12 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Romania

Although still regarded by many as an off-the-beaten-path destination, Romania is a country full of surprises, folklore, and exciting places that leave long-lasting impressions on visitors’ minds.

Check out these interesting, wacky facts about Romania:

1. Romania has one of the happiest cemeteries on Earth

Merry Cemetery, Romania
Merry Cemetery, Săpânța

Tucked away in a tiny village of Maramures county, near the Ukrainian border, the Merry Cemetery (Cimitirul Vesel) is not only a unique burial site but also an open-air museum and a tourist attraction in its own right.

Designed in 1940 by the local woodcarver Stan Ioan Pătraș, Săpânța’s cheerful cemetery stands out for its colorful high wooden crosses carved in oak and painted with scenes of the deceased’s life. Each tombstone features a witty poem depicting the person’s life and how he/she died.

To give you an idea, here is a funny epitaph roughly translated by Wikipedia:

Under this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother in-law
Three more days should she have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up please try
Cause’ if she comes back home
She’ll criticise me more.
But I will surely behave
So she’ll not return from grave.
Stay here, my dear mother in-law!

2. Romanian inventors have changed the world

Vuia flying machine
Traian Vuia and its flying machine

Romania gave birth to some extraordinary scientists and engineers, most of whom have actually changed the world.

Some of these include:

  • Nicolae Constantin Paulescu – the discoverer of insulin
  • Eugen Pavel – inventor of Hyper CD-ROM
  • Aurel Persu – the first engineer and car designer to build a car with the wheels inside its aerodynamic line
  • Petrache Poenaru – inventor of the fountain pen
  • Emil Racoviță – founder of biospeleology (the study of organisms living in caves)
  • Anastase Dragomir – inventor of the parachuted chair, an early version of today’s ejection seat

Romanian engineers have successfully contributed to the history of flight. Henri Coanda, Traian Vuia, and Aurel Vlaicu – each of them played an important role as pioneers in aerodynamics and aviation.

3. Romanian is the only Romance language in Eastern Europe

Romanian language
Biserica din Deal, Sighisoara

Most people believe that the Romanian language is very similar to those spoken in Russia or other Slavic countries, but in reality, Romanian is a Romance language closely related to Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese.

4. Romania has 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Medieval village in Romania
Sighisoara Medieval Town | Image licensed by Ingram Image

Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List include the Churches of Moldavia; the Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains; the Historic Centre of Sighisoara; the Monastery of Horezu; the Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania; the Wooden Churches of Maramures; the Danube Delta.

5. Romania is Europe’s richest country in gold resources

Gold bullion bars

Romania boasts a surprising distinction as the continent’s wealthiest nation in terms of gold resources. Nestled within its rugged mountains and verdant valleys lie vast deposits of this precious metal, a testament to the region’s unique geological evolution. These gold reserves have shaped the country’s economic and cultural narrative for centuries, drawing prospectors, influencing trade, and cementing Romania’s esteemed position in Europe’s mineral wealth hierarchy.

6. Romania boasts the world’s largest administrative building

The Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest
The Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest

Built by former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, Bucharest’s Palace of the Parliament – also known as the People’s House – is the largest, heaviest, and most expensive civil administration building on the planet.

7. Romania’s national currency is Leu, which means lion in English

Romania’s national currency

The national currency of Romania, the “Leu”, carries more than just monetary value; it holds a rich linguistic and symbolic significance. Translated to “lion” in English, the name evokes strength, majesty, and power. This choice is emblematic, reflecting the pride and resilience of the Romanian people.

8. Romania has the best-preserved Delta in Europe

Danube Delta, Romania
The Danube Delta | Image licensed by Ingram Image

The second largest river delta in Europe after Caspian Depression’s Volga Delta (Russia/Kazakhstan), the Danube Delta in Romania is the best preserved on the continent. It features no less than 23 natural ecosystems, boasting an amazing variety of unique flora and fauna.

9. The largest population of brown bears in Europe lives in Romania

Brown bears

Romania stands out in Europe not just for its rich culture and history but also for its thriving wildlife. It is home to the continent’s largest population of brown bears. These majestic creatures roam freely in the Carpathian Mountains, their natural habitat preserved thanks to Romania’s commitment to conservation. For nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers, this makes Romania a prime destination, offering a unique opportunity to witness these magnificent bears in their native environment.

10. The Statue of Decebalus in Orsova is Europe’s largest rock sculpture

Decebalus Statue
Decebalus Statue, Orsova

Somewhere along the Danube, near the small city of Orsova, in southwestern Romania, lies a 55 m high rock sculpture depicting Decebalus, the last king of Dacia. The monument is the largest rock sculpture in Europe and can only be reached by boat.

11. The only gold museum in Europe is found in Romania

Gold Museum, Romania
Photo via Muzeul Aurului Brad

Also known as the Mineralogical Collection of Brad, The Gold Museum in the small Romanian city of Brad is the only one of its kind in Europe. Founded some 100 years ago, the gallery contains a mind-blowing collection of over 2,000 pieces of gold gathered here from across the world.

A highlight of the museum is the native gold, which is displayed exactly as found in the mines of the Romanian mountains. The pieces are so unique and spectacular that their value no longer depends on grammage. For instance, a lizard-shaped item of only seven-tenths of a gram of gold has been evaluated at 3 million euros.

12. Timisoara was the first city lit by electric street lamps in continental Europe

Timisoara at night
Image licensed by Ingram Image

Timisoara, one of the most beautiful and vibrant Romanian metropolises, was the first mainland European city to be lit by electric street lamps, back in 1884. As per international standards, it was second only to New York City.

  1. Thank you for this. I really want to visit Romania one day – and in fact, have written a series of books set there. Perhaps I can visit on a research trip some day.

    Good to see you also included new things that most people would not know about. Will be sharing this on my blog.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed my post! Hope you’ll make it to Romania one day, because it really is a country full of surprises and beautiful places.

      1. Mahua Mukherjee Mahua Mukherjee says:

        Excatly Romania is a beautiful country.I just came back.

    2. Elliot Kovitch Elliot Kovitch says:

      If you haven’t yet visited it you’d love it. I grew up in Neamt Romania and have been to almost all parts of Romania. You’d truly love the culture and history of it

    3. David Lungley David Lungley says:

      I went for a long weekend and stayed with a Romanian friend who does know her countries heritage. Been back twice since and looking forward to the next time. One point that hasn’t been mentioned is that the BBC’s Top Gear team visited Romania and Mr Clarkson said that the Transfagarasan was the best driving road in the world, he isn’t wrong and on my second visit a couple of bears walked out into the road bringing traffic to a standstill. A very nice country where the local people do welcome you.

  2. Thanks much for sharing such interesting information! I’ve really inspired me to visit Romania one day!)))))

    1. That’s great Natalia! For a truly authentic experience, I would suggest anyone interested in Romania, to visit as soon as possible, as tourism here is on the rise.

  3. I’ve done my share of research on Romania and even learned quite a bit more when I spent 10 days there in September, but there were things listed here that I didn’t know and wish I had before my visit. Oh well, now I have even MORE reason to go back again and again. (I fell even more in love with Romania after my 10 day adventure)

  4. Vivienne Mott Vivienne Mott says:

    Beautiful Romania. Have been twice for short family events but gathered much of the life and history of the country.

  5. I was born & raised there but live in the US now but I still enjoy visiting Romania very much. Each time I go, I learn something new & see lots of beautiful places. I’m so glad I’m Romanian 😉
    And the food is AMAZING, mmm!!

  6. Eduard Teodorescu Eduard Teodorescu says:

    Thank you! Very realistic observations!

  7. People palace is the second biggest building , 1st is the Pentagon , nonetheless Romania is indeed beautiful

    1. “According to the World Records Academy, the Palace is the world’s largest civilian building with an administrative function, most expensive administrative building, and heaviest building” – Wikipedia

      1. Wikipedia is not the most reliable resource. But your sentiment is appreciated.

        1. The Pentagon is a military building , the People Palace is a civilian building

        2. Actually it is more accurate than the dictionary. Nice try.

        3. Daniel Popa Daniel Popa says:

          In this case Meeroona ‘s comment is true it is like that believe or not…

      2. The Pentagon isn’t a civilian building, so that is probably true.

    2. To be honest, the largest building in the world is the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington D.C. So, the Pentagon isn’t the biggest anymore. Probably it was when it was constructed, but since then other buildings are claiming that rank.

      1. Dear Ionut, It may be true that Everett has the largest building structure, but one correction. Washington State and Washington D.C. are two different places and far from each other.

    3. I took a tour of the People’s Palace over the summer, and literally even they will tell you that the Pentagon is the world’s largest ADMINISTRATIVE building, and the Palace is the second. Key word- administrative.

  8. So how come you’re so poor? ahaha

    1. Cultural we are not poor ,in fact people all over the world come and visit our history houses that are still preserved. We make more school then your west schools. Our problems are starting in the past we never had friends ( ally countries ) , you all were allied with us just for your own benefit. So how can a country prosper without somebody that can collaborate with? How can we even be friends with people like you that think money is more important then what people can do. With people that don’t make the difference between gypsies and normal persons that want a better life. You West people need to realize some things before asking stupid questions like “why are you so poor ? hahhaa “. In fact i think you don’t have more then 16 years old.

    2. We are not poor. I agree with Marius in everything he said. I just wanted to add a minor detail. In Bucharest, our capital city, you can see more Ferrari and Lamborghini cars on square kilometer than in most of the western cities. Not to mention other luxury car brands. So, if you were interested in the money matter, you should know that we are not poor. Among the huge cultural heritage that stands behind out nation and other things like common-sense (that I noticed you lack), which is priceless, i would say, we do have money: most families from the urban area own a house, a Romanian out of ten has more than one car, we can afford a holiday in a foreign country . Every country has poor people but our faulty management created this defective image that has spreaded around the world. And one more thing: every Romanian that has answered here used the English language. Isn’t it ironic that you call us poor when you wouldn’t be able to make yourself clear in our native language?

      1. Sadly ana you and marius are extremely lame to even bother answering his/her commentary. The truth of the matter, Romania is a Poor country but that shouldn’t/doesnt reflect on its people… Dumb comments like all these western countries are against us and we have the most Ferraris in a square kilometer just shows how shallow and small minded you are. We all know that brands and cars don’t reflect on a countries GDP (well actually let me retract that statement because you obviously prove me wrong). Regardless, I’m not here to bash Romania because it truly does have a lot to offer and also has some extraordinarily talented and smart individuals (I must obviously reiterate the term “SOME”)! In addition to this list I would also add “transfagarasanul” which is simply one of the most amazing roads ever paved with truly breath taking views!

        1. alexandra alexandra says:

          Actually I dont think they’re “extremly lame” to bother answering people like “Gaura” .
          People in west don’t know the real CURRENT fact about Romania so it’s good that somebody like Marius and Ana open new viewpoints for them.

        2. Sorry Observer, excuse them, they haven’t outgrown their inferiority complex yet. You’re perfectly right, that much I can tell you, and that’s coming from a Romanian.

      2. Dear Ana, if you gauge a country’s wealth by how many Ferrari and Lamborghini shops you have in your capital, that’s is pretty sad. It is a fact that half of Romani’s population still uses an outhouse in the backyard to do their business. So you have a long way to go to reach the standards of other countries that you so desperately think you are at par with. You and I both know that most wealthy people in Romania did not gain their wealth via honest work. I agree with the article, Romania is a very interesting place to visit. Romania is steeped in corruptions and that’s a major problem at the moment in my first-hand experience.

        1. My grandmother had an outhouse and yes, when she was out tending to her garden she used the outhouse so she wouldn’t track mud and dirt into the house. She did have a typical indoor bathroom with a sink, toilet and bathtub with running water too. Most of her neighbors have the same setup. I always thought it was interesting because the outhouse was actually attached to the house and matches the architecture of the house but it was only accessible from the outside.
          Probably a relic of communism. Her farmland out in the countryside were confiscated and she was given a little garden area right next to her house. After the revolution the garden was taken away and she was compensated for the farmland. Unfortunately the outhouse was later remodeled into a little workshop and a door was made to access the garage from there. Later the house was sold to a mechanic who had a large car collection and he was ecstatic with the garage and workshop.

  9. What about Gogu Constantinescu? Wiki quote: “During his career, he registered over 130 inventions. He is the creator of the theory of sonics, a new branch of continuum mechanics, in which he described the transmission of mechanical energy through vibrations.”

    1. I guess you understand now how little Science is understood and appreciated in Romania.

  10. Regarding point 6, have you ever heard of the Pentagon ?

    1. Hello “Bla Bla”. Have you ever heard there are certain things to consider before leaving a comment? Reading the article and the other comments are some of them.

      1. Bla Bla is right. The Pentagon is the world’s largest administrative building. This is what the article says and the article is incorrect!

        1. I’m not 100% sure but I believe the Pentagon has 2 floors underground where as the Romanian Parliament has 15 underground floors. Would that make a difference, I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter because it’s a monstrosity anyway; impressive to look at but a constant reminder of One’s ego.

        2. Actually Bla bla isn’t right. The article says: “is the largest, heaviest and most expensive CIVIL administration building”. The Pentagon, as you may know, is a military establishment.

        3. Corerct. civil, not military

  11. I agree with this list, people SHOULD know what a beautiful country Romania is. However, it would have been nice to mention that the electric street lights were put in by hungarians..just for the record 🙂

    1. Actually I had no idea it was the Hungarians who did that, but thanks for letting me know.

    2. 1884 Timisoara was in Transylvania. So the Transylvanians put on the street lights. At some point Transylvania and Walachia decided to unite and thus Romania. Hungary was part of the Austrian Empire in the 1800. We could wonder how much of any deed in Hungary was thanks to the Austrians.

      1. The hungarians did nothing. If we have someone to thank to, we should thank the austians and the germans…

    3. I just wonder why hungarians did not start that project in their own country. So, just back off and enjoy the article ’cause there is no need to start some stupid dispute in this context.. PS The information about the Palace of the Parliament is 100% correct. Anyways, nice article and great publicity.. for our beautifull country.

  12. palace of the palriament in Romania it’s the largest civil adminstrative building in the world and the pentagon it’s the largest guvernal adminstrative building in the world so you should make a difrent

    1. ffs … the pentagon is a MILITARY administrative building , the palace is a CIVIL administrative building

  13. Just a small mistake. House of People is the 2nd largest in the world. After Pentagon

    1. With some help from the Alkaida, the House of People will be again the first.

      1. Hahaha this just made my day!

    2. ionescu ionut ionescu ionut says:

      Is not a mistake…Pentagon is not a civil buiding.

  14. oh by the way. Great article ! Truly inspiring

  15. Iulian-Răzvan Iulian-Răzvan says:

    Hello there.

    I really enjoyed reading your post about this beautiful country and I will distribute in on my profile. I know many people cannot see the beauty of these places because of the media/political barrier.
    One sincere post like yours can break through the barrier and maybe make even more Romanians love their country and try to make a better future for them and generations to come here, in these very lands.

    Thumbs up!

  16. Excellent presentation!
    There are lots of beautiful places to visit there!

  17. I’m living in ROmania right now, and when people ask me what to visit I always add Salina Turda to the list!

    1. I was actualy wondering if someone would leave this comment. You sir, have my appreciation.

    2. And mine! I’m from Turda but live in London .I can promise you an exceptional experience if you ever decide to visit Salina Turda

  18. I am reading most of my Romanian fellow comments here and I might admit I am really surprised. How can anyone assume Romania is not poor? Romania is a poor country, one of the poorest ones from Europe, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have cultural heritage, beauty and simplicity, which most of the other European countries miss terribly. We live in a very beautiful country but you can realize that just when you get out of the cities and visit the country-side, otherwise our country is horrible, polluted and full of idiots. Our country has been sucked of all its beauty in the past decades by communism and corrupt politicians. Instead of prospering after the fall of communism in the winter of ’89 we kept going downwards mostly because politicians kept and even accentuated their mentalities towards stealing and seeing their interest first. Probably one of the biggest mistakes we made was to get into EU because prices for everything nowadays are approximately equal if not equal with countries such as Germany, Denmark, UK etc. (I live outside the country and I can confirm prices for electricity, heat, gas and so on are almost the same), but salaries remained the same or have been cut down. How can you, foreigners, ask us why we are poor? I’ve encountered this question a million times in the last year and I am in complete shock you still haven’t figured out the answer on your own. You’re either completely stupid or simply ignorant.

    On a brighter tone, I really enjoyed this article and I always recommend people I meet to visit Romania for its natural beauty and simplicity.

    1. correct. excellent and pertinent comment.

  19. Nouri Noura Nouri Noura says:

    Beautiful Romania i LOVE IT 🙂 you should add salina turda 😉

  20. There’s more:
    – The first country in the world with a petroleum production officially registered in the international statistics, followed by the United States in 1859, Italy in 1860, Canada in 1862 and Russia in 1863.
    – The world’s first refinery. Distillation on industrial way starts with the refinery built by Mehedinteanu brothers at the periphery of Ploiesti city.
    – Bucharest, the world’s first city public illuminated with kerosene.
    – The world’s first School of Driller Foreman.
    – Romania was the first country in the world which exported gasoline from 1900

    1. That’s probably the best comment on this page.

  21. Definitely have to go there. Despite of what everybody says about it, the country is superb! It has its problems here and there, but overall it is a country you have to see.

  22. Just for the record: I am a Hungarian who was borne in Romania, is living in Romania and has no intention to leave Romania! 🙂
    Excellent job, Meeroona! And the list could continue with many other thing, places and people. Starting, for example with the founder of Tibethology and the author of the first Tibetan-English dictionary… Search on him…
    As always, there are persons whom can not face history. Why is so important for some Romanians to immediately react against a Hungarian, even he is saying true things? The meaning of this site is to promote Romania, not to scare eventual visitors… Happily those who comment are guys who, in 90% of cases, nothing to do with Transylvania… Guys, you must face it: Hungarians and their contribution to the development of Transylvania is a reality that no one can deny. You like it or not it’s a reality. Instead of over reacting let’s be proud of what Romania has, what Romania can offer… Doing that that we all help to increase Romania’s GDP and to change some of our visitors who says that Romania is a poor country… That’s true: today Romania is a poor country. It is in our hand to make it richer. And commenting in contradiction just because a Hungarian writes some true things certainly will not help… You must get over it: Transylvania was a part of Austro-Hungary, just like Banat and Bucovina, that’s why there exists cadastre… In the rest of Romania there is not… :p

  23. Guys just keep visiting Romania! At least for these 12 reasons. I can assure you that there are at least another 50 reasons… Mountains, plains, Delta, salt mines (not only at Turda, but in Praid, Slanic Prahova and Slanic Moldova), castles, fortresses, wild life, sea side, ski resorts…. Certanly you will not regret it and you will looking forward to come back!.

  24. Hi! Finally a very nice and interesting post on this topic! Make many more, you have very igood deas 😀

  25. Thanks for sharing. It makes me miss it more than usual. I am fortunate to have visited most of those places before I left. I highly recommend a few days traveling along the Danube. Start in Brasov and go down through the Carpathians to Bucharest. Then down to the Danube and follow it into the Delta until is spills into the Black Sea.

  26. Joey Elizabeth Abeaboeru Joey Elizabeth Abeaboeru says:

    I am married to a Romanian man and I have lived there for 6yrs. I am from South Africa. I love Romania it’s so beautiful, there are so many things to see.

  27. Insulin was discovered by Canadian Frederick Banting and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work. Paulescu got no further than injecting pancreas pulp.

    1. thispunkisdrunk thispunkisdrunk says:

      You should do some research! “Insufficient recognition has been given to Paulesco, the distinguished Roumanian scientist, who at the time when the Toronto team were commencing their research had already succeeded in extracting the antidiabetic hormone of the pancreas and proving its efficacy in reducing the hyperglycaemia in diabetic dogs.” (Professor Ian Murray – professor of physiology at the Anderson College of Medicine in Glasgow, Scotland) Frederick Grant Banting and John James Rickard Macleod both got the Nobel Prize. Plus Professor Tiselius in a recent private communication, head of the Nobel Institute, has expressed his personal opinion that Paulesco was equally worthy of the award in 1923.

  28. Banting stole the discovery from Paulescu, thus winning the Nobel Prize. Charles H.Best, Banting’s partener in “discovering” insulin sent a letter admitting that all they did was copy-ing the process published in a science magazine…

  29. I visited Romania last year in September and spent 2 weeks in and around Brasov…rented a beautiful, romantic villa. This year, I’ll be visiting in late July or early August. Trying to decide where to visit this time. The Black Sea coastline certainly looks beautiful but also very, very crowded 🙁 Any suggestions based on knowledge of summer festivals or any little known attractions of which I have no knowledge?? Even though my other half still lives in Romania he’s not traveled much outside of Bucharest/Slatina…so we’re exploring his country together 🙂

  30. Hi Kerri,
    For some interesting summer (music) festivals, you certainly can’t go wrong with the Black Sea Coast, but if you’re looking for something more traditional and authentic I would recommend visiting Bucovina and Maramures – two wonderful corners of Romania full of time-honored traditions, beautiful people and fantastic landscapes. I really hope you’ll enjoy your time in Romania.

    1. Yes, Maramures is filled with wonderful traditions and a few festivals which have been held for some time now that are worth seeing. There are a lot of Monasteries there that have been preserved through time. The ‘happy cemetery’ is truly amusing~! Thank you Meeroona for making this article! Proud to be Romanian!

  31. Great article. Proud to be a romanian and to teach my kids about this beautiful country. Another place to visit is the Alba Iulia fortress – which after restorations is absolutely wonderful. Thanks for a great article.

  32. As long as one only comes to visit, than Romania turns out to be pretty wonderful! As a Romanian I strongly recommend it!

    It’s sadly a whole other story if you have to leave here, I myself, am very glad I don’t have to anymore. Therefore don’t trust those Romanians who say that they are proud be live there, they are only people who live in their own pretty little bubble of comfort. The reality in Romania is something else entirely.

    Happy sightseeing!

  33. Gave up checking when I knew number 12 was wrong. The Holborn Viaduct in London was the first street and by 1881, London had more than 4000 street lights. However, this is a good example of internet ‘facts’.

    1. Hey Paul,
      You’re right, in England they first used electricity for street lighting in 1879, but mainland Europe doesn’t include England or other islands.

  34. William alves William alves says:

    I love Romania! I came there in 1977 not too long after the earthquake with my high school orchestra. The Russians were still there and we had 2 KGB Officers assigned to us, which was not very cool, but no one had any trouble with them. I think we played 12 concerts in 11 days as we toured your country and even gave a special concert for Nadia Comăneci after someone found out that she was staying in the same hotel as us. When she and her coach came back from her practice she found a full orchestra in the lobby of hotel. She cried and we gave her flowers. In later years she escaped and came here to Norman, Oklahoma, USA where she subsequently got married to gymnast Bart Conner. We learned the truth about Prince of Wallachia (1431–1476/77), saw the house he was born in and saw the castle where he spent much of his life at. We did quite a bit while we were there and it was a trip that I will cherish to the end of my days!

  35. William alves William alves says:

    I meant to add Vlad the impaler (Dracula) before his title, Prince of Wallachia (1431–1476/77). (Sorry).

  36. I love reading articles about Romania and its people but somehow along the line people start to get so personal and defensive filled with low self esteem. In every country there are goods and bads and in fact Romania being one of the safest, culturally rich country in the world why don’t you all people of Romania take PRIDE in it. Stop being poor all the way and please learn to be broad minded, supportive of each other as countrymen these will take you guys a long way in this competition for everything world! La Romania te iubesc 😉 with love

  37. Makes me want to learn more about this country my Jewish ancestors had to leave, many years ago. Thank you

  38. I am Indonesian, i have a plan to pursue PhD degree at IASI and bring my family there. After i finished my doctoral program i want to live and work in Romania. Is easy to find a good job in Romania?

    1. Mr. X. All the good doctors leave Romania because they aren’t paid very well. However, maybe you will find a decent job in your profession and decide to stay. After all Money inst everything all the time.

  39. Half of your articol surprised me. I didn’t knew some things about Romania. AND IT’S MY COUNTRY.

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