There’s this saying “Home is where your heart is.” that I never managed to grasp completely. Maybe because my heart is here, there and in many places, because pieces of it live in family and friends, people who are close and in others who are far and away, or maybe just because it’s torn between places I’m in, have been or long to go to. Allow me to say that home is where I feel I belong! The feeling of belonging is no mathematics, so no precise equation can give the final answer – you belong here 100%, but rather is a mix of heart and gut feelings. For me, home is and has been that small Romanian city I grew up in, I know and I live in, the one I take pride in, on whose streets I feel like in my backyard, whose people I understand and relate to in more than one way, where my family and most of my friends are and where every stone and corner triggers a memory. The city I leave very often and that seems even more beautiful every time I return! It’s called Craiova and I invite you to a photo tour (by yours truly) through this lovely city! I’ll save the explanations for when you’re visiting it in person. 🙂
Before starting, I have to tell you that currently Craiova is in the semifinals of the Best City to Visit Travel Tournament 2014 on Anil Polat’s blog, foxnomad.com. If at the end of the tour you feel like it deserves a visit and/or a vote, I’ll be more than happy to remind you to vote here.
Romanescu Park is the city’s main attraction. Built after plans awarded with the Gold Medal at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, it’s currently the most popular green spot of the city. People come here to take a romantic stroll, to jog and exercise, to bike around the cycling track, to row on the lake, to admire the Suspended Bridge, the Charmed Castle, the Gardener’s House and Bibescu House or to listen to the city’s brass band performing in the rotonda. Relaxation is the word here! 🙂
Visitors to Craiova will enjoy its museums, housing exquisite objects and artifacts of local, regional, national and even interntional importance. The Art Museum, hosted in the luxurious Jean Mihail Palace, is the place to see the works of the renowned Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși. The biggest museum in the region is Oltenia Museum, whose 3 sections (History-Archaeology, Natural History and Ethnography) will show you all you need to know about the region’s past and present. The Ethnography section is accommodated in Casa Băniei, the oldest laic building in the city. In the past years, the History-Archaeology section has launched numerous exhibitions in unconventional locations, attracting numerous visitors.
If you’re passionate about architecture, Craiova is an ecclectic blending of styles. There are examples of monumental, classical and Romanian architecture in buildings such as the City Hall, the County Hall, Vălimărescu House and the University. Having meals in monumental backgrounds is quite common here, and I recommend trying out Minerva Restaurant, Romanescu House (known as Casa Universitarilor) and Zamfirescu House. For those with an interest in the religious edifices, St Dumitru Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Church are two ultra-central churches who share a common piece of history – both were rebuilt / restored by the same French architect (André Lecomte du Noüy) who also contributed to the restoration of the famous Peleș Castle in Sinaia. Do not avoid the beautiful Madona Dudu Church, who has a beautiful legend on how it got its name, as well as an allegedly miraculous icon inside.
From a cultural perspective, Craiova is in a perpetual effervescence, as it’s preparing for its candidature as European Capital of Culture in 2021. The main cultural institutions are Marin Sorescu National Theatre, Oltenia Philharmonics and the National Opera, each of them internationally known for their related international festivals (Shakespeare Festival, Musical Craiova Festival and Elena Teodorini Festival). For those curious to dig deeper into the region’s folklore, Maria Tanase Assembly, one of the best in the country, regularly organizes traditional dance and music shows. The most innovative cultural manifestations belong to Oltenia Philharmonics, which, in more than one occasions, organized free outdoor music and dance performances in the city’s neighbourhoods.
If you’re into chilling and passing the time with even more relaxing activities, then Unirii Street with its terraces and musical fountain is the place to be in. Close to it you’ll find Mihai Viteazu Square, the main square of the city, where concerts attracting up to 10,000 people are held! There are numerous pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants throughout Craiova with great price/quality ratio. There are also 2 entertainment venues where you can have fun by playing various games (bowling, pool, snooker, arcade games, PS4, air hockey, foosball etc), outdoor and indoor pools, spas, escalade walls and several tennis courts. You can get bored in Craiova only if you insist on doing it!
If you like my home, do pay it a visit and I offer to be your guide, to take you the most popular places and to show you the hidden gems, to tell you the unheard stories and to infect you with my enthusiasm. And if, before getting to see it, you decide it’s worth 5 seconds of your time, it would help me millions if you voted for Craiova in the semifinals of the Best City to Visit Travel Tournament! 🙂