While many tourists are drawn to Romania for its folklore of vampires and ghosts, the country also has a lot to offer in the way of history. From ethnographic institutions to historic palaces, Romania’s numerous museums are a testament to the country’s pride in its heritage. And a few of these museums are unlike anything you’re likely to encounter elsewhere in the world.
The Village Museum is an
open-air museum spanning 30 acres in Bucharest’s Herestrau Park. True to its
name, the museum recreates a 19th-century
Romanian village, exhibiting steep-roofed houses, windmills, thatched barns, churches, log cabins
and entire farms from the time period.
Straw Hat Museum
Transylvania’s Straw Hat Museum, housed in a 100–year-old
peasant house, teaches visitors about the various hats from different regions
and how to make them. Straw hats are a typical part of traditional
Romanian dress for men, especially during the summer, and styles differ
from region to region. According to the Eliznik cultural
website, straw hats in Transylvania have high crowns, while the hats in
Maramures are very small. The
highlight of the museum is the largest straw hat in all of Romania – measuring
in at two metres high. Go ahead, try it on!
Museum of the Romanian Peasant
Delve into Romanian folk art at the Museum
of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest. Exhibitions display
traditional pottery, costumes, paintings, sculptures and other artwork, dating
as far back as the early 1800s. The building was formerly a museum dedicated to
the Communist Party, so the basement still showcases Communist-era artwork,
including busts of Lenin. Behind the museum, visitors can also explore a
Northern Romanian-style wooden church.
Europe’s first museum of waste opened last year
in the Afi
Palace Cotroceni mall, a massive shopping complex
in Bucharest. Sponsored by Romania’s Ministry
of the Environment and Forestry, the main goal of the Muzeul Deseurilor is to educate the
public about recycling. Its exhibitions demonstrate how various categories of waste – plastic, metal,
paper, glass, cardboard, electronics, etc – are managed in Romania, and there
is a 60m walkway illustrating the history of garbage.
Site of Romania’s oldest human remains
In southwestern Romania, the Peştera cu Oase, or
“Cave with Bones”, is home to a fascinating archaeological site. In 2002, a
group of speleologists (scientists who study
caves) discovered what was at the time, the oldest remnants of modern
humans in Europe. (Since then, even older remains have been found in Spain.) Among the
fossils they found was a nearly fully intact jawbone of an adult male dating between 34,000 and 36,000
years old. Peştera cu Oase (which at the time of its discovery
was being used by bears as a hibernation den) is tucked in the Carpathian Mountains, a destination in its own right. This
hiking guide shows how to get to the foothills of the Lăpuş-Ţibleş Mountains, within the Carpathians, where Peştera cu Oase is.