The wandering spirit of an Erasmus student is in a perpetual pursuit to discover the marvels of the world and see through each place they encounter, turning the whole experience is some sort of travel journal. If only we could hear at least one story from each student that had the chance to stand in front of a new culture and landscape, about how it shaped their perspective and how it enriched their knowledge. But no matter where the Erasmus journey takes us next, there will always be some corners, buildings, views that will not only impress us visually, but will sparkle a great emotion within.
If you happen to spend your next Erasmus term in Romania or you are just considering your options for your next destination, ESN Iasi prepared you some proposals and, why not, challenges you might want to undertake while striding Dracula’s lands.
Our first stop is the Alba Carolina Citadel. Its construction commenced on November 4, 1715 during the Habsburg rule in Transylvania, and was completed in 1738. The citadel was built on the site of two other fortifications. The citadel is named after Charles VI, known as ‘Carol VI’ in Romanian, who was the Holy Roman Emperor at the time of the citadel's construction. A town coated by the legendary halo of the great historical events that took place within its ancient walls, Alba Iulia has deeply got into the Romanian people's mind and soul. The heart of Alba Iulia is Alba Carolina, the most representative bastion fortress in Romania and Southeast Europe. Alba Iulia has been during all historical periods the main political, administrative, religious, cultural, and military centre of Transylvania. The Other Capital of Romania is waiting for you to explore its star shape.
Our next destination is provided by Cluj-Napoca. While the city is breathtaking, Hoia Baciu Forest is too, but for some rather paranormal reasons. The forest was named after a shepherd went missing there with his whole flock of sheep. In 1968 the forest gained further attention when a military technician claimed to have seen a UFO flying overhead. And there are plenty of other stories and myths in local folklore. What makes this place so creepy is the very strange vegetation and unusual shape of trees. One of the strangest spots is a clearing, a round-shaped patch of land in the middle of the forest where not a single ounce of vegetation grows. No matter if you are superstitious or just curious, this is not your usual place to have a picnic, but it is the right place to trigger your spirit.
On the other side of the country, we have to take a look at the beauty of the seaside and how it graces the soul of the watcher with deep emotions coming in waves. The Constanta Casino is Romania’s crumbling ghost, once known as the Monte Carlo of the east. The most-recent and modern version of the now-defunct casino was built in Art Nouveau style and inaugurated in 1910. It was in operation for 38 years, with interruptions and bombings during the wars, until in 1948. Perched on a Cliffside overlooking the Black Sea, the impressive structure's art deco shapes and details are still intact despite having shuttered decades ago.
Sibiu is another county you shouldn’t miss while travelling across Romania. What caught our eye here this time is Biertan Fortified Church. It was built between 1486 and 1524, being the last Fortified Church from Transylvania having three naves. Dedicated to Virgin Mary and built in late Gothic style, it is located in a picturesque area, beautifully surrounded by hills. The grounds had a „matrimonial prison”, where the couples wishing to divorce were confined and locked up for two weeks in order to be sure they wished their marriage to end. During this time, they had to share a single bed, plate and spoon. The result: in three centuries while bishops resided at Biertan, only one couple ended up divorcing.
We couldn’t leave aside the mountain enthusiasts, that is why you have to see the wild and unique landscapes of the Carpathian Mountains. The Carpathian Mountains are forming a semi-circle around Transylvania. Rock climbing the unusual-shaped rocks Pietrele Doamnei in the Rarau Mountains, hiking Retezat, the rockiest mountain massif of the country, home to more than 80 glacial lakes and over three hundred flower species, horse riding in the Calimani National Park, renowned for its volcanic bizarre shapes, traces of old craters, and the largest volcanic caldera in Carpathians are just some of the possible ways to discover the most undisturbed place of Romania.
Travelling gives us a felling of belonging without ever settling. Explore, discover, learn, take a photo and come back every time you feel like returning home.