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Explore The Hidden Side Of Romania (Besides Count Dracula)

Romania has a hidden side
Explore the hidden side of Romania [Image by Silvian Coconeanu from Pixabay]
Romania in southeastern Europe is famous for Transylvania, a beautiful forested region hugged by the Carpathian Mountains. This area boasts well-preserved medieval towns like Sighişoara and many castles, notably Bran Castle, long associated with the legend of Dracula. However, Romania and Transylvania both have other fascinating attractions to explore, including an underground theme park, a cheerful cemetery, a cave where bears lived 27,000 years ago, a mysterious temple cave and the world’s most beautiful bookstore.

Salina Turda Theme Park – Aleea Durgaului 7, Turda

Salina Turda Theme Park, Romania
The Salina Turda Theme Park [Image Wikimedia Commons]
Salina Turda is the largest salt mine museum in the world and has been around for some 2,000 years. However, the salt mine, located in Transylvania, is now much more than a museum. Located 394 feet below the surface, the salt mine is now a brightly lit underground art theme park with boats to move around.

The Salina Turda salt mine was closed in 1932 and was used in World War II as a bomb shelter. However, nowadays the site has a happier side to it as the mine was transformed into an epic theme park with an underground lake and a spa.

Sinca Veche Temple Cave – Strasse 104E, Sinca, Romania

Sinca Veche Temple Cave
Sinca Veche Temple Cave [Image Wikimedia Commons]
Next is a mysterious cave located outside the village of Sinca Veche which has been given several names. To some, it is the Monastery, to others, The Temple of Destiny. Meanwhile, the originals of the temple cave, which dates back some 7,000 years or so, are unknown.

It is said there are religious connotations to the temple, as at one stage a Chinese yin-yang symbol was carved here. At another stage, someone added a Star of David, but no evidence can be found of the Christian faith except a single cross carved into the rock. Meanwhile, the temple cave has nine different rooms to explore, all lit by chimney-like skylights.

The Merry Cemetery – Church of the Assumption, Maramures, Sapanta

Merry Cemetery
Merry Cemetery – Cimitirul Vesel [Image Wikimedia Commons]
Using the word “merry” alongside the word “cemetery” might seem strange. However, everyone has their own way to mourn and remember their deceased family and friends. Meanwhile, gravestones usually tell so little of the person themselves, just RIP and the dates of life and death.

In the town of Sapanta in Romania, local residents have a different way to remember their dead. Each tombstone reveals bright, happy images of the person and tells something about their lives and the way they died. In fact, some of the comments are pretty funny. One tells the story of a mother-in-law who, if awoken would “bite off the head” of her son or daughter-in-law.

Bears’ Cave – Chiscau, Romania

Bears' Cave - Pestera Ursilor, Romania
Bears Cave (Pestera Ursilor) [Image Wikimedia Commons]
Heading back to the caves of Romania, Pestera Ursilor is set in the Apuseni Mountains, close to Chiscau village. This system of caves was discovered in 1975 and scientists uncovered a huge amount of bones from extinct cave bears, said to date back some 27,000 years. Meanwhile, the cave system also features beautiful geological forms in four different galleries.

Carturesti Carusel Bookstore – 55 Strada Lipscani, Bucharest

Carturesti Carusel Bookstore
Carturesti Carusel Bookstore [Image Wikimedia Commons]
Located in Romania’s capital, Bucharest, this building was constructed by Greek bankers in 1903. However, it was confiscated by the Communist regime in the 1950s. For a while, the building was used as a general store but was later abandoned.

However, finally, the building found its perfect niche, as it was turned into one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. The Carturesti Carusel Bookstore features around 10,000 books in three stories, with beautifully curved balconies and a pretty tea house on the top floor, giving views over the entire bookstore. This is somewhere a bookworm could spend days exploring.

Explore the hidden and unique side of Romania on your next vacation, visiting these and other fascinating locations.



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