Unique plants from Romania (Part 15)

Colilia Porţilor de Fier (Stipa danubialis), is a Tertiary relict described for the first time in 1969 and found only at Cracul Găioara, a place in Banat, Southwestern Romania.

Stipa danubialis (Dihoru & Roman)

Image from MyNature

HABIT Perennial; caespitose; clumped densely. Culms 80–90 cm long; 5 -noded. Culm-internodes distally pubescent. Leaf-sheaths longer than adjacent culm internode; retrorsely scabrous. Ligule an eciliate membrane; 3.5–7 mm long. Leaf-blades 2.3–2.5 mm wide. Leaf-blade surface ribbed; scabrous; rough adaxially; glabrous.

INFLORESCENCE Inflorescence a panicle; comprising 9–12 fertile spikelets. Panicle open; 9–15 cm long; bearing few spikelets. Spikelets solitary. Fertile spikelets pedicelled.

FERTILE SPIKELETS Spikelets comprising 1 fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets lanceolate; subterete; 48–57 mm long; breaking up at maturity; disarticulating below each fertile floret. Floret callus evident; acute.

GLUMES Glumes persistent; similar; exceeding apex of florets; thinner than fertile lemma. Lower glume lanceolate; 1 length of upper glume; membranous; without keels. Lower glume apex setaceously attenuate. Upper glume lanceolate; 48–57 mm long; membranous; without keels. Upper glume apex setaceously attenuate.

FLORETS Fertile lemma lanceolate; subterete; 23–25 mm long; coriaceous; without keel; 5 -veined. Lemma surface pubescent; hairy in lines. Lemma margins convolute; covering most of palea. Lemma apex awned; 1 -awned. Principal lemma awn bigeniculate; 286–363 mm long overall; with twisted column; limb plumose; with 5 mm long hairs. Middle segment of lemma awn 6–20 mm long; ciliate. Column of lemma awn 40–48 mm long; pubescent; with 2 mm long hairs. Palea without keels.

FLOWER Lodicules 3. Anthers 3. Stigmas 2. Ovary glabrous.
FRUIT Caryopsis with adherent pericarp; fusiform. Hilum linear.

(From Kew Gardens)

Unique plants from Romania (Part 14)

Salvia transsylvanica (Schur, 1853)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Salvia
Species: S. transsylvanica
Binomial name: Salvia transsylvanica

Image from Annie's annuals and perennials

Salvia transsylvanica is a herbaceous perennial native to a wide area from north and central Russia to Romania, with a subspecies specific to Romania. It was described and named in 1853 by botanist Philipp Johann Ferdinand Schur, with the specific epithet referring to the Transylvanian Alps located in central Romania. It was introduced into horticulture in the 1980s.

Salvia transsylvanica puts out several lax 0.6 m stems from a basal clump of leaves. The leaves that grow on the stem vary in size—being larger at the bottom—with the upper side being dark yellow-green and the underside pale with yellow veins. The leaves are very scalloped around the edges. The flowers are slightly longer than 1.3 cm, and have a rich violet color, growing in loose whorls that are about 1.3 cm apart. Many flowers bloom at once, giving the plant a very colorful and striking appearance. (From Wikipedia)

Unique plants from Romania (Part 13)

Iarba roşioară (Reddish herb, Silene dinarica Spreng., 1825). This pretty species grow at alpine level of Romania, in Făgăraş Mountains. It is endemic to Romania, a rare and vulnerable species, with nice dense cushions, creeping green leaves, purple flowers.

Silene dinarica Sprengel, 1825

Image from Alpine Seeds

Unique plants from Romania (Part 12)

Lychnis nivalis is an endemic species, unique in the world, that grows only in Romania, in Rodna Mountains, at higher altitude, near the peak of Pietrosul Rodnei and Iezer Lake.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledonatae)
Order: Charyophylales
Family: Charyophylaceae
Genus: Lychnis
Species: L. nivalis

From TrekNature

Common names include campion (shared with Silene) and catchfly, the latter name based on the sticky stems. In Romanian is named guşa porumbelului, opaiţ, opaiţul Muntilor Rodnei.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 11)

Hesperis oblongifolia (Schur. 1866) is a very rare and very vulnerable species that grows in only two places in Romanian Eastern Carpathians Mountains.

Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae
Phylum: Tracheophyta
Subphylum: Euphyllophytina
Infraphylum: Radiatopses
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Dilleniidae
Superorder: Violanae
Order: Capparales
Suborder: Capparineae
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Hesperis
Specific epithet: oblongifolia - Schur
Botanical name: Hesperis oblongifolia Schur

Image from MyNature

Perennial herb. Trichomes unicellular, stems erect, basal leaves petiolate. Sepals oblong, erect, base of lateral pair strongly saccate . Petals purple, much longer than sepals; blade oblong, apex rounded, claw strongly differentiated. Stamens 6, strongly tetradynamous; anthers oblong, obtuse at apex. Nectar glands 2, lateral, ringlike; median glands absent. Ovules 4-40 per ovary. Fruit tardily dehiscent siliques, linear, terete , 4-angled, or slightly latiseptate, sessile; valves with a prominent midvein, torulose; replum rounded; septum complete, membranous; style obsolete; stigma conical, 2-lobed, lobes prominent, connivent, decurrent. Seeds uniseriate, wingless, oblong, plump; seed coat reticulate , not mucilaginous when wetted; cotyledons incumbent.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 10)

The mountain yellow poppy (Papaver alpinum ssp. corona-sancti-stephani)

Synonims: Papaver alpinum, Papaver alpinum corona-sancti-stephani, Papaver alpinum degenii, Papaver alpinum ernesti-mayeri, Papaver alpinum kerneri, Papaver alpinum rhaeticum, Papaver alpinum sendtneri, Papaver alpinum tatricum.

Image from MyNature

Is a rare, vulnerable, endemic Romanian species of poppy (mountain yellow poppy) that grows only in Carpathian Mountains, on the highest peaks. Is a perennial plant, with flat leaves and bright yellow radial flowers.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 9)

Mouse-ear chickweed Cerastium transsylvanicum (Schur ex Griseb & Schenk)

Family: caryophyllaceae
Subfamily: alsinoideae
Tribe: alsinae
Linnaeus-based family name: caryophyllaceae

Image from Botany Pictures

The species is native from Carpathian Mountains, endemic, rare and vulnerable. Grows in Southern and Eastern Carpathians, flowers in May,5-10 cm tall, silver-white flowers forming a perennial carpet on the ground. White flowers. Likes the best soil and a sunny area.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 8)

Astragalus is a large genus of about 2,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milk-vetch (most species), locoweed (in western US, some species) and goat's-thorn (A. gummifer, A. tragacanthus). Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like. Cosaciul bistriţean (milk vetch), (Astragalus Röemeri) is a species specific to Romania.

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales
Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Galegeae
Genus: Astragalus
Species: Astragalus roemeri Simonk.

Astragalus Röemeri is a species threatened at global level, very vulnerable, endemic to Romania, that grows on very small areas and with reduced population in Apuseni Mountains and in Eastern Carpathians.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 7)

Draba is a large genus of cruciferous plants, commonly known as Whitlow-grasses. There are over 300 species. Flămânzica or drobiţa lui Dorner, Draba dorneri Heuff., is the first discovered Romanian endemic plant (Heuffel, 1858). Alpine–subalpine species, Draba dorneri is a glacial relict.

Genus: Draba
Species: Draba dorneri

The plant is 3-15 cm high, almost woody at base, with branches finished in rosettes of leaves. The strain is unfolied or very rarely with 1-2 twigs without leaves. The leaves are oblong, attenuated to base, acute, entire or with 1-2 "teeth" at peak. Flowers are small, white. The fruit is elliptical, rounded at both ends, 4.5-6.7 mm long, 2-3 mm wide. The plant is near extincted, strictly protected (Council of Europe 1979) and grows in a small area (400 sqm!) in Retezat Mountains National Park.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 6)

Delphinium simonkaianum (Romanian: Nemţişorul Trascăului, English: Trascău Larkspur)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Delphinium
Species: Delphinium simonkaianum, Pawl., 1934
Synonims: Delphinium pyramidatum

Image from MyNature

Nemţişorul Trascăului is a rare, endemic plant, seen in Trascăului Mountains, (Alba County, Cluj County), but also in some restricted areas in Eastern and Meridional Carpathians. Delphinium simonkaianum is strictly protected.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 5)

Campanula romanica (Romanian: Clopoţelul Dobrogean, English: Dobruja Bellflower)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids II
Ordo: Asterales
Familia: Campanulaceae
Subfamilia: Campanuloideae
Genus: Campanula
Species: Campanula romanica
Name: Campanula romanica Savul.

Image from TrekNature

Is an endemic, unique species of bellflower that grows only in Romania. Campanula romanica is listed in IUCN red list of threatened plants as "vulnerable".

The tallest tree in Europe

The tallest tree in Europe grows in Romania, in Buzău County. Here, on Valea Harţagului (Harţagului Valley), in a place named Faţa Cheii, near the Siriu dam and lake, grows a fir tree 62 m high and 2.5 m diameter.

The case of Ion Basgan

Ion Basgan (June 24, 1902, Focşani - December 15, 1980, Bucharest) was a Romanian engineer and inventor, famous for the discovery of the effect that bears his name.

He obtained the high school diploma in 1920 in Iaşi. With a scholarship, under contract with the oil company "Romanian Star", Basgan followed between 1920-1925 the Upper Austria School of Mining and Metallurgy in Leoben, and after graduation he worked on construction sites of the "Astra Română" Oil Company, becoming in 1930 the director of the sites in Moldova. In 1933 he obtained a Ph.D. at Montanistische Hochschule Leoben in Austria with the thesis entitled "Die Arbeitsweise und Form des Rotary Meissels", published in 1934 at Hans Urban Publisher in Vienna with a preface written by the famous engineer and inventor Gogu Constantinescu. The same year, he followed the political economy courses of the University of London and began his teaching career as an honorary professor at the Department of Petroleum Economics at the Academy of Commercial and Industrial Advanced Studies. Between 1944 and 1949 he was director of the company "Petrolifera" Wallachia, and between 1949 and 1954 he worked at the Ministry of Agriculture, to design and execute the boreholes for water supply of cities.

The research of Ion Basgan in oil drilling with sonicity combined with the "Basgan effect" started in 1932. Essentially, he developed a system for drilling for oil which used principles of sonics to drill wells cheaper, faster, and better. The theory was that using percussive as well as rotary drilling, and a counter-weight, oil wells could be drilled extremely quickly and be perfectly straight down as well. This invention also allowed for drilling up to and exceeding 15km of depth. His most important patents are: "Method for improving the efficiency of advanced rotary drilling, by rotation percussion and the depreciation of hydro mechanic pressure", patented in Romania (Patent no. 22789/1934) and then in the U.S., "Rotary Well Drilling Apparatus", patented in U.S. (Patent no. 2103137/1937) and refined later in Romania, "Rotary Hammer Drilling" (Patent no. 37743/1945). These inventions have revolutionized the oil drilling techniques, helping US oil drillers to reduce production costs by over 30 per cent. In 1967, Basgan patented in France, USA, Portugal and United Arab Emirates the invention "Rotary and percussive drilling system with sonic frequency, limiting the effect of Archimedes pressure, and the corresponding plant and equipment", which permitted the exceeding of the critical barrier of 8000 m depth. Ion Basgan published over 60 works, consisting of articles, topics discussed at conferences and treatises on drilling equipment.

Initially, these inventions were used in Romania. Since 1937, they were applied in the U.S. by all major oil companies. During the period of the Second World War, the inventions of the Romanian engineer were seized and freed only in 1965, by the Order 838/13.10.1965 of the Ministry of Justice of the United States. Basgan died without ever receiving any money for his invention. He wanted to use the fees to help young Romanian inventors, regardless of their field of activity. Over the past few years however, Basgan's sons has been fighting in court for the reparation of royalties from 200 US oil companies, with royalties totaling $8,634,836,458.00, to fulfill his father’s dream.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 4)

Centaurea pinnatifida Schur.

* Kingdom: Plantae
* Phylum: Spermatophyta
* Class: Dicotyledones
* Order: Asterales
* Genus: Asteraceae
* Genus: Centaurea
* Species: Centaurea pinnatifida Schur.

Is a rare, endemic Romanian plant (listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened plants), that grows in three restricted areas in the Carpathians Mountains. The stems are 30 to 60 cm high, often woody at base, and the branches are leafless for some distance below capitula. The florets are bluish-violet, with ragged petals.

In Romania, it is named vineţea or albăstrea, but this name is used also for Centaurea nigra and Centaurea Cyanus, plants very similar as aspect.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 3)

Another flower from the Dianthus family (suprataxon: Caryophyllaceae [verbatim]), Dianthus spiculifolius (Romanian: Garofiţa albă de stânci or Barba ungurului, English: rocks white carnation or Beard of the Hungarian) is an elegant plant that grows on limestone rocks, in upland up to the alpine areas. It grows as a bush, with many stems, the flowers are white or pale pink. The leaves are linear, up to 2-3 mm thin and the petals are ragged. It blooms in May-July and has an extraordinary, exquisite perfume.

Image from MyNature, © Beniamin Boceanu

Listed as Dianthus spiculifolius Schur. (1866), this splendid flower is a rare, endemic species who grows in a few restricted areas in the Romanian Carpathians Mountains.

Images from Alpinet, © Daniel Morar, Csaba Iakob

Unique plants from Romania (Part 2)

Piatra Craiului's Pink (Dianthus callizonus)

Dianthus is a genus of about 300 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native mainly to Europe and Asia, with a few species extending south to north Africa, and one species (D. repens) in arctic North America. Common names include carnation (D. caryophyllus), pink (D. plumarius and related species) and sweet william (D. barbatus). The name Dianthus is from the Greek words dios ("god") and anthos ("flower"), and was cited by the Greek botanist Theophrastus.

The species are mostly perennial herbs, a few are annual or biennial, and some are low subshrubs with woody basal stems. The leaves are opposite, simple, mostly linear and often strongly glaucous grey-green to blue-green. The flowers have five petals, typically with a frilled or pinked margin, and are (in almost all species) pale to dark pink. One species, D. knappii, has yellow flowers with a purple centre.

Dianthus callizonus has a short stem (5 to 10 cm tall), wearing a single flower on top with a corolla about. 3 cm in diameter, formed of 5 flat geared petals, red-carmine, at the bottom with a purple spot, speckled with white and with silky shining hairs. Flower show in the center a mottled purple ring, very characteristic. Inside, the petals are white-green, and leaves that are narrow, elongated for 2 to 4 cm and are arranged in pairs. Blooms in August and grows on steep slopes beams of Piatra Craiului Mountains (Braşov County), is endemic to this massif. The plant is unique in the world, is a natural monument and is protected by law.

Unique plants from Romania (Part 1)

Blue Jewel Hepatica (Hepatica transsilvanica)
Hepatica is a genus of herbaceous perennial plants belonging to the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. A native of central and northern Europe, Asia and northeastern North America, Hepatica is sometimes called liverleaf or liverwort. It should not be confused with liverworts, which may also be called "Hepaticae". Some botanists include Hepatica within a wider interpretation of Anemone. Hepatica nobilis is the common Hepatica, but Hepatica transsilvanica can be found only in Romania (in Carpathian Mountains and Transylvania). In Romania, this unique plant is named crucea voinicului (English: the cross of the powerful). Masses of starry deep-blue flowers provide rich decoration in early spring over evergreen, mats of leathery, deep-green, tri-lobed foliage.

Photo from MyNature, © Andrei Lenard

The spa lily

The thermal water lily grows in Băile 1 Mai (1st May Baths, a thermal spa resort near Oradea, Bihor County, Northwestern Romania) from the time of dinosaurs, is a living fossil and unique in the world. The spa lily or the lotus flower (Nymphaea lotus var. termalis), is a species of Romanian endemic lily.

Origin: Nymphaea lotus var. termalis (flower unique in Romania, protected by law) is a natural reserve. In the area can be found also other species of lilies, and it is assumed that the water lily (Nymphaea alba) and lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) seeds were brought here either by the Turks or by the migrating birds, and thermal water have been favored the development of the plant. But only the thermal water lily is unique in the world.

Botanist Kitaibel Pál discovered that lily species in 1789, and received its name later, in 1908, when Tuzson János give it this name because of similarity of spa lily with the Nile lily. In 1931, the plant was declared a natural monument.

Nera's Gorges

Nera River springs from the western part of Southern Carpathians, actually from the Semenic Mountains. At the point where Nera River enters Anina Mountains, the water flow has carved out a breathtaking landscape, whose most attractive point is the Nera Gorges; the straits here are extremely spectacular, wild and rather hard to reach. The keys’ surrounding regions make a national park that was founded in 2004 and stretches along an area of about 37,000 hectares.

The Nera Gorges – Beuşniţa Nature Reserve was for the first time protected in 1943. The need was felt to protect the area in terms of landscape, as well as in terms of its biodiversity. At the surface, diversity lies in the Nera Gorges, the biggest of their kind across the country. According to some specialists there are 20 kilometers long, while others describe them as being 22 kilometers long;aAs for the subterranean landscape - caves and other karstic phenomena. And in terms of biodiversity, there are all sorts of species with Mediterranean influence that can only be found in this region.

In terms of landscape, some of Nera Gorges, most admired spots are such crystal-clear water expands such as the Bey’s Eye or the Devil’s Lake, the Beuşniţa and Văioaga waterfalls, as well as tunneled pathways in Sasca Montană.

About one third of Romania’s earth flora can be found in the Park. The fitogeografic analysis shows the predominance of the European elements in a broad sense, 603 species (58.3%), of which 305 Euro-Asian species, 152 European, 124 Central European, 52 circumpolar. It is also noticed in the flora of the park a large number of southern elements: 209 species (about 19%). Endemic species for the Nera Gorges National Park were identified such as the Banat peony (Paeonia maculata), as well as other species, which are Mediterranean and here in the Nera Gorges found a favorable climate due to the heat that can be found on lime stones. Such species are the filbert tree (Corylus colurna), the wig tree (Cotinus coggyria), and many others.

The fauna in the Nera Park is very rich, among rivers, groves and forests. The terrestrial fauna is represented by a number of 313 taxa, 29 endemisms, 45 rare species, out of which 119 species are protected and strictly protected by the Romanian and international law. The Nera river has fish species that can be described as endemic. For instance, here can be found the Aspro Streber, also known as the loach. This kind of fish is a unique case of how the perch can adapt to living in the fast mountain rivers. This species of fish was considered extinct, or on the verge of extinction across the park, but in 2006 several researchers from the Grigore Antipa Museum managed to capture five samples of the species that are now kept at the Museum. Among reptiles, two venomous species stand out, the viper (Vipera ammodytes), and the adder (Vipera berus). We should also mention the Carpathians’ scorpion (Euscorpius carpaticus), which is a real symbol of the Nera Gorges – Beuşniţa National Park, and is even pictured on this protected area’s emblem. The park also has big mammals, such as the wild boar, the bear, the lynx or the wild cat.

Today, tourism is the region's sole source of income, as long as locals and tourists alike respect the rules and boundaries implied by the protected area. Administrators of the Nera Gorges – Beuşniţa National Park are constantly monitoring tourists who enter the area, and step in to take measures in case any of them break park rules. At the entrance, each tourist pays a fee of little over one euro, and is given a leaflet with park rules and a bag for collecting their trash.

Devil's Pond

Covasna (Hungarian: Kovászna) is a town in Covasna county, Transylvania, Romania, at an altitude of 550-600 m. First mentioned in a document in 1567 and known as the "town of 1,000 mineral springs," Covasna is famous for its mineral waters. Each spring has a different mixture of minerals, chiefly carbon dioxide, sulfur, and ammonia. Its name is derived from the Slavic word Cvaz, meaning sour, referring to the taste of its mineral waters.

Right in downtown there is a natural monument with a unique value: the so-called "Devil's Pond" - a sort of mud volcano, with permanent eruptions of mud bubbles. Traditionally, in the 1700s, this natural phenomenon was placed further north, but mysteriously moved to the center of the town, leaving in its initial place a brother, "Devil's Little Pond". The bubbles are actually some strong releases of carbon dioxide. Carbonated emanations are related to volcanic processes which took place in the region of Harghita-Călimani in the end of Paleocene and early Quaternary. Gases contain carbon dioxide with a purity of 98%.

The Devil's Pond was open to the public in 1881 and initially used for treatment. The gas accumulated in special places called moffets is an excellent and unique natural factor for the treatment of multiple diseases primarily of cardiovascular diseases.

In the nineteenth century there were some major eruptions: in 1837, 1857, 1864 and 1885, the largest being in 1837. Currently, the volcano is completely harmless, the last major eruption took place in 1984.

Elie Wiesel - Nobel 1986

Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel (born September 30, 1928 in Sighet) is a writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor.

Elie Wiesel was born in Sighet, a little town in Transylvania, (now Sighetu Marmaţiei), Maramureş, Kingdom of Romania. His father, Sholomo Wiesel, was an Orthodox Jew, who instilled a strong sense of humanism in his son, encouraging him to learn modern Hebrew and to read literature, whereas his mother, Sarah, encouraged him to study the Torah and Kabbalah. Wiesel’s early life, spent in a small Hasidic community, was a rather hermetic existence of prayer and contemplation. In 1940 Sighet was annexed by Hungary, and in March 1944 the town was brought into the Holocaust. Within days, Jews were “defined” and their property confiscated. By April they were ghettoized, and on May 15 the deportations to Auschwitz began. Wiesel, his parents, and three sisters were deported to Auschwitz, where his mother and a sister (Tzipora) were killed. He and his father were sent to Buna-Monowitz, the slave labour component of the Auschwitz camp. In January 1945 they were part of a death march to Buchenwald, where his father died on January 28 and from which Wiesel was liberated in April.

After the war Wiesel settled in France, studied at the Sorbonne (1948–51), and wrote for French and Israeli newspapers. Wiesel went to the United States in 1956 and was naturalized in 1963. He was a professor at City College of New York (1972–76), and from 1976 he taught at Boston University, where he became Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities.

During his time as a journalist in France, Wiesel was urged by the novelist François Mauriac to bear witness to what he had experienced in the concentration camps. The outcome was Wiesel’s first book, in Yiddish, Un di velt hot geshvign (1956; “And the World Has Remained Silent”), abridged as La Nuit (1958; Night), a memoir of a young boy’s spiritual reaction to Auschwitz. It is considered by some critics to be the most powerful literary expression of the Holocaust. In the US, Wiesel wrote over 40 books, both fiction and non-fiction, and won many literary prizes.

All of Wiesel’s works reflect, in some manner, his experiences as a survivor of the Holocaust and his attempt to resolve the ethical torment of why the Holocaust happened and what it revealed about human nature. He became a noted lecturer on the sufferings experienced by Jews and others during the Holocaust, and his ability to transform this personal concern into a universal condemnation of all violence, hatred, and oppression was largely responsible for his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. In 1978 U.S. President Jimmy Carter named Wiesel chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, which recommended the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Wiesel also served as the first chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1985, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence, KBE (Knight of The British Empire) and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1996. (From Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Herta Müller - Nobel 2009

Herta Müller (born 17 August 1953) is a Romanian-born German novelist, poet and essayist noted for her works depicting the harsh conditions of life in Communist Romania under the repressive Nicolae Ceauşescu regime, the history of the Germans in Banat, and the persecution of Romanian ethnic Germans by Stalinist Soviet occupying forces in Romania.

She was born in August 1953 in the German-speaking village of Niţchidorf (German: Nitzkydorf), in the Banat district of Romania. The daughter of Banat Swabian farmers, her family was part of Romania's German minority; her father had served in the Waffen SS and her mother survived five years (1944-1949) in a slave labour camp in the Soviet Union during and after World War II. While she speaks German as a native language, she is also fluent in Romanian. Hertha left her village to study German and Romanian literature at the University of Timişoara. Here she became part of the Aktionsgruppe Banat (Campaign Group Banat), a group of idealistic Romanian-German writers seeking freedom of expression under the Ceauşescu dictatorship.

After her studies she was employed as a translator in a machine factory. Contacted by intermediaries of the Romanian Secret Service (Securitate), she strictly refused any collaboration which led to her losing her job in the factory. The Secret Service expected to get information from her about the Aktionsgruppe Banat, of which she was a member. During this period, she began writing her first stories which she collected under the title of 'Niederungen', but she had difficulty satisfying the censors, and this work was not published until 1982, and then in radically modified form.

In 1984, 'Niederungen' was published in Germany in an uncensored version. Awards and invitations to Germany followed. Although Herta Müller hadn’t had the permission to leave Romania as yet, traveling became possible for her hereupon. She even achieved an employment as teacher shortly before. After she had criticized severely the Ceauşescu dictatorship in interviews, however, a publication and traveling ban was imposed on her – culminating in death threats by the Secret Service. In 1987, she left Romania with her husband, novelist Richard Wagner and since then they lived in Berlin. Over the following years she received many lectureships at universities in Germany and abroad. She currently lives in Berlin. Müller received membership of the German Academy for Writing and Poetry in 1995, and other positions followed. Beside the prizes for her debut (among others the 'aspekte Literaturpreis'), she received many awards, such as Kleist, Aristeion, Würth, Impac, Cicero, and many others.

Herta Müller was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999 and 2009. The Swedish Academy awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature to Müller "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed".

The Romanian pure-blood horse

The huţul is the only Romanian pure-blood horse. It seems that the ancestor of the huţul is the tarpan, a species of wild horse that lived around the Black Sea.

The huţul is wiry and can work from morning till night. The part between the hoof and the wrist is very short and the horse can easily climb mountains, no matter how bad the way is. In addition, the hoof is small and very hard, so this horse doesn't need horseshoes.

Today in Romania pure-blood huţuls are grown at Lucina Stud in Suceava County, to a huge expanse of pasture woodland located near the border with Ukraine. Worldwide there are about 4,500 huţul horses and 3500 of them are marked with "Lucina" brand. Lucina Stud was established by the Austrians in 1856. So meticulous were the imperial officials in preparing the plans that even today the herd facilities are in place, with an enviable precision. Water comes through free fall and does not freeze no matter how great is the frost, and barns are so well placed to be protected from blizzards that from 150 years are rebuild the same places. In addition to the main driveway are the pines which legend says that were planted by Empress Maria Theresa and a monument dedicated to Colonel Martin von Herman, who founded the international recognition of huţul race.

The longest romantic poem

A young poet from Iaşi, Cristian Bodnărescu, shot down the world record at... poem, composing the longest romantic poem of universal literature. Cristian is a journalist with studies in philosophy, and this is his first appearance in the sphere of literature.

The previous record was held until recently by a 126 years old poem, also Romanian: "Evening Star" by Mihai Eminescu, recognized in 2009 by the World Record Academy in Miami, as the longest poem, with 91 quatrains and 364 stanzas of verse.

The poem "She Demon" is, besides the world record of romantic poetry, "an original artistic work, a penetration of the demonic spirit world, an attempt to get starting finding a truth. The poem is apparently influenced by romanticism, but dominant is the fabulous perpetuity", as stated professor Theodore Teo-Marsalcovschi.

Cristian Bodnărescu's poem, of 109 quatrains, will appear in volume in early October, at "Renaissance Publishing House" in Bucharest. Now some details still to be added to the final form of poems and the translations in English, to be approved by the World Record Academy.

The longest relay in the World

This month, in the Herăstrău Park in Bucharest ended the Gillette Phenomenal Tour, the longest relay in the world. In this competition were covered over 3,000 km in 15 days, by 15 professional athletes participating at the event which runs in shifts of five, joined by amateur athletes. The group consists of an escort of four cars plus a runner. The run round the clock, in three teams, which changed every eight hours.

A representative of Guinness Book of World Records recorded the details of the event and has validated the performance. The previous record was about 1,500 km and was made in Japan.

The tour was opened by Răzvan Lucescu, the coach of the National Football Team of Romania on September 21, in Union Square; the relay passed through 24 important cities of Romania and concluded in the evening of October 5, by Ionuţ Lupescu, from the Romanian Football Federation. Also participated in the relay famous sportmen such as Ivan Patzaichin, Silviu Lung Jr. and Cristi Balaj.

Ion Voicu

Ion Voicu (October 8, 1923, Bucharest – February 24, 1997, Bucharest) was a great Romanian violinist and orchestral conductor of Roma ethnicity. The roots of the Voicu family date from the middle of the 19th century, when a violin player, Nicolae Voicu, used to play in a Bucharest band. His son, the violinist Ştefan Voicu (1893-1976) had a solid occupation as an instrumentalist in the orchestras of the capital (it seems that he had become a virtuoso double bass player as well), taking pride in his four children who took up three different instruments: Ion Voicu – the violin, Marin and Mircea Voicu – the piano, and Gheorghe Voicu – the double bass. This is actually the generation that received higher education in Bucharest and Moscow, which irrevocably imposed the name of the Voicu family on the national and global level in the 20th century, the son of the great late violinist (Mădălin) being today an internationally recognized conductor.

Raised in Bucharest, he received his first violin at the age of 5, and he was initiated into the study of this instrument by a student, Constantin Niculescu. Garabet Avakian and Vasile Filip subsequently guided him for the examination admission to the Royal Academy of Music in Bucharest where, at the age of 14 years old, he was directly matriculated in the 5th year. Here, he studied under remarkable professors (George Enacovici, Cecilia Nitzulescu-Lupu, Vasile Filip) and was polished in Moscow, at the Music Conservatory “Piotr Ilici Tchaikovsky”, by the scrupulousness of the great Soviet masters (Abram Iampolsky and David Oistrakh), the young Romanian virtuoso was to begin a brilliant career.

In 1946, having won the National Prize “Enescu–Menuhin” he went to Switzerland. In 1950 he became the soloist of Philharmonic Orchestra in Bucharest; the young violinist's huge potential and his ascent convinced the administration of the Ministry of Culture to get an exceptional instrument and and to place it at his disposal. In 1956, Ion Voicu became the first Romanian who had a Stradivarius violin.

Ciprian Porumbescu - Balada (Ion Voicu)

He gave concerts on the greatest stages of the world (Royal Albert Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, Scala in Milan, Carnegie Hall in New York, Teatro Colòn in Buenos Aires, Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna a.s.o.) with the most famous orchestras (Berliner Philarmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Philharmonic Orchestra in Tokyo, the Symphony Orchestra in Cincinatti, Seattle, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Dresden, München a.s.o.) and co-operated with eminent musicians: Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Henryk Szering, Monique Haas, Christoph Eschenbach, Sergiu Celibidache, John Barbirolli, Antal Dorati, Vàclav Neumann, André Cluytens, a.s.o.

He was a juror in prestigious international violin competitions: “Piotr Ilici Tchaikovsky” (Moscow), “Carl Flesch” (London), “Jan Sibelius” (Helsinki), “Johann Sebastian Bach” (Leipzig) and during his career, he was awarded by many prizes and titles, among which: “Medaille d'or” of the French Academy, the Honorary Diploma of the Foundation “Eugène Ysaye”, The Prize of the Romanian Academy, The Honorary Diploma of the Ministry of Culture and Prize of Excellency of the Union of Interpreters, Choreographers and Musical Critics of Romania. He was member of the Foundation “Henryk Szering” and of UNICEF Council. From 1972 to 1982, he was the director of the Romanian Philharmonic. In 1969 he founded the award-winning Bucharest Chamber Orchestra, which is now conducted by his son Mădălin Voicu.

Sibiu Museum of History

The building known today as the Altemberger House, after the name of its first proprietor, was purchased in 1545 by the Magistrate of the city, becoming the location of the Town Hall for 400 years (until 1948). It comprises 10 architectural units, to which a defensive tower was added, conjointly structuring one of the most impressive ensembles of civic Gothic architecture in Romania and even in the South Eastern Europe. The oldest part of the architectural set is the dwelling tower, its construction being initiated in the late 13th century.

As the legendary founder of the city was called Hermann, the visitors are welcomed in the Museum’s courtyard by several decorative figures named Hermanns, illustrating the late 17th c. townsman typologies: the healer, the knight, the banker, the butcher, the brewer (tavern keeper), the infantryman, the student, the mayor and the minstrel. In the back courtyard, known as Martyrs’ Garden, there are several works of figurative sculpture as the four consoles of the loggia, representing male portraits, elegantly and minutely executed. They decorate a space presenting elements of a Renaissance influence.

Multi-folded in the ways of approaching, the broad concept of the permanent exhibition (reorganized during 2006 and 2007) is that of local history.
Beginning by presenting the common life in the Paleolithic Period, the exhibition offers an illustrative image about how people lived in caves, in huts, in households, in more elaborate villas or medieval interiors.

Human activities are described from the game-processing to the specialized production of guilds. The social status and the leading position are underlined through the means of the exhibits in the Roman lapidarium as well as by the settings of the exhibition presenting the Magistrate of Sibiu.

Warfare was another facet of the human existence, implying weapons, tactics, logistics and specific organization, all envisaged through the means of arms and armors. Religious believes are constant aspects of human life, being illustrated since Prehistory to the days of elaborate liturgical rites, through the means of cult items.

Finally, the tour concludes with the presentation of the southern Transylvania movement for national emancipation, presenting events of the 18th to the 20th century period.

The main sections of the museum are: The Emergence of Human Settlements in Southern Transylvania, Roman Lapidarium, Medieval Lapidarium, Arms and Armors, The Guilds of Sibiu, The Glass work in Transylvania, The Magistrates of Sibiu, Coins and Medals, Treasury, The Movement for National Emancipation in Southern Transylvania. (From Brukenthal National Museum)