June 27, 2012

Testament, by Tudor Arghezi

45 years after his death, Tudor Arghezi poetic manifesto "Testament" remains relevant to Romanian Poetry (of course, is my opinion) .

Tudor Arghezi (21 May 1880 — 14 July 1967) was an important figure of Romanian literature and poetry of the 20th century, his real name being Ion N. Theodorescu.

He was elected a Member of the Romanian Academy in 1955 and he received the "Herder Prize" in 1965 (prize dedicated to recognition of scientific, art and literature contribution of people from Central and Southeastern Europe)

Tudor Arghezi - Cuvinte Potrivite CD - Carte
Tudor Arghezi - Cuvinte Potrivite CD - Carte
"One's who thinks himself and pokes the light/ Cel ce gandeste singur si scormone lumina (one of his poems)" works are abundant of powerful and shocking expressions, primitive words and unusual Romanian language patterns. My teacher's (from college) favorite expression was "Arghezi's Opera was revolutionary for its era, with connections between the growth and the decay of Romanian language, promoting and reestablishing the aesthetic of grotesque".

Over the years, I was impressed by his works published in  "Fitting Words/ Cuvinte Potrivite", "Flowers of Mildew/ Flori de Mucigai" "The Black Gate/ Poarta Neagra" "1907- Landscapes / Peisaje", "Leaves / Frunze" or "Weeds/ Buruieni".

"Man and Man / Om cu Om" can share knowledge, so it is a great pleasure to share its verses with English readers, too.

 " Testament (Wisdom Poem)"

I will bestow to you, after my death,
Only a name inscribed on a book,
In the rebellious evening which descends
From my ancestors, 
Through creeks and deep ravines
Climbed by my forefathers on their hands and feet
Challenges which await you, young follower of them,
My book is a bridge ladder across to you, my son.

Nourish and cherish this landmark,
It is the first charter you have had,
From slaves with sheep's fur coats
betrayed by bones spilled into my soul. 

That we could change now, for the first time,
The spud into a pen, and the furrow into an inkpot,
The ancestors gathered, among oxens,
The sudor of hundreds years of work.
Out of their language with cattle callings 
I was weaving fitting words
And the cradle for youth masters.
And they were kneaded for thousands of weeks,
Until I've turned them into verses and icons
From rags I've made rosebuds and wreaths of flowers
The spilled venom I've turned to honey
Letting its strength flow into my thoughts.
I've taken the shame and purring slightly
I've made it to invite or to swear injuries.
I've taken the ashes of the people dead 
And I've turned it into a God of stone,
High boundary, with two worlds at the edges
Guarding over the summit of your duty. 
Our dull and bitter ache
I've piled it on a violin
Whose sound heard by the master
Made him dance like a stumbling goat.

Out of wounds, mildews and slinging mud
I've raised new and priceless beauties.
The whip endured is returning as words
And is redeeming slowly and punitive
The heritage of everyone's misdeeds.
It is the branch which growing upwards
The obscure darkness of the forest,
Bearing on top, warts and all,
The fruit of pain and sorrow from our past.

Lying down slowly across the sofabed
The princess is suffering into my deed.
Letters of fire and letters forged ahead
Are paired together into my book
Like an assembly of soldering iron and pliers.
The Slave has written, the Lord is reading
Without knowing that I have dug
Into the feelings buried beneath my ancestors' anger.

 Tudor Arghezi postal stamp , timbru postal
Tudor Arghezi - courtesy of wikipedia

Nu-ti voi lasa drept bunuri, dupa moarte,
Decat un nume adunat pe o carte,
In seara razvratita care vine
De la strabunii mei pana la tine,
Prin rapi si gropi adanci
Suite de batranii mei pe branci
Si care, tanar, sa le urci te-asteapta
Cartea mea-i, fiule, o treapta.

Aseaz-o cu credinta capatai.
Ea e hrisovul vostru cel dintai.
Al robilor cu saricile, pline
De osemintele varsate-n mine.

Ca sa schimbam, acum, intaia oara
Sapa-n condei si brazda-n calimara
Batranii au adunat, printre plavani,
Sudoarea muncii sutelor de ani.
Din graiul lor cu-ndemnuri pentru vite
Eu am ivit cuvinte potrivite
Si leagane urmasilor stapani.
Si, framantate mii de saptamani
Le-am prefecut in versuri si-n icoane,
Facui din zdrente muguri si coroane.
Veninul strans l-am preschimbat in miere,
Lasand intreaga dulcea lui putere
Am luat ocara, si torcand usure
Am pus-o cand sa-mbie, cand sa-njure.
Am luat cenusa mortilor din vatra
Si am facut-o Dumnezeu de piatra,
Hotar inalt, cu doua lumi pe poale,
Pazind in piscul datoriei tale.

Durerea noastra surda si amara
O gramadii pe-o singura vioara,
Pe care ascultand-o, a jucat
Stapanul, ca un tap injunghiat.
Din bube, mucegaiuri si noroi
Iscat-am frumuseti si preturi noi.
Biciul rabdat se-ntoarce in cuvinte
Si izbaveste-ncet pedepsitor
Odrasla vie-a crimei tuturor.
E-ndreptatirea ramurei obscure
Iesita la lumina din padure
Si dand in varf, ca un ciorchin de negi
Rodul durerii de vecii întregi.

Intinsa lenesa pe canapea,
Domnita sufera in cartea mea.
Slova de foc si slova faurita
Imparechiate-n carte se marita,
Ca fierul cald imbratisat in cleste.
Robul a scris-o, Domnul o citeste,
Far-a cunoaste ca-n adancul ei
Zace mania bunilor mei.

June 5, 2012

1964 Highlights from Romania

With the intention to continue my insignificant journey alongside the well-preserved magical scenery of Romania, this time I'll feature 1964's delights of Romania, as they've been presented in an historic video-clip named "RUMANIA"  by "British Pathe", one of the oldest media company of the world (they have all rights for it).

I really enjoy to share with you highlights of 1964's Romanian countryside, Carpathian Mountains (including Transfagarasan Road), Monasteries and Churches of Moldavia, and landmarks of Bucharest, Mamaia or Poiana Brasov.

 Transfagarasan Road, Romania
Transfagarasan Road

I know that Rumania "For some it could be love at first sight" (as said the video-clip's narrator) and I love to (once again) recall the magic of Romania's sightseeing environment in this special day, when the entire world celebrates the green environment (today is  40's celebration of the "World Environment Day" ).

Happy "World Environment Day"!

May 31, 2012

Noapte de Mai

"May  Night / Noapte de Mai"  is one of my favourite songs since 1996, since I listen for first time  Mirabela Dauer's album "I love you, my love / Te iubesc iubirea mea".

May is almost done, the lilac is in full-bloom and the birds are singing all day, thus leading my thoughts to find and share the song. I've done an English translation of the verses for sharing their beauty to a larger audience.

 Lilac branch in full bloom - liliac inflorit

Come on! The nightingale is singing and the lilac is in full-bloom.
Sing! Nothing noble, nice and sweet is gone forever
But nothing will budge over between the flowers and the stars,
Come on! The nightingale is singing and the lilac is in full-bloom!

On the classic hills, virgins are climbing dressed in traditional blouses
Holding empty amphorae, filling their eyes with serenity,
They made the water-spring humming, and the wood cheerful,
Any pain to cease, and poetry to speak out.

And they asked the bird to sing it again,  and on amazing command
Roses spreading their perfume and nightingale its song.

Mirabela Dauer is always singing with passion, joy and  happiness
(Alexandru Macedonski's lyrics and Marian Nistor's music):

Veniti, privighetoarea canta si liliacul e-nflorit,
Cantati, nimic din ce e nobil, suav si dulce n-a murit.
Dar dintre flori si dintre stele, nimica nu va fi clintit,
Veniti, privighetoarea canta si liliacul e-nflorit!

Pe dealuri clasice se-arata fecioare in camasi de in,
Ce-n maini cu amforele goale isi umplu ochii de senin,
Facu izvorul sa ingane, padurea sa se-nveseleasca,
Orice durere sa-nceteze, si poezia sa vorbeasca.

Si zise pasarei sa cante, si la porunca uimitoare,
Se inalta parfum de roze si cantec de privighetoare.

 Lilac flowers - Flori de liliac

May 27, 2012

Congratulations, Alina Cojocaru, on Benois de la Danse 2012!

My favorite ballerina dancer, with really magnificent performances, Alina Cojocaru has won for the second time the "Benois de la Danse" competition - one of the most prestigious ballet competition.

Alina Cojocaru in Giselle - photo courtesy www.alinacojocaru.com

She was rewarded for her portrayal in the female lead role "Julie" in John Neumeier's "Liliom" (based on Ferenc Molnár's play, with music by Michel Legrand) with the Hamburg Ballet - Germany.

Congratulations, Alina, for your magical performance!

In 2004 she won her first "Benois de la Danse" prix for the her performance in "Cinderella" role, with the "Royal Ballet" - United Kingdom

Cinderella / Cenusareasa (The Royal Ballet): Alina Cojocaru e Johan Kobborg:

Ion Iliescu, who acted as President of Romania from 1990 until 1996, and from 2000 until 2004, gave her in 2002 the "Medal of Cavaler of Romania" / Ordinul national "Pentru Merit"in gradul de cavaler., which make me happy she was honored by her country for her stunning performances.
Although a fan of her expressiveness dance after I saw it in Giselle, Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Princess Florine in Sleeping Beauty/ Frumoasa Adormita and Odette in Swan Lake/ Lacul Lebedelor, dancing with grace and passion, almost floating around the scene, let's say that I improved my knowledge about her prizes and awards when I discovered her website www.alinacojocaru.com.

Sleeping Beauty / Frumoasa Adormita : Alina Cojocaru - Federico Bonelli:

It is a great performance to won "Ballerina of the Decade" Award (Moscow 2010), too and the Gold Medal at Nagoya International Ballet Competition and I'm sure that behind those awards stay her strengthens, dedication and perseverance.

Alina Cojocaru dancing in Sleeping Beauty/ Frumoasa Adormita - photo courtesy www.alinacojocaru.com

Alina Cojocaru was born May 27, 1981 in Bucharest and, because today is her birthday, I wish her "Happy Birthday", too. She started her trainings as gymnast girl than, at 9 years old, was accepted to be trained as ballerina dancer in Kiev, where has continued her trainings for seven years, than received a "Prix de Lausanne" scholarship for a six-months training at Royal Balet School.

Once was started her dancing journey, she performed absolutely wonderful around the world with various international Ballet companies at Kiev, Zurich, Hamburg, London, Paris, Viena, Tokyo, Galas. She become the world's top ballerina dancer and remains a women full of modesty who explains "Just try to tell the story in the best way I can".

As Octavian Paler said: "One can't get out of mediocrity without doing anything in excess / Nu se poate iesi din mediocritate fara a face ceva in exces".
She is a charismatic dancer, performing truly majestics ballets and makes me proud of being Romanian.

Romeo and Juliet

May 24, 2012

Caves of the Carpathian Mountains

Carpathian Mountains stand for a breathtaking wild-beauty of landscapes, with picturesque valleys, karst areas with dolines and caverns entrances, ponors, streams and springs giving rise to gorges and waterfalls, salt  mountains and salinas (Praid, Turda or Slanic Prahova), natural bridges, arches and tunnels formed by erosion (water, frost, wind) at the surface or deep, into subterranean caves ( Romanian Magic Land being on top of my "Why I love Romania / De ce Iubesc Romania" list).

Small Dome of Women's Cave - Domul Mic Pestera Muierii, Gorj
Small Dome of Women's Cave - Domul Mic Pestera Muierii, Gorj

Over the years I've taken trips to visit some caves of the Carpathian Mountains renowned for their beauty: Bears Cave / Pestera Ursilor (electrified, more than 1000m long, just 488m for tourist visits)

Bears Cave - Pestera Ursilor , Bihor
Bears Cave - Pestera Ursilor , Bihor

 Women's Cave / Pestera Muierii (more than 3500m long, electrified, for tourist purposes just 573m)

Large Dome of Women's Cave - Domul Mare Pestera Muierii , Gorj
Large Dome of Women's Cave - Domul Mare Pestera Muierii , Gorj
 The Cave of Pahomie from Polovragi / Pestera Polovragi (electrified, 900 m long), known also as Zamolxe's Cave / Pestera Lui Zamolxe;

The Cave of Pahomie from Polovragi
The Cave of Pahomie from Polovragi, photo wikipedia

Dambovicioara Cave / Pestera Dambovicioara (250 m long);    

Gorges and Cave of Dambovicioara River / Cheile si Pestera Dambovicioarei postcard
Gorges and Cave of Dambovicioara River / Cheile si Pestera Dambovicioarei postcard 

Meziad Cave / Pestera Meziad (4750 m long), and The Cave of Ponor's Fortress/ Pestera Cetatile Ponorului.

The Cave of Ponor's Fortress / Pestera Cetatile Ponorului (entrance has 76 m high)
The Cave of Ponor's Fortress / Pestera Cetatile Ponorului (entrance has 76 m high), foto www. parcapuseni.ro

I wasn't hooked on the sport of caving, but i have expanded my knowledge of the caves through successive visits since childhood (unfortunately  my photographic journey through those amazing caves is incomplete).  It was always amazing to immerse myself  in the fascinating caves and karstic hollows of Carpatian Mountains, and I wish to have time to take another tour of those etched underground treasures, through stalactites & stalagmites or twisting straws and passages.

Bears Cave - Pestera Ursilor , Bihor
Bears Cave - Pestera Ursilor , Bihor

Climbing through miles of wilderness and passing among mountains which keep underground fossil ice formations like Scarisoara Ice Cave/ Pestera Scarisoara(75000m3 stratified ice), Bortig Ice Cave/ Pestera Bortig (25000 m3 stratified ice) or The Ice Cave of the Living Fire Glacier / Pestera Ghetarul Focul Viu (named "Living Fire" due to the sunrays which reflect onto the glacier) is anytime an amazing experience.

The Ice Cave of the Living Fire Glacier / Pestera Ghetarul Focul Viu
The Ice Cave of the Living Fire Glacier / Pestera Ghetarul Focul Viu, photo www.parcapuseni.ro 

Scarisoara Glacier / Ghetarul din Pestera Scarisoara stands for the largest Ice Cave of Romania (105 m deep and 720 m long, just 250m being for tourist visits). Older than 3500 years, the glacier has more than 26m thickness and stands for a scenic glacier with fine calcite encrustations.

The Church, Scarisoara Ice Cave
The Church, Scarisoara Ice Cave, Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Bears Cave / Pestera Ursilor remains one of the most beautiful and spectacular Cave of Romanian's Mountains. The cave was named " Bears' Cave / Pestera Ursilor" due to numerous skeletons of extinct Cave bears (Ursus spelaeus) discovered at the entrance of the Tourist part of the Cave. The Cave has been opened to visitors after 1980 and it is a must see for those visiting the Apuseni Mountains.

Bears Cave - Pestera Ursilor , Chiscau Village, Bihor County
Bears Cave - Pestera Ursilor , Chiscau Village, Bihor County

It is electrified and has secure pathways for tourists, bordered by a range of picket fences, metallic railings or small stonewalls and palisades. It has an impressive array of limestone speleothems with various shapes: stalagmites, stalactites, columns, flowstones, draperies or straws. The "MAGIC Castles / Palatele Fermecate" ;-) , "Dwarfs' House / Casuta piticilor" "The Devil's Teeth/ Coltii Diavolului",  "The drapes of Bears' Galery/Draperiile din Galeria Ursilor" are just few formations which incited my imagination during my visit there.

Candles Gallery, Bears Cave - Galeria Lumanarilor, Pestera Ursilor , Bihor
Candles Gallery, Bears Cave - Galeria Lumanarilor, Pestera Ursilor , Bihor
 The Bears Cave is structured on two levels, the superior segment being for tourist purposes, and the inferior segment being considered scientific reservation. I spent almost one hour walking throughout a succession of 3 galleries: Bears Gallery aka Fossils Gallery/ Galeria Ursilor sau Galeria Oaselor, Emil Racovita Gallery / Galeria Emil Racovita and the Candles Gallery/  Galeria Lumanarilor  where "The gathering of Old Men / Sfatul Batranilor" are still talking about global environmental issues ;-).

Bears Cave, Pestera Ursilor
Bears Cave, Pestera Ursilor.

A perfect ending for this (incomplete) summary of  Caves of the Carpathian Mountains is  Alexandru Vlahuta's description of Polovragi Cave in "Picturesque Romania/ Romania Pitoreasca":
"On the weak light that plays on the damp and dark walls of the cave we are seeing an amazing abundance of stalactites and stalagmites - large stone tassels hanging from the ceiling like icicles-ice, ready to unite with others that grow from the bottom up - wonderful creation of water droplet, creeping through stones in thousands of years of perseverance, which carves rocks, melts stone and make it what it wants / La slaba lumina ce joaca pe peretii umezi si intunecosi ai pesterii vedem o bogăţie uimitoare de stalactite si stalagmite — ciucuri mari de piatra atarnati de tavan, ca niste turturi de gheata, gata sa se impreune cu altii ce cresc de jos in sus — plazmuirea minunata a picaturii de apa care, strecurandu-se prin steiuri, in mii si mii de ani de staruinta, ciopleste stancile, topeste piatra si face din ea ce vrea.".

May 7, 2012

Sara pe Deal, by Mihai Eminescu

 Flock of Sheep in the evening on Romanian hills
Shepperd with a  Flock of Sheep, in the evening, on the hillside

Evening on the hill, mourning horn sounds
Flocks of sheep climb it, twinkle stars follow them in their way,
Springs mourn clearly, flowing to the water wells,
Under a locust-tree, you are waiting for me, my dearly.

The moon is clearing a holy path to the heaven
Your big-eyes are looking through the seldom foliage, watching ahead
The stars glimmer over the serene vault of the heaven
The longing lies in your breast, the thoughts bulge out on your forehead.

Clouds vault, splitting rays from their floating strings
Old house-eaves are raised to the moon,
The sweep well squeak in the winds,
Fumes over the valley, whistles moan in sheepfold.

Peasants are carrying their scythes to shoulders
When come back from the field; with a chop stroke
Bells fill the evening from everywhere, raising the sounds;
My soul burns like a flame, trembling with love.

Ah! The quiet steals by the village in the valley,
Ah! My steps rush soon towards thee,
Under the locust-tree, we will sit the whole night,
For hours I will tell you how beloved are you to me.

We will lean each to the other our heads,
And dream-smiling will fall into sleep under the high
Old locust-tree. For such a full-of-love night
Who would not give his entire life?

" Evening on the Hill" / "Sara pe Deal "  is a very popular poem, which was wrote by Mihai Eminescu in  1885.  His verses were featured over the years in so many spectacles,  festivals of music and poetry, or tuned videos. I like the next video based on "Sara pe Deal" song composed by Vasile Popovici and interpreted  by Tudor Gheorghe in his series of Season's albums.

Is said that this poem was also source of inspiration for the image painted on salt behind the Mihai Eminescu's bust from Unirea Salt Mine , Slanic Prahova.  I've already translated the verses in English some months earlier, but now it's the full version (I hope it convey the message). 

Mihai Eminescu bust and paint on salt, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova
Mihai Eminescu bust and paint on salt, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova

Sara pe deal buciumul suna cu jale,
Turmele-l urc, stele le scapara-n cale,
Apele plang, clar izvorand in fantane;
Sub un salcam, draga, m-astepti tu pe mine.

Luna pe cer trece-asa sfanta si clara,
Ochii tai mari cauta-n frunza cea rara,
Stelele nasc umezi pe bolta senina,
Pieptul de dor, fruntea de gânduri ti-e plina.

Nourii curg, raze-a lor siruri despica,
Stresine vechi casele-n luna ridica,
Scartaie-n vant cumpana de la fantana,
Valea-i in fum, fluiere murmura-n stana.

Si osteniti oameni cu coasa-n spinare
Vin de la camp; toaca rasuna mai tare,
Clopotul vechi imple cu glasul lui sara,
Sufletul meu arde-n iubire ca para.

Ah! in curand satul in vale-amuteste;
Ah! in curand pasu-mi spre tine grabeste:
Langa salcam sta-vom noi noaptea intreaga,
Ore întregi spune-ti-voi cat imi esti draga.

Ne-om razima capetele-unul de altul
Si surazand vom adormi sub inaltul,
Vechiul salcam. Astfel de noapte bogata,
Cine pe ea n-ar da viata lui toata?

Seara pe deal - Evening on the Romanian hills, Prahova County

May 1, 2012


Arminden's holiday is inherited from Dacians' times and marks the beginning of summer.  Armindeni has been celebrated by Romanians on "First Day of May"  decorating their homes (including pillars and doors)  with garlands of spring flowers, willow's and lilac's branches in bloom. In some communities,  women and children wore the traditional amulets of spring "martisoare" until the first day of May at the feast of "Arminden"  (when is supposed to tie the martisor's tread to a blossoming spring tree with the belief that all the wishes would come true). The tradition said that Arminden marks also the celebration of  forming grains in ears of  the wheat  and people used to bake a special bread decorated with poppy seeds and leaves.   

Bread with poppy seeds and scented leaves - traditional for Armindeni's Holiday
Bread with poppy seeds and scented leaves - traditional for Armindeni's Holiday

Many of us have been forgotten about Arminden's tradition, and used to associate the May 1st with the annual celebration of workers. Indeed, the slogan of the day:" Workers of the world, unite! / Proletari din toate tarile, uniti-va! " is imprinted in our memory. Even Google celebrates this year "The International Day of Remembrance and Action for Workers/ Ziua internationala a Solidaritatii Oamenilor Muncii"  with a special Doodle (if you missed them before, you may see here the 2012 collection of google - doodles)   inspired by the "Celebrating Workers Contribution" manifesto.

Google Doodle image for The International Day of Remembrance and Action for Workers
Google Doodle for The International Day of Remembrance and Action for Workers
My article want just to bring to your attention a different meaning of May Day, in case you didn't already know. And, of course I'll continue my work to share my cultural heritage to readers of English, this time translating the

poem wrote last century by George Bacovia (more about him in my previous article December)  

Blooming field in spring / dumbrava cu flori de primavara
Blooming field in spring / dumbrava cu flori de primavara

Profile of a gigantic city
settled into a rustic atmosphere,
In the midst of lilac's scent
And pitched guitar chords.

In a festive day,
Joyful,old habits...
Go to the fields
And to the groves
Heroic workers.

And, after another day
Post festum
Encouragements of crosses
On the streets
And on the trams
Necessary to yield
To monotonous Work.

     poem scris de George Bacovia
Profil de burg gigant
Si atmosfera, rara,
Amar parfum de liliac
Si bonduri de chitara.

De–o zi de sarbatoare,
Voioase, vechi moravuri...
Spre cimp se duce
Si dumbrave
Eroua lume muncitoare.

Si dupa alta zi,
Post festum -
Indemnari de cruci
Pe strazi
Si in tramvaie,
Spre necesarul randament
Din monotona Munca.

April 24, 2012

Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova

A real hidden gem, sitting on top of a labyrinth of salt mines, Slanic Prahova is a beautiful resort which worth to visit it, if you have a deep appreciation for unique and out of the way places. Located between Prahova Valley and Teleajen Valley, at almost 100km of Bucharest, Slanic Prahova has a lot of accommodation facilities: hotels, pensions, health complex, bed and breakfast lodgings and villas. It deserves to be visited due to its pleiad of natural attractions underground or at the surface,  surrounded by picturesque landscapes existing there: 

Unirea Salt Mine , Access Hall with trapezoidal-shaped walls, Slanic Prahova, Romania
Unirea Salt Mine , Access Hall with trapezoidal-shaped walls, Slanic Prahova, Romania 

 * Mineral waters with a high concentration of salt, sulfur, sodium and calcium and mineral rich mud used for treating rheumatic and post-traumatic conditions, gynecologic and respiratory problems:
1.Shepherd's Lake / Baia Baciului,  
2.Pigs's Lake / Baia Porcilor,  
3.The Green Lake / Baia Verde
4.The Red Lake / Baia Rosie.
 * Unique attractions
 5.The Salt Mountain / Muntele de Sare - unique in the world, unfortunately partially collapsed due to weather erosion.
6. The Bride's Cave / Grota Miresei with The Bride's Lake / Lacul Miresei

Unirea Salt Mine Entrance, Salina Veche, Mina Unirea, Slanic Prahova, Romania
Unirea Salt Mine Entrance, Salina Veche, Mina Unirea, Slanic Prahova, Romania

* 7. The most impressive touristic site, the "Unirea (The Union) Salt Mine / Mina Unirea", stands for the largest salt mine in Europe. Known also as The Old Mine / Salina Veche, it is an amazing natural SPA-mine formed out at 208 m deep, transformed in 1970 in touristic attraction and Sanatorium for lung cancer and pulmonary diseases. A complete description of the mine characteristics and some historic references may be read on an informative map-plaque situated at the entrance:

Unirea Salt Mine map and description
Unirea Salt Mine map and description -  Slanic Prahova
"The work for the opening of the Unirea salt mine started in 1938 and the exploitation of the salt from this mine was performed between 1943-1970. The exploitation was done downward from the ceiling to the basis in successive slices of 2.2 meters with a horizontal cutting at the basis and vertically along the walls. The de-rocking was made through shooting. The transportation of the resulting material was effected with the tubs up the shaft using a cage to the installation of preparation and expedition. 

Unirea Salt Mine, The Heroes Cross, Slanic Prahova
Unirea Salt Mine, The Heroes Cross, Slanic Prahova,

The mine comprises 14 chambers with trapezoidal profiles, having a 10 m opening to the ceiling and 32 m to the ground, a height of 54 m. The shore difference between the surface and the base of the mine is of 208 m and it is covered by the elevator in 90 seconds. The excavated space occupies a volume of 2.9 millions m³ and it is extended on a surface of 7,8HA (78,000 m²). 

Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova, ceilings are bordered with wooden balconies
Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova, ceilings are bordered with wooden balconies
After 1970, the mine becomes a touristic objective, offering exceptional natural conditions as a result of its microclimate rich in aerosols, which proved its wellknown efficiency in treating the respiratory diseases. The air-conditioning of the mine is natural, with a constant temperature during the whole year of 12 °C, an atmospheric pressure of 730 mmHg and its humidity with an average of 10% lower than the surface average. The ceiling of the mine is bordered on the whole surface by wooden balconies that allow the circulation of the authorized personnel during the periodical controlling of the stability of the surfaces from the superior zone of the mine construction. The zones with uncertain stability are delimited at the base of the mine, being forbidden the access of the visitors."

Unirea Salt Mine, fenced area where access is forbidden, Slanic Prahova
Unirea Salt Mine, fenced area where access is forbidden, Slanic Prahova
There are also some other exploitation salt mines in area: The Green Valley/ Valea Verde, The Sheperd's Lake/ Baia Baciului, Carol, Mihai and The Victory/ Victoria. The Mihai Mine was the first electrical illuminated mine from Romania. It is located above the Unirea Mine and separated by a 40m thick salt floor. It had just 6 rooms but due to its larger dimensions(66m high, 37m at base and 12m at ceiling) was used between 1970 and 1994 to host of several aero-modelling contests (I had the chance to visit it during one of these events and it is less impressive than Unirea Mine).

Water infiltrations on Unirea Salt Mine's walls
Water infiltrations on Unirea Salt Mine's walls
 I was really upset in 1994, when Unirea Mine and Mihai Mine were affected by salt dissolution under pluvial waters. Of course, it marks another point on my Why I love Romania / De ce iubesc Romania list, and although it took several years until the mine was reopened to visitors, there are still visible water infiltrations on the walls and  large amounts of water has been accumulated in 2 pretty large lakes. My father was captivated by the magic of the scenery inside the salt-mountains at his first visit there and we used to spend many hours (almost every summer) in the mine, just as tourists, playing various games on the playing grounds ( football, tennis court, volleyball, table-games room), walking/ running along the halls or admiring the natural design of the salt stratification done by infiltrations and the artworks carved or painted in salt by various artists.

Lake at 208 m underground, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova
Lake at 208 m underground, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova
Talking about salt-sculptures, during my last visit in the Unirea Salt Mine, in 2011, I was happy to see that flooding did not affect the artworks depicting relevant figures of Romanians ancestry, Decebal and Traian, salt sculptures made by Iustin Nastase exhibited in the Genesis Hall / Sala Genezei;

Decebal Statue carved in salt, Unirea Salt Mine
Decebal Statue carved in salt, Unirea Salt Mine
Traian Statue carved in salt, Unirea Salt Mine
Traian Statue carved in salt, Unirea Salt Mine

nor the Mihai Viteazul base-relief and Eminescu's bust - carved in salt rough out by Oana Brezeanu, another local artist. It is amazing also to see that various paintings on salt have no damages by humidity (around 50%) and saline microclimate with air-composition rich in sodium-ions.

Mihai Eminescu bust carved in salt, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova
Mihai Eminescu bust carved in salt, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova

 As improvements, I found last year an interesting display with natural gems discovered in mines during exploitation phase: Amber (fosilized resin produced by ancient plants with various inclusions) / Chihlimbar (ambra galbena, rasina fosila produsa din plante conservate milioane de ani cu diferite incluziuni)

Amber / Ambra galbena display, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova
Amber / Ambra galbena  display, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova

Amber / Ambra galbena/ chihlimbar display, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova
Amber / Chihlimbar  display, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova

and Gem Salt (natural sodic chloride crystallizes in cubical system diversely coloured because of the inclusions) / Sare Gema (clorura de sodiu naturala care cristalizeaza in sistem cubic si este divers colorata datorita incluziunilor).

Gem Salt / Sare Gema display, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova
Gem Salt / Sare Gema  display, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova

Gem Salt / Sare Gema display, Unirea Salt Mine exhibited at Slanic Prahova
Gem Salt  display, Unirea Salt Mine, Slanic Prahova


One of the rooms is hosting an Ultra-low Background Radiation µBq Laboratory / Laborator de Masurari in Fond de Radiatii Ultrascazut of Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering - IFIN HH/ Institutul National de Cercetare si Documentare pentru Fizica si Inginerie Nucleara Horia Hulubei - an institute dedicated to the research and development in physical and natural sciences.

 I will be more than happy if one day I'll see, underground and in the surrounding area of the Old Salt Mine, eventually online (unfortunately I did not find any official website of it), more improvements, into a similar process with the restoration of  Turda Salt Mine, based on local funds, funds according with The Romanian's Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism campaigns / Ministerul Dezvoltării Regionale şi Turismului  and EU funding non-reimbursable grants for tourism.

Mihai Viteazul - sculpture in salt, Unirea salt Mine, Slanic Prahova
Mihai Viteazul - sculpture in salt, Unirea salt Mine, Slanic Prahova

Unirea Salt Mine/ Mina Unirea deserves to improve its image and to stand for the most impressive and the largest Natural SPA PARK in Europe.

April 16, 2012

Nicolae Iorga Museum, Valenii de Munte

Last summer I visited  Nicolae Iorga's Museum / Museul Nicolae Iorga located in Valenii de Munte, Prahova County, on the advice of a friend, the house where Nicolae Iorga had been living  for more than 30  years.

Nicolae Iorga Museum- main entrance, Valenii de Munte
Nicolae Iorga Museum- main entrance, Valenii de Munte

Ok, I need to admit that during my visit there, I  improved my knowledge about Nicolae Iorga's contribution to the European History and Culture:
Nicolae Iorga Museum sign, Valenii de Munte I learned that he has written in his lifetime around 1250 volumes and more than 25.000 articles in many international publications, and here, at Valenii de Munte, he wrote and published for many years the "Neamul Românesc" journal. 

Nicolae Iorga Museum, image from the suspended interior wooden bridge connecting the houses
Nicolae Iorga Museum, image from the suspended wooden bridge connecting the houses

I would recommend to anyone to visit it, is truly worth every moment spent there. His statue was welcoming me close to the main gate. Once passing it, the entire ambient proving his love for Romanian Traditions and Culture trough objects, furniture, paintings and paperwork were really impressing to me. I highly recommend to take a guided tour - our guide proved a great professionalism talking not only about the objects from the museum. She presented us with passion detailed and useful explanations of Nicolae Iorga's life, opera, political views and interests.

Museum of Etnography of Teleajen Valley, Valenii de Munte
 Museum of Etnography of Teleajen Valley, Valenii de Munte

The Religious Art Museum Nicolae Iorga, Valenii de Munte, Prahova County
The Religious Art Museum Nicolae Iorga, Valenii de Munte, Prahova County

"Nicolae Iorga Museum / Muzeul Memorial Nicolae Iorga", "The Museum of  Ethnography of Teleajen Valley / Muzeul de Etnografie al Vaii Teleajenului" and "The Religious Art Museum / Muzeul de Arta Religioasa Nicolae Iorga"  are sections of the "Prahova Museum of History and Archeology / Muzeul Prahovean de Istorie si Arheologie" (as I noticed on a poster at the main entrance):

Prahova Museum of History and Archeology / Muzeul Prahovean de Istorie si Arheologie poster

Nicolae Iorga (January 17, 1871 – November 27, 1940) was a polymathic Romanian historian and politician (known also as Nicolas Jorga): member in Romanian Parliament from 1907, President of the Romanian Deputies' Assembly and Senate, Founder of Romanian National Democrat Party and Prime Minister of Romania between 1931-1932. He was a notable hyperpolyglot who studied abroad, lectured and spent many years in European countries like: Italy, France, Germany, England and Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Turkia and Hungary and he had had also a great contribution as literary critic, memoirist and poet, many of his volumes being written or translated by himself in multiple languages. In Nicolae Iorga's Memorial House from Valenii de Munte was started in 1922 the tradition of Summer courses under the name of " Nicolae Iorga Popular University / Universitatea de Vara Nicolae Iorga" - tradition continuing nowadays in this well conserved Ensemble of  buildings donated to Romanians by his descendants in 1963 and 1978 as is written on a plaque at the main entrance  (Aceasta casa in care au muncit, s-au bucurat si au suferit Nicolae si Ecaterina Iorga, a fost daruita statului in 1963 si 1978 de catre urmasii lor).

Nicolae Iorga Portrait
Nicolae Iorga Portrait,  at Valenii de Munte Memorial House

Nicolae Iorga wrote many historical volumes related to Romanian History topics " The History of the Romanians/ Istoria românilor" " Acts and Excerpts Regarding the History of Romanians /  Acte si fragmente cu privire la istoria românilor" "A Short History of Michael the Brave/Scurta istorie a lui Mihai Viteazul" "The Histories of Wallachian Princes / Istoriile domnilor Tarii Românesti", " On the Cantacuzinos / Despre Cantacuzini" "The links of the Romanian Principalities with Transylvania / Legaturile Principatelor române cu Ardealul", but he is also known worldwide for memorable volumes about "History of the Ottoman Empire/ Istoria Imperiului Ottoman" or "Notes and Excerpts Covering the History of the Crusades / Note si fragmente cu privire la Istoria Cruciadelor"
He covered also other domainsm letting as heritage a large collection of volumes about etnography, religion, geography, folklor and literature: "People who were / Oameni care au fost" , "History of Contemporary Romanian Literature/ Istoria literaturii românesti contemporane",   "The History of the Romanian Church/ Istoria bisericii românesti" "The History of the Romanian Army/ Istoria armatei române", "In the Age of Reforms/ În era reformelor" "Romanian Folk Wear/ Portul Popular Romanesc" "Roads and Towns of Romania / Drumuri si orase din România".

Of course, his contribution to Romanian Culture is another important point to my "Why I Love Romania/ De ce Iubesc Romania" list.  You may find a detailed description of his opera and life in wikipedia or reading Andrei Nicolae Pipidi's (his grandson) and Petre Ţurlea's book  "Letters to Nicolae Iorga / Scrisori cǎtre N. Iorga". 

Nicolae Iorga's room, Memorial Museum Valenii de Munte, Prahova County
Nicolae Iorga's room, Memorial Museum Valenii de Munte, Prahova County

I've had a great "travel in time" experience visiting the interior of the main house which is filled with cultural riches from N. Iorga's life. I was impressed to see his simple and joyful room decorated with fabrics  with traditional motives, and the desk where he wrote many of his works. The ensemble of houses represents a typical monument of traditional architecture with narrow porch covered by ivy, roses and red geraniums, improved with a suspended wooden bridge connecting two areas of the main building.

Nicolae Iorga painting at his Memorial House, Valenii de Munte
Nicolae Iorga painting at his Memorial House, Valenii de Munte

Seeing him lost in his thoughts, in this imposant picture, made me walk carefully, making sure my shoes didn't make a sound against the tiles and did not disturb him ;-).

 picture taken at The Museum of Ethnography of Teleajen Valley, Nicolae Iorga Museum, Valenii de MunteNicolae Iorga's Museum from Valenii de Munte  is a real treasure of Romanian traditions and customs waiting to be discovered, where may be seen traditional clothing elements, traditional wooden furniture pieces, ceramics and carpets.  You can see also a lot of original manuscripts, pictures of interesting guests and his descendants, his favorite place, as well as tidbits about his personal and family life  that express his common sense and modesty, and images of the places visited and loved by him in his time.

 picture taken at The Museum of Ethnography of Teleajen Valley, Nicolae Iorga,  Valenii de Munte

 picture taken at The Museum of Ethnography of Teleajen Valley, Valenii de MunteIn completion of Nicolae Iorga's collection of traditional objects, The Museum of Etnography of Teleajen Valley / Muzeul de Etnografie al Vaii Teleajenului is hosting and displaying  folkloric traditional costumes and ethnographic pieces from the area, objects made by local artisans,

fabrics made to decorate the interior of the houses, old pictures and wooden statues that illustrate how people lived in these parts and traditional objects used by Romanian ancestors in their daily jobs.

I'm very happy that I visited Nicolae Iorga's Ensemble of Museums from Valenii de Munte. My brief description intends to encourage those who pass through Valenii de Munte (a small town located at 30 km from Ploiesti when ride on DN1A road to Brasov),  to pay a visit to this impressive touristic attraction. It is an exhibition sharing testimonies about Nicolae Iorga's contribution to ethnography, history and geography, where true values of traditions and customs wait for you to see and treasure.