Our car arrived and the next week we took off on a road trip through Romania’s Transylvania and Moldavia districts on a work trip for Tom. At last, we got to see Romania! Until this point, I had seen downtown Bucharest on one trip, been to the US Embassy twice, and had spent the rest of my time in our lovely but isolated apartment in the Stejarii Residential complex. While secure and comfortable, the apartment complex offers nothing in the way of “Romania,” so I was delighted to finally be able to get out and about (Tom goes out and about for work, so was not feeling quite as isolated as I was).
We drove from the outskirts of Bucharest where we live up into Transylvania along the Carpathian Mountains, first to the medieval town of Brașov, then on to Cluj-Napoca, and then to Târgu Mureș (more on each of these later). Finally, we drove to visit the Monastery at Voronet.
What I enjoyed immediately was seeing the variety of architecture in the towns and villages. There is no doubt that we are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Take a look at these shots, just a small selection among many.
You can see the difference between the architecture in rural areas versus that of the cities, where Nicolae Ceausescu (r. 1965-1989), after his 1971 visit to North Korea and China, decided to implement a pre-fab technology in constructing high-density, dormitory neighborhoods, with huge housing blocks of flats that leveled cored district cityscapes. Traditional urban central areas and rural towns were destroyed in a process sarcastically dubbed Ceausima, replaced by conglomerates of blocks of flats and industrial projects.
According to one Romanian with whom I spoke, Ceausescu and his minions tried to convince Romanians that people who liked houses without straight lines and square corners were less “evolved” than those who adhered to his design motif. Of course, this was likely just a ploy to get people to accept being forced off of their land so that it could be collectively farmed, but that’s a discussion for another day.
So in the cities today, you can see the soul-sucking high-rise monstrosities that were constructed by the thousands, and compare them to the character-driven construction of the rural areas. Modern construction in the post-revolution Romanian culture has, in architecture and planning, been developing new concepts and plans for the country’s needs of functionality and national aesthetics in an international context. Many modern 21st century buildings are mostly made of glass and steel. Another a trend is to add modern wings and façades to historic buildings (for example the Headquarters of the Union of Romanian Architects building).
As we moved from Transylvania into the mountains in the Moldavian region, we saw a strong Hungarian influence, and actually felt like we were in the Alps. But, again, that is a blog for another day.
In the meantime, enjoy a taste of rural Romanian architecture! (A future blog will feature the spectacular churches we have encountered throughout Romania.)