When we toured Romania last May I spent a lot of time “looking up.” In a way, I think it is a bit of a metaphor for the state of this country. They’ve had a rough time, but things seem to be heading in a positive direction—up. It’s country that has been all but closed off to Western tourists during the years it was on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain. It’s now open and here’s why I enjoyed “looking up.”
Well, firstly I learned a lot about religion and the importance of religion in this Eastern European country with along and complex history.
Religion in Romania
Three main religions have populated this region for more than a thousand years and are very important to the people. In fact, most of the guide books talk about what a religious country Romania is. You get that sense when you see all the churches.
When we would visit a town, we learned to immediately identify the churches by their steeples. Often we’d see all three in a small town.
The Orthodox churches typically have multiple cross pieces. The more horizontal crosses pieces there are, the more important the church. Romania has 14,000 Orthodox churches.
They look very different from the typical Catholic Church steeple.
The Evangelical Church came into the area around 1100s when the Saxons settled in Transylvania. Their steeples often have a ball.
Not surprising the interiors echoed these differences. The Romanian Orthodox are very elaborate. Gorgeous really. The Catholics are typical of Catholic churches all over the world with the focus on Christian Icons.
And then the Evangelicals (we might refer to them as Reformists) preferred very plain and simple interiors, consistent with their religious philosophy.
Looking up to see the Storks
On a more light hearted topic, I loved looking up in some of the villages to see the stork nests the townspeople built. Tourist attraction? Make life interesting? Good luck? I don’t know. Charming addition to the main street.
As in many countries, decorated ceilings are a sign of great wealth. We visited a few churches and sumptuous country houses to see them.
What about this staircase. It doesn’t go anywhere but up. It’s just for “show.”
And then probably the most fun, were the eyebrow windows in the small Saxon villages, especially Sibiu. Wow. I loved them and really enjoyed spotting buildings with these windows. I really do wonder how that tradition got started.
They are sometimes called, “the city’s eyes.”You gotta love people who build homes like this.
A landmark for finding your way back to your hotel
And one last fun sight to share: the deer with the antlers on the side of a building in Sighisoara—a town that is a history book in living color. This is a hotel right in the center of town. Great because you won’t have trouble finding your hotel if you get lost.
Romanian Travel Agency
Our trip to Romania was organized by Atlantic Tours. We were particularly pleased with Mr. Alin Belini, our online agent, at Atlantic. He did a great job meeting our needs and interests. We particularly enjoyed our guide: Mr. Sorin Bucsa who was extremely knowledgable, fun to be with and a good driver.