Monday, October 15, 2012

Week 13: Romania

Romania :  Land of Beauty or Vampires?

Well, when I picked Romania it was because that is where Transylvania is, and everyone knows Dracula is from Transylvania, right?  Well, actually not really.  Turns out that the mythical beasts that roam the Transylvanian countryside aren't really to be found in Romania, but a lot of rich history and an interesting culture is easy to find. 

 Located in southeastern/central Europe, Romania is an area that has been inhabited since before 500 BC (the numbers varied), the capital city of Bucharest was begun in the 15th century, so there is a long, complicated history to be told.  The oldest recorded people living in present-day Romania were the Dacians, fierce warriors who ruled the area until about 100 AD.  They were conquered by the Romans, who acquired the area because of its plentiful gold and other minerals.  Their rule brought many colonists from other countries and when the Roman Empire left the area many other groups tried to take over, with the Ottoman Empire finally winning and ruling until 1877.  The 3 major areas of Romania, Moldavia, Wallachia and Transylvania, were principalities until the end of World War I, when they united to become the country of Romania.  After World War II, in which many Romanians died, the country was taken control of by the Soviet Union and became a socialist republic.  In 1989, as the Soviet Empire was being broken up, a revolution took place in Romania and the country broke free of communism and started towards the democratic country it is today.

It is a country that still hold on to its traditions while embracing the future and the people are very proud of their culture and folk art.  Different regions are famous for different aspects of the folk art, such as embroidery or wood carvings, but the biggest draw to Romania and its most visited tourist attractions is still Bran Castle in Transylvania - home to Bram Stoker's Dracula!!  Tomorrow we will learn about the man behind the myth......