Ilse Maria Reich

Born in 1944 in Sibiu, Ilse Maria Reich studied the pipe organ in Prague with Jiri Rheinberger, in Essen with Gisbert Schneider, and at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover with Ulrich Bremsteller. Stated as a most valuable organist in Romania, with participation in international festivals, she was known worldwide due to its genuine vocation - after emigrating in 1988 in Germany.

In 1990, she founded a music school in Rottenburg - which now has 500 students - which she led for 18 years. As conductor of the choir and orchestra ensembles toured with the school in South Africa, Italy, Romania, Czech Republic and China. Over several years, Ilse Maria Reich has prepared and made possible the collaboration between the school choir "Chorgemeinschaft der Musikschule Städtischen" and the Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra in several vocal-symphonic concerts.

Barbu the Fiddler

Barbu Lăutaru (Vasile Barbu, 1780-1860, known as Barbu the Fiddler), was a legendary singer and cobza player, member of an old family of musicians. Staroste (chief of the guild) of fiddlers in Moldova for 40 years, Barbu the Fiddler was one of those great Romanian folk singers who, through the creation and interpretation, contributed to the formation and enrichment of lăutăresc popular music style. He aroused the admiration of Franz Liszt on the occasion of its passage through Moldova, in the winter of 1847 in Iaşi. The French weekly La Vie Parisienne reported that, during the visit, Barbu Lăutaru reproduced perfectly one of Franz Liszt's improvisations at a first audition, when the Hungarian composer was the host of the writer Vasile Alecsandri. It is said that Franz Liszt said: "You are a greater musician than me!"

Taraf of Ochi-Albi, 1860, Carol Popp de Szathmary (from Wikipedia)

The Romanian word Lăutar denotes a class of traditional musicians. Most often, and by tradition, Lăutari are members of a professional clan of Romani musicians (Gypsies), also called Ţigani lăutari. The term is derived from Lăută, the name of a string instrument similar to a Lute. Lăutari usually perform in a band called Taraf. Originally, the word was used only from those that played the lăută. The other were named from their instruments, too, such as: scripcar (violin player), cobzar (cobza player), and naigiu (nai/panflute player). From the 17th century, the word lăutar was used regardless of the instrument that was played. The lăutărească music is complex and elaborated, with dense harmonies and refined ornamentation, and its execution requires a good technique. The lăutari drew inspiration from all the musics they had contact with: the pastoral music of Romania, the Byzantine music played in the church, as well as foreign music, most notably Turkish, but also Russian and Western European. Another distinction should be made between the lăutărească music played by lăutari and the Romanian peasant music. A more proper name for someone who plays peasant music is that of rapsod.

One of the most popular Romanian folk tunes is the Ballad of Barbu Lăutaru. You can listen it in several versions (folklore, jazz, rock...). It worth a try!

Fănică Luca - Eu sunt Barbu Lăutaru (historical recording)

Ion Luican - Eu sunt Barbu Lăutaru (traditional)

Ion Ghiţulescu - Barbu Lăutaru (traditional)

Emy Dragoi & Jazz Hot Club Romania - Barbu Lăutaru (jazz)

Marius Mihalache feat. Teodora Enache - Barbu Lăutaru (ethno-jazz)

Gheorghe Zamfir - Barbu Lăutaru (instrumental, panpipe)

Phoenix feat. Gheorghe Zamfir - Barbu Lăutaru (rock)

A homeless artist

Ion Bârladeanu was born in Vaslui County, in Zăpodeni, and left the natal village at 18. He did not get along with his relatives, especially his father, because it was a communist. He had several jobs, as docker in Constanţa or reed cutter in the Danube Delta, then went to Bucharest, where he worked as lumberjack, construction worker, watchman or grave digger. After the fall of Communism in Romania in 1989, he was eking out life on a grubby mattress at the bottom of a garbage chute in a Bucharest housing block, recycling bottles and metal.

His collages, created from discarded magazines that he has rifled through for many years, were an art for him from the beginning. It is a line of work, in fact, that he began before the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1989. Created with a cinematographic edge, they depict shiny possibilities outside the gulag-like background in which he sets them. It's work that would have landed him in danger for many years. Although he have not artistic studies and did not have access to the art world until 2008, Ion Bârladeanu has a vast culture. He likes philosophy, movies - especially dramas, and knows a lot of people - domestic and foreign actors, and local celebrities. His intuition seems to be almost infallible.

He was discovered as an artist by Ovidiu Feneş, which recommended him to an art gallery owner, Dan Popescu. In his gallery exposed Bârladeanu for the first time, at 62, 20 collages on political themes - his favorite subject. Last year, he was flown to Art Basel and to London. In February, he was brought to Paris for the show, titled Realpolitik, and in the ultimate accolade for a burgeoning artist, surely, he had lunch with Angelina Jolie. His collages were exposed along works by Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Richard Hamilton, Tom Wesselmann. There is possibly something distasteful about plucking a man from homeless obscurity in Romania, dressing him up and parachuting him into Parisian society, with A-list celebrities fawning at their latest darling.

In 2009 the director Alexander Nanau and HBO Romania made a documentary film about the artist, called The World According to Ion B., film which won an International Emmy, category "Arts Programming".


The Romanian researchers Emilia Moroşan and Eric Pop have been awarded yesterday at the White House by the American president Barack Obama during the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers Gala. The PECASE Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Ten Federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions. The two Romanians were proposed by the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Strategic Research of the U.S. Air Force.

Emilia Moroşan (34) graduated the "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" University in Iaşi, Faculty of Physics and worked for an year as a teacher in Romania. Now, she is Assistant Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Chemistry at Rice University, Houston, Texas. She received also the National Science Foundation Career Award.

Eric Pop is Assistant Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He received some important prizes, as: NSF Career Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Air Force Young Investigator Award, DARPA Young Faculty Award.

The Synagogue, Tîrgu Mureş

The Synagogue of Tîrgu-Mureş, also known as the “Large Temple", was built between 1899 and 1900 at the initiative of the Jewish community "Status Quo" and is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings of its kind in Romania. The marble plaque in the hall of the temple bears the names of all those who contributed materially or spiritually to its construction. Among these is the name of the then- president of the community Burger Adalbert, of its vice-president Farkas Mendel, of Rabbi Dr. Wilhelm Joachim and of the main donors.

The design of the synagogue was drawn up by Jewish architect Gartner Jacob of Vienna and the construction works were coordinated by Sóos Pál. The architectural conception is defined by monumentality and a harmonious eclecticism. Various Western European styles were combined with Muslim ones in order to create a visual effect of richness. The main facade consists of a central part and two lateral towers crowned by bulb-shaped vaults of oriental inspiration. The main entrance is sheltered by a portico with three semi-circular arches supported by columns. Above it lies the large, floral rosette. An inscription in Hebrew can be seen on the gable of the façade, which follows the curved contour of the rosette and the gable. The text is a quote from the Old Testament (Isaiah 56/7) and it means: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples”. Elements such as svelte columns with caps decorated with floral motifs in relief, which support semi-circular arch openings are placed next to laced profiles and tri-lobed ornaments. Each tower has an access door to the stairs that lead to the balcony inside the temple, as well as a smaller rosette. The entire edifice is dominated by the central cupola. Each side of the central spire is decorated with a floral rosette similar to the ones on the facade. This type of window is also used several times on the lateral facades.

The vast interior is richly decorated, both with shapes and color. The temple has 314 seats on the ground floor (for men) and 238 on the top floor (for women). The space consists of an access corridor separated from the central nave by doors decorated with colorful stained glass windows. The central nave is delimited from the two lateral naves, above which there are balconies, by columns placed on high socles. The central vault is painted with star motifs in vivid colors and is decorated with shell-shaped motifs or fret-sawed panels with the Star of David in their center. Underneath the vault there is the bima – a square space surrounded by a railing – where fragments of the Tora are read.

An essential element of the Synagogue is the shrine where the rolls of Tora are kept, at the end of the central nave. Attached to the railing of the shrine is the monument dedicated to the Jews of Tîrgu Mureş who died in the Holocaust. In 1944 Jews were deported from Tîrgu Mureş, as well, as it was part of the Hungarian state. According to statistics, 5943 Jews of Tîrgu Mureş died in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. The plaque in the Large Temple bears the following Hebrew inscription in their memory: “The number of martyrs from our town is 5943. The stones in the walls themselves and the entire Jewish people mourn the extermination of our parents and our loved ones who were asphyxiated and burnt in Auschwitz in the year 5704 (1944)”.

Via. Photos from here, here.

The Jesuit Church, Tîrgu-Mureş

At the beginning of the 18th century, one of the most representative Baroque churches of Transylvania was built in Tîrgu-Mureş: the Jesuit Church of Saint John the Baptist. It was erected in the North-Eastern part of the city center and belongs to the Roman Catholic parish.

Jesuit monks settled in Tîrgu-Mureş in 1702 with the purpose of revitalizing the Catholic community. During the first years, they found lodging in the home of Boer Simon, but in 1704 managed to buy a plot of land near the Nagy Szabo house in order to build a church. Facing the diffidence of the mostly reformed population, but supported by Vienna, the Jesuits began erecting the church as late as 1728. Until that time, religious services were held in a small wooden chapel. Architect Hammer Konrad of Schwalbach was entrusted with the building of the church. He had also coordinated the building of the Jesuit church of Cluj, the first Baroque church of Transylvania. It is therefore not a coincidence that the two edifices resemble each other both structure-wise and in what concerns the appearance of the facades. Even though the Jesuits left the town in 1733, before the church was finished, its building was accomplished at the initiative of the Catholic priests who remained in charge.

The rectangular-shaped church of Tîrgu-Mureş is divided as follows: the altar (finalized in 1729), rather large and surrounded by smaller rooms, the central nave (erected in 1734 and covered in 1740), flanked on both sides by three chapels, the entrance area under the tribunes, separated from the rest of the nave by an arch with three openings and having the two towers on the sides (also built in 1734). The central, larger spaces are covered by cylindrical archways with penetrations, whereas the lateral ones are covered by cross archways.

The façade is divided into three vertical registers and two horizontal levels. The first level includes the inferior part of the towers and the façade up to the gable. The rectangular opening of the entrance topped by a small semi-circular gable, the oblong semicircular windows of the middle register with the extremely plastically articulated “eye-brow” cornices, the rectangular windows with the slightly curved long sides, the niches which hold the statues of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francisc Xavierus, the monumental pilasters that mark the towers vertically are all elements of typical Baroque architecture. The superior part of the façade, delimited by a strongly-profiled cornice, includes the triangular gable with its sides slightly curved toward the exterior and decorated with volutes, as well as the two tower roofs shaped as successive bulbs.

The inside of the church is luxurious, with liturgical objects that are true works of art. The main altar, made in 1755 by Anton Schuchbauer and Johannes Nachtigal is of monumental dimensions and has a pseudo-architectural structure with paired columns which support a beautifully profiled entablement with gilded stucco. The main painting of the altar is The Baptism of God, supposedly painted by Michael Angelo Unterberger, a student of the famous Baroque painter G.B. Piazzetta. The main altar also includes the coat-of-arms of the Haller Family, the most important donor, and a painting of the Virgin and the Child. The painting is placed in a typically baroque ensemble made up of a false curtain supported by two putti - sunrays that seem to be springing from behind the painting - angel masks and decorative elements such as volutes. The adornment of the altar is accomplished by the angel statues on the upper area, above the columns, and the two statues in between the columns. The last two represent allegorical characters: Ecclesia embodied by Saint Barbara and the Sinagogue represented by a prophet’s figure. The way body movement is reproduced, the subtle interpretation of the physiognomy, the volumetric and the draping of clothes make of these two statues masterpieces of Transylvanian Baroque art. On the North side of the nave lies another of the church’s piece-de-resistance. It is the pulpit, decorated with wooden statues of the four evangelists: Saint Marc, Saint Matthew, Saint John and Saint Luke, as well as relieves of the crucifixion scene. This was also done in 1755 by Anton Schuchbauer and Johannes Nachtigal, the creators of the altar, with the donations of count Bethlen Miklos and countess Csaky Krisztina.

The paintings of the altars in the lateral chapels: Saint Ladislau, Saint Joseph, Saint John of Nepomuc, Holy Cross belong to the same Michael Angelo Unterberger. The stained glass windows made by the Türke Company of Grottau were installed in 1898. The church was decorated with frescoes only in 1900. Painter Szirmai Antal was the one who decorated the archway with a copy of “The Adoration of the Kings” by Paolo Veronese, in line with the principles of Baroque painting, as well as with the portraits of the Holy Fathers, of Saint Elisabeth, Saint Margaret and the scene of Virgin Mary's assumption.

Via. Photos from here, here, here, here.

Toldalagi Palace, Tîrgu-Mureş

The Toldalagi Palace is located in Tîrgu-Mureş, the seat of Mureş County, Transylvania, Romania.

Between 1759 and 1772, count Toldalagi László and his wife Wass Katalina raised on their property near the Franciscan monastery of Trandafirilor Square the most beautiful and representative building for the Baroque in Tîrgu-Mureş. The beginning of the construction works was delayed by the City Council, but after 1759 when Toldalagi became judge of the Royal Table he was eventually able to realize his plans.

The palace at 11 Trandafirilor Square was built in two stages (1759—1762 and 1770-1772) based on the designs of French architect Jean Louis D'Orr. He designed an U-shaped building, but it was modified later by the addition of a new wing that closed the rear part. Thus, the building is nowadays a rectangular plan, having an interior yard with open galleries. The construction works were supervised by constructor and architect Paul Schmidt. The resulting edifice has a basement covered with semi-cylindrical arched ceilings, a ground floor with rooms lined up on the two sides of the interior yard, a mezzanine and one floor, with a large reception room in the main wing, the one facing the square. A staircase leads from the ground floor to the open gallery of the top floor, with arches supported by brick posts. From here the various rooms disposed on all four sides of the yard may be entered. The ceiling of the rooms on the floor is divided into squares and decorated with floral stucco.

The most spectacular element of the building is the main façade, beautifully decorated in accordance with the artistic precepts of late Transylvanian Baroque. The sculptures that adorn the façade were created by Baroque artist Schuchbauer Antal, author of an impressive portfolio of Baroque ornaments based on anthropomorphic motifs.

The portal of the entrance has an ample basket-handle opening, with a curved keystone. The windows are rectangular and have plaster framing both on the ground floor and on the first floor. The ones on the first floor are larger and more richly decorated, with wreaths of flowers and semi-arched “eyebrow” cornices. Some of the upper parts of these arch segments metamorphose into modeled volutes. Underneath the windows of the top floor lie panels ornamented with stucco that start at the windowsill and descend to the middle area of the façade. Other important elements that articulate the façade are the segmented lesena on the ground floor, composite-capped pilasters on the first floor and the cornice that delimits the ground floor from the first floor on the outside.

On the roof there is a triangular gable with its top severed by a curved cornice the sides of which take the shape of volutes, flanked by two ovoid skylights. The cornice of the gable and the stone framing of the skylights support busts of men placed on small trapezoid supports. These statues, sculpted by Anton Schuchbauer represent Turkish soldiers with their heads wrapped in turbans. The two coats-of-arms of the Toldalagi and Wass families are sculpted on the gable, and above them a crown symbolizing the union between the two noble families. On the façade, above the commemorative plaque an oval medallion with a richly decorated frame is visible. The medallion represents the relieved image of a crow with a ring in its beak.

The building had many functions over the years, in 1786 has been a printing house, in 1920 a bank and in 1960 was installed here the History Department of the County Museum. Currently, since 1984, the building houses the headquarters of the Ethnography Department of the Mureş County Museum.

Via. Images from here, and here.

Happy National Day, Romania!

Happy National Day, Romania!

La Mulţi Ani, România!

1st December 1918

2 photos by Liviu Mihai, from here.
About the National Day of Romania, see our previous post.

Ion I. Agârbiceanu

Ion I. Agârbiceanu (January 6, 1907, Bucium - March 9, 1971, Cluj) was a Romanian physicist, son of novelist Ion Agârbiceanu.

He graduated the Electrotechnical Institute in Bucharest (1925-1929), then the Faculty of Sciences in Paris, where he received his doctorate (1934), prepared under the leadership of A. Cotton. His doctoral thesis, Recherche sur le spectre de fluorescence et d'absorption des vapeurs de Iodine became a reference work in the field.

In 1948 Ion I. Agârbiceanu became professor at the Petroleum and Gas Institute in Bucharest. Since 1951 he was professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Bucharest, then he was Head of Department of Physics at the Bucharest Polytechnic Institute (1955-1971). He was Romania's representative to the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and the European Group for Atomic Spectroscopy. On 21 March 1963, he was elected member of the Romanian Academy.

In 1956, Prof. Dr. Ion I. Agârbiceanu organized at the Institute of Atomic Physics in Bucharest, the "Optical Methods in Nuclear Physics" Laboratory, with outstanding results in the research on atomic hyperfine and isotopic structures, magneto-optical resonance, and thin dielectric layers.

The Agârbiceanu Laser (image from Wikipedia)

Under his leadership was realized in 1962 the first gas (helium-neon) laser with infrared radiation, after his original design. By focusing the laser beam produced by monochromatic light, there are obtained enormous radiation densities on very small surfaces.

Ştefan Lupaşcu

Ştefan Lupaşcu (Stéphane Lupasco, 1900–1988) was a Romanian philosopher who developed Non-Aristotelian logic.

Stéphane Lupasco was born in Bucharest on 11 August 1900. His family belonged to the old Moldavian aristocracy. His father was a lawyer and politician, but it was his mother, a pianist and student of César Franck, who established the family in Paris in 1916. After high school at the Lycée Buffon, he studied philosophy, biology and physics at the Sorbonne and, briefly, law. He participated fully in the artistic and intellectual life of Paris in the 20’s and 30’s and defended his State Doctoral Thesis in 1935.

In 1946, he was named Research Assistant at the French National Science Research Center, a post he was obliged to leave ten years later because of the inability of the Center to decide in which faculty his work belonged! The next ten or fifteen years were those of greatest acceptance of his work by the public and other thinkers, but unfortunately not by main-stream logicians and philosophers. His Trois Matières, published in 1960 was a bestseller, and people began calling Lupasco the Descartes, the Leibniz, the Hegel of the 20th Century, a new Claude Bernard, a new Bergson, etc. He continued to publish books in the 70’s and 80’s, the last being L’Homme et ses Trois Ethiques in 1986, two years before his death on October 7, 1988 in Paris. An Award of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1984 was among the few honors that came to Lupasco during his lifetime. Lupasco was one of the founding members of the International Center for Transdisciplinary Research (Centre International de Recherches et Etudes Transdisciplinaires (CIRET)), founded in Paris in 1987 by Basarab Nicolescu, Edgar Morin, René Berger, Michel Random and other key figures of the French intelligentsia. As Nicolescu has recalled, Lupasco was deeply affected by the stubborn resistance of the academic community to honest debate and discussion of his new principles and postulates, and it is with an understandable bitterness that Lupasco saw in this resistance another example of the operation of his principles.

Lupasco's work is a complex philosophical system focused on the dynamic logic of contradiction. It is about a theoretical daresome creation meant to offer a solution to the epistemological contemporary crises, towards a new and original approach of the philosophy as a science. Further on Stefan Lupascu aims even an essential change of the human capacity to understand the reality. Having the new logic as a basis, without being classical, he places the whole explanation about the surrounding environment in other terms. Stimulated by Einstein's works and quantum theory, Lupasco founded a new logic, questioning the tertium non datur principle of classical logic. He introduced a third state, going beyond the duality principle, the T-state. The T-state is neither 'actual', nor 'potential' (categories replacing in Lupasco's system the 'true' or 'false' values of standard bivalent logic), but a resolution of the two contradictory elements at a higher level of reality or complexity. Lupasco generalized his logic to physics and epistemology and above all to a new theory of consciousness.

Main source of informations: Wikipedia.

Orzea Gorges

Located north of Scropoasa Lake in Bucegi Mountains, Cheile Orzei (Orzea Gorges) are among the tightest, beautiful and spectacular gorges in the Ialomița Valley and even in Romania. The gorges are over 1.5 km long, dug into the limestone walls. In 1970, to protect this valuable space, was created the Orzea Gorges Nature Reserve Complex.

Mixed nature reserves Orzea-Zănoaga and Zănoaga-Lucăcilă includes Zănoaga karst systeme: Big Zănoaga Gorges, Little Zănoaga Gorges, Orzea Gorges - all nature monuments, forests of spruce (Pices abies), a thermophilic vegetation consisting of rare Southern-European, Southern-Mediterranean and Balkanic floristic elements: mountain rye (Secale montanum), iris (Iris dacica), Sorbus cretica, Carduus candicanus, Athamantha hungarica, Phleum montanum, Lonicera caerulea, Astragalus depressus, and many others.

Orzea Gorges are guarded by stone walls of 100-300 m high, between Lespezi Mountain and Orza–Brânduşi Mountain. Here, Ialomița Valley is very narrow and provides an exciting spectacle of the falls on the stones. At the end of the gorges are the Scropoasa lake and dam.

Images from here, here, and here.

The four musketeers

The Women Sword Team of Romania won the 2010 World Championship in Paris, France. In the female sword tournament, the team of Romania defeated Ukraine (45-35) in the eights, France (45-40) in the quarterfinals, and South Korea (45-31) in the semifinals. The bronze medal was won by South Korea, which defeated China (45-37), and Romania won a dramatic final against Germany (35-26).

Ana Maria Brânză, Simona Alexandru, Anca Măroiu and Loredana Iordăchioiu are the new World Champions! All for one...

Foto: Agerpress

Aiudului Gorges

The Switzerland of the East, the name given to the Apuseni and Sebeş Mountains, are without any doubt, and will remain, the main touristic destinations of Alba County. One who has visited the county’s beauties will certainly come back again and bring his friends as well.

The shallow water limestone from the Trascău Mountains crop out in two parallel alignments with a generally N-S orientation: Tureni-Buru-Rimetea-Cheile Aiudului alignment in the east, and the Lunca Arieşului-Râmeţi (Bedeleu ridge) in the west. Cheile Aiudului (Aiudului Gorges or Vălișoarei Gorges or Poienii Gorges) are located in eastern Trăscau Mountains, Alba County, and are carved in Mesozoic (Jurassic) limestone. Aiudului Gorges are crossed by the county road DJ107, connecting the Mureş Valley (Aiud) and the Arieş Valley (Buru village). The gorges are situated at a distance of about 15 km from Aiud, 15 km from Buru 15 km, 35 km from Turda and 65 km from Cluj-Napoca.

Aiudului Gorges were declared as geo-morphological and botanical nature reserve (20 ha - strict protection, 100 ha - nature reserve and a buffer zone of protection). The reserve is located in the southern part of the Rimetea Depression, with a maximum altitude of 779 m and a minimum of 425 m. On the slopes of the mountain can be found several rare, protected species. The gorges presents shelf slope facies associations and open shelf edge facies associations, with bio-constructions and bio-clastic shoals.

On the right of the gorges, there is a rock called The Fortress, where some 13th century documents attested the Zedecheu Fortress, unidentified until now in site. The area of the gorges is a paradise for trekkers, hikers or paragliders.

Images from here and here.

The Năsal cheese

The traditional Romanian products obtain identity and recognition by European legislation. These products can have an immeasurable value for the cultural heritage of the Romanian people and represents also a highly economic potential.

The Năsal cheese is the only sort of Romanian cheese with mould, having also a specific technology. It’s identity is due to it’s specific qualities given by the ripening in the natural den from Ţaga, Cluj County. In this unique location the temperature and humidity of the air are constant all year long favoring also in this way the obtainment of a quality product. In this way Brevibacterium linens “contaminates” the cheese and transforms it into a highly appreciated specialty by the consumers. The conditions in the den, and the existence of bacteria, are impossible to reproduce in any other place, with the result of uniqueness of this cheese.

It is said that the area was owned by a rich and cruel count. One day, some brave farmers have ignored the commandments of the noble and took some pieces of his cheese, for their children. They hid the cheese in the den near the Năsal village, and did not rushed to go and take it. Weeks passed, and one day a villager went into the cave, convinced he will find the cheese rotten. He had a big surprise when he found it in good condition. The cheese changed its color to a reddish yellow, but the taste was very good, despite the smell. Finally, the count found out and punished the peasants. However, he began himself to keep in the cave cheese pieces, with whom he served all his noble guests, proud of its exquisite taste.

The cheese is hard, reddish at exterior and it has a soft, creamy consistency. It is recommended to be served with a dry red wine. You can use slices of red onion, red grapes, nuts or integral crackers. Today, the Năsal cheese is produced by Napolact, a major dairy producer from Cluj and sold in a wooden box.

RIP, Adrian Păunescu

Adrian Păunescu (b. July 20, 1943, Copăceni, Bălți County, today in Moldova Republic - d. November 5, 2010, Bucharest)

A literary prize

For her first novel, "Terre des affranchis" which was published at Gaia Publishing House last year, the writer Liliana Lazăr was awarded the Prix des cinq continents. The prestigious prize, awarded by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), rewards since 2001 Francophone writers. The Romanian Cultural Institute in Paris and the OIF will promote internationally the novel of Liliana Lazăr.

Liliana Lazăr received also for her novel the Prix La Première in Belgium. The action of the book takes place in Romania, in 1955, and the hero is Victor Luca from Slobozia. Because he committed a crime, he must live secretly, but the need for redemption leads him to the point that it will accept a secret mission: to be a clerk and to save the holy writings, banned during the communist regime. The jury considered the novel as "a cruel story, politics and metaphysics, where, in the struggle between good and evil and in face of brutality, there is no salvation".

Luminiţa Dinu-Huţupan

Luminiţa Dinu-Huţupan (née Dinu) (born 6 November 1971 in Piatra Neamţ) was the best keeper in the history of the Romanian handball and maybe the best in the world.

Luminiţa began playing handball in 1985 and she has played for CS Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea, HC Kometal Gjorče Petrov and Krim Ljubljana. She is 3 times winner of Champions League Cup (2001, 2002, 2003), 2 times winner of European Super Cup (2004, 2007), 5 times winner of Romanian First League of Women Handball, 4 times winner of Romanian Cup, Winner of Romanian Super Cup, 6 times winner of Slovenian Championship, 6 times winner of Slovenian Cup, Winner of Cup Winners' Cup (2007), Winner of Champions Trophy. She is also Vice-champion of the World with Romania in 2005.

She was declared the best goalkeeper of 2000 European Women's Handball Championship and the best goalkeeper of 2005 World Women's Handball Championship. International Handball Federation has launched this days an online poll on its website ( for choosing the best all-time women goalie, Luminiţa Dinu-Huţupan leading for now. She retired in 2009.

Photos from here and here.

Jazz Made in Romania

In a steady Saturday night, some of my favorite Romanian jazz players... Enjoy!

Teodora Enache - My Favorite Things

Marius Popp - Xybaba

Aura Urziceanu - Paganini, Capriccio no. 24

Dan Mândrilă - Ballade

Aura Urziceanu - J.S. Bach, Air from Suite no. 3

Decebal Bădilă - Georgie's Pub

Teodora Enache - Erev Shel Shoshanim

Cantacuzino Castle of Buşteni

Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino (September 22, 1833 – March 22, 1913) was a Conservative Romanian politician who twice served as the Prime Minister of Romania: between 23 April 1899 and 19 July 1900 and between 4 January 1906 and 24 March 1907. He was born into the Romanian noble Cantacuzino family and was a descendant of Romanian voivods (ruling princes) and Byzantine Emperors. Prince Cantacuzino was known as "the Nabob" due to its fabulous richness, being the the largest owner of land in Romania at that time. He built the Cantacuzino Palace in Bucharest (The George Enescu Museum) and the Cantacuzino Castle of Buşteni.

Buşteni is a small mountain town in the north of Prahova county, in the center of Romania. It is located in the Prahova Valley, on Bucegi Mountains, and it is one of the most popular mountain resorts, offering spectacular views with lots of year-round tourism opportunities, ranging from skiing to mountain climbing. Cantacuzino Castle was built in 1911 in the park owned by the Prince and is one of the top castles in Romania in terms of architecture. During the communist regime, the castle was nationalized and transformed in a TB sanatorium of the Ministry of Internal Affairs; after 1989 it was returned to the heirs of the Prince, who sold it in 2004 to a group of investors that restored it and reinstated in the tourist circuit.

The castle has 1200.30 sqm ground surface, composed of basement, ground floor and first floor with a developed surface of 3148.09 sqm, with concrete foundation, walls of carved stone, and covered with tiles. It has also a service pavilion of 201.90 sqm ground surface, ground floor and first floor with developed surface of 403.80 sqm; an administrative mansion of 114.41 sqm ground surface, one level; the chapel.

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Impressive in terms of architecture, the castle is compared to other buildings completed in neo-brâncovenesc style. The interior decorative repertoire consists of polychrome molding, ornamental and figurative painting, stained glass windows, carved carpentry, tiled ceilings, railings carved in stone, wrought iron or wood, floors in decorative sandstone slabs or floors with parquetry, which confer a romantic feel to the interior, even if the molding of the interior columns and door framing sculpture reminds us of the decorative Brâncoveanu style repertoire. The interior polychromy supported by the geometrical motifs of the receptions hall arcades reminds us of the paintings found in religious spaces due to neo-byzantine style.

Stained glass windows, railings, the stairways of the hallway and the ceilings with visible beams some of them painted, remind us of the romantic decorative repertoire. All this decorative repertoire emphasizes the unique character of the building, bringing forward the ensigns of the Cantacuzino family as well as those belonging to families related to this, painted in the reception room next to the fresco of the most outstanding members of the Cantacuzino boyar-related Wallachian branch. The complex is in full coordination with ample exterior decorations, terraces and walls of support, ramps and stairs with railings of stone that besides functionality makes perfect integration of this complexity in the mountain area. The castle is surrounded by waterfalls, caves and fountains. In addition, the complex is located in an area scientifically proven as being an important energetic pole and studies stand for it.

Photos from here, here, here.

Rural Romania

Images from rural Romania...

From here

Jazz Made in Romania

Romanian-American Jazz Suite - Transylvanian Dance

Emy Drăgoi & Jazz Hot Club Romania - The Skylark

Marius Preda - Cimbalom Piece

Marian Petrescu Jazz Trio - Lacrymosa

Andrei Roşulescu & Răzvan Slama - Virtual Seasons

Cheese in fir tree bark

The cheese in fir tree bark is a exquisite cheese specialty prepared by the Romanian shepherds from Carpathian Mountains, especially from Bran, Sibiu and Braşov areas. The cheese has a special flavor due to the fir bark resins.

The bark of a fir tree with a diameter of over 20 cm is cut to form a cylinder and two lids. The shiny inner layer must be separate from the outer layer. Cylinder and the inferior lid are assembled with thick rope. The fresh sheep cheese is cut in slices 1 cm thick and is introduced in water with salt. After a day, it is well drained, then shredded (and well-mixed with salt if needed). After one hour, small pieces are placed in the bark cylinder and pressed, until the cylinder is filled, the superior lid is assembled, then it is placed on a grating and left for one day to drain completely. The cylinders are then smoked for two weeks and kept under 20 0C.

Images from here and here.

The Red Ravine

Râpa Roșie (English: Red Ravine), is a geological park of 25 hectares, located about 3 km from Sebeş, Alba County, and was declared nature reserve since 1950. Its walls with heights between 80-100 m, have very unusual shapes: columns, towers, pyramids, all with reddish color.

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The Red Ravine detritic deposits consist of sequences of red clay, gray and red sandstone, white sandstone, loose, red marl, white calcareous marl; by erosion, subsidence and collapse processes was sculpted the richness of forms that make the Red Ravine a natural monument of rare beauty. Here are some of the largest caves in the world developed in earth, of which one of 25 m.

Here can be found also several rare plant species (Cotoneaster integarrima, Ephedra distachya, Centaurea atropurpurea, Dianthus serotinus, Cephalaria radiata, Asplenium nigrum).

Images from here.