Romania is a place of magic and wonder, especially when seen through the eyes of a child. It is a place full of ancient traditions, fantastical castles, and wondrous places to explore. While it might not be possible to travel to Romania in person, children’s books, the internet, videos, and pictures are excellent ways for families to teach their children about this unique European country.
When picturing world geography, Romania may not be the first place that pops into your head. So, where exactly is Romania, and what makes it such an ideal place for children and their families to explore?
To answer those questions, first, we’ll do a quick lesson on European geography, and then we'll delve into the top 10 things that make Romania magical!
Romania is a country located in Eastern Europe bordered by Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Moldova. Romanian is the official language spoken in Romania. In addition to the Romanian language Hungarian, Romani, Ukrainian, German, Russian, Turkish, and Tartar are also used throughout the country.
The capital of Romania is Bucharest, and when looking at a Romania map, you’ll see it’s located in the southwest corner of the country near the Black Sea. Bucharest is also the largest city in Romania.
Whether or not your family travel plans include an actual trip to Romania in the future, use this list to learn about Romanian history and traditions and engage in some fun family bonding!
Top 10 Things that Make Romania Magical
1. Scarisoara Cave
Scarisoara Cave is the second largest underground glacier in the world and a magical place to behold. This giant ice cave is part of the Apunsei Mountains and is part of the Apunsei National Park. Apunsei National Park is home to approximately 1,500 caves.
This underground ice wonder is over 3,000 years old and is home to unique ice sculptures that grow from the ground and the ceiling.
2. Peri Monastery
Children may not think of a church or monastery as being magical or fun, but Peri Monastery is the tallest church in the world! It stands 78 meters or just over 255 feet tall. It is so tall you can see it from three miles away!
Peri Monastery is relatively new; it was built in 1997, but it is an active church, and nuns live on and tend to the property.
3. The Fairytale Towns of Sibiu & Timisoara
European cities and towns have an ancient charm that is challenging to find in the U.S. since our oldest buildings date back only a few hundred years compared to several.
Cities in Romania are no exception to the rule concerning old-world charm, and while there are dozens to choose from, the towns of Sibiu and Timisoara offer an ancient charm difficult to equal.
Sibiu is located in Transylvania and was first settled in the 12th century and quickly became an important center for trade.
Timosara offers a more modern charm and reminds us of the villages and towns in fairytales and romance stories. With its stately buildings and towering townhouses, it is easy to get lost in fantasyland while strolling the streets and vast town squares.
4. Baciu Forest
If your children love fairytales and tales of ghosts and ghouls, then learning about Baciu Forrest is a must! Baciu Forest is considered the world’s most haunted forest and covers more than 700 acres. It is sometimes referred to as the Bermuda Triangle of Romania.
In addition to having ghost stories galore, it is also the sight of a famous UFO sighting in the 1960s.
5. Transylvania & Dracula's Castle
There are many castles in Romania, but none is more infamous than Dracula’s Castle in the region of Transylvania. In reality, the castle has little to do with the fictional vampire, but it is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, who inspired the character Count Dracula.
Credit Iulian Patrascu
The castle’s real name is Bran Castle, and it is perched on top of a high hill surrounded by dark forests; it reflects the ominous feeling author Bram Stoker was seeking for his tale of Dracula.
6. Dancing Bear Tradition
While the dancing bear tradition started in the medieval ages, no worries, real bears are no longer used. Instead, dancers dress up in elaborate and colorful costumes and perform traditional Romanian dances. Many of the bearskin costumes used have been passed down for generations.
Romania’s Bear Festival - Amazing Places
Dancing is performed at festivals between Christmas and New Year; dancers move to pan flutes and rhythmic drumming to ward off evil spirits. This is a unique tradition that provides one-of-a-kind children’s entertainment.
7. Romanian Christmas Traditions
Christmas is a major holiday in Romania and the country pulls out all the stops to celebrate! Few things are more magical than Christmas, but the magic doubles when sprinkling in fairytale-like Romanian Christmas traditions!
From extensive light displays to traditional Romanian Christmas carols, magic is in the air as soon as December arrives. Everyone in Romania goes caroling, from young children to teens and adults and people often wear traditional Romanian clothing.
Credit (Wikipedia Commons)
The magic continues with Christmas food like Romanian Christmas candy and cozonac sponge cake with nuts and chocolate!
8. The International Day of the Romanian Blouse
A piece of clothing may not seem all that wondrous or magical, but there is an entire holiday dedicated to the traditional Romanian blouse in Romania. This particular blouse, also known as the Dacian or Carpathian shirt, is celebrated every June 24th.
Early 19th c. Blouse
Credit Metropolitian Museume of Art
Evidence of this shirt dates back 2,000 years and is part of the traditional folk costume worn by women. The blouse has wide-cut sleeves and ornate embroidery consisting of natural colors.
This beautiful piece of clothing has inspired artwork and paintings, including Henri Matisse’s La blouse roumaine.
Credit Institut Culturel Roumain
9. Danube Delta
The Danube Delta is the second largest river in Europe, with the most significant part of the river residing in Romania and a smaller portion in Ukraine. The delta began forming over 6,000 years ago, stemming from the Black Sea.
The Danube Delta is home to many unique species and hosts 23 different eco-systems in its vast waters and wetlands.
The Delta has played a vital role in history as it was often used for transportation of soldiers, essential to trade routes, and often fought over as prized territory.
10. Tudra Salt Mine
The Tundra Salt Mine is a wondrous and magical place to behold. Located in Transylvania, this vast mine is open to the public as a tourist attraction. The salt mine is so vast and deep that if all the salt were mined, it would be enough for sixty years for the entire world’s population!
The salt mine measures nearly 400 feet deep or 120 meters, and so far has produced 38 million tons of salt. Even virtually, a visit to the Tundra Salt Mine is an opportunity to view one-of-a-kind physical geography and guaranteed family fun!
Credit David Stanley
Special thanks to L. Elizabeth Forry for this article.