14 Interesting Facts About Romania

Romania is a hidden gem, located in southeastern Europe. Full of history and culture, the country’s capital, Bucharest, is even called “Little Paris.” Curious about this developing country?  Here are 14 interesting facts about Romania.

  • The name “Romania” comes from the Latin word “Romanus” which means “citizen of the Roman Empire.”
  • The Parliament Palace in Romania’s capital of Bucharest is the second largest building in the world, behind only the Pentagon. The building is 84m high. It is also the heaviest building in the world.
  • Bucharest is also called “Little Paris.” The city’s Arcul de Triumf was constructed in 1935 to be modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
  • According to legend, Bucharest was named after a shepherd called Bucur who was in love with a young lady named Dâmboviţa, like the river that flows through the city.
  • Calea Victoriei was the first road built in Bucharest and initially called The Wooden Road. Why? Because it was paved with tree trunks and planks.
  • The Memorial of Rebirth monument celebrates the struggles and victims of the Romanian Revolution of 1989 which overthrew Communism.
  • Romania’s 22,298km rail network is the 15th most extensive in the world. Bucharest’s mass transit network is the fourth largest in Europe.
  • Francesco Illy, the founder of Illycaffè, was born in Timisoara, Romania in 1892. He also invented the first automatic steam espresso coffee machine.
  • Romania is home to four Nobel Prize laureates: George Emil Palade (medicine), Elie Wiesel (peace), Herta Müller (literature) and Stefan Hell (chemistry).
  • Peles Castle in Sinaia was the first European castle entirely lit by electrical current. The electricity was produced by the castle’s own plant and its central heating system, built in 1888, is still functional and in use today. In 1889, Timisoara became the first in Europe to have electric street lighting.
  • The tallest wooden church in the world, and the second tallest wooden structure in Europe, is found in Sapanta Peri, Maramures of northwestern Romania. The 257 foot tall church is topped by a 23 foot cross that weighs 1,000lbs.
  • The first ever perfect 10 awarded in the Olympic Games went to Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci for her performance on the uneven bars in Montreal, Canada in 1976.
  • The Romanian language is 1,700 years old.
  • The earliest Homo sapiens fossils, up to now, were discovered in 2002 in southwestern Romania, in the Cave of Bones. The fossil’s age is estimated at 37,800 to 42,000 years old.

Learn more about educational travel programs to Romania and other eastern European countries.