Romania is slowly emerging from the effects of being one of the
most repressed countries under communism and having suffered the
megalomaniac dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu whose rule left the
country in the depths of poverty. Travel in Romania is rewarding
yet habitually challenging as much of its charisma lies in the more
remote regions, and optimistic plans are often frustratingly slowed
down by practical realities. Despite this, Romania is rapidly
regaining its identity as a popular tourist destination and has
plenty to offer the international traveller.
The charms of Transylvania lure people with the imagery of
haunted forests, medieval towns, vampires, turreted cliff-top
castles, and the legends of Dracula. In addition to its medieval
castles and enchanting historic towns, the region also offers the
dramatic alpine scenery of the Carpathian Mountains with
spectacular skiing and undisturbed hiking opportunities.
The country's geography is diverse: from mountains, rolling
hills and rural farmlands to white sandy beaches and resorts along
the Black Sea Coast. Dotting the natural landscape are rustic
villages where local people live as they have done for the past 100
years. There is an abundance of religious architecture - including
the exquisitely painted monasteries of Bucovina - and there are
ancient churches and cities bursting with historic architecture.
The capital city, Bucharest, is re-inventing itself following
decades of neglect by the ruling communists and its damaged
architecture is slowly being restored to its original glory. It has
elegant restaurants, a revitalised nightlife and cultural
attractions that are becoming integral to this new image.
A visit to Romania will leave few impassive, offering a
refreshingly different culture to elsewhere in Europe. The mix of
quaint medieval towns and castles, drab cities striving for Western
modernism, and the diverse rural landscape seemingly untouched by
modern history, offers a fascinating kaleidoscope of opportunities
to explore. Romania appeals to visitors because it is so different.
It has one foot firmly placed in the past while the other one is
stretching forward in an effort to keep up with the progress of the