1 Rick Steve’s Europe – Filmari prin Romania (Part 1) How Romania Got Its Name…and Lost Its Historic Treasures

How Romania Got Its Name…

and Lost Its Historic Treasures

Also watch Part 2, it includes 3 videos of:

  1. Old-Fashioned Waterpower in Romania’s North
  2. A German Time Capsule in Romania
  3. A Very Merry Cemetery in Maramures

You can watch them here – Rick Steve’s Europe – Filmari prin Romania (Part 2) The “fortified churches of Transylvania” si Maramureşul

I’m in Romania — home of the descendants of ancient Roman soldiers and young Dacian widows. Join me with my guide in Bucharest as we learn how Romanians were born out of a horrible slaughter. I said the soldiers “made love” to the widows of the locals they killed…on further consideration, it was more likely rape.

This is Day 53 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at http://blog.ricksteves.com.

VIDEO by Rick Steves Europe

Inside Romania’s Monument to Megalomania

We’re having an amazing time, filming “The Best of Romania” for a new TV show (which will air with our new series on public television this fall). In this video clip, step with me into the biggest building in Europe — the gargantuan palace of the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Our job today: to take the script (below) and cover it with beautiful images or me doing “on cameras” where it’s difficult to “cover.”

We said this about the palace in our script:

Thriving as it is today, Bucharest’s Old Town was lucky to survive the communist period. Most of the historical center was wiped out by the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu so he could build a grandiose new town perfect for a megalomaniac.

From uneducated peasant roots, Ceaușescu rose through the communist ranks to take power in 1965. During his 24 years in power, Ceaușescu’s ego ballooned. Later, in the dark days of the 1980s, he became addicted to massive projects without budgets, creating a cult of personality inspired by the nearly deified dictators of Communist China and North Korea.

In six frenzied years in the 1980s, after an „inspiring” visit to North Korea, he ordered the city to rip out 80 percent of Bucharest’s historical center — that’s tens of thousands of houses, schools, and churches. In its place, Ceaușescu created his enormous new Civic Center — with wide boulevards, miles of fountains, stone-faced apartment blocks, and a Pyongyang aesthetic.

The culmination of Ceaușescu’s master plan was a palace fit for a megalomaniac. At around four million square feet, and with more than a thousand rooms, the Palace of the Parliament is the largest building in Europe.

Ceaușescu, throwing resources at his pet project like a crazed pharaoh, literally starved his people to build his dream. From 1983 to 1989 thousands of laborers worked on it 24/7. When it finally opened in 1994 — five years after Ceaușescu died — the Romanian people, whose food had been rationed for years to help pay for the palace, were both wonder struck and repulsed by this huge and opulent edifice.

Ceaușescu planned the perfect balcony from which to deliver speeches…while looking down a boulevard grand enough to match his ego. This palace, and similar projects around the downtrodden country, created a powerful anti-Ceaușescu sentiment.

In late 1989, the winds of change swept the Eastern Bloc. Armed revolution spread across Romania. An angry populace rose up. They arrested their dictator and shot him on Christmas Day.

Today their dictator is a distant memory, and Romania has joined the European Union. While its challenges are big, the country is moving in the right direction. Joining local families on a sunny Saturday morning in the park, you feel optimistic — and that its people are counting on a promising future.

This is Day 55 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at http://blog.ricksteves.com.

VIDEO by Rick Steves Europe

One Dictator’s Obscene Grandiosity

Europe’s biggest building towers over the capital of one of its poorest countries — in Bucharest, Romania. The mammoth Palace of the Parliament was built to be the palace of its dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu. At almost 4 million square feet of floor space, it’s the embodiment of corruption — a physical example of what happens when the ideals of communism meet the cult of personality.

Traveling through countries that spent 45 years in what locals here call “the Soviet Club,” it’s fascinating to see how an ideology that preached “equality for all” bred megalomaniacs who pursued the “cult of personality.” They built gigantic monuments that literally took bread out of the mouths of the workers who their ideology was supposed to serve.

This is Day 54 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at http://blog.ricksteves.com.

 

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