Wed, 26 Jun 2019

Romania From Above

RFE
22 May 2019, 00:45 GMT+10

A cabin at the base of the 'lonely stone' in mountainous Harghita County, in eastern Transylvania.

Hermes, the Greek god of trade, travel, and thievery, dances on the corner of a 1909 building in the western city of Timisoara.

Charlottenburg, a circular village built by Germanic settlers in the late 1700s. The manager of a website dedicated to the village told RFE/RL that the region was 'designed' in the Habsburg empire's late baroque style wherein 'everything possible was planned, mainly in rectangles and squares. The only exception in the Banat area is this round village. I do not know the reason, but it worked.'

A horse-drawn cart full of farmers creaks out into the fields near Miercurea Ciuc. Nearly one-third of Romanians today work in agriculture, but technology-driven industry has fueled much of the country's rapid economic growth.

The Doftana prison, where a young Nicolae Ceausescu spent two years locked away for 'communist activities' in the 1930s, well before his rise and ignominious fall. The prison was turned into a museum under Ceausescu's communist rule, but now lies abandoned.

Trucks navigate a steep mountain road near Brasov, nestled in the Southern Carpathians.

The Constanta Casino spotlit in a shaft of evening sun. The Art Nouveau masterpiece was bombed and broken in both world wars before being used to display communist propaganda. Today the casino remains empty, with squabbles continuing over how it can best be restored.

The village of Biertan, in central Romania, and its fortified church under a dusting of snow.

Fortified churches, like this thick-walled example in Harman, loom above around 150 villages in the Transylvania region.

A fortified church in the village of Axente Sever. The burly churches were built largely to protect Christian villagers from repeated Turkish invasions into Transylvania that began in the 1300s.

A massive bust of the Roman-slaying King Decebalus carved into a rockface on the border of Serbia and Romania. Beginning in 1994, a team of 12 sculptors spent a decade blasting and chipping the rocky outcrop into shape after being commissioned by businessman Iosif Constantin Dragan. An inscription at the base of the statue reads, 'King Decebalus -- Made By Dragan.'

The star-shaped fortress of Alba Iulia. The citadel was built in the early 1700s under the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy.

Peles Castle, an architectural icon of Romania that was completed in 1914. The unique style of the mountain dwelling is partly thanks to its international building crew. A Romanian queen who watched the castle's construction noted: 'Italians were masons, Romanians were building terraces, the Gypsies were coolies. Albanians and Greeks worked in stone, Germans and Hungarians were carpenters. Turks were burning brick. Engineers were Polish, and the stone carvers were Czech. The Frenchmen were drawing, the Englishmen were measuring, and so it was you could see hundreds of national costumes and fourteen languages in which they spoke, sang, cursed, and quarreled...'

A goatherd leads his flock to pasture alongside the Albesti River in the far east of Romania.

The derelict Great Synagogue in Constanta. Violent persecution of Romania's Jews dates back centuries, but after the Kingdom of Romania allied itself with Nazi Germany, Jews were murdered on a massive scale in the country. A report later concluded that only Germany killed more jews than Romania during World War II. Romania's Jewish population fell further under communism and was around 3,200 in the 2011 census.

Bran Castle, once wrongly promoted by Romania's communist regime as the home of Vlad III Dracula, a Romanian king infamous for planting forests of impaled Turkish soldiers as a warning to invading Ottomans.

The myth that Vlad the Impaler once lived in the castle sparked a flurry of interest among vampire fans that continues today. Bram Stoker's fictional Dracula shares a name but little else with the historical figure of Vlad III Dracula.

Corvin Castle, a gothic dwelling favored by 'supernatural' investigators. After spending three nights in the castle in 2007, a British film crew ruled its ghost hunt 'inconclusive.'

A knight atop one of the spires of Corvin Castle.

The Anghel Saligny Bridge on the road between Constanta and Bucharest. With a span of 2.6 kilometers, the railroad bridge was Europe's longest when it was opened in 1895.

The wooden church of Surdesti. The spire stretches 72 meters into the air, reportedly in the hope the prayers of the congregation will more easily reach the heavens.

The Church of the Holy Archangels in the village of Rogoz. The northern Maramures County, which borders Ukraine, has a centuries-old tradition of building the witchy wooden churches. But around two-thirds of the ancient wooden structures have been lost, many to fire.

Caretakers of this church in Maramures have mounted fire extinguishers to its outside walls.

The Palace of the Parliament in central Bucharest. The mammoth structure was ordered by Ceausescu, who was overthrown and summarily executed along with his wife in 1989. Heating and lighting the building reportedly cost some $6 million per year in the 2000s.

The town of Rasnov on a spring morning.

A lifelike effigy of Jesus Christ on a hilltop above Anina, in the southwest.

A cluster of sheep near an isolated farmhouse in Maramures County.

The Arch of Triumph in Bucharest. The monument was built after Romania won its independence fighting alongside Russia to defeat the Ottomans in 1878.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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