Romania is amazing. It’s got everything from preserved medieval towns and ornate churches to gothic castles and forested mountain ranges. And Romanians are amazing, too. Did you know that they’re our most loyal customers? They send money to friends and family with TransferGo at least twice a month. Pretty generous, right?
They’ll also give visitors to this great country a warm welcome. And possibly with a drink in hand—it is the 5th booziest country in the world, after all. But what other fun facts did you not know about Romania and its people? Read on and find out.
Romania is a country of stunning beauty
Scenic gorges, elevated mountain lakes, underground glaciers… Romania has it all in terms of natural beauty. And it doesn’t come more stunning than the Bigar Waterfall, which attracts tourists for the unique way in which the water cascades over mossy rocks.
Then there’s what many regard as the world’s most beautiful road. The Transfagarasan highway was built during the Ceaușescu era, supposedly as a quick getaway in case of a Soviet invasion. The 150km stretch is popular now though for the incredible views of the Carpathian Mountain range.
It has the heaviest building in the world
Covering an incredible 365,000 square metres, Bucharest’s Palace of the Parliament is the second largest administrative building in the world behind the Pentagon. Building began in 1984 in the latter part of Ceaușescu’s regime, and didn’t finish until seven years after his death in 1997.
At 12 storeys and 86 metres high, it cost a whopping £2.5 billion to build. And within its 1,100 rooms are three museums and an international conference centre. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it’s the heaviest building in the world. No wonder.
Romanians like to break records
As you can see from the Palace of the Parliament, size matters in Romania. To take another example, consider Romania’s world record for the largest flag. At 349 by 227 metres, it took 200 workers several hours to unfurl it in 2013.
They don’t hold back when it comes to food either. Romania lays claim to the world’s longest sausage, which stretched to an almost unbelievable 39 miles long! What would you eat that with? The largest ever bowl of goulash, of course—7,200 litres. You’d probably skip dessert after that.
They’ve invented loads, too
Clever bunch, the Romanians. A whole host of important inventions have had Romanian origins. Nicolae Paulescu helped discover insulin in 1921, Henri Coandă is said to have invented the jet engine in 1910, and we can thank Petrache Poenaru for the invention of the fountain pen in 1827.
Quality coffee also has its roots in Romania. You might associate Francesco Illy with Italy—he founded the famous Italian coffee company in Trieste. But he was born in Timișoara, Romania. And, of course, he invented something groundbreaking: the Illetta was the first automatic coffee machine, a precursor to the espresso machine used today.
Bucharest is a ‘Little Paris’
There’s an obvious Parisian influence to the architecture of Romania’s capital. So much so that from the early 20th Century it was nicknamed ‘Little Paris’. Locals would even greet each other in French and wear the latest Paris fashions.
One of Paris’ most iconic landmarks is the Arc de Triomphe, and Bucharest has its very own version. The Arcul de Triumf was built to celebrate the country’s successes in the first World War and is covered in Romanian marble. Just beautiful.
Romania’s the place for churches and castles
When it comes to stunning design and architecture, Romania has it in abundance. The collection of churches in northern Moldavia is just one of their seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And—get ready for another record—the 75-metre high Sapanta Peri is the tallest wooden church in the world.
Then there’s the incredible medieval castles, none more notable than Bran Castle, which was the inspiration for Dracula’s abode. The author of the novel, Bram Stoker, never actually visited Romania, let alone the castle. But rumour has it that he did come across an illustration of it in a 19th Century book about Transylvania.
Watch out for bears
Romania has the highest population of brown bears in Europe. There are no fewer than 6,000—that’s 60% of Europe’s total—roaming the forests of the Carpathian mountains. They’re intelligent beasts, too. If you notice scratch marks on the bark of trees in the forests, it was probably left by a bear communicating to one of its mates.
And if you’re really lucky, you might even see Europe’s largest mammal in Romania. The European bison was close to extinction before being reintroduced to some Eastern European countries recently. You wouldn’t want to get trapped under it though—it weighs a hefty 1,400lbs. Ouch.