Focșani (România)

Focşani (German: Fokschan; Hungarian: Foksány) is the capital city of Vrancea County in Romania on the shores the Milcov river, in the historical region of Moldavia. It has a population (as of 2002) of 101,854.

Focşani lies at a point of convergence for tectonic geologic faults, which raises the risk of earthquakes in the vicinity. It is one of the most popular wine-producing regions in Romania, Odobeşti being just to the northwest. Weisse von Fokshan is a famous local wine, and the vicinity is rich in minerals such as iron, copper, coal, and petroleum.

As a town on the MoldavianWallachian border, Focşani developed into an important trade center halfway between the Russian Empireand the Balkans. A congress between Imperial Russian and Ottoman diplomats took place near the city in 1772. Nearby the town, the Ottomans suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the allied forces of the Habsburg Monarchy under Prince Frederick Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld and Imperial Russia under Alexander Suvorov in 1789 (see Battle of Focşani).

In the 1850s (after the Crimean War), Focşani grew in importance as the center of activities in favor of the union between Wallachia and Moldavia (the Danubian Principalities), leading to the double election of Alexander John Cuza in Iaşi and Bucharest. Following this, it housed a Central Commission regulating the common legislation of the two countries, as well as the High Court of Justice. Both institutions were disestablished in 1864, when the Romanian Principality was founded as a unified state. Focşani’s role in the forming of the modern Romanian state is immortalized in the Union Square Obelisk.

On 30-31 December 1881, following the impact of Zionism on the Romanian Jewish community, the First Congress of all Zionist Unions in Romania for the promotion of the colonization of Eretz Israel was held at Focşani. It was attended by 51 delegates, representing 32 organizations, two press editors, three newspaper reporters and important guests. This 1881 Congress, the first ever held, 16 years before the World Zionist Organization‘s First Zionist (held in Basel), had a major influence on the Romanian Jews, and its proceedings also became known outside the borders of Romania.

In 1917, during the Romanian Campaign of World War I, Focşani and Galaţi were part of a line of fortifications known as the Siret Line. An armistice was signed in the city on 9 December 1917, between the Kingdom of Romania and the Central Powers.

In 1944, during World War II, Focşani was supposed to be part of the fortified Focşani-Nămoloasa-Galaţi line, where 9 elite divisions were preparing to resist the Soviet Red Army‘s advance after the Battle of Târgul Frumos. However, due to the turn of events on 23 August 1944 (see Romania during World War II), this never materialized.

Focşani’s location on the Milcov river which divided Wallachia and Moldavia is depicted on its coat of arms, which represents the heraldic emblems of both principalities and a handshake.

Natives

Source: Wikipedia

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Hărman (România)

Hărman (GermanHonigbergHungarianSzászhermány) is a former Saxon village in Braşov CountyRomania. It is located some 10 km east of Braşov, in the Burzenland region of southeastern Transylvania.

Source: Wikipedia

The Harman fortress is located 8 km north-east of Brasov. It dates back to the 13th century when the Saxons built the original church in a Romanesque style which was restored in a Gothic style.

Strong walls and bulwarks surrounded the church and on its sides there were massive towers. Conceived in the architectural style of the time, the church has a 50m high tower surrounded by four small towers. The local population added new parts to the original church in order to make it more useful to their needs. The chorus was built in square shape with a vault looking like a cross. It was surrounded by two chapels, as were Halmeag and Bartolomeu churches, indicating the influence of the Cistercian’s style.

The most significant event in the history of the fortification is the building in the 14th century of a massive tower on the West side for protective purposes. Though besieged 47 times during the history it never surrendered.

Source: Transylvaniatrips

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Sfântu Gheorghe (România)

 

Map

Sfântu Gheorghe (Hungarian Sepsiszentgyörgy orSzentgyörgy, Yiddish: סנט דשזארדזש ) is a municipality and capital city of Covasna Countywhich also administers the villages of Chilieni (Kilyén) and Coşeni (Szotyor). Located in the central part of Romania and the historical region of Transylvania, it lies on the Olt River in a valley between the Baraolt and Bodoc Mountains.

Sights

  • Fortified Church (Romanian: Biserică Fortificată; Hungarian: Vártemplom) – constructed in the 14th century in the Gothic style
  • State Archive, the former headquarters of the Hussar battalions
  • County library constructed in 1832 as the seat of the county council
  • Theater used from 1854–1866 as the city hall
  • The market bazaar built in 1868, with a clock tower built in 1893
Population (2002)
– Total 61,543

Source: Wikipedia

Buzău (România)

The city of Buzău is the county seat of Buzău CountyRomania, in the historical region of Wallachia. It lies near the right bank of the Buzău River, between the south-eastern curvature of the Carpathian Mountains and the lowlands ofBărăgan Plain.

The city’s name dates back to 376 AD when the name appeared on a letter that spoke about the martyrdom of Sabbas the Goth. During the Middle Ages, Buzău was as an important Wallachian market town and Eastern Orthodox episcopal see. It faced a period of repeated destruction during the 17th and 18th century, nowadays symbolized on the city seal by the Phoenix bird. Those destructions are the main reason for which no building older than the 18th century exists in the city. After that, Buzău slowly recovered to become nowadays an important modern city in south-eastern Romania.

The city’s landmark building is the Communal Palace, located in the central Dacia Square. The Nicolae Bălcescu Boulevard links it to the Crâng park, Buzău’s main recreational area.

Buzău is a railway hub in south-estern Romania, where railways that link Bucharest to Moldavia and Transylvania to the Black Sea coast meet. DN2, a segment of European route E85 crosses the city. Buzău’s proximity to trade routes helped it develop its role as a commerce hub in older days, and as an industrial center during the 20th century. Most of the city’s industry was developed during Romania’s communist period, and was refactored through the 1990s to a capitalist economical framework.

The city’s most important landmark is the Communal Palace, built between 1899 and 1903, now serving as City Hall. Along with the Courthouse, the Communal Palace was designed by architects commissioned by mayor Nicu Constantinescu, at the end of the 19th century.

From the Communal Palace, Cuza Vodă Street leads to the Bazaar. The Cuza Vodă Street features late 19th century buildings

Crâng Park, carved in the corner of a larger forest, lies in the western outskirts of the town and is a remnant of the old Codrii VlăsieiCrâng was designed in the late 19th century. It has an obelisk, erected in 1976 to celebrate 1600 years since the town’s first recorded historical attestation.

The oldest building in Buzău is the Vergu-Mănăilă house, erected in the 17th or 18th century as a boyarsmansion. Renovated between 1971–1974, it now hosts the local Museum of ethnography and folk art.

The church of Banului, erected in the 16th century as a monastery, underwent renovation several times. In 1884, it was repainted by a team of painters including Gheorghe Tattarescu and his uncle Nicolae Teodorescu.

An old tradition of the city is the Drăgaica fair, a midsummer fair traced back to traditional shepherd’s fairs in the Buzău mountains, that moved to Buzău sometimes before the 18th century.

Source: Wikipedia

Shumen (Bulgaria)

Shumen (Bulgarian: Шумен) is a city in the northeastern part of Bulgaria, capital of Shumen Province. From 1950–1965 it was called Kolarovgrad, after Vasil Kolarov. Other English variants include Shoumen and Šumen. The city has a population of 92 566 by current address (2010).

The city lies 80 km west of Varna and is built within a cluster of hills, northern outliers of the eastern Balkans, which curve round it on the west and north in the shape of a horse-shoe. A rugged ravine intersects the ground longitudinally within the horse-shoe ridge. From Shumen roads radiate northwards to the Danubian cities of Rousse and Silistra and to Dobruja, southwards to the passes of the Balkans, and eastwards to Varna and Balchik.

In 811 Shumen was burned by the emperor Nicephorus, and in 1087 it was besieged by Alexius I. During the golden age of Bulgarian culture under Simeon the Great (866-927), Shumen was a centre of cultural and religious activity, and may have born the name Simeonis. Until the 15th century, the city was located around the Shumen Fortress, a sophisticated complex of defensive installations, religious and civil buildings.

In 1388 the sultan Murad I forced it to surrender to the Ottoman Turks. After Władysław Warneńczyk‘s unsuccessful crusade in 1444, the city was destroyed by the Ottomans and moved to its present location. It was known by the Ottomans as Şumnu. In the 18th century it was enlarged and fortified. Three times, in 1774, 1810 and 1828, it was unsuccessfully attacked by Russian armies. The Turks consequently gave it the name of Gazi („Victorious”). In 1854 it was the headquarters of Omar Pasha and the point at which the Turkish army concentrated (See Crimean War).

During the 19th century Shumen was an important centre of the Bulgarian National Revival, with the first celebration of Cyril and Methodius in the Bulgarian lands taking place on 11 May 1813 and the first theatre performance. A girls’ religious school was established in 1828, a class school for girls and a chitalishte (community centre) followed in 1856. The first Bulgarian symphony orchestra was founded in the city in 1850. In the same year, influential Hungarian politician and revolutionary leader Lajos Kossuth spent a part of his exile in the then-Ottoman town of Shumen. The house he lived in is still preserved as a museum.

On the 22nd June 1878 Shumen finally capitulated to the Russians and became part of the newly-independent Principality of Bulgaria. In 1882 the Shumen Brewery, one of the first breweries in Bulgaria, was founded.

Shumen has 11 elementary and 5 common schools, as well as 2 high schools. The University of Shumen Episkop Konstantin Preslavski and the Artillery and Air Defense Faculty to the Vasil Levski National Military University are the only higher education establishments in the city. The former operates a small astronomical observatory.

Shumen boasts the Monument to 1300 Years of Bulgaria, regarded as the only monument in the world to depict the history of a whole country from its creation to the present day.

The Shumen Fortress, partially restored after being destroyed by the Ottomans in the past, is an important historical monument of the medieval Bulgarian Empire. It is located not far from the city on the Shumen Plateau.

The Madara Horseman, a World Heritage Site, is an ancient (710 AD) monument usually attributed to the Bulgar culture, and lies some 20 km from Shumen.

The religious buildings in the city include the Eastern Orthodox Holy Three Saints Cathedral and Holy Ascension Basilica, as well as the Tombul Mosque, the largest mosque in Bulgaria and one of the largest in the Balkans, serving Shumen and the region’s Muslim minority.

Twinned Towns

Source: Wikipedia

Travel journal

  • Day one ~12.30

Writing while the train was running from Bucharest to Rousse

In vain I try to make introductions because I guess you are already used with our crazy traveling style. We decided to leave almost without any plans before made.

It seemed to be a special day, too sunny for a November day. I think the gods were working together for us to have the last piece of summer. That sun that made us not to look with open eyes to the sky was making a strange contrast with that golden forests that were developed in our view throw the blotted glass of the wagon window.

The long autumnal night gifted us a fresh morning begun with a natural enthusiasm. Every of us had a very well delimited job- he the technical part and me the rest J and everything was ready as fast as you say “travel”.

Our iron-friend, I mean the train, leaves at 12.24 from the North station wearing us in one of that Bulgarian dusty wagons.

  • Day two ~6.30

Yesterday we arrived and we stayed some big hours in Rousse accommodated by a friend. It was good for us to catch some hours of sleeping because we had to leave to Shumen. Right now we are hand in hand with the Bulgarian iron-friend hardly trying to keep our sleepy eyes opened. There isn’t the time for making pompous descriptions because the train arrives at 9 and I don’t have to waste that two precious sleeping hours. Bulgarian train be our guard!

  • After the journey, rememorize the events

At 9 and a few minutes the train arrived to Kaspichan [Каспичан], a very little town from where we had a link-train to Shumen. From Rousse to Kaspichan we had two ways tickets bought for 13.70 leva for one. We stayed approximately 20 minutes in that town and then we get in the second train without ticket:D because the first stop was to Shumen. Although it was only 20 km we had to make a little business with the Bulgarian porter. To our surprise nothing stopped the porter to take even a 5 stotinki coin.

We arrived fast to Shumen. I can’t say that the town it’s special in any way, the most interesting places are up to Shumen, situated on the near hills. We went to the center trying in vain to find people able to speak English to explain us how to arrive at a tourist information center or at the fortress. We didn’t find and we had to manage our selves without map, without anyone speaking English, we had to roam those streets trying to find the right way to the fortress. Finally we succeedJ. It followed an hour of walking to the hill that kept the centennial walls. It was wonderful to feel the autumn from the forest’s heart, to rustle dried leafs under foots. The road was quite exhausting, but seeing sometimes the fortress’ walls between the trees made us to have power and to want more and more to arrive there.

As I said, in one hour we were climbing the walls seen from far. The place is organized like an open air museum for what you need to pay 3 leva [one if you are student]. It was amazing to see such a big fortress placed in such a good place… I can’t explain you the feeling, you really must see with our eyes and to feel it throw your own feeling…

After visiting this objective, as we had time enough we lay in our powers and started to walk again to the monument built to celebrate 1300 years from the Bulgarian state foundation. We had another hour to spend measuring the forest throw our steps. I resume all landscape like this: a picture with mountains and trees framed by drying leafs.

The monument is huge, bigger then we imagined. There is a museum, but the most interesting part it is outside: huge walls paved with big cubist statues. Even if it has the coldness of the communistic buildings, it is one of the most spectacular monuments I have ever seen. There are some steps that link the monument hill with Shumen’s center. We didn’t count them but we read after that there are 1300. We follow the steps [the damned steps that produced us a horrible muscle ache] and we arrived quickly down. We had enough time to arrive to the railway station, so without hurrying up we went there. To our bad surprise the ticket from Shumen to Kaspichan was extremely expensive comparing the price with the only 20 km distance.

The train went directly to Rousse, so we could sleep well from 18.33, when the train left Shumen, till 21.50 when it arrived. The train to Bucharest arrives in Rousse at 3 in the night, unfortunately for us we had to waste some hour there. The time passed slowly, we were too tirred, it was cold… The locomotive’s light seen in the farness made us to breathe relived because we knew that we have in our front three blessed hours of sleeping. We don’t have too many memories from the road. At six in the morning we were in Bucharest and half an hour later we were in bed absorbed by dreams.

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Sofia reloaded :)

Travel journal – Sofia

It is a long time since we were planning this escapade to Bulgarian capital, Sofia. Since we went in Ruse we had it on stand by list and now it came the time for it. As usually, it followed plans after plans, days and days browsing sites about Bulgarian trains, cities, places and so on.

After almost a week of day dreaming lately came the big day. As usually we went at our best friend called North station, we took the well known train going to Thessalonic that leaves at 12.24 Romanian capital, prepared to fly over the Danube. I remember we were so anxious looking at the platform clock that shown only 12.10.

The time was walking too slow comparing with our young boiling blood. Lately, after we blunted that clock hanged in our front, the porter whistled train’s departure to our happiness. Quaffing every landscape, every sound, every human face of Romanian, Bulgarians and I don’t know any other people that were traveling with that train, after tasting the last Romanian air on the Friendship Bridge that separates the two countries we saw somewhere afar the little Vienna, in free translation the Bulgarian city Ruse.

At 14.50 we should be there, but some technical problems made us to arrive with a couple of minutes later. But it wasn’t a problem because the train that had to get us to Sofia leaves from Ruse at 22.30. It was our choice because we wanted, on the one hand to make more interesting the travel seeing as many cities as it is possible, and on the other hand, to visit one friend that live there. We succeeded in both targets.

Our friend shown us other places that we hadn’t seen last time when we went there alone. We saw the ruins of the old roman fortress Sexaginta Prista situated on Danube’s shore and a mosque. Because it was almost dark we went in a little bar to have a Bulgarian bier before taking the train. After this we went again to the railway station. We bought tickets – from Ruse to Sofia costs 17 leva/person. Unfortunately we find out too late that if you buy a two way ticket you have a promotional price. We had in our front a night sleeping between the train noise and the uncomfortable train chairs.

We arrived to Sofia in the morning, around 6, being tired and sleepy. The train arrived a little bit later and our friend too and we had to wait for him in the railway hall. It was a huge communistic waiting room, wearing yet the soviet dusted stars. After some minutes that we don’t know how it passed because of the sleepy, all I remember it is that it was pretty cold J Lately our friend came and we followed one of that streets and we arrived at the blessed place: a warm house and a big bed. J After 2-3 sleeping hours we were as new. Our Bulgarian friend and his wife had the pleasure to guide as throw Sofia to show us the main objectives.

We took the bus to arrive in center and entered into the Borisova garden, a big and beautiful park. We cut the garden to arrive near Pancharevo (Панчарево). In our first day to Sofia we visited the surroundings including: Pancharevo Lake and Boyana church, letting the center for the next day.

The following day the Bulgarian hostess guides us through Sofia, this time in the city. We saw a lot of places: the ruins of Serdica fortress, the Banya Bashi Mosque, the Sofia’s synagogue, the Public mineral baths, Nevski cathedral, Vitosha Boulevard, the University, The Market Hall, the Saint George Church (Свети Георги).

We visited a lot in Sofia. This is that type of city that you can fill pages and pages about, but I don’t want to bore or to bust your happiness to discovery by your own.

If you are a Romanian that never visit Sofia you will ask me for sure: “Is it prettiest then Bucharest?”. I will answer “yes”, but the comparison is not just at all.

Sofia is an old city, with another history, another society, another evolution. On the cultural side it is better than Bucharest, but if you look at infrastructure, life style it is not the same think.

Summing up, you really must put Sofia on your travel list. 🙂

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Boyana (Bulgaria)

Boyana (Bulgarian: Бояна) is a neighbourhood of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, part of Vitosha municipality and situated 8 km south of the city centre, in the outskirts of Vitosha. Boyana is typically regarded as one of the best and most expensive neighborhoods of Sofia to live in. The residents are primary wealty business people, government officials and other important members of the Bulgarian social and political life. Formerly a village, it was incorporated into Sofia in 1961.

In connection to the uprising of Peter Delyan of 1040 and the Pecheneg invasion of 1048, an important stronghold under the name of Boyan(Боян, Βοιάνος) is mentioned in the area, where a garrison led by a voivod called Botko was disposed.

The famous Boyana Church, part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, is located in the neighborhood. Other landmarks include the Boyana Waterfall, the Kopitoto area and the National Historical Museum in the former Boyana Residence. The Boyana Film film centre and the Big Brother Bulgaria house are also part of Boyana.

Boyana’s name was first mentioned in the 11th-century Vision of Daniel in the excerpt РЄЧЄТЬ ОУ БОІАНѢ ѠСТАВИТЄ ТОУ ПЛѢНЬ. The name is most likely derived from the personal name Boyan. An etymology from Vulgar Latin or Balkan Latin *boiana („herdsman’s [river]), from Latinboviana („herdsman’s”) is considered less likely.

Other landmarks include the Boyana Waterfall, the Kopitoto area and the National Historical Museum in the former Boyana Residence. The Boyana Film film centre and the Big Brother Bulgaria house are also part of Boyana.

Source: Wikipedia