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.    

April 13, 2012

Easter Eggs

The value of fashioned, painted or beaded Easter Eggs was evidenced from ancient times up to nowadays by thousands of stunning artworks produced every spring, before the Easter time.


 Painted eggs exhibition - with traditional symbols

Some of them were saved over from destruction ( I'm talking about real eggs whose preparation is kind of challenging), becoming real gems in personal collections, or cultural patrimony objects belonging to numerous exhibitions, museums and other institutions from Romania and from elsewhere - wish you to be lucky enough to see one of these.

 
 Fashioned eggs exhibition - with traditional symbols

The eggs have associated with the universe and the rebirth of life and were part of the rituals in many cultures: Babylonian, Egyptian, Greeks, Romans and Chinese, being used as symbol of regenerative life in spring festivals and featuring elements of nature: birds, animals and mini-lanscapes.

 Fashioned eggs exhibition - with natural symbols



Out of the tales, is said that the most symbols used in Painting-Easter-Eggs Art are originated in Christian and Pagan Religions. The red color is associated with the blood of Christ and the design has various meanings:
carved and painted wood-egg- the Easter Cross and the Star give a good meaning to your life,
- a vertical line means happiness in life, a double line - eternity,
- an ondulate line is a measure of purity,
- a spiral is a union with eternity
- and a double spiral line signify the continuity between life and death.
  Artur Gorovei  had described some traditional techniques and the chromatic code used by Romanian artists when painting regular or wooden eggs in his book  "Easter Eggs/ Ouale de Pasti" .  Of course, it is no way to tell the real story foot-marked in the memory of ages and in the darkness of the history. You may trace some symbols and signification from your ancestral heritage and, like a puzzle,  to make a truthiness story according to yours intuition and perception. Nowadays, on Easter, the blending of symbology connect people of various religions, and, whatever is your root, it continues to represent the spirit of rebirth, of continual life and of the love.

 hand-painted Easter eggs

Let's celebrate Easter again together with those we hold most dear;
may all of us find new joy, peace and happiness.
Paste Fericit! Happy Easter!

 Happy Easter from RomaniaMagicLand team

April 5, 2012

Remember Amza Pellea

April 7th, 2012 marks the commemoration of 81 years since the birth of Amza Pellea, a real Titan of the Romanian Stand-up Comedy.  Of course, it is difficult to measure his contribution to the Romanian art and culture, and there are many Romanians  whom are still listen with pleasure his plays.  You may read more about his stunning acting performances in my previous post:  Amza Pellea, the Magnificent Actor .


"Happy moments with Nea Marin / Momente vesele cu Nea Marin", " Suca in the army / Suca la Armata""An Oltenian Busisness / O Afacere Olteneasca", "Nea Marin and the witches / Nea Marin si Vrajitoarele" " Nea Marin to the cinema/ Nea Marin la cinematograf",  " Driver and Pedestrian / Automobilist si Pieton""Licu's horse/ Armasaru' lui Licu"  and "The man who laid an egg / Omul care a facut un ou"  are just few examples of his plays. 

Amza Pelea - Nea Marin and candies / Nea Marin si bomboanele


"Uncle Marin / Nea Marin" remains a character that portrays an archetypal Oltenian peasant who always captivated the listeners with his playful manner to share his comical thoughts and memories.

"It's a trait of character of the Romanian People to make fun by themselves, sometimes even in trouble. / E o trasatura specifica poporului roman de a face haz, cateodata chiar de necaz"Amza Pellea


Amza Pelea - The man who laid an egg / Omul care a facut un ou


" Nea Marin from over the Olt River / Nea Marin de peste Olt"  and " Happy Moments with Amza Pellea / Momente Vesele cu Amza Pelea"  are just two of my favorites disks under Electrecord copyright.  The comedy movie “Uncle Marin, the Billionaire / Nea Marin Miliardar” marked just the moment of glory of this beloved character.

Uncle Marin, the Billionaire / Nea Marin Miliardar


Amza Pellea gifted the Romanians with happiness and helped them to regain their joy of living in the harsh years of communism era. In recognition of his legendary contribution to the Romanian Theater, he became last year Member of the Hall of Fame of the National Theater in Bucharest.



I'm always knelling on the glorious grandeur of his Majesty!