bran Castle is the most famous one, with a frightening profile, suspended on a cliff-near the Bran Pass.

Don’t lose the opportunity to have fun and discover all the dark sides of Count Dracula. Tourists can visit the castle daily between 9 am/12 pm and 4 pm (from October to March) and 9 am/12 pm and 6 pm (from April to September).

Nearby attractions: Rasnov Fortress (11 km), ski resorts in Poiana Brasov (22 km) and Predeal (33 km), Brasov (30 km); Peles Castle (52 km); the medieval cities of Sighisoara (140 km) and Sibiu (170 km); Bucharest, the capital of Romania (190 km), Cluj-Napoca (315 km).

  1. Peles Castle

Peles Castle is the most royal residence from Romania, being located in Sinaia, on Peles brook valley. The former Romanian royal family, a branch of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen dynasty, lead Romania until 1947, when the last king, Michael I of Romania, was determined to abdicate. In 2007, Crown Princess Margareta, the eldest daughter of Michael I of Romania was named heir plausible to the throne, but their power is not so strong as it used to be a century ago.

Peles Castle

Built between 1873 and 1914, the edifice was made by King Carol I, under whose reign Romania gained its freedom. He fell in love with glorious Carpathian Mountains decor. As an interesting fact, we mention that Pele Castle became the world’s first castle fully powered by locally created electricity. The beautiful castle served as the summer house of the royal family until 1947. All 160 rooms are decorated with fine and deluxe samples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows and Cordoba leather-covered walls.

King Ferdinand, succeeded Carol I build Pelisor Castle, an art nouveau-style edifice. Pelisor has 70 rooms and contains a unique collection of turn-of-the-century Viennese furniture and Tiffany and Lalique glassware.

If you are interested to find more about the Romanian royal family, this is the perfect place for you.

Nearby attractions: Rasnov Fortress (40 km); Bran Castle (52 km); Brasov (50 km); the ski resorts in Predeal (23 km) and Poiana Brasov (50 km); Bucharest (130 km); the medieval cities of Sighisoara (165 km) and Sibiu (200 km).

  

  1. Wooden Churches of Maramures

The Wooden Churches of Maramures can be discovered in the Maramures region, located in the northern part of Transylvania, Romania. This churches are amazing examples of well-preserved religious style that appeared from the Orthodox traditions and Gothic grace influences. Romania is one of the most religious states from the European Union, and most citizens are Christian. According to the 2011 census, around 80% of the country’s population is Eastern Orthodox.

Barsana Monastery

Maramures region is one of the most known from Romania, and has independent traditions since Middle Ages, with beautiful churches, colorful and unique costumes, traditional dances and lifestyle.

The Wooden Churches of Maramures have a beautiful history, and they are a response to the exclusion against the creation of stone Orthodox churches by the Catholic authorities. The churches from Maramures are generally painted by local artistes, showing a high level of creative maturity and dexterity skills. Since 1999, eight out of the almost 100 ancient wooden churches are registred as UNESCO World Heritage Site: Barsana, Budesti, Desesti, Ieud, Plopis, Poienile Izei, Rogo and Surdesti. Today, Romania has seven sites recognized by UNESCO World Heritage.

Nearby attractions: Cluj-Napoca, Painted Monasteries of Bucovina.

  1. Painted Monasteries of Bucovina

The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina are well-known because of their exceptionality and creative value. The notable number of churches and monateries found in Bucovina, have been well-preserved and passed down from ancient times. All of them were painted in the exterior and each artist interpreted the biblical scenes in a different way, making them unique and inimitable.

Eight of the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina are parte of UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993:  Arbore, Humor, Moldovita, Patrauti, Probota, St. John the New Suceava, Sucevita and Voronet. Most of the monsteries were created as family funeral places of leaders and nobilities. Today, the monasteries are occupied by Orthodox nuns and/ or monks who follow the Christian traditions.

Visiting the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina is an unique experience.

Nearby attractions: Wooden Churches of Maramures.

  1. Merry Cemetery from Sapanta

The Merry Cemetery Sapanta is a unique travel destination. Located in the beautiful village of Sapanta, Maramures County, Romania, has colorful tombstones with exclusive pictures describing the people who are buried there, as well as passages from their lives, told in an ingeniously humorous manner. Presented in bright, joyful pictures and marked with rhymes are the stories of nearly everyone who has died of the village Sapanta, from Maramures County. Exemplified crosses portray militarists being executed and a towns person being hit several disease. Some of the epigraphs expose a shocking level of dirty reality with dark humor, like the following one:

“Underneath this heavy cross; Lies my poor mother-in-law; Three more days she would have live; I would lay, and she would read; You, who here are passing by; Not to wake her up please try; For if she comes home; She’ll bite my head off; But I shall behave so; As not to bring her forth; Those of you who read this; Do not do as I did; And find yourselves a good mother-in-law; To live with her in peace. Lived 82 years. Died in 1969”.

In spite of the dark comedy and humor, no one has ever criticized about the work of the artists and the Merry Cemetery is visited everyday by people from all over the world, curious to find the secrets of the locals.

Nearby attractions: Mara (45 km), Cluj-Napoca (around 200 km), Wooden Churches of Maramures, Painted Monasteries of Bucovina.

  1. Danube Delta 

The Danube Delta is comprised of a complex network of waterways and lakes separated between the three main estuary channels of the Danube: Chilia Arm, Sulina Arm, Sfantu Gheoghe Arm.

This area of floating reed islands, forests, meadows and sand dunes covers 3,000 square miles and is home to a captivating combination of cultures and individuals as well as a massive collection of wildlife. Situated at the tip of the three channels, Tulcea makes a great preliminary point for discovering the Danube Delta.

Danube Delta

This is the perfect place for fishing and bird watching. Also, if you love fish this is the perfect place to try different types, prepared different from one place to another.

Tourists need travel permits to enter the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. Permits are included in most of the tours developed by the Romanian travel agencies.

Nearby attractions: Black Sea Coast (around 130 km), Bucharest (around 300 km).

Vlad the Impeller ( Vlad Tepes ) was born in November or December 1431 and died in December 1476, also called Vlad Draculea or Dracula by foreign people ruled in historical Romanian Country (Tara Romaneasca ) in 1448, 1456 -1462 and 1476.

He was born in Sighisoara as son of Vlad Dracul and yang noble lady.
He was married three times: first with Cneajna Bathory, then with Jusztina Szilagyi and then with Ilona Nepicili cousin of Mathias Corvinus.

He had five children: 4 boys and 1 girl.

During his reign, the historical region named Romanian Country ( Tara Romaneasca) obtained temporary independence to Ottoman Empire.

Vlad the Impeller became famous by its severity and because his prepared method of punishment was the impalement of the enemies. Because of his conflicts with merchants from Brasov, they characterized him, as the prince of demonic and cruel methods.

In 1453 the remains of the Byzantine Empire are conquered by the Ottomans, obtaining control over Constantinopole (known today as Istanbul ) and threatening Europe. Ottoman Empire manage to master must of the Balkans, this expansion to the West part of Europe stops at the gates of Vienna, whose siege fails. In this historical context, Vlad Tepes fought hard to defend his kingdom and country against enemies, using specific methods of deterrence, which included executions and torture.

Vlad was recognized as prince of Wallachia for the third time in 1475, but has enjoyed a very short period of reign. It was assassinated in December 1476 and his body was decapitated and his head was sent to the Sultan, which has been exposed in public as proof of the triumph on Vlad Tepes.

The legend:

Bram Stoker’s book “Dracula”, does not rely directly on the Vlad the Impeller’s life and the peried when he was the ruler of Wallachia, but a fiction that takes place in Transylvania and England in the XIX century. Fallowing the success of the novel the fictional character of Dracula was associated with Transylvania.

The writer could easily access the Saxon engravings from XV century, which can be found between the collections of the British Museum from London, where Vlad Tepes is described as a monster, a vampire who drinks human blood.

Historians say that Bram Stoker had a good friend with a Hungarian professor from the University of Bucharest and he might give him some information about Vlad The Impeller.

Note also that this seems to be the only cause and there is a real link between Vlad Dracula the historical character (1431-1476) and modern literary myth of the vampire from Bram Stoker’s book.

Situated in the Rucar – Bran Pass, 30 km far from Brasov city, Bran Castle is one of the most famous castle from Romania.

A document issued by the Hungarian king Ludovic I, in November 1377 gives the right to the Saxons from the area to build another stone fortress. So the Saxons from Brasov area on their own expenses and with their own workers decide to build the Bran Castle, this is why the ownership of the castle will be theirs until 1427.

In 1395, Sigismund from Luxemburg , German Emperor and King of Hungary, used Bran Castle as a strategic base for a foray into the Romanian Country, after which it was removed prince Vlad usurper, the main rival of Mircea the Elder.

In 1407 Sigismund, gives the authority of the castle to Mircea the Elder. Bran remains under the authority of the Romanian Country until 1419.

In 1427 the Hungarian Crown, who made the fortification and extension of the castle, took over the ownership of the castle.

In 1920, Brasov City Council donated the castle to Queen Maria of Romania, as a sign of gratitude for his contribution to the Great Union. In 1938 when the Queen died, the castle was inherited by his favorite daughter, Princess Ileana, who was married to a member of the former Habsburg family.

After 1948, Bran Castle was nationalized and became the property of the Romanian state. The castle was opened to public visits, since 1956 is arranged as a museum of history and feudal art. In 1987, he entered the restoration and the work was completed in 1993. The castle was reopened as a museum.

On 18 May 2006, following a period of legal proceedings, the castle was returned to the legal heirs of the Habsburg family. However, the Romanian state through the Ministry of Culture, will manage the castle over the transitional period and the next three years.

On 1 June 2009, the castle is in full possession of the heirs of Princess Ileana: Archduke Dominic Habsburg, Archduchess Maria Magdalena Holzhausen and Elisabeth Sandhofer Archduchess.

Before the restitution, the Ministry of Culture has ordered the relocation of the collections from Bran belonging to the Romanian state , to Medieval Customs (Vama Medievala ).

To reopen the museum, the Habsburg family refurbished the castle with items from its personal collection.The official reopening of the museum was on 1 June 2009.
Bran Castle is commonly known as Dracula’s Castle. The legend of Dracula was born close to the legendary figure of the Romanian ruler Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impeller 1456 – 1462).

More than anything, the mythical character Dracula is known for his boundless cruelty. Impalement, one of the most horrible way to die, was the preferred method of torture and execution of Vlad the Impaler named Dracula. The cruelty of his punishment for disloyalty and honesty coincide with the name.