Cesme’s Impressive Fortress…

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Standing impressively on a slight hill, with a strategic view looking out through the entrance of Cesme bay and towards the Greek island of Chios stands Cesme Fortress. The fort was built in 1508 under the order of Ottoman Sultan, Bayezid the Second.
Despite being relatively new compared to other Castles in proximity to Cesme, it has been the centre of many conflicts involving the Ottomans. It was most recently damaged extensively by the Russians during the 1770 Russo-Turkish War-(Not to be confused with the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War that I wrote about in my Battle Of Shipka Pass blog).

After some renovations and alterations by the Ottomans until their demise in 1920, the castle continued to play a key role in Cesmes five year hundred year history.

Before I continue with the history of Cesme Fortress, I will tell you about visiting the castle and what to see at the place.

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From the outside, Cesme Fortress doesn’t seem very big. However, your perception immediately changes as you enter through the small arched doorway. When you proceed through the castle, the first thing you’re expected to look at is the three room archeological museum.

This museum exhibits artefacts found in the surrounding areas archeological sites and the artefacts include; very small glass jars, ceramic amphorae, Roman, Hellenistic and Ottoman coins, and a small selection of stone statues.

As you walk up the slight incline, you come across the first courtyard area. When we went, there were workmen planting and repaving the small garden area, which also exhibits a selection of Ottoman gravestones and should be most impressive upon its completion. From here, you can head up and along the castle walls, where from the top there are amazing views of the town, the Greek island of Chios, and surprisingly, you can see the Northern coast of the Karaburn peninsula.

The castle also has two more exhibition areas. One is in the bottom left tower, called the … tower, which contains Roman and Ottoman gravestones, and Greek statues.

The other exhibit room is at the bottom of the castle. This one was particularly interesting to me, as it detailed the Battle of Cesme of 1770, during that Russo-Turkish war.

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It’s interesting to hear this battle is sometimes considered by the Russians as their Battle Of Trafalgar.

In the exhibit there are paintings, portraits, uniforms worn by both sides, coins from both countries during the time and information about the leaders of both countries and captains that took part in the battle…the most famous of which is Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha.

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Born in Algeria, he was a fleet commander during the Battle of Cesme, and despite the Turks losing most of the Ottoman fleet and the destruction of the castle, Pasha became a Grand Vizier, and later Admiral. If you’re interested in him, he’s a bit like the equivalent of Admiral Nelson!
Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha began his sailing livelihood as a Barbary pirate and ended it during the last battle high he fought in which was during the Russo-Turkish war of 1787-1792, where – at the age of 85 – he orchestrated his fleet on three different occasions-(may I add, however, that he lost all of those engagements!).

Outside the castle, there’s a statue of him beside his pet lion, which he actually domesticated, and it went everywhere with him.

What’s most notable about the exhibit, is how it explains Russia’s rise as a world power and the desires of the Tsars and monarchy for Russia to become a global colonial power. It’s examples of this were the several wars Russia had against Turkey/the Ottoman Empire, and its wars with Poland.

Cesme castle then, is an incredibly interesting place to visit, and a place you simply must visit whilst in Cesme.

I may release some blogs about Didim and Kusadasi in the coming days, and keep an eye out on the Fethiye Times, where my ” Whistle Stop Tour” articles are regularly released. Go check it out, I talk about traveling to beautiful hotspots and locations in Turkey such as the Gocek Bay, Bozburun Peninsula and Datca’s Peninsula!

Please go and give the Fethiye Times a follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Myrina-The Gem Of The Aegean…

So, we’ve left Porto Lagos and we are making our way southwards down to Fethiye. It’s been a fun year travelling and we’ve had the chance to explore the hidden treasures of Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, but we are now looking forward to getting back to Fethiye and having a home….
The only way to get southwards, however, is to island hop….
Island hopping in Greece isn’t as much fun as you’d expect, especially in the winter, and especially this far north as its cold, stormy and to top it all of, the weather forecasts are usually unreliable.

So, a week into the trip and we we’ve so far been Harbour bound twice, on two islands. Samothraki, where everything seemed to be closed – a normal problem on the Greek islands in the winter- and Limnos.

It was our first time to the island of Limnos, and we were in the harbour on the islands capital, Myrina.
Approaching from the sea, you’ll immediately notice that there’s an impressive castle that sits on a rocky headland that splits the surprisingly large town in two. On the two sides of the headland, there are sandy beaches which spread out before the town and the pretty waterside promenade.

After parking side-to on the harbour wall, the picturesque town is overshadowed by the marvellous Byzantine castle, which throughout history has been modified and modernised by the Genoese, Ottomans and Germans.

Walking up to the castle, it’s easy to identify that it has been under recent renovation, making it one of the best preserved in Greece. The stroll up to castle from the harbour takes you through the burgonvillia covered cobbled streets, extraordinarily pretty, which lead you too a winding path, which consequently leads to the grand entrance of Myrina castle.

After a short while, you arrive in an open green area that is surrounded by the walls of the castle.DSC_9592

Within the castle are several ruins, such as the derelict foundations of the former Ottoman barracks and Mosque. Looking upwards, you’ll notice the Citadel. Walking up the the steep steps, from the top there are astounding views of the sea and surrounding town. Also at the top, there’s many ruins that are begging to be explored.

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At the far side of the castle, there’s a former Ottoman gunpowder store.
Now, imagine you’re defending the castle when suddenly, your enemy starts an artillery bombardment. As the bombardment continues, you begin to worry and head towards the bunker, which just so happens to sit beside the gunpowder store…that’s right, the bunker is right next to the gunpowder store… Only in Greece…..

You can easily spend several hours walking around the castle grounds, and if you are into nature you can admire the wide variety of wild flowers and plants, as well as the wild goats and deers which roam freely.

Another noteworthy thing to do whilst in Myrina are the several cultural/historical walks which are easily signposted and tell you the history of the town and its people.

There are four trails you can do, “The Historic Centre Trail”(trail A), “The Prehistoric City Trail”(trail B), “The City Through The Ages Trail” (trail C) and the “Tsas and Prosfygika Trail”(trail D).

When we were in Myrina, we incorporated trail A and B into one long half day walk, and despite being rather tired afterwards, we saw many sights of interest, such as the former Greek and Turkish quarters, the ruins of Prehistoric Myrina, the Memorial to Cypriot Fighters-(which is dedicated to the Cypriots who rose up against the British who controlled Cyprus between 1952-1955)-and the Memorial to the Executed of WW2, which is built in the pit where the Greek resistance fighters were shot in during the German occupation…

Following the walk can be quite difficult at times, as the signposts can be rather difficult to identify, whether it be because they’ve faded or there in hard to identify places-e.g.halfway up a telegraph pole(!). So a place I’d recommend to start is at the Archeological museum – which probably isn’t open on a Monday – , whose staff were very helpful and friendly.

 

They actually gave us a map with the walks on, and they also gave us a leaflet about the museum, which houses artefacts that come from surrounding archeological sites, which date as far back as 4,700 BC.

In conclusion, Myrina town is a wonderful place to explore, and in one day you can learn about its several thousand year history. With its fine cobbled streets that have a wide variety of shops and cafes, it’s beautiful harbour, and brilliant castle, it’s a lovely place to visit. It was shame however, that we couldn’t head elsewhere on the island, as its renown for its organic wine and for also having some of the oldest archeological sites in Europe.

What’s nice to see is that despite being quite a large island, Limnos has retained its traditional fishing harbour feel, and hasn’t fallen into the trap of being your generic tourist central.

In other news, please go and read this: https://thechill.at/2018/11/04/casey-russell/

It’s about me, and it’s written by my good friend Claudia Hilmbauer, so, please share it with your friends-(also, go and check out her blog!)-. The article, however, is in German, so if you don’t speak it you can have a laugh at Google translates attempt at translating it!

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A Few Days Around Transylvania…

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Transylvania, an area of ancient mystical mysticism shrouded in old ancient mystery…its the place renown for Vampires, Wolves, Bears and many mysteries of ancient mysticness and as its Halloween we are all for some mysticalness! …Transylvania is a place which has – unlike the rest of Romania – become the frontier for the countries tourism.

So here is a guide, lets say, of Transylvania, one of my new favourite places!

What made Transylvania famous amongst foreigners and locals alike is down to two things-

1:Irishman Bram Stokers thriller, Dracula, was an instant hit in Europe and the English speaking world, but 2: what really boosted the recognition of Transylvania was the rather perculier mind of Megalomaniac, Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Ceausescu made Vlad the Impaler an important figure head for the national morale, and the legend of him was used as a brilliant piece of propaganda and advertising for tourism.

When you visit Transylvania you’ll either fly into Brasov or Sibiu, the two main cities here. Brasov old town is a brilliant place to explore on your first day, since it’s been renovated to resemble how the town would have looked a few hundred years ago.

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Brasov is also a superb place for those who want to shop, since the whole pedestrianised area has a wide array of designer, outlet, second hand, antique, big brand and many other shops..(Side note for gentlemen, make sure to hide your wallets!)

Sighisoara

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An hour north is Sighisoara. The beautiful Citadel dates back from the 14-15 th centuries, and is simply a brilliant example of a Transylvanian fortress and a Transylvanian Saxon town. I’ve done a more in depth blog of Sighisoara here, where I detail a walk around the Citadel.

Rasnov Citadel

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A fine example of one of the periods citadels is in the town of Rasnov, south of Brasov. This citadel overlooks a dense forest on one side, and a plain which acts as an agricultural and industrial heartland for the area on the other side. You also have spectacular views of the nearby Carpathian Mountains.

To get to the Citadel, there are two ways. You can either drive to the car park provided by the council, and board a road train that takes you via the dinopark-(yes, a dinopark)-, or you can park in the town and ride the vernacular up a steep incline, which means you can admire the pretty surroundings.

Rupea Citadel

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Another example of ruined citadels is on a hill over looking the town of Rupea, between Brasov and Sighisoara. Rupea citadel is also on a high hill, with great views overlooking the small town below and rolling hills around. Most of the towers have been renovated, so it feels like the place has been hardly damaged throughout its history.

Viscri Saxon Village

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Nearby to Rupea through a traditional gypsy settlement there is a small village , which not only has two houses owned by HRH Prince Charles, but is also the town which proudly exhibits a Saxon fortified village. The enclosed village has stables, rooms, and an Anglo Saxon style church. This Saxon village is probably the best example around and is called Viscri. The origins of the fortified church date from 1100, and people lived within these walls right up to the 18th century.

As I mentioned, Prince Charles bought two houses and had them renovated. So now, people who want to experience the incredible Transylvanian way of life can holiday there.

Bran Castle

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If you want to stay on the more touristy path though, you could do the very busy and well known castle of Bran, situated nearby to the town of Bran between a pretty, wooded valley. As you’d expect, tourists from all over the world clog the paths and streets, as well as swarming like ants all over the inside of it. It can get quite claustrophobic at times with the hordes of multi nationals descending on the well preserved rooms. This place is supposedly the castle in which Bran Stocker got his inspiration for Draculas castle.

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We’ll end in Sibiu, with another well maintained and restored old town, which, like Alba Lulia, is situated behind rows of defensive walls. In many respects, Sibiu is somewhat of a smaller, messier version of Brasov. As my mum put it so eloquently, “if the Maramures is the Lakes, and Bucovinas the Highlands, Sibiu is Romanias Salford”

Whilst in Sibiu, we got lost in the old town, which is actually very pretty. With many squares, it’s a pleasant place to stop and dine whilst observing passerby’s.

What is quite haunting when you wander the boulevards and streets in the old town however, are the window holes on the roof of the buildings which this town is famed for, which look like eyes and seem to follow you…
Whilst in Sibiu, we paid a visit to Sibiu zoo. It had Bears and Wolves and Tigers and Lions, all of which seemed unhappy, and probably the most lively animal was the massive great pig…

Transfagarasan

 

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One last thing I’d suggest is to drive on the greatest driving road in the world, the Transfagarasan highway which connects the historic provinces of Transylvania and Wallacia over the Fagaras mountain range. On this road, you can witness some brilliant views and enjoy corners like those from racing tracks.

Was there anything I missed? I don’t think so, but I’m open to suggestions so make sure to leave a comment of where I should visit next time I’m here!

In conclusion, Transylvania is an incredibly interesting and beautiful place. We explored many wonderful attractions, both on the beaten track, and off.

We met many friendly and welcoming people, all of whom treated us like old friends, and we’ve created memories that’ll last a lifetime..

I would like, however, to add that Transylvania has become somewhat of a hub of tourism, and the Dracula myth and story has fueled a misleading claim about the place.
Whether this is a good or bad thing, I’m not sure. On the one hand, I feel the tourists litter and ruin the idea of the place, but on the other it helps the local economy, and keeps the tourists from Bucovina and the Maramures, which means it stays beautiful and unspoilt for the likes of me and you!

It’s been a brilliant trip, and if anyone were to visit this region, Bulgaria and Romania are must do’s! I may write a longer blog detailing the places more in the not to distant future for a friend of mine…

The one last thing I’d like to say, is thank you Romania!

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The Buzluzdha Monument…

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In 1891, a group of socialists led by Dimitar Blageov assembled secretly in the area of the Buzluzdha Peak to form an organised socialist movement that led to the founding of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party. This then became the Bulgarian Communist Party.
The communist party would go onto lead the country after the Second World War with Russian support, so to commorate the creation of the party, in 1981, the Buzluzdha monument was built.

Sitting at the top of the peak, this perculier UFO shaped building, cost about 14,186,00 Lev to build, equal to about 35 million US dollars today.

To build it, they had to blow up the top of the mountain. The height now is 1,432 meters, but before the construction, it was 1,441 meters. By blowing it up, they had to dispose some 15,000 cubic meters of discharged rock.

At the opening ceremony of the monument, Bulgarian leader Todor Zhikov proclaimed:
“I am honoured to be in the historical position to open the House-Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party, built in honour of the accomplishments of Dimitar Blagoev and his associates, who, 90 years ago, laid the foundations for the revolutionary Marxist Party in Bulgaria.
Let the pathways leading here – to the legendary Buzludzha Peak, here in the Stara Planina where the first Marxists came to continue the work of sacred and pure love that was started by Bulgaria’s socialist writers and philosophers – never fall into disrepair”

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“Let generation after generation of socialist and communist Bulgaria come here, to bow down before the feats and the deeds of those who came before; those who lived on this land and gave everything they had to their nation. Let them feel that spirit that ennobles us and as we empathise with the ideas and dreams of our forefathers, so let us experience that same excitement today! Glory to Blagoev and his followers; those first disciples of Bulgarian socialism, who sowed the immortal seeds of today’s Bulgarian Communist Party in the public soul!”

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Despite the history it’s associated with, it is a very impressive building. Inside is meant to be too, but unfortunately you can’t go in there anymore because of glass in the ceiling falling off and injuring People.

If you get the chance to visit this area of Bulgaria, I’d really recommend doing so.
In all honesty Bulgaria and Romania have been incredible places to visit, not only for the places we’ve been to, but also the wonderful people we’ve met on this once in a lifetime trip.

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The Battle Of Shipka Pass…

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So we are back in Bulgaria now, heading back to Porto Lagos and the boat. It’s been a brilliant few weeks, but we are really missing the boat and ocean!

We are only stopping once between Bucharest and Porto Lagos, and that place was Shipka, the site of major turning point in the 1877 Russo-Turkish War of Bulgarian Independence.

 

 

To commemorate the battle, a tall tower built in 1934 stands high on the peak of a hill, looking down onto the sight of the battle, where a combined force of 7,000 Russian soldiers and Bulgarian volunteers held of four stages of attacks against the vastly superior 27,000 Ottoman soldiers. These four stages took place over half a year, starting in July 1877, and ending in January 1878.

Each level in the tower gives an insight into the battle, including the weaponry used, clothing worn by Russians and Bulgarians, tactics, letters sent to-and-fro, and every floor showcases a piece of artwork that give an idea of post Napoleonic warfare, and pre-WW1 warfare.

I consequently found out that there’s a poem about the battle.  I think it gives you a real insight into the battle…

THE VOLUNTEERS AT SHIPKA
(August 11, 1877)

What if we still carry shame on our forehead,
Marks of the whip, signs of bondage abhorrent;
What if remembrance of infamous days
Hangs like a cloud over all we survey;
What if in history no place we’re allotted,
What if our name be a tragic one, what if
Old Belasitsa and recent Batak
Over our past throw their deep shadows black;
What if men mockingly laugh in our faces,
Pointing to newly lost fetters, to traces
Still on our necks of the ages-long yoke;
What if this freedom was gives our folk?
What of it? We know a recent true story,
A shining new symbol, a symbol of glory,
That proudly within every bosom pulsates
And noble strong feeling within us awakes;
There on a mounting that glows in the distance,
Heaven’s blue vault on its broad shoulder lifting,
Rises a famous wild peak with blood on its moss,
A monument huge to a deed that’s immortal,
Because a deep memory lives in the Balkans,
Because there’s a name that shall live for all time,
As bright as a legend in history it shines,
A new name, its roots to antiquity tracing,
As great ad Thermopylae, all fame embracing,
A same to wipe shame away, with its plain truth
Smashing to smithereens calumny’s tooth.

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O Shipka!
For three days out youthful battalions
The pass have defended. The high mountain valleys
Re-echo the battle’s tumultuous roar.
The onslaught’s ferocious! Again the dense hordes
Along the ravine for the twelfth time are crawling
Where warm blood is flowing and bodies are sprawling.
Assault on assault! Swarm on swarm they advance!
Once more at the towering peak Suleiman
is pointing: “Rush forward! Up there are the rayahs!”
Away race the hordes in a rage wild and dire,
A thunderous “Allah” re-echoes afar.
The summit replies with a rousing “Hurrah!”,
A hail of fresh bullets and tree trunks and boulders;
Spattered with blood, our battalions boldly
Retaliate, every man in his own way
Striving to be in the front of the fray,
Each, like a hero, death bravely defying,
Determined to leave one more enemy dying.
Cannon are pounding. The Turks with a cry
Rush up the slope where they tumble and die;
Coming like tigers, like sheep they go flying,
Then come once again: the Bulgarians fighting
Like lions are running along the redoubt,
Neither heat, thirst nor toil are they worried about.
The onslaught is fierce, the rebuff no less stout.
For three days they fight but no help is arriving,
And no hope is visible on the horizon,
And no brother eagles come swiftly with aid.
No matter. They’ll die, but die true, unafraid –
As died the brave Spartans who stood against Xerxes.
Fresh waves are now rolling up; all are alerted!
A last effort’s needed: the moment is grave.
And then does Stoletov, our general brave,
Roar words of great courage: “Young volunteer fighters,
Now crown Bulgaria with laurels of triumph!
The Tsar has entrusted the pass, the whole war,
Himself even, unto these muscles, of yours!”
Thus heartened, our proud and heroic battalions
Courageously meet the next thrust of the rallying
Enemy hordes! O heroic time!
Fresh waves of assailants the cliffs now climb.
Our men have no bullets, with bravery girded,
Their bayonets broken, their breasts ever sturdy,
They’re all to a man ready gladly to die
On the ridge which the whole of the world can descry,
To die here like heroes triumphant, victorious.

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“The whole of Bulgaria watches, supports us,
The peak is a high one: if we run away,
She’ll see us – so better to die here today!”
No weapons are left! What remains is the slaughter!
Each stone is a bomb and each tree-trunk a sword is.
Each object – a blow, and each soul – flame that sears.
From the peak every tree, every stone disappears.
“Grab hold of the bodies!” they hear a voice crying,
At once through the air lifeless corpses are flying,
And over the hordes like black devils they dive
And tumble and roll as if they were alive!
The Turks quake and tremble, not having seen ever
The living and death fight a battle together,
And raise a shrill cry of demoniac rage.
In life and death combat the armies engage.
Our heroes, there standing as steady as boulders,
Meet bayonet steel with steel breasts no less boldly,
And sing as they cast themselves into the fray
When they realize Death shall now snatch them away.
But still our young heroes rebuff, sink and swallow
The hordes that is wave upon wave swiftly follow.
The peak any minute shall ours be no more.
Then suddenly Radetzky arrives with a roar.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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And today, every time there’s a storm in the mountain,
The summit recall this grim day and, recounting
The story, its echoing glory relays
From valley ti valley, from age unto age!

Plovdiv, November 6, 1883
Ivan Vazov

Nearby is another monument, commerating a very different occasion

The Palace Of Parliament And Targoviste Barracks…

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Driving from Pitesti to Bucharest, Romanias capital, is a short but unfortunately boring trip. The land is flat and is mainly shopping centres, factories or small villages.

As a slight detour, we decided to add an extra half an hour onto the trip, and visit the military barracks where Megalomaniac Nicolae Caucuses was shot, along with his wife Elena.
They are located in the 26th largest city, Targoviste, some 50 miles outside of Bucharest, and the former cavalry barracks has been turned into a museum showcasing the room where the Caucescues spent there last few days, before being tried in a small court on several counts-(all of which they were found guilty of)-. The counts included:

* The Genocide of over 60,000 victims
* Subversion of state power by organizing armed actions against the people and state power.
* Offense of destruction of public property by destroying and damaging buildings, explosions in cities, etc.
* Undermining the national economy.
* Trying to flee the country using funds of over $1 billion deposited in foreign banks.

Despite Nicolae Caucasus pleading not guilty, and the fact the trail only lasted an hour, at 14:45 on Christmas Day, the Ceaușescus couple were marched into the courtyard of the cavalry barrack building, and shot.

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The execution was carried out by a firing squad consisting of elite paratroop regiment soldiers: Captain Ionel Boeru, Sergeant-Major Georghin Octavian and Dorin-Marian Cirlan. They were chosen out of reportedly hundreds of others also volunteering(!) to shoot the Ceausescu couple.
Eye witnesses claim the shooting started as soon as they were against the wall, and in 1990, the National Salvation Front-(formerly the communist party)-, claimed each body had over 120 bullets in them…

To understand why the Romanian people hated the Ceaușescus so much, whilst in Bucharest, we visited the Palace of the parliament, the second largest building in the world.

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84 meters tall, and an area of 365,000 square meters, Nicolae Ceaușescus took inspiration for this obscene piece of architecture after visiting North Vietnam, North Korea and China in the early seventies.

He wanted it to be a complete replica of North Korean Capital, Pyongyang, and when there was an earthquake in 1977, he had a reason to demolish Bucharests old town and rebuild it into his dream megapolis.

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Inside, we visited ten rooms, and wandered around the many hallways. This equated to about 4 percent of the building. Unfortunately, when you go you have to be with a Tour since it’s still used as a parliamentary building. One of the rooms we went in was a small theatre that could seat 600 people, had the largest chandelier in the building that weighed 5 tones. Another room would have been where Nicolae would have signed papers, so not only was there a large seating area, there was also space for a 15 piece orchestra that could play whilst Ceaușescus was working.

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Nicolae Ceaușescus also feared a nuclear war, so underneath the palace are eight underground levels, the last one being a nuclear bunker, linked to the main state institutions by 20 km of catacombs. The bunker has 1.5 m thick concrete walls and can not be penetrated by radiation. The underground levels were also very big, so most of the population of Bucharest could get down to them.

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It’s rather obscene walking around the building, yet you can’t help but feel amazed at the beauty of it. To think that whilst the population of Romania would have been starving and in poverty, the Ceausescus family would have been living in luxury and wealth.

 

However, they never did, because, the building wasn’t complete before 1989, when they were shot…

After they were shot, the people of Bucharest continued building it, since it was about 65 percent finished. Yet, most Romanians do not visit the palace, as it reminds people of the horrors and misfortunes of being under the Communist regime…

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The Transfagarasan Highway…

 

High in the Fargaras mountains, lies a road that flows like a piece of string discarded…..it weaves into hairpins and long flowing bends, that curve and climb high above the trees and hills, and ascends through gorges and valleys, tunnels through mountains and crosses over brooks..this, is the Transfagarasan…

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The ninety kilometre long road was built in the early 1970’s as a strategic military route so the Russians could quickly rush troops and tanks to protect its southern flank in case of war between the east and west.  Caucescus concern however was if the Russians tried to invade Romania, like they did with Czechoslovakia in the 1950’s.

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It was mainly built by the military, and it had a high financial, and human, cost.
The work was carried out in an elevation of 2,000 metres, using roughly six million kilograms of dynamite to blow out the cliffs and rock formations. The employed were prodominantly junior military personnel who were untrained in blasting techniques. This resulted in many workers dieing. Official records suggest that 40 soldiers lost their lives, but unofficial estimates put the number in the hundreds.

Despite all the destruction and death, the road was completed in 1974.

The Transfagarasan is the second highest paved road in Romania, only behind the Transalpina, but this road is a much bigger attraction for hikers,motorists, bikers, cyclists and tourists generally not only for the views and brilliant driving itself, but also since there’s a small lake enroute, and Poenari Castle, the real castle where Vlad the Impaler lived.

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Some people visit it since British TV show “Top Gear’s” lead host Jeremy Clarkson proclaimed it to be “the best driving road in the world”. Geoff however, disagrees…he says that the Transalpina is a much better road to drive on…so you’ll need to drive them both for you to be able to decide for yourself.

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In conclusion, the Transfagarasan is a wonderful road. It’s smooth, with brilliant views and is a pleasure to drive on. If you come to Romania, this is a must do!  (As a side note, it’s closed between October and March since being so high means it’s buried in deep snow for the winter months)

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