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Jesus washes the disciples' feet in this fresco in Desesti church.

Wooden churches of Maramures, Romania

You’d think that after visiting the UNESCO-listed fortified churches of Transylvania and the painted churches of Moldavia, also UNESCO listed, we’d have gotten tired of visiting historic churches. Romania has yet another collection of UNESCO-listed churches, though. (Maybe Romania’s motto should be “Land of Churches”!) Right up near the border with the Ukraine, the wooden…

The Elie Wiesel Memorial is housed in this modest house in Sighet, Romania

Elie Wiesel Memorial House: a museum with a message

I am ashamed to admit that when we passed through the small city of Sighetu Marmaţiei, in the north of Romania, it was just a place to stop for the night on our way home to the Netherlands. Our GPS was about half a block off in directing us to the hotel we’d booked randomly…

A panel from inside Patrauti church. Look at the detail the painter put into it? Do you happen to know who they are? The Spectacular Painted Churches of Moldavia

The spectacular painted churches of Moldavia

Last week I posted about the fortified churches in Transylvania, eight of which make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another collection of churches in Romania, this time in the northeastern part of the country, Moldavia, are also UNESCO sites, just listed as “Churches of Moldavia.” The Painted Churches of Moldavia What makes these churches…

Viscri fortified church

Fortified Churches of Transylvania

Once upon a time, the King of Hungary, called Geza II (1141-1162), had a problem. His kingdom needed defending, especially in the south and east, in what is now Romania. It was the Middle Ages, and everybody was fighting over territory. So he sent ethnic Germans to settle in Transylvania, and they continued to move…

Bran Castle: Should you visit Dracula's castle?

Should you visit Dracula’s castle?

As the crowds shuffled through the castle, some tourists tried to stake out spots where they could take pictures of each room without people in the photo. Others posed for selfies, their backs to the beautifully restored spaces. One man, reaching high in an attempt to snap a picture above our heads, leaned casually on…

a bookcase full of chotchkes at the Communist Consumers Museum in Timişoara, Romania

The Communist Consumers Museum

A Communist Consumers Museum? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? I mean, in the Cold War, we in the West were the consumer society. We still are. They were, well, communist. So what could a Communist Consumers Museum even show? When we passed through Timişoara, Romania, this summer, we didn’t really have any plans. Picking…

The contrast between these two buildings is remarkable. The one on the left is down to the underlying brickwork in places while the one on the right is pristine. What is not clear is how much the restoration on the right involved removing decorative elements. I suspect some plasterwork was removed, since the originals of this type generally have different window frames for each row, as you can see on the building on the left. Visiting Timisoara: faded glory

Timişoara photo essay: Faded glory

Majestic buildings boast imposing, ornate facades, even on the side streets. Edged with statues, often figurative, each row of windows differs from those above and below, yet they all display detailed workmanship. Grand doorways framed with artwork, topped with glass, span several centuries of architectural styles. But the paint is flaking away. Underneath, exposed to…

Deva Castle, as seen from where Albert stood under the shelter. It's the closest we got to it.

Not visiting Deva Castle

We weren’t even planning to go to Deva Castle. My husband and I were just driving along, minding our own business, on a road trip in the western Carpathian mountains of Romania. The GPS was guiding us from Timişoara (beautiful buildings, much in need of renovation) to Alba Iulia (18th century fortress with seven bastions),…