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Paris has the Eiffel Tower, London has Big Ben – but what about Romania? Beyond its breathtaking landscapes, fascinating regions, and awe-inspiring nature, the country boasts a rich architectural heritage. Here’s our pick of Romania‘s most iconic buildings.
Located in Sinaia, in the foothills of the Carpathians, Peleș Castle is one of the architectural wonders of Romania and a symbol of the history of the royal family of Romania. A former summer residence of King Carol I, Peleș Castle is home to extraordinary Neo-Renaissance architecture, as well as some 170 rooms fashioned in an array of architectural styles, from the Art Nouveau to the Moorish.
Bucharest boasts the second largest administrative building in the world, the Palace of Parliament. Built during Ceaușescu’s rule, the building is a symbol of Communist architecture. It has 12 storeys and 1,100 rooms that are home to the headquarters of Parliament and the Contemporary Art Museum of Bucharest.
A must-see when you visit Iași, the Palace of Culture is a magnificent mix of Neo-Gothic, Romantic and Neo-Baroque architecture. The beautiful building features 298 rooms and is home to four major museums of the city that showcase Iași’s history, ethnography and art heritage.
Also called the ‘Sixtine Chapel of the East’, Voroneț is certainly a symbol of the Bucovina region. Famous for its outstanding frescoes depicting traditional interpretations of the Bible, it also showcases a particular shade of blue, known as the ‘blue of Voroneț’, that allegedly changes with every season. Voroneț is part of Unesco World Heritage, together with other seven painted churches, and is remarkable for the extraordinary aesthetic value of its Byzantine-inspired art.
A majestic Gothic monument, the Black Church is unequalled in Europe, being the biggest Gothic church between Istambul and Vienna. Partially destroyed by the fire in 1689, the church’s walls have blackened, giving the church its name. A visit to this spot offers the chance to take in not just this monumental building and symbol of Brașov, but also the biggest collection of Oriental carpets in Europe.
Coming second after the Black Church in terms of scale, the Saint Michael Church of Cluj dominates Union Square and the city centre of Cluj. Built over a period of more than 100 years, the church depicts several stages of Gothic architecture. The interior is adorned with magnificent stained glass and a beautiful Baroque pulpit, as well as a stunning organ that captivates those in church every Saturday during the organ concerts.
As Transylvania’s most iconic building, Bran Castle is home to vampire myths. Strikingly similar to Dracula’s castle as described in Bram Stoker’s novel, Bran Castle is a place filled with legends and horror stories. However, a visit to the castle will uncover its true history and the beautiful story of its former owner, Queen Marie of Romania, who decorated the interiors.
Erected in 1909 in Art Nouveau style, a popular architectural style at that time, the Constanța Casino has become an emblematic building of the city. Located on the seafront, the Casino can be admired while wandering along the city’s promenade route.
Another iconic building of Bucharest, the Romanian Athenaeum is an architectural pearl of the 19th century constructed in Neo-Classical style. The monument was built after a long effort of public subscription fundraising, under the slogan ‘Donate un leu for the Ateneu’. Nowadays, the monument houses the George Enescu Philharmonic and is the main concert hall during the George Enescu Festival.
This creative arts house is home to the Romanian National Theatre and Opera of Cluj. A grandiose structure erected in Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century, it is a cultural symbol of the city. The monument’s Baroque interiors are as impressive as the theatre and opera played on its stage.
Visible from every corner of the city, Sighișoara’s Clock Tower is 64 meters (209 feet) tall, and offers amazing views of the city from its top. Visitors admiring the mechanics of the clock will also be able to admire its colourful statues representing, on one side, the figures of Justice and Righteousness, and on the other side, the days of the week and ancient deities.
A majestic 18th-century monument erected in Baroque style, this palace is home to the European Art Gallery of the Brukenthal National Museum. The restitution of the 18th- and 19th- century interior creates a charming atmosphere.
A splendid monument of the 20th century, the Orthodox Unification Cathedral was the place where the first monarchs of the Unified Romania, King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie, were married and crowned in 1922. A few years before, in 1918, the Grand Union of Transylvania with Romania was declared in the Union Hall, a few steps away from the church.
Dating from the 12th century, the church in Viscri is a Lutheran Church, part of a whole system of villages with fortified churches, erected by the Saxons in southern Transylvania. The church is protected by an oval fortification of stone walls, with two towers and two bastions guarding the entrance, while the church is adorned with a built-in tower.
Located in the region of Maramureș, a land of forested civilisation, Bârsana Monastery is a spectacular complex built in the local style, following the traditional architecture of Maramureș’s wooden churches. Entering through a typical Maramureș gate, visitors will marvel at the universe of peace and beauty that unveils before their eyes.
A medieval citadel of the Moldova region, Neamț Citadel played a key role in the defence system of Moldova during the Ottoman attacks. Built on the Culmea Pleșului Hill, the citadel is very well preserved and offers visitors not only a striking example of an historic iconic construction, but also a great viewpoint for panoramic views.
Erected in the Gothic-Renaissance style by one of the strongest families in Transylvania, Corvin Castle is one of the largest in Europe, and is allegedly where Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned for several years.