Romania is a country at the crossroads of Central and Eastern Europe that once used to be my home. While I lived there I didn’t think much of it, but now that I look back, I realize that Romania is a country full of surprises. Besides rich cultural traditions, unique cuisine and beautiful scenery, there are quite a few fun and interesting facts about Romania that very few people know.
FUN AND INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ROMANIA
So if you are curious to find out more, here are some interesting things about Romania:
1. The heaviest building in the world is in Romania
Did you know that according to the Guinness World Records the heaviest building in the world is in Romania? The Palace of Parliament in Bucharest is made from 700,000 tonnes of steel and bronze, 1,000,000 square feet of marble, 3500 tonnes of crystal, and 900,000 square meters of wood.
The Palace is also the second-largest administrative building in the world (after the Pentagon), encompassing 365,000 square meters (3,930,000 sq ft) and 1,100 rooms.
The gigantic structure was the brainchild of Romania’s former dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, who spared no expense to build it. A sad memento to dictatorial madness! As for its patron – – Ceausescu was executed before he could see his dream palace completed.
2. Romania has a perfectly round-shaped village
Just 40 km away from Timisoara is the only circular village in Romania: Charlottenburg (or Sarlota). The village was built by German settlers in the second half of the 18th century, after the model of the Roundlings in Germany.
The houses are built in a radial way around a plaza, at even distances from each other. However, the perfectly round shape is obvious only from above.
3. Romania is home to the tallest wooden church in the world
Did you know that the tallest wooden church in the world is in Romania? The church tower of the Sapînta-Peri Monasteri in the region of Maramures measures 78 meters in height and it has a 7 meter-high cross.
You can see replica of this church tower at the Village Museum in Bucharest.
4. The first European city to have electric street lights is in Romania
We give very little thought to electric street lights these days. But back in the 19th century, when gas lamps were used to light up the streets, introducing electric street lights was a big deal.
Imagine not having to pay for thousands of workers who had to spark the gas lamps every evening and then quench them every morning! The interesting thing is that of all the cities in Europe, Timisoara in Romania, was the first one to have street lights installed in 1884.
5. The modern jet engine was invented by a Romanian
Henri Coanda was a Romanian aerodynamics pioneer and engineer. In 1910 he developed an experimental aircraft that used the world’s first jet engine.
During the time of the 2nd World War, there have been many different inventors who tried to perfect the original model of the jet engine invented by Henri Coanda. Thanks to Coanda’s inventions and discoveries, flying is possible today.
6. Romania has a very ‘Merry Cemetery’
For most people, graveyards are sad and uncomfortable places to visit, but that’s not the case of the Merry Cemetery in the village of Sapînta, Romania. The grave markers in this cemetery have a sense of cheerfulness, rather than sadness.
Carved from wood, the colorful headstones display a simply-illustrated picture of the deceased and a funny epitaph, like this one for instance:
“Here I rest. Stefan is my name. As Long as I lived, I liked to drink.”
Romanians have quite a good sense of humor!
7. Several famous Hollywood actors were born in Romania
There are many Romanians that have starred in Hollywood movies. However, did you know that several well-known Hollywood actors were actually born in Romania?
Among them are Edward G. Robinson (famous for his gangster roles in the early age of cinematography); Johnny Weissmuller (the first actor to play the role of Tarzan in the movie “Tarzan the Ape Man“); Dustin Hoffman (considered one of the finest actors in history); Harvey Keitel (actor and producer who appeared in many famous movies).
8. Romania is halfway between the Equator and the North Pole
Geographically, Romania is located in the Northern hemisphere, but there are a couple of fun facts about its position. Romania is halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Also, it is equidistant from the westernmost part of Europe –the Atlantic Coast– and the most easterly part –the Ural Mountains.
9. There is a Romanian Version of ‘Mount Rushmore’ on the Danube River
Carved in the rocky bank of the Danube River, near the city of Orsova, is the tallest rock sculpture in Europe, the statue of Dacian King Decebal (135 feet tall).
The monument, which is a homage to the last king of Dacia (today’s Romania), took 10 years to built and costed over one million US dollars.
10. Romania has its own Arc de Triomphe
Yes, it’s true, Romania has its own Triumphal Arch (Arcul de Triumf) and the interesting fact is that it’s an identical replica of Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile in Paris.
Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest was originally constructed in wood, shortly after Romania gained its independence in 1878. But in 1936 a new triumphal arch replaced the old wooden structure which was disintegrating. The new arch was modeled after Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile, in Paris.
11. Peles Castle in Romania was the first European castle entirely lit by electrical current
Romania’s famous Peles Castle, located in the mountain resort of Sinaia, was the first castle in Europe that had electrification. The electricity came from the castle’s own plant.
Peles, which is one of the most beautiful castles in Romania, was the royal hunting retreat of Carol I of Hohenzollern, King of Romania.
12. A Romanian city was the first one in Europe to introduce horse-drawn trams
In 1869, Timisoara was the first European city to introduce horse-drawn trams.
13. One of Europe’s largest underground glaciers is in Romania
Deep in the forests of the Apuseni Mountain in Romania, lies he second biggest underground glacier in south-eastern Europe: the glacier at Scarisoara. This is also one of the oldest giant ice blocks on the planet. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the glacier is over 3,500 years old.
Scarisoara Ice Cave is quite spectacular and is one of the many reasons to visit Romania.
14. Romania was the first Communist country to ever win the European Cup
In 1986, the Romanian soccer club Steaua Bucureşti became the first Eastern European club ever to win the prestigious European Champions Cup title.
This was a matter of great national pride, since soccer is by far the most popular sport in Romania.
15. The Danube Delta is Europe’s best-preserved delta
Spreading over 1,500,000 acres, the Danube Delta is Europe’s largest and best preserved delta.
The Danube Delta is home to hundreds of species of birds, particularly two species of pelicans, herons, storks, cormorants and terns.
OTHER FUN FACTS ABOUT ROMANIA
• A Romanian Gymnast – Nadia Comăneci – was the first to ever score a perfect “10” in the Olympics and won three gold medals, one silver and one bronze, all at the age of 15.
• Romania has reached the Davis Cup finals three times.
• Many of the scenes in the movie Borat were actually shot in Glod, a tiny village in Romania, not in Kazakhstan.
• Romania has an underground amusement park and museum located in Salina Turda, a former salt mine.
• The famous Illi coffee brand was established by a Romanian
Did you know any of these fun facts about Romania?
Interested in taking a trip to Romania? You may also like these:
7 Things to Do in the Citadel of Sighisoara
Riding the Mocanita: a Nostalgic Train Raid in Maramures, Romania
What You Should Know About Romanians Before You Travel to Romania
7 Traditional Romanian Dishes That Will Make You Drool