History and Culture

Romania's history has never been so idyllic and quiet as it is for the scenery. Land inhabited by tenacious, hardworking, dignified and courageous people, was always challenged by waves of invaders who attacked this part of Europe.

Romania is a relatively young state. It was founded in 1859 by the union of Moldavia with Wallachia, later joined by Dobrogea in 1878 and Transylvania and Bukovina in 1918. Before this moment, the hole teritory was divided politically, economically and religiously. The only common element has always been the Romanian language, a Latin language. Romanians are the only people of latin origin from this part of Europe, the only one from the eastern part of the continent keeping a memory of the old Rome. The great Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga compared us to "a Latin enclave at the gates of the Orient" or "a roman island  in a slav sea”.

It is said that the current territory of Romania was inhabited continuously for 40,000 years. The strongest argument is the discovery made in 2002 to in the "cave with bones" (Caras Severin county) of three skeletons believed to be the oldest human remains in Europe of the modern man.

Another peak moment in the history of these places is Cucuteni Culture (5500 - 2750 i.hr), one of the most fascinating and mysterious civilizations that used painted pottery in ancient times. Snatches of their skills are the  vessels exquisitely decorated in a style so similar to that of today.

The first population of the Carpathian - Danubian - Pontic territory whose name we know as the Thracians, certified in Homer's poems "The Iliad" and "Odyssey". The historian Herodotus (484-425 BC.) states that "the Thracian nation is the largest in the world after that of the indians" and that "if they had one ruler or if Thracians would understand each other, their people would be invincible and more powerful than all nations. "

A century before AD. Dacian king Burebista controled a large territory similiar to Romania from today. According to the greek historian Strabo "Once he topped his nation that was exhausted by frequent wars, Burebista raised them so much through exercise, abstention from wine and obedience to the commandments, that in a few years he built a powerful state and submitted to the Getae most of their neighbors, came to be feared even by the Romans”. Dacian state reached its heighest power under King Decebal (85-106 d. AD) who is forced at the end of his reign, to fight two wars with the Romans after which they conquer and colonize part of Dacia, which becomes Roman province, while the dacians adopt the language of the conquerors. The wars between the dacian and the romans are displayed on the spiral bas-relief on Trajan's Column in Rome. 165 years of Roman rule fallow, sufficient to latinize the population in the north of the Danube.

According to Christian tradition, St. Andrew is the one who brings Christianity in the area, however, historians disagree on when exactly the inhabitants adopted Christianity. Follow centuries when migratory tribes use this territory as a passage to Western Europe in search of pasture and better living standards. The beginning of the new millennium (X- XI century) finds the population from north of the Danube as the only Latin nation in Eastern Europe and also the only  Latin orthodox nation.

In the 12th and 13th centuries the first Romanian states are born. The principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania are formed. Germans arrived in Transylvania at the behest of the Hungarian king, fonded several towns in Transylvania. Thus, between 1211- 1225, on the current territory of Bârsa Country sits the Order of the Teutonic Knights (at the invitation of King Andrew II of Hungary) to help the kingdom of Hungary to defend the eastern border from incursions of the migratory nations. From this period date back many citadels and fortified churches such as the one from Prejmer (UNESCO monument) or from Feldioara.

The conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453 causing a shock wave throughout Christian Europe. By fighting or tribute principles of Moldavia and Wallachia succeded to keep away the Turks. Is the era of rulers considered heroes: Mircea the Old, Stephen the Great, Vlad the Impaler, Petru Rares. The buildings of those times - churches, monasteries, fortresses, princely courts - are the expression of these leaders who encouraged the local culture.

In Transylvania also appear in  XIV - XVI centuries a lot of fortresses and fortified churches built by the Saxons to defend the rural communities.

In 1600 it takes place under the leadership of Michael the Brave, the temporary union between Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. The union lasted only a year, Michael the Brave was defeated by the Turks and the Habsburgs. Transylvania got later under the rule of the Habsburg and the Ottoman suzerainty continued in Wallachia and Moldova.

Transylvania was ceded in 1699 by the Ottoman Empire to Austria. Almost a century later, in 1774, part of Moldavia (which would later bear the name of Bucovina) is attached to the Habsburg Empire. Under the reign of the progressive Habsburg Empire the two romanian provinces prosper economically and culturally. The Austrians, however, were Catholics. The Great Schism of 1054 threw the anathema by the Papacy over the Orthodox. The Habsburgs destroyed Orthodox churches, killed the priests and forced the inhabitants to convert to Catholicism.

In 1848 another milestone occurs when all Romanian provinces joined, one by one, forty-eighters movement that engulfed Europe. This are the years when nationalist vein grows, it is talked about the common origin of the inhabitants of the Romanian provinces and the national consciousness is stated.

In 1859 it takes place under the leadership of Alexandru Ioan Cuza, the Union of Romanian Principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia). Seven years later, the German prince Carol of Hohenzollern - Sigmaringen was proclaimed ruler. Romanian diplomacy thus seek to gain support from major royal houses of Europe for independence. Then,  begins an era of modernization and prosperity for the romanian countries, an era that has as essential points the yearof 1878, when Romania declared independence from the Ottoman Empire, and the year of 1918 when the Great Union is achieved through adding to Romania Transylvania, Bassarabia and Bukovina.

Interwar Romania, also called Greater Romania, was the result of the collapse of empires and the proclamation of the right of the nations to self-determination. Located in the winners camp, Romania was, in this period, a part of the "cordon sanitaire" of Europe before the danger of Soviet Bolshevism. It is a time of great change: a new Constitution among the most progressive in Europe, an agrarian reform and the universal vote.

Culturally is the era in which the Romanian school of painting matures, the capital gains a flourishing image under  the avant-garde architectureof that time, which brings its title of "little Paris". New theaters, exhibition halls, museums, concert halls open up, publishers race to publish the very young Eugen Ionescu, Mircea Eliade, Nae Ionescu, Camil Petrescu, Liviu Rebreanu, Sadoveanu, George Bacovia, Mihail Sebastian. It is the era of the universal genius Constantin Brancusi and the era of the Dadaist Tristan Tzara.

In 1939, the onset of the Second World War found a strong Romania economically, with a thriving agriculture which transformed it in the breadbasket of Europe. After entering the war with the Axis powers, Romania weapons back on August 23rd, 1944 joining the Allies. Immediately after, the Soviet troops stationed in Romania, reaching thus in the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. Communists take power and compel King Michael to abdicate, proclaiming the Romanian People's Republic. Communist rule in Romania was one of the most repressive and brutal regimes in Eastern Europe characterized by numerous crimes, torture, deportation. From former landowners to students, from priests to intellectuals, from political opponents to the peasants who refused to give the land to collectivization, they all became enemies of the new regime which did everything possible to annihilate them. Two terrible decades follow, in which hundreds of thousands of people lose their lives in communist prisons.

Internationally Romania's history is better known after the Second World War as part of the socialist bloc, because of the excesses of the former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Although he had won the appreciation and help from the West when denouncing the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the USSR as a result of the Warsaw Pact (1968) and although he had transformed Romania in the first country of the eastern bloc that had official relations with the European Community (1974), Ceausescu attracted international opprobrium  by embracing the cult of personality through Asian branch and by constantly breaching the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.

Ceausescu was removed from the leadership of the country by the 1989 revolution that leaves behind more than a thousand dead people. In 1991, with the new constitution, Romania becomes a republic with multiparty system, market economy and individual rights - freedom of expression, religious freedom and private property. Since then Romania's progress has been steady along with Euro-Atlantic structures, the most important steps being taken in 2004 when becoming a member of NATO and in 2007, when entering the EU.

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