Romanians at Hollywood (Part 7)

Nadia Gray (November 23, 1923, Bucharest - June 13, 1994, New-York).
Born Nadia Kujnir-Herescu in Bucharest, Romania, on November 23, 1923, to a Russian father and a Bessarabian mother, the future actress Nadia Gray was raised there. She met first husband Constantin Cantacuzino (1905-1958), a Romanian aviator and noted WWII fighter ace, while she was a passenger on one of his commercial air flights. She couple fled the country during the Communist takeover of Romania in the late 1940s and emigrated to Paris. There Nadia enjoyed a vast international career as a Cosmopolitan lead and second lead on stage and in films. The couple eventually settled in Spain.

She made her film debut in a leading role 1949 and went on to essay a number of more mature, sophisticated, glamorous patricians in European films, often a continental jetsetter or bourgeoisie type. Earlier roles that led to European stardom included her countess in Monseigneur (1949), the woman in love with a thief in The Spider and the Fly (1949), and the role of Cristina Versini in the Italian technicolor biopic of the composer Puccini (1952). Her roster of continental male co-stars went on to include such legendary stalwarts as Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio de Sica, Rossano Brazzi, Errol Flynn, Maurice Ronet and Gabriele Ferzetti. Among her scattered appearances in English-speaking productions were a mixture of adventures, dramas, comedies and horrors including Valley of Eagles (1951) with John McCallum and Jack Warner, Night Without Stars (1951) opposite David Farrar, The Captain's Table (1959) starring John Gregson and Donald Sinden, Mr. Topaze (1961) starring Peter Sellers, Maniac (1963) co-starring Kerwin Mathews, The Naked Runner (1967) starring Frank Sinatra and a supporting role in the classic Albert Finney/Audrey Hepburn romance Two for the Road (1967). Nadia is most famous, however, for her cameo role toward the end of Federico Fellini's masterpiece La dolce vita (1960) as a bored and wealthy socialite who celebrates her divorce by performing a memorable mink-coated striptease during a jaded party sequence in her home.

Following the death of her first husband in Spain in 1958 (he was only 52), Nadia continued to film and settled permanently in America in the late 60s after meeting and marrying second husband Herbert Silverman, a New York lawyer. She retired from films completely in 1976 and began headlining as a singing cabaret star. The trend-setting Russian-Romanian beauty died of a stroke in Manhattan on June 13, 1994 at age 70 and was survived by her second husband and two stepchildren.

The UFOs' forest

Those intrigued by things that go bump in the night can’t help but take notice of Romania’s most folkloric region. The very word Transylvania conjures up spooky gothic castles and blood-sucking aristocrats, but there’s a lesser-known local attraction to add to your goose bump list. The Hoia-Baciu Forest, located a few kilometers outside of the city of Cluj-Napoca, is rumored to be a hot bed of unexplained supernatural activity.

Dubbed the Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania, the forest first gained international attention in 1968, when biologist Alexandru Sift captured a photo of what’s said to be a disc-shaped UFO. The most spectacular sighting - of a silvery daylight disc - was proved by three excellent photos made in August 18, by Emil Barnea, in the presence of other three witnesses. Since then, UFOs, apparitions, abnormalities on photos, nocturnal lights and other unusual things have been regularly reported in the area. Ghost hunters, paranormal investigators, parapsychologists — and more recently, tourists — have all taken an interest.

Strange whispers, dark shapes, gates to other worlds, powerful forces, guardian spirits, UFO sightings, these are the phenomenons that often take place in this paranormal area of Baciu forest. For all those who are interested in searching this area, could be a very interesting experience, but beware of the mystical energies that dwell here, and respect the spirits that lay within. Everything is very unnatural is this woods, the trees have weird shapes, like they have been pulled out of the Grimm Brother’s stories, the wind makes noises, it seems like they are whispering to each other. Nothing green grow on these trees, and nothing green in this forest, the whole place is like a dark place of a weird shape. Even when you enter this place, you can already sense it, that something is out there. Supernatural powers dwell in this place... and all who enter must respect the spirits within the depths of it.

This place is a fascinating research place. Since the early ’60-s until this day Baciu forest was a place for numerous UFO sighting and various paranormal activities. There is a place called the “round field” within the forest which is considered as the landing zone for the UFOs. Many photos were taken at this place, and on most of them visible shapes can be seen, ghostlike shapes, they are considered here as the protectors of the forest. The forest has a spirit on its own, most of the time people who entered this forest with negative and evil thoughts, never left the forest, and they have vanished without any trace. Most people who have never returned home from here, were searched by rescue teams and local police forces, but they have never been found. They are also cases of those people who have returned with numerous sightings, or those who experienced physically some strange events. For example, a woman have been out for a walk in this forest, and for a few moments the time has stopped, and she disappeared for a short time. When she came back, she have found in one of her pockets an ancient coin from the 15th century! Parapsychologists say that the forest is also a gate to another world, a gate to another dimension. This gate opens up in a certain time, no one knows precisely when it really happens, but some people who experienced this phenomenon, never really left the forest again. There are many witnesses who can testify for this events, and some knew the people who entered this woods and never came back. The locals in the nearby village know of this phenomenon and they keep away from the woods,but for all those who are interested in information, the best idea would be to talk to the locals first, they know more about the area than any other.

There is also a hidden area of this forest, where several symmetrical circles can be found on a radiated dark soil, the forces here are overwhelmingly powerful, and it’s supposed to be the heart of the Baciu forest. This area however is very difficult to find, and only a handful of people were able to find this place. Dr. Adrian Pătruţ, a chemistry professor at the local university, claims that though there are many places around the world with unexplained phenomena, the “Hoia-Baciu Forest is one of the best due to the intensity, variety and complexity of its manifestations”. Pătruţ is president of the Romanian Society of Parapsychology and since the early ’70s he has been studying occurrences in the forest such as unexplained splotches of light and luminescent orbs hovering in the sky.

The Triumphal Arch

Arcul de Triumf is a triumphal arch located in the northern part of Bucharest, on the Kiseleff Road. The Triumphal Arch in Bucharest is a little smaller than the one in Paris, but it is also located at the intersection of some boulevards.

The first, wooden, triumphal arch was built hurriedly, after Romania gained its independence (1878), so that the victorious troops could march under it. Another temporary arch was built on the same site, in 1922, after World War I, which was demolished in 1935 to make way for the current triumphal arch, which was inaugurated in September 1936.

The current arch has a height of 27 meters and was built after the plans of the great architect Petre Antonescu. It has as foundation a 25 x 11.50 meters rectangle and was built in granite and concrete, and has a staircase that allows visitors to climb to the terrace on the top of the monument. The sculptures with which the facades are decorated were created by famous Romanian sculptors such as Ion Jalea, Corneliu Medrea, Dimitrie Paciurea, Constantin Baraschi, Costin Petrescu.

The Temple of the Fates

Nobody knows for sure how old the place is, no one really knows the temple’s origins. There are at least 5 different stories, from Paganism to Christianity or even Extra-Terrestrial! However some people say that it lasts 7000 years ago, some that it has Dacian origins, other say that it is of Christian origin because it has an eccentric altar and no proof that there was a cross, but the generally accepted version is that the monastery was set-up around 1742, when Orthodox churches were destroyed by the Austrian-Hungarians, bringing instead the Romano-Catholic Church or the Greek-Catholic Church. But, for sure, the place is holy, and its energy can help you - the cave monastery is known for its miraculous healing powers with people coming here every year to get healed and have their good wishes fulfilled.

The cave church is situated in Şinca Veche village, Braşov County. The abundant vegetation on the way to the temple is absolutely beautiful. The intense smell of myrrh, frankincense and burning candles came to one's awareness. There is a total calmness and stillness in the forest where the cave is located and the energy is divine.

A grotto hidden in the middle of the woods, in the heart of a block of grit stone looks like a cave dug into the mountain. The temple has large rooms cut into quartz in a technique similar to that used by the Dacians to cut huge blocks of stone at Măgura Călanului. There are several hemispherical, ellipsoidal, spiral-like or spherical diggings, connected by the huge secant, which crosses all the rooms connecting the sky and the earth, the spiritual and the material worlds. Inside are ceremonial chambers and altars with mysterious carvings, including a really strange Yin-Yang symbol within the Star of David, the Egyptian sign for "fishing rod", crosses, a Yin-Yang shaped window, a sphinx and other strange signs.

The "tower" of the church is invisible from outside and one can enjoy its beauty and the wonderful violet light it sheds only from the inside. On the pavement there are marked three places - claimed to be the energetic centers of the place. People say that if you pray over these places , your wish will be fulfilled. They say that the temple is a vortex of energy that attracts energy into an underground tunnel connecting the temple with the fortress of Râşnov. Whatever the reason, one can definitely feel some mystical, unexplained energy when is inside.

The Living Fire Ice Cave

The Cave of the Living Fire Iceblock (Romanian: Peştera "Gheţarul Focul Viu") is situated in the North-West of Romania, in the Bihor-Vlădeasa Mountains and contains the third largest permanent underground fossil ice block in the country (after the Scărişoara ice cave and Borţig pothole, also situated in the Apuseni Nature Park), having a volume of approximately 25.000 m3.

It is a small cave, who consists of two halls, the first one of big dimensions having a huge iceblock. The acces to the cave is through a descendant gallery on a wooden stairway. The ceiling of the big hall is open by a huge natural window through which a great quantity of logs, leaves and snow has fallen from the outside, building an immense pile in the centre. The logs has been trapped in the ice, their free ends rotting and colouring the ice field. Through the ceiling window enters enough light to unveil the splendour of the icecle stalagmite clusters which lie opposite to the entrance of the cave. Around noon, the sun beams is creating a fairy scenery. One of the ends of the iceblock falls in the abyss in a deep crevice beside the rocks.

A gallery located beyond the stalagmites leads to the smaller room of the cave carefully descending about 4 m on the left side of the ice slide.This room has no natural light. It has some lime concretions which hang above and icecle stalagmites of varying size, depending on season. The cave ends with an obstructed vertical hole. The exit from the cave is very pleasant, especially in summer when the outer temperature is far above that of the cave. There are two circumstances which allow the ice to last in the cave: the open ceiling which invites the cold air inside and the lack of ventilation which traps it and keeps it cold enough all through the year.

The visiting of the site is permitted until the wooden balcony at the entrance, allowing the observer to see all the above described phenomena.


Burebista is widely considered to be the greatest king of Dacia. He ruled between 82 BC and 44 BC. He unified the Thracian population from Hercynia (today's Moravia) in the west, to the Bug River in the east, and from the northern Carpathians to Dionysopolis. His capital was called Argedava (or Sargedava).

The spiritual center of the kingdom was called Kogaion (or Kagaion, the holy mountain) by the ancient geographer Strabo. It is believed to have been located somewhere in the Bucegi mountains. According to the historian Jordanes (in his work Getica), the greatest priest and adviser of Burebista was Deceneus, who held "almost royal powers" and taught the Dacians the belagines laws, ethics and sciences, including physics and astronomy.

Around the year 70 B.C., external conditions being propitious and Burebista's political and military actions successful, the Geto-Dacian people had a unique and firm rule, and a strong organization. Under Burebista, who thoroughly reorganized the army and raised the moral standard of the people, the limits of the kingdom were extended to their maximum. The Bastarnae and Boii were conquered, and even the Greek towns of Olbia and Apollonia on the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus) recognized Burebista's authority. Burebista sided with the inhabitants of the Greek cities on the Western coast of the Black Sea from Apollonia to the Danube Delta (South of the Danube) when they were occupied by Varro Lucullus, the proconsul of the province of Macedonia during the second Mithridatic War (74 BC-72 BC). The Dacians defeated the Roman army of Gaius Antonius Hybrida near Histria. As a result of this battle, the Greek cities of Tomis, Callatis, Dionysopolis and Apollonia agreed to become part of Burebista's kingdom.

Burebista continued his incursion in the region, conquering the Celtic Aliobrix (Cartal, southern Bessarabia, now part of Ukraine), Tyras and Odessos and destroying Olvia (Olbia). In this way, Burebista came to rule over the whole Thracian-Geto-Dacian world, from the Haemus Mountains (the Balkans) to the Wooded Carpathians, from Tyras (the Dnestr) to the Tisza. Controlling both sides of the Danube, Burebista was "the first and the greatest of the Thracian kings", as he is referred to in writing by Acornion of Dyonisopolis. The unifying centre of the Geto-Dacian state lay in the Orăştie area (Sureanu Mountains) - a natural Transylvanian stronghold; there, Burebista developed a whole system of fortifications, which was to be continued by his followers Dicomes, Scoryllo, Cotiso.

His successful unifying endeavour, which led to the unity of the Geto-Dacian people, language and civilisation, made the king feel stronger, a fact which led him into believing that he was capable of measuring his military strength with that of the Romans. In 48 BC, Burebista sided with Pompey during his struggle against Julius Caesar in the Roman civil war. After Caesar emerged as victor, he planned on sending legions to punish Burebista, but he was assassinated in the Senate before he could do so, on March 15 44 BC. Burebista died the same year, but whether he was assassinated in a court plot or his death had natural causes is a matter that remains uncertain. After his fall, the state weakened and lost part of its territory, the kingdom was divided into four (or five) parts under separate rulers. One of these was Cotiso, whose daughter Augustus is said to have desired to marry and to whom Augustus betrothed his own five-year-old daughter Julia. He is well known from the line in Horace (Occidit Daci Cotisonis agmen).

Cârţa Monastery

Cârţa Monastery is a former Cistercian monastery in the Ţara Făgăraşului region in southern Transylvania in Romania, currently a Lutheran Evangelical church belonging to the local Saxon community. It lies on the left bank of the Olt River, between the cities of Sibiu and Făgăraş, close to the villages of Cârţa (German Kerz, Hungarian: Kerc) and Cârţişoara (German: Kleinkerz). The monastery was founded in 1205-1206 by King Andrew II of Hungary, and was disbanded 27 February 1474 by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. The Cistercian monastery introduced and helped develop Gothic art in the region.

The exact founding date of the Cârţa Monastery (Latin: monasterium beatae Mariae virginis in Candelis de Kerch) is unknown. A document from Konstanz, dated 17 April 1418, issued by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor states vaguely that the monastery was founded, built, and awarded rights and privileges by his predecessors. The statute of royal establishment is also pointed out in the act disbanding the monastery 27 February 1474, and was made ex auctoritate juris patronatus regii Matthias Corvinus. Cistercian documents from the 13th till 15th century gathered and analyzed by Leopold Janauschek mention the founding year of the monastery as being somewhere around 1202-1203.

The best approximation of the monastery's date of foundation can be obtained from a document issued by the royal Hungarian chancelry in 1223. This document states that the territory on which the monastery was built - delimited by the Olt River at the north side and its tributaries the Arpaşu River at the east, the Cârţişoara River at the west and the Făgăraş Mountains at the south - was awarded by King Andrew II of Hungary, for the blessing of his soul, through the Transylvanian voivod Benedict (pro remedio animae nostre per fidelem ac dilectum nostrum Benedictum tunc temporis vaivodam assignari facientes). It is known that Benedict was Transylvanian voivod between 1202-1206 and 1208-1209. This means that the founding date must fall between 1202 and 1209. An additional document, the General Chapter of the Cistercian Order from 1206, further narrows the date of founding. This document mentions the presence of a Cistercian monk from Transylvania, most probably from Cârţa (abbas ultra Sylvas in Hungaria, filius abbatis de Egris), at the Citeaux Abbey, in Burgundy, the main abbey of the Cistercian order. Summing up this historical data, the date of the monastery's founding by the King Andrew II of Hungary can be established as occurring between 29 May 1205 and 14 September 1206. 29 May 1205 is when Andrew II became king of Hungary and 14 September 1206 is the day when the works of the Cistercian Order's General Chapter began, when the existence of the first monk of Cârţa is documented. The colonising convent was most probably the mother abbey in Igriş (Latin Egris, Hungarian Egres), in the Banat plain, today located in Timiş County, Romania. Filiation reports between the two monasteries can be dated from 1206, 1368 and 1430.

The first buildings of the monastery were built, according to Cistercian customs, using perishable materials, most probably wood. These can be dated relatively confidently as having been built in the founding period (1205-1206). A few years later, approximately 1210-1215, a stone chapel, the oratorium, was built close to the original wood buildings. The foundations of this chapel of small dimension (around 8-10 m) and massive walls, were rediscovered in the spring of 1927, by the Transylvanian Saxon art historian and archeologist Victor Roth. Also, subsequent researches were carried out in the period 1983-1985 to better study these remains. The construction of the main stone edifice started a little bit later, most probably between 1220 and 1230. The construction occurred in two stages, separated by the Great Mongol invasion of 1241. In the first stage of construction, the main elements are of Romanesque influence. The general plan was traced and the walls were erected up to aa height of about 3-4 m. In 1260 the works were restarted under a new architect trained in the mature Gothic architecture, and with the help of a new masons' workshop. During this period, the old stone oratorium was dismantled and on its foundations was built a part of the north wing of the transept and a part of the choir with the polygonal apse. At around 1300, the church and the east wing of the Cărţa Monastery were already finished and the works on the south side will continue for about two decades.

Tihuţa Pass

Tihuţa Pass (Romanian: Pasul Tihuţa; Hungarian: Borgói-hágó, Borgo-Pass Burgo-Pass or Bârgău-Pass) (elevation 1201 m) is a high mountain pass in the Romanian Bârgău Mountains (Eastern Carpathian Mountains) connecting Bistriţa (Transylvania province) with Vatra Dornei (Bukovina, Moldovia province). The pass was made famous by Bram Stoker's novel Dracula where, termed as the "Borgo Pass", it was the gateway to the realm of Count Dracula. Stoker most likely found the name on a contemporary map. He never actually visited the area. In the 2004 film Hellboy, the pass was mentioned, but it was said to be in Moldavia instead of Romania.

The road from Bistriţa to the Painted Monasteries of Bukovina runs east through the Bârgău Valley and across the Tihuţa Pass which peaks at 3,840 feet. The Bârgău Valley encompasses some of the most beautiful unspoiled mountain scenery in the Carpathians with picturesque traditional villages located in valleys and on hillsides, ideal bases for hiking, riding or discovering their vivid tapestry of old customs, handicrafts and folklore. On the road to Tihuţa, one can visit Livazele village (5 miles northeast of Bistriţa) with its small folk museum called the Saxon House (Casa Săsească) displaying Saxon ceramics, woodcarvings and folk dresses. On the Transylvanian side of the pass, there is also the hotel Castel Dracula, where every year over 100 American tourists spend the Halloween Night, waiting to meet Count Dracula.

Ştefan Odobleja

Ştefan Odobleja (1902 - 1978) was a Romanian scientist, one of the precursors of cybernetics. His major work, Psychologie consonantiste, first published in 1938 and 1939, in Paris, had established many of the major themes of cybernetics regarding cybernetics and systems thinking ten years before the work of Norbert Wiener was published in 1948.

Ştefan Odobleja was born on October 13, 1902, in Izvorul Aneştilor, Mehedinti County in Romania. Although his parents were poor and illiterate peasants he managed to attend high school in Drobeta Turnu-Severin. After high school he went to the Military-Medical Institute of Bucharest where he received a bursary to study at the Faculty of Medicine. He qualified as a general physician and worked as a medical doctor across several towns and villages in Romania. It was not a well-paid job and Odobleja spent most of his life in relative poverty. Despite a poverty stricken and, in some ways, a difficult life, he managed to remain productive. His completed works run to over 50,000 pages.

The most important of these writings is Psychologie consonantiste (French title - Psihologia consonantistă in Romanian). This book, published in Paris (vol. I in 1938 and vol. II in 1939), ran to nearly 900 pages and included 300 figures in the text. The author wrote at the time that "this book is... a table of contents, an index or a dictionary of psychology, [for] a ... great Treatise of Psychology that should contain 20-30 volumes". In this work, Ştefan Odobleja had laid the theoretical foundations of what became known later as cybernetics. However, partly due to the beginning of World War II, almost immediately after its publication the book was generally ignored. The first Romanian edition of this groundbreaking work did not appear until 1982 (the first edition was published in French).

He died in ignorance in some kind of home arrest imposed by the communist regime because cybernetics was declared a science of capitalist nature by the Romanian government of the mid '70s (in spite of having embraced it in the previous two decades). The academic contacts were dropped and he was under severe surveillance. His house was disconnected from electricity to prevent him to continue his writings. Even paper was scarce in his home and he used to write his thoughts on the unprinted areas of the local propaganda newspapers. His son insisted to imprint next to the name on the grave stone of his father the label "Father of Cybernetics" notwithstanding the protest of the local government representatives. As an appreciation for his entire work of mapping the unknown territory of the consonantist psychology, cybernetics and generalized cybernetics, Ştefan Odobleja was elected posthumously an honorary member of the Romanian Academy (1990).

The Old Café

Although they dressed in different fashion and even though their towns and resorts had a different aspect, ancient Romanians used to spend summers in almost contemporary manner: in cafés. Even today, cafés, terraces, in general, are highly populated. They are the place to meet with friends, to discuss various topics, more or less fashionable.

The centuries of Ottoman domination influenced lifestyle, habits or cloths in the former Romanian Countries. Turkish gastronomy also left its mark on modern Romania. The names of several beverages and cuisine products are still of Turkish origin (e.g.: sarmale, ciulama, pilaf, baclava, sarailie, cataif). Coffee makes no exception in this respect. Coffeehouse (cafenea, cahvenea) comes from the Turkish kahvehane, kávé-hané, i.e. a public local where people drank coffee, prepared according to Turkish fashion, played dice, backgammon, or ghiordum (a card game) or smoked tobacco, all at a relatively small price. Though highly popular amongst Romanians, most coffee houses were owned prior to World War II by Turks, Greeks, Jews or Armenians.

The first known coffee shop in Bucharest was founded in 1667, during the reign of ruling prince Radu Leon (1664-1669). A former Janissary from the Ottoman imperial guard, a certain Kara Hamie, was its first owner. The coffee shop was located in downtown Bucharest, near the later Şerban Vodă Inn (replaced in the early 1880s by the Palace of the National Bank). In 1781, ruling prince Alexandru Ipsilanti gave permission to Ştefan Altîntop (baş-alai ceuş) to build a coffee shop, "for him and his family", near the upper gate of the princely palace (Curtea Domnească). The costs of this act of princely goodwill were limited to a rent of 10 Thalers a year. A decade later the ruler allowed the same businessman "to build in Bucharest three cahvenele with tahmisul (another Turkish word, meaning a place where the coffee is grind and roasted), free of the taxes paid by the other similar shops".

On the north side of St. Anthony Market on the corner of Covaci Street, is located the Old Café (Romanian: Cafeneaua Veche or Cafeneaua Domnească), another remarkable building of Bucharest - the coffeehouse build by Ştefan Altîntop in 1781. The coffee shop changed the owner in 1812, then in 1825. The coffeehouse has a very picturesque look: the white color of the walls is emphasized by the dark-colored roof and window-blinds. Under the cornice, a number of sober niches decorate the top of the facades, in contrast with the sophistication reliefs with portraits in the Renaissance style, placed between window archways. Doors, also signed with the arches in a semicircle, complete the picturesque ensemble. The interiors preserve some vaulted ceilings.

Today, the Old Café is called Monaco Lounge Café and was transformed into a restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine and at the basement a lounge with live blues concerts, jazz concerts, and original thematic parties...

The Beer Cart, a living legend

Caru' cu Bere (The Beer Cart) is a living legend for Bucharest and one of the oldest tavern in the city, dating from 1879 in the old Zlătari Inn and after 20 years moved on Stavropoleos street, where there is today.

As the Peace treaty between Russians, Romanians and Turks was being signed in Berlin in 1878, a certain Ioan Cabasan bought a shabby house behind Zlătari Inn, on Stavropoleos lane. At the time, much of the Constantin Vodă Inn, which used to be there, had been demolished, so that, since 1861, before the house there was a nice large open area, opening onto the Stavropoleos and St. Ioan the Great inns. To the south, imposingly towering over the slums, was Nicolae Brâncoveanu's palace, from the gates of which the Mogoşoaia Bridge started.

For an entrepreneur, this open place was interesting enough, although the place was a dump. But soon more substantial incentives were to appear, such as the construction in the area of a wood panel circus named "Walhala", alternatively used by German artists - heavy beer drinkers - and by politicians. The construction of a tavern, "La pisica neagră" (Black Cat) and of a sweetshop, "Baltador", both located in the Zlătari Inn wing that opened onto Stavropoleos, will rapidly turn the area into a place with promising commercial potential. But another event was decisive. In the same year, 1878, a merchant from Bacau named Dumitru Marinescu was about to start the construction, in the neighborhood, of a brewery and spirits workshop, which will be finished in 1899 and will be known as the Bragadiru brewery. The owner was already looking for clients to sign sale-purchase contracts, and among them, among the very first perhaps, was Cabasan. Under circumstances so favorable to trade, the latter plucked up courage and went into business. On May Day in 1879, he opened a beer house in the building on Stavropoleos Lane, the second in Bucharest at the time, after the pub opened next to the former office of the "Justice-Brotherhood" secret society on Jignita lane. And he named it "La Caru cu bere" (The beer cart). The legend has it that the name of the pub came when the first cart of beer casks, coming from Dumitru Marinescu's new brewery stopped before the bar. Actually, the beer had been brought from Bragadiru village, where entrepreneur D. Marinescu had put together a makeshift beer refinery.

The fact is that this name, with a slightly out-of-date meaning and sound, was to share with the Capşa brothers' company a celebrity untouched by the passage of time. Nota bene: Cabasan was never a "supplier of the Crown!" Moreover, his name is mentioned in no anecdote or memoirs related to "Caru' cu bere." Every now and then, his name is mentioned in the newspapers of the time, but only in advertisements. It vanishes from almanacs around 1886, and after several years of absence the company is once again quoted, this time with new owners: Mircea brothers. A new era began. The new owners commissioned the plans for the reconstruction and redecoration of the pub to Austrian architect Siegfrid Kofezinsky. Radical reconstruction and improvement works begin in 1888 - the date is mentioned in several memoirs works - and were completed, with difficulties, only in 1924. The old, modest building was demolished completely, then the central building was erected, along with the cellar, the kitchen and the front part, in neo-Gothic style.

The interior is decorated in a refined combination of styles, with the Byzantine one represented by balconies and banisters, harmoniously combined with the gilded frescoes and the stained-glass windows in the Bavarian academic style. A statue of old Ghiţă the cellar man holding a lamp in his hand was added later at the end of the stairs, next to the balcony, and it affects nothing of the spectacular interior. The pub features were also changed, and starting 1902 it will be both a beer house and a restaurant, although ads tried to reassure the old customers that "special beer from the Bragadiru brewery is served all days and evenings, until after the late night shows". Brothers Nicolae, Ignat and Victor Mircea, born in Caţa village near Mediaţ, had new ideas, French rather than German. As far as the menu was concerned, customers from Transylvania, the most numerous over the years, found it similar to the one offered in the German taverns at home. Quite popular were the Prague sausages with horse radish, frankfurters, boeuf salad, mashed peas and the always present "small bottle" of "Lacrima Cristi" wine, which old Ghiţă the cellar man took care of for over one quarter of a century, in the pub cellar. Beer drinkers were offered drought beer directly from the cask. The Mircea brothers also imported from across the mountains the tidiness - "mama Zangor", the only woman employed in the pub, was in charge with this-and the attention paid to apprentices, waiters and cooks, who had several rooms to rest in.

These were notable differences from the other pubs in the Capital, which made "Caru cu bere" unique and ensured its unrivaled fame. Before the WW1 outbreak, one of the brothers, Victor, abandoned the family business and set up his own, competing beer house, specially for officers, under the new Military Palace inaugurated in 1912. Ads indicate that he took full advantage of the fame gained in "Caru cu bere," and he named his pub "the Victor Mircea beer house." An enterprising spirit, he was also the one who took over the management of the restaurant inside the Gara de Nord (railway station). Thus, the Stavropoleos pub was left with two owners only. Soon, Ignat was also to try to start his own business. With his brother Nicolae's support and advice, he bought a tavern and turned it, although at high costs, into a beer house named "Ignat Mircea." He too tried to take advantage of the fame that "Caru cu bere" had secured for the Mircea family. But he failed, and in 1929 the Romanian-British bank declared him bankrupt. And he didn't go down by himself. As he had guaranteed his brother's credit and the bank threatened to take away his pub, Nicolae made a desperate move and committed suicide, falling from the second floor above the cellar, as we learn from the newspapers of the time. Bucharest locals decried the misfortune, but equally honest was their concern with the future of the famous pub. Times were testing. And still, in those difficult times, the company and the beer house survived. Unfortunately, the ads make no reference to the new owner's name, the article published by 'Magazin Istoric', reads.

The pub served as mess for the German army in WW2. Apparently, the new owner did not interfere with the "house customs," which explains the popularity of the beer house among the German officers who chose the place as their mess between 1942 and 1944, just as it had happened in WW1. But then came the occupation by the barbaric Red Army and the abusive seizing of the pub, in 1948-1949 (the so-called "nationalization"). The Russian officers, bothered by the "German paintings," ordered that they be covered in red paint, so that everybody would know who the new master was, and that decorations be covered in white paint. Whether communist or apolitical, locals did not see the mutilation of the old beer house with a friendly eye, and shortly after Stalin's death, right in 1953, works are carried out to remove the red paint. The "decadence" lasted until 1986, when large-scale restoration works started, coordinated by painter Nicolae Gheorghe, who restored not only its past elegance, but also its lost dignity, at the expense of the "proletarian" clients.

Today The Beer Cart continues the tradition. Walking on Calea Victoriei (Victory Way), near the National Museum of History, meet a picturesque building, which you can read the inscription Caru cu Bere.