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Explore Romania

Welcome to Romania!

Why choose to visit Romania would be a fair enough question to ask. Romania remains a little-known land, a rich treasure trove for anyone looking for something different for a holiday. Today, most foreigners associate Romania with Bram Stoker‘s Dracula legend, with vampire bats and cobwebbed castles in Transylvania, but we can assure you that Romania is not only that. Romania is still a very romantic land, with fairy-tale palaces like Peleș or medieval castles like Bran, steel-blue Carpathian mountains, and sleepy towns that invite you to step back into the Middle Ages, as King Charles III did from 1988 and onwards. His Majesty travels to Romania every year to stay at his remote, rustic farmhouse in the small Transylvanian village of Viscri situated 264 km (164 miles) north of Bucharest.

Short History

Sandwiched between Russia, the Balkans, and Hungary, with the River Danube the great highway linking it with the West, the history of Romania is about races, tribes, and empires surging backward and forwards up and down this mighty waterway on migrations and conquest. It is a history in which Greece and Rome, Goths, Huns, Tatars and Turks, Hungarians, Russians, Germans, and Austrians have all played influential roles in forging the country the visitor sees today.

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

The first people that inhabited these lands were the Dacians who had their capital at Sarmizegetusa Regia in the Orăștie Mountains and who traded with the Ancient Greeks that established settlements along the Black Sea coast at Histria, Tomis which now is Constanța, and at Mangalia which was called Kallatis. Alexander the Great invaded Dacia in 335 BC. Still, his campaign was not successful and the Dacians retained their independence until the Roman Emperor Trajan defeated the Dacian King Decebalus in two bloody campaigns between 101-106 AD. After that, Dacia became a province in the Roman Empire and was settled by Roman colonists who built cities and roads, turning the country into one of the most flourishing Roman possessions. However, the period of Roman colonization was short-lived. The barbarian invasions had begun and Dacia was not easy to defend. By 274 AD Emperor Aurelian withdrew his garrisons, abandoning the province, though most of the Roman colonists remained.

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

Little is known about the country from the end of the 3rd until the beginning of the 11th century. It is certain that invasion after invasion by barbarian tribes, firstly Goths, then Avars, Huns, Pechenegs, and Tatars, swept across the country. It is thought that the Roman Dacians fled to the Transylvanian mountains to preserve the nation which had adopted Christianity, and to employ guerilla tactics against the successive hordes of invaders. The Romanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia were established in the late 13th and early 14th centuries with all the essential features of feudalism; a prince surrounded by officials and landlords (boyars) with a small class of freemen and an enormous number of peasant serfs. The church had great power while the princes surrounded by their quarreling boyars and officials were almost powerless. Two centuries earlier Hungary had sized Transylvania and in the 12th century, a German minority had moved and settled in.

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

Early in the 15th century, the Turkish invasions began. Though under various leaders the Romanian people fought to stem this fresh onslaught, by 1411 their efforts were exhausted and they were compelled to sign a treaty recognizing the suzerainty of the Turkish or Ottoman Empire. Princes Mircea the Elder and Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Dracula) of Wallachia, and Stephen the Great of Moldavia defended their countries’ independence against the Ottomans. Most Wallachian and Moldavian princes paid regular tribute to the Ottoman sultans from 1417 and 1456, respectively. From 1593-1601 under Michael the Brave who united Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania the county became independent of the Turks, but this freedom was short-lived. Later, the Romanian princes were far from happy under Turkish suzerainty and Constantin Brâncoveanu (1694-1714) approached Russia and Austria for aid. This action cost him his life and the Romanians now had rulers sent from Constantinople. These rulers who were known as Fanariots were Greek merchants whose only right to rule lay in the financial means at their disposal with which they purchased the thrones.

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Russia had long been interested in the principalities and sought their active cooperation against the Turks. In 1821 Greece rose against the Turks and the Romanians took the opportunity to rid themselves of their Greek rulers with a revolution led by Tudor Vladimirescu. Sooner or later outside interference in the affairs of Moldavia and Wallachia had to come to an end, and in 1859, the Congress of Paris gave Romanian people a guarantee of future neutrality of the Romanian territories under Great powers. In 1859, Alexander Ioan Cuza united the principalities and in seven years of his reign he lifted Romania from feudal times into the 19th century. He sized monastic lands and on easy terms split them amongst the peasants and reformed the civil, judicial, and educational systems.

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

His actions and views were far from popular with the church and wealthy landlords, who formed a conspiracy causing him to abdicate (1866) and placing Prince Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, a German princeling, on the throne. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877 saw Romania siding with Russians to gain Romanian freedom from future Turkish domination. Russian-Romanian success enabled Romania at last to become independent and Prince Carol was crowned king of a free and independent Romania in 1878. Romania now entered a phase of economic expansion largely with the aid of German capital.

In 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War, King Carol I with his German background wanted to enter war alongside Germany and Austria but was held back from doing so. On his death, Romania joined the conflict on the Allies’ side. On August 16th, 1916 the Romanian forces crossed into Transylvania which had been lost since the 11th century when Magyars had first occupied it. Whilst the Romanians were freeing Transylvania, a mixed army of Germans, Bulgarians, and Turks invaded from the south, and by December 1916 three-quarters of the country had been occupied including the capital Bucharest. The war ended in 1918 with Romania on the winning side, and Greater Romania was formed with newly regained territories: Transylvania, Besserabia, and Bukovina.

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

In 1930 Prince Carol II, who due to his romantic liaisons with the fascinating Madame Lupescu had left the country, was recalled to ascend the Romanian throne following the death of King Ferdinand. The government leaned towards the famous Rome-Berlin Axis with Hitler and Mussolini calling the tune. By 1938 King Carol II with the help of the ”Iron Guard”, an active fascist organization, had dissolved his Parliament and in March 1939 signed an economic treaty with Germany for Romania’s resources, especially her oil.

The Second World War found Romania drawn on the side of Germany even though she had been forced to cede the provinces of Besserabia and Bukovina to the Soviet Union, Northern Transylvania to Hungary, and Southern Dobrudja to Bulgaria in 1940, an act which in Romania was greeted with such violent storm of protest that King Carol II was forced to abdicate in favor of his young son Michael who became king, but with the power firmly in the hands of the Premier and the ”Conducător”, Ion Antonescu. In June 1941, the Romanian army joined the Germans in the Russian campaign including Stalingrad. By the spring of 1944, the Russian armies had turned the tide and advanced to the Romanian frontier with remnants of the combined German-Romanian army falling back in utter confusion. On the evening of August 23rd, 1944, King Michael Coup overthrew the fascist government of Antonescu, and Romania changed sides and joined the Allies. Communism was installed on the 6th of March 1945 with Dr. Petru Groza as Prime Minister in a coalition government. At the end of the Second World War, The Romanians lost more than 300,000 men.

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

On 30 December 1947, King Michael was forced to abdicate and Romania was proclaimed a Popular Republic of Romania with Dr. Petru Groza as a head of state who had close relations with the Soviet Union. During his reign, in 1948, the ”nationalization” of industry and banks was introduced, and Romania became a Stalinist state. After the death of Stalin, the Romanian ruler Gheorghe Gheorgiu-Dej managed to obtain in 1958 the Soviet troops’ withdrawal from Romania and distance himself from the USSR. During the late 1940s to the mid-1950s, an anti-communist resistance movement was active in Romania. The rebels had links with the CIA and many of them were hidden deep into the Carpathian mountains. By the early 1960s, most of the anti-communist partisans in Romania were either killed or arrested by the Securitate secret service. In 1965, Nicolae Ceaușescu came to power and was very popular after he eased press censorship and openly condemned the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in his speech on 21 August 1968. Being a reasonable diplomatic power, Ceaușescu‘s Romania dreamed of becoming an economic power, and in the 1970s industry and chemistry were developed with the Autarchy as a goal. However, the resulting period of stability was brief as his government soon became totalitarian and was considered the most repressive in the Eastern Bloc at that time. His secret police, the Securitate, was responsible for mass surveillance, severe repression, and human rights abuses within the country and controlled the media and press. During the 1980s when the stores were empty of food, Ceaușescu and his wife Elena, continued with the cult of personality and many megalomaniac plans, such as building The House of the People, Dunăre-Marea Neagră Canal and the ”systematization” of the Romanian villages.

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

In December 1989, the situation became desperate in Romania, one month after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Nicolae Ceaușescu’s totalitarian regime was in its final hours. After weeks of struggle and protest, this last stronghold of Communism was overthrown on 21 December 1989 by civil unrest and the Romanian Revolution began. Ceaușescu and his wife Elena fled Bucharest in a helicopter, but they were captured by the military after the armed forces defected. After being tried and convicted of economic sabotage and genocide, both were sentenced to death, and they were immediately executed by firing squad on 25 December 1989. Despite the media attention the revolution received back then, it remains shrouded in mystery to this day. It was a revolution or a coup d’état?

Romanian Travel Agency specialized in Historical & Battlefield Tours

After the 1989 Revolution, Romania began a transition towards democracy and a market economy. Romania experienced rapid economic growth in the early 2000s; its economy is now based predominantly on services. Romania took a major step away from its past when it joined NATO in March 2004.

The Holocaust in Romania was officially recognized by the Romanian state in 2004 when the Final Report of the International Commission for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania was published.

Romania joined the European Union in January 2007 and is ready soon to become a Schengen Member State. The majority of Romania‘s population are ethnic Romanians and religiously identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christians, speaking Romanian, a Romance language.


Historical and battlefield tours in Romania