Category Archives: History

A lost city

”Andrei Pandele was a young architect when he began photographing his home country, Romania, in the 1970s. His camera captured a period of huge change under communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. For some, his stunning photos are now a painful reminder of a time of destruction, and a life lost.
Seven square kilometres of the city centre were destroyed to make way for the Palace of the People. Andrei wanted to take some pictures before old Bucharest disappeared altogether.
A city caught in its very own Armageddon. Andrei preserved a Bucharest that no longer exists – the exquisite glass-covered market, the archways, cobbled streets, the vine-clad villas, the city once called the “little Paris of the East”.”

An outstanding glimpse at life behind the Iron Curtain. Thank you BBC – link is here:

“Thou shalt not forget, Darie!”
(insider joke)

Photo: Andrei Pandele

The 7000-years-ago-Picassos from Cucuteni

“An egalitarian Neolithic Eden filled with unique, geometric art flourished some 7,000 years ago in Eastern Europe, according to hundreds of artifacts on display at the Vatican.

Running until the end of October at the Palazzo della Cancelleria in the Vatican, the exhibition, “Cucuteni-Trypillia: A Great Civilization of Old Europe,” introduces a mysterious Neolithic people who are now believed to have forged Europe’s first civilization.

Little is known about these people — even their name is wrapped in mystery.”

Read the full article here:

image source: wikipedia

A Romanian idea for an Oscar movie

Since primary school Romanian kids read, learn and study an old legend, a story that can be a good subject for a Hollywood horror movie.

It is about a builder in an impossible mission: Manole, a well known professional, promised the king to build the most beautiful and impressive monastery in a place where bad spirits lives. I would distribute Gerald Butler in his role.

The king is supposed to have been Neagoe Basarab (1512-1521) and the monastery he wanted is Curtea De Arges, located near Targoviste, Arges county.

The story is quite dramatic: everything that Manole and his team build during the day broke down in the night. It was exhausting, excruciating, frustrating and scary, for sure. In reality though, the works for this monastery were delayed for financial reasons, but this is not a good subject for a legend, isn’t it?

Back to our story: Manole had a dream, a scary one, of course, because the malefic spirits told him what to do if he really wants to finish his task. So he wakes up in the morning, scared but determined: he build the wall around his beloved wife, beautiful Ana. Literally. Don’t think she was ok with this: she cried, and cried but Manole had to Read more of this post

Nicolae Ceausescu’s autobiography

“Cinema’s propagandistic power is in full effect in Andrei Ujica’s montage epic, The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu, a contemporary fresco starring Romania’s fallen ruler and his wife, Elena. A radical and chilling project, the film concludes the filmmaker’s trilogy exploring the end of communism which began with the landmark Videograms for a Revolution, co-directed with German film essayist Harun Farocki.
Nicolae Ceauşescu’s megalomania and self-aggrandizement are legendary. As Romania’s tyrannical President from 1974 to 1989, he Read more of this post

The Cave with Bones

Title sounds quite vampirical, doesn’t it. Actually, it’s about something quite human, and that from before the vampire age. That is, if you believe that humans 40,500 years ago hadn’t engaged on the vampire route just yet. The Cave with Bones, discovered in 2002 close to Anina in South-Western Romania was the finding place of the oldest known human remains on the European continent.

To get some context, here’s where the said cave fits in the historic human migration scheme, courtesy of National Geographic,


and if you’re into this kind of stuff, there’s a good wikipedic article on the subject.

Thanks Turambar for the info.

The Lost State of American Transylvania



Did you know that, with a little bit of (bad) luck, the American state Kentucky could have been called “Transylvania”? Not only would we have lost exclusivity to this name, but also fame and touristic potential – Kentucky would have been certainly full of Draculian theme parks by now, and 95% of the world population would have believed Dracula was American. (Right now it’s only about 50% of the population :P)

Or who knows, maybe it would have been for the better – e.g., many Western Union money transfers to Transylvania, USA would have ended up in Transylvania, Romania, making us rich. It happened to me with Georgia.

Background: Thomas Jefferson was fond of the “sylvania” suffix when naming early American states, and almost did it to us. Ultimately, lucky Kentucky was the winner, to everyone’s relief.

“Thomas Jefferson had many ideas for Midwest state names that never materialized. One of those was “Sylvania,” which would comprise what today is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Sylvania was a popular suffix back in the day and means a “pleasant woodsy area.” William Penn wanted to use it, too, but settled on Pennsylvania in the end — a name more representative of his family legacy.

American pioneer Daniel Boone also had a thing for the “sylvania” suffix. If he’d had his way, Kentucky would have been called Transylvania and we’d be placing bets on horses at the Transylvania Derby. Boone hoped to call the colony’s capital Boonesborough, but much to the explorer’s chagrin, North Carolina and Virginia voted against Transylvania’s existence.”

There were a few other funny ideas roaming around at the time. Forgottonia, for instance. Read the whole article about the “Lost States” here.

Source: via via

Videograms of a Revolution

Amidst a tense climate following protests in Timisoara which had started on Dec. 15th, on December 21st, 1989, Nicolae Ceaușescu holds a speech in front of an as-huge-as-usual crowd of supposedly machine-like applauding people. Yet this time something goes wrong. Inconceivably wrong.

After 20 years, these images seem almost like from a movie. Yet they depict a reality I can still remember. A memory I want to never stop holding on to, to never forget that freedom doesn’t come for granted, and when it does, it should be duly appreciated.

Videograms of a Revolution” is a German-Romanian documentary showing key footage from those days. I recommend the full movie to all who would like to know, or remember.

Some sequences below:

As mentioned before, Wikipedia has a comprehensive story about the Romanian Revolution:

Their names mean freedom

On December 18th, 1989, Romania was frozen. Not necessarily because of the weather – it was a much milder winter than in other years – but because of several other factors.

First, there was no house heating. Winter was mild, but it was still… winter, yet Communist authorities decided to save energy (what a “green” initiative!) not by tackling the enormous consumption at inefficient and outdated factories, but by stopping warm water delivery (both running water and for heaters) to people’s apartments. “People don’t spend much time in their appartments anyway”, they must have thought, “they’re outside most of the time, lined up in endless queues in front of empty stores in the attempt to buy sophisticated food items such as bread and milk. Who needs heat.”

Second, the atmosphere was frozen. On December 16th, a group of insanely brave people had gathered in front of the house of a Hungarian pastor in Timişoara, Laszlo Tökes, who was about to be removed abusively from office, and protested. “Protested” was such a strange-sounding word. Nobody would have thought of ever having to use it in a lifetime. There was no such thing as “protesting” in the official Romanian vocabulary of that time.

And still, the rumor was that some people did protest, in Timişoara. News spread Read more of this post

The Lost World of Old Europe

Thinker of Hamangia (source: wikipedia)

Thinkers of Hamangia (source:Wikipedia)

“Before the glory that was Greece and Rome, even before the first cities of Mesopotamia or temples along the Nile, there lived in the Lower Danube Valley and the Balkan foothills people who were ahead of their time in art, technology and long-distance trade.

For 1,500 years, starting earlier than 5000 B.C., they farmed and built sizable towns, a few with as many as 2,000 dwellings. They mastered large-scale copper smelting, the new technology of the age. Their graves held an impressive array of exquisite headdresses and necklaces and, in one cemetery, the earliest major assemblage of gold artifacts to be found anywhere in the world.
Writing had yet to be invented, and so no one knows what the people called themselves. To some scholars, the people and the region are simply ‘Old Europe’.

The little-known culture is being rescued from obscurity in an exhibition, “The Lost World of Old Europe: the Danube Valley, 5000-3500 B.C.,” which opened last month at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. More than 250 artifacts from museums in Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania are on display for the first time in the United States. The show will run through April 25.”

There you go. Ye who happen to be in New York from now to April, if you are interested in seeing what proto-vampires in ancient Romania (and Bulgaria) left behind, check out the exhibition about the “Lost World of Old Europe” (a cool preview here) for a fascinating journey back thousands of years.

To read the full article from the NY Times quoted above, click here.