Archive for March, 2011

As we were drawing near to our first and maybe most important stop for me in this trip the weather started to become gray and rainy. We felt the change in landscape as soon as we entered the judetz (county) of Neamtz. Hills took the place of the dusty landscape that we crossed for about 300 kilometers. Unfortunately the sun chose to hide and clouds were quite low. When we entered the city of Piatra Neamtz, the place were the Romascanu family lived for more than one hundred years, since the mid of the 19th century, the three hills surrounding the city were hidden by clouds.

on the slope of the hill

Frankly speaking I was not sure at all that we will find the place I was looking for. We were looking for the house of my grandparents, the house where my father and my aunt lived as children, the place where I spent every summer vacation until the age of 14, after which my grandparents left the city and moved to Bucharest, to live close to my father. As we where getting closer I was thinking that the chances to find the house still standing were low, as all the area was full of new condos buildings and villas. And then the GPS told us ‘you have reached your destination’ and the house was there! Everything around was new on that side of the street, all but my grandparents house!

grandparents David and Deborah at their wedding - 1920

I had not seen the place for more than 30 years. I had returned to Piatra Neamtz only once since my grandpa and grandma left the city, and this must have been around 1980. Many people describe their experience when getting back to places that were very familiar when they where children in a change of dimensions, a disappointing dwarfing in many cases. That was not at all my impression. The house is imposing, it was renovated and it is well maintained by the people who own it today. It was a well built structure, raised in the 1920s when my grandfather was a wealthy merchant. He owned all the land up to the slopes at the mid of the Cozia hill, where he was growing grapes, apples and prunes. The Communists confiscated all the property excepting the house at the street, and even that house he was obliged to share with another three families. My grandfather worked as an accountant at a local paper factory in order to sustain the house.

35, Petru Rares street

The address was 35, the Petru Rares street. Actually during the Communist rule the name of street was changed to Lenin street (Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia), but I knew the old name of the street and guessed correctly that at the dawn after the Communist night the street gained back the name of the voievod (king) Petru Rares of Moldavia. The windows on the right were of the room which was left to my grandparents, my bed was under these windows during the summer vacations.

the courtyard of my summer holidays

Three more families shared the house. Mr. and Mrs. Moscovici had no connection with Liliana, although sharing the same family name, quite common among the Romanian Jews. Mr. Mihailovici was a pharmacist and was very seldom at home, I think that he worked in another city. Mr. Sherban was an economist and the manager of the local CEC (savings deposit bank). I was sneaking in his room while he was at work to read from the books in his room, as he had what looked to me then an impressive library.

the new (great) synagogue

If the house kept the impressive dimensions that I remembered the streets seemed to have compressed. What I remembered as a long walk to the center of the city was a five minutes walk and the synagogue where my grandfather prayed for more than 40 years was even a shorter walk from the house. The building is impressive, and so is the history of the Jewish community in Piatra Neamtz which extends for more than half of a thousand of years. It’s a relatively new building built in 1839 and reconstructed after a fire in 1904. It is said however that successive synagogues on this place existed since the time of king Stefan the Great – as the St. John church built by him in the second half of the 15th century (one of the landmarks of the city that I will describe in the next episode) is situated less than the 150 stânjeni (about 300 m) distance that were to separate a synagogue from a church according to Moldavian law – so the explanation was that a synagogue was already there by the time the church was built.

the old wooden synagogue

What is certain and attested by documents is that many Jews came to Piatra Neamtz in the 17th century from Poland and Ukraine after the uprising and pogroms of Chmielniki. In the 18th century Jews were not allowed to build synagogues from stone, and this is how the Baal Shem Tov wooden synagogue was built in 1766. This synagogue unique in its style and method of contruction was recently renovated and said to hold wonderful wooden carvings executed in 1835 by Saraga Yitzhak Ben Moshe. Unfortunately despite the fact that the day was not a Shabat or holiday and the time was a reasonable 2 or 3PM the two synagogues were closed and locked, and no sign indicated how and when they can be visited. All that I could do was to take pictures from the street. Luckily Ruth Ellen Gruber – author of a wonderful book of Jewish Heritage Travel also has a Web site where she put some photos of the interior of the wooden synagogue – http://jewish-heritage-travel.blogspot.com/2009/12/romania-piatra-neamt-wooden-synagogue.html

Prietenul meu doctorul Gica Manescu mi-a permis preluarea pe blog a acestui nou fragment din amintirile sale. De data aceasta este vorba despre limbile straine.

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Pana in clasa  I–a de liceu, in  afara de romaneste mai auzeam uneori idisul bunicilor. Nu ma interesa, nu  intelegeam. Acasa nu se vorbea. Am dat de franceza. Mi-a placut si mai ales ca mama invatase  la scoala de maici Notre–Dame in Iasi. Ma ajuta si devenisem ca un favorit al profesorului Eram acela, care la o intrebare, ridicam imediat, degetele in  sus.

In studiul medicinii toate tratatele erau in  franceza. Asa ca stiam deja destul de bine.  Am mai invatat si alte limbi, dar unele, mai rare, doar pentru ocazii. Nu o intelegere buna, nu o folosire decat ocazionala.

source adviceforyou.org.uk

In vara lui  1966, cu o “foaie de calatorie“ (nu se dadeau pasapoarte pentru “tarile fratesti”), cu sotia si fiul nostru, ne-am suit  in masina, directia Bulgaria. Aveam “Leva” moneda pe care Banca Nationala o schimba, in locul ”Leilor”.

Frumos, bine, am vizitat multe locuri, mai mult la Varna. La Sofia, am cautat sa facem ceva “shopping“ inainte de plecarea la Tarnovo, o  splendoare de oras.

In  magazine se gaseau mai multe produse decat in Romania, importandu-se in  deosebi din Grecia, tara capitalista. Sotia mea, cauta niste colanti de o calitate mai buna. Am intrat intr-un magazin in care, dupa cele din  vitrina erau articole pentru femei. O vanzatoare tinerica, amabila, vorbitoare de bulgareste. Cum s-o facem sa inteleaga ce cautam ? Atunci mi-a sclipit ideea salvatoare. Cu degetul aratator spre sotie, am ridicat un picior si i-am aratat ciorapul meu. A zambit si ne-a spus pe limba ei : Ciorapi? Am inteles. Am cumparat si multumiti, am plecat cu pachetul.  La Bazargic am vorbit romaneste si mi-am achizitionat o jacheta de iarna care a facut furori acasa. Mai tarziu, nici n-ar fi intrat in discutie. Romaneste am mai vorbit la Balcic, unde dadusem de un  restaurant multumitor. La Varna, prin recomandatie, am locuit la un medic ginecolog – Jacob – care ne-a inchiriat  camerele. Erau vorbitori de franceza. El avea si cabinet particular. Avansul Bulgariei.

source fun-books.com

Intr-o calatorie in Italia, de la Sienna  locuisem in camera prin a  carei ferestra se vedeau firmele a doua magazine:  “Macelleria – Carne” si “Pane“ . Stiam deci, ceva italieneste. In compartimentul trenului spre Roma sedea pe banca de vis-a-vis o pereche, care parca era atenta la ce vorbeam noi. La un moment dat,  doamna intreaba ce “dialetto“ vorbim, ca ei, inteleg  aproape tot.  Ma intrebam: stiau ei romaneste sau noi italiana?

In Israel am dat de o limba grea, nu pe cantar, in totalitate, in care vocale nu exista si alfabetul e cel ebraic. Doar cifrele sunt cele arabe. O etnie inrudita cu noi.

Imi amintesc ca un ziarist cu o nuanta de humor spusese  “Invatati limba ebraica, zambind“. Numai asta ne mai lipsea. Ca si lozinca din Romania, dupa 1945, cand prin ARLUS si alte mijloace de propaganda, eram  sfatuiti cu “Invatati limba rusa, cantand”.

La Bucuresti, cand se infunda o  chiuveta era simplu. Aveam o  pompa de cauciuc ca un clopot, cu o coada mica, din lemn. Prin apasarea de cateva ori pe gaura de scurgere, se absorbeau murdariile. Ni s-a intamplat si aici. Am intrat in magazinul cu de toate, si am cautat sa-i explic vanzatorului ce caut. M-a intrebat: “Pompa?”. Credeam ca stie limba mea materna. Nu. Era a lui.

source yogainmyschool.com

Tot din Romania stiam ca aveam  niste seturi din diverse materiale care inlocuiau fetele de masa. Se pun sub farfurii. Practic si simplu. Cautam, dar cum sa cer? Cum sa explic? In fine, ngustorul a inteles si ne-a indreptat spre alt magazin si sa cerem “individualii “.

Tot simplu ar fi fost, daca stiam,  cand la farmacie, am vrut sa cumpar un irigator, ca tot asa se spune si in  ebraica, sau cand in discutia grea cu un functionar, la o institutie, m-a intrebat: ”Ata rotze informatzia al hasituatzia selha.. ?“ (doresti o informatie asupra situatiei tale?). Ce limba usoara, e ebraica !.

source excelsiorlearningcenter.com

Sunt doar cateva intamplari.

Dar cine n-a trait clipe asemanatoare? Ma refer  la imigranti, nu la cei nascuti si scoliti aici. Dar fiecare isi rezolva poblemele. Daca acum peste 40 ani (fusesem in concediu in 69) oriunde intalneai romani, acum 20 ani pretutindeni rusi, nu stiu ce va fi in viitor. Cu etiopienii,  a fost ceva mai deosebit. Va predomina engleza  sau spaniola ? Veti trai si veti vedea.

­­_______

Dr. G. Manescu

Martie 2011.

Elizabeth Taylor died today.

source celebritiesfans.com

She was a wonder child actress. She was one of the most beautiful women of the 20th century. She was one of the biggest super-stars in the history of Hollywood. She had a stormy sentimental life with several marriages and well publicized love stories.

(video source asw88)

She was before and most of all a great actress. Here is a homage to her acting career narated by one of her partners on screen – Paul Newman

Let us remember a few of her most famous roles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2x6AT4mr3o

(video source IAmOnlyLove)

Giant (1956) directed by George Stevens is a Texas family and oil industry drama. Taylor partners here with James Dean (in his last great role before his tragic death) and Rock Hudson.

(video source dameelizabethtaylor)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) with Paul Newman was directed by Richard Brooks based on Tennesse Williams’ play that had received the Pulitzer prize in 1955.

(video source classicmovie)

Cleopatra directed by Joseph Mankiewicz released in 1963 occasioned to Taylor probably her most famous role. She had become the best paid actress in Hollywood reaching the one million dollars fee threshold with this role. On the set of this film she started the stormy love story with Richard Burton, which made of them in short time the most famous pair of lovers in the 20th century.

(video source dameelizabethtaylor)

Together with Richard Burton she starred in the 1966 drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf after Edward Albee’s play and directed by Mike Nichols. For this role she received her second Oscar for lead actress.

May her memory be blessed!

With Japan still in our hearts and minds we went on Saturday morning to visit the exhibitions at the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art in Haifa.

The Tikotin Museum

Beautifully located on the Carmel Mountain this is the best place in Israel to get a taste of the Japanese art and culture.

Felix Tikotin - source haaretz.com

We arrived in time for the guided tour which combined information about the exhibitions and the museum itself. The story of the museum is related to the story of the life of its founder, Felix Tikotin, a German Jew from Dresden, who fought in the German army during the first world war, was a friend of Otto Dix, traveled to Japan and started his art gallery and Far East collection in the post-war Berlin. During the second world war he survived hidden in occupied Holland, lost and regained much of his collection after the war. As his daughter became a Zionist and settled in Israel, he came here and shared part of his time between Israel (Jerusalem and Haifa) and Europe. In 1960 he opened the first museum of Japanese art in the Middle East in Haifa.

Noda Tetsuya - Diary, source http://www.hms.org.il

The principal exhibition in the museum is “50″ an exhibition of contemporary Japanese prints created by 50 artists and dedicated to the 50 years of the museum which were celebrated in 2010. The range of styles and techniques represented by the artists in the exhibition is quite extensive, with traditional techniques quite in minority relative to the modern styles synchronized with the modern art in any part of the world. Noda Tetsuya for example combinse photography and woodblock printing, and the two works in the current exhibition at the Tikotin Museum have Israeli themes, as the artist (who is married to an Israeli) travels and created part of his time in Israel.

Tamekane Yoshikatsu - Wing of Fantasy, source http://www.hms.org.il

Tamekane Yoshikatsu has a vision that combines and creates symbols of space and colors in a manner that reminded me the traditional Australian art.

Kokeshi - source http://www.hms.org.il

Another exhibition that I enjoyed most was a collection if kokeshi – traditional wooden dolls. This is one of the older forms of art expressions that can be found in multiple places in Japan, and which have different origins and functions, from bath massage rubs to mystic functions. Most of them have a wooden head and cylindrical body that allows for exquisite paintings.  Although the origins of the kokeshi can be traced back to the 12th century, it is only recently that collectors started to focus on this original form of crafts that became an art under the hands of the different artists in various areas of Japan.

Tanaka Katsuki - Panoraama , source http://www.hms.org.il

The last exhibition included two videos by Tanaka Katsuki, in two different styles. The first Wonder-fall is a tridimensional animation representing human forms in a world of falling objects, with an instability that reminds the recent events and makes the viewer uncertain about the ground he walks on. The second video Pamoraama belongs to the visual drug style which reminds me in forms, color and musical background the psychedelic art at the end of the 60s.

(video source momoCAsweets)

I could not find any of the works on the Internet, but youTube features a few works by Katsuki among which a fragment from ALTOVISION – the work above in the visual drug style.

The three exhibitions are open until June 19. During April another exhibition dedicated to the bonsai art of planting miniature trees will also be open in the museum.

Rugby is one of my favorite sport disciplines, and watching the 6 Nations Rugby tournament http://www.rbs6nations.com/en/home.php is the major sporting event for me during the months of February and March. The competition was this year as interesting as ever, with a few records broken and a few surprises that made it interesting until the last day. Actually that last day on Saturday was one of the most interesting final days I can remember.

source http://www.rbs6nations.com

The first match in the afternoon faced Scotland and Italy, the last two teams in the table fighting to avoid the undesirable wooden spoon trophy for the last place. Italy came after a sensational victory a week before against France, their first in an official 6 Nations game, and they seemed to continue to ride the wave leading 8-6 at mid-time. Scotland came back strongly however in the second half, and with 15-0 the second half score they ensured a 21-8 victory and avoided the last place.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhTkOFFl_1A

(video source comeonmunstertv)

For the second game of the day England went to Dublin with the plans to achieve the Grand Slam – meaning win the championship with a neat five victories balance. They did not take into consideration the ambition Ireland puts in any match against England, doubling their skills. Ireland played the perfect game on Sunday Ireland beating England 24-8.

source http://www.rbs6nations.com

One of the three tries of Ireland in the game belonged to Brian O’Driscoll and made him the Championship’s all time leading try scorer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63IzktEX3WY

(video source stop727)

Suddenly England’s wining of the tournament seemed under threat, as Wales who traveled to Paris for the final game of the day could beat France and sneak into the first place at the last moment. However France who had a very uneven season this year played their best game, while the Welsh seemed to be overwhelmed by the opportunity. Eventually it was France who beat Wales by a comfortable 28-9 handling England the victory in this year’s tournament – a deserved first place as the English team dominated the season with the exception of this last day.

Driving back on Highway #2 a.k.a. the coastal road from Haifa to Tel Aviv at the sunset hours is almost always the opportunity for taking beautiful pictures of the sun setting in the sea. Yesterday was no exception. Here are the fish pounds of kibbutz Maagan Michael with the Mediterranean on the background.

As the night fell and we came near Herzlya another phenomenon drew our attention. The full moon seemed to be shining brighter than ever. Even for a full moon night (it was Purim’s eve) the moon was more visible in the sky than the city lights.

I entered the Internet when I got home and learned that this was no coincidence or just an impression. Actually what we had been witnessing a supermoon – which happens every few years when Moon and Earth are at minimal distance. The visual effect was enhanced by the full moon, which was last night 23% brighter than usual. This was the first supermoon in the last 18 years.

According to the Christian Science Monitor web page the moon was last night about 221,567 miles (356,577 kilometers) away from Earth. The average distance between the Earth and the moon is about 238.000 miles (382.900 km).

There is however practically no influence of this astronomical phenomenon to geological events happening on Earth. This includes no connection at all with the earthquake that devastated Japan last week and the tsunami that followed. It was just an opportunity for a few beautiful pictures.

In the mid-90s I was fascinated by the Danish TV series The Kingdom. The story happened in a hospital which was a labyrinth building that played an active and determining role in the action – a structure built on unsafe ground claimed by ghosts and haunted by crimes of the past. I had discovered a great and original director named Lars Von Trier. Now 15 years later a discussion on the Internet list doubled by the coincidence of the screening of The Shining on ARTE-TV reveals me what may have been one of the sources of inspiration of Von Trier.

source www.imdb.com

The film is an adaptation of a book by Stephen King, although the writer had many reservations and critics about Kubrick’s version, who took the characters and the basic story but moved the emphasis on what seemed to him to be more relevant and expressive. As in a few of King’s other novels the principal character is a writer who hides in the mountains in order to find the tranquility for his creation, and finds horror instead and the tranquility and power of nature becoming soon a threat. Kubrick was no strange from the recluse position, as a few years before the making of the film he had retreated into an isolated house he had bought, actually starting a personal evolution towards the image of the great director with sparse output he took in the last decades of his life. The frustrated writer story is however only the surface, as we soon get into a much more complicated epic with multiple layers of horrors and incertitude, where family relationship drama, ghosts, haunted manors, supernatural powers interleave and place the viewer in the situation of never being sure from what perspective the story should be considered. The answer is that it is probably about all of these and more that would be revealed when thinking about the film after the projection or seeing it again.

(video source Robobos)

Jack Nicholson plays the lead role and this is one of his powerful creations in a type of roles in which insanity takes control not only of the character but also places under question the sanity of the whole world around him. The question critics asked was whether his stronger than life acting did not shadow completely the other actors and characters. His partner in the film is Shelley Duvall, an anti-Hitchcock female character (opposite to Hitchcock’s blond and beautiful heroines). She was so overwhelmed by the work with Kubrick and Nicholson that her career crashed after this film. The musical score is dominated by Gyorgy Ligetti’s Lontano but also includes other significant excerpts from Berlioz (directed by von Karajan) and Bartok. It is however the exceptional cinematography that makes this film unforgettable. As the hotel isolated in the mountains and cut from the outer world by the winter storms plays a central role in the action the filming of the deserted rooms in the huge and empty hotel (when it does not become populated by ghosts) provide the opportunity of an aesthetic exercise which is valuable in itself, but together with the acting and the music provides one of the most consistent visions in any horror movie I have seen. Always on the edge with technical inventions Kubrick used here the Steadicam which allows for a stable holding of the camera with unusual angles to film the kid running though the endless corridors from the lower angle of his toy. The effect is amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XJ5pStuBfE

(video source blackchevy316)

The initial reception of the film by critics was rather negative, adding to the cool reception by King. Themes like alcoholism or the disintegration of the family were considered as downplayed.  My opinion is that they are there for anybody who wants to interpret the story through one of these angles but they are not the only ones possible. The very last sequence changes the perspective and provides a very different reading through which the film can be seen, one that has hints planted in some of the previous dialogs and situations. The presence of the native American as ‘true owners’ of the ground where the hotel is built is also mentioned in several sequences and provide an alternate reading. As time passed this film (which was also a commercial success from start) started to gain critical acclaim and gathered interest from aficionados of Kubrick and of the horror film genre. I had seen it for the first time only now but my impression if that as with many other good films it gets better at each viewing.

They say that Not Everyday is Purim, but today it is (or almost)! We went out for a morning walk in Herzlya and the streets were full of Queens Esther, brave Mordechai’s and Gadhafi’s … uh … sorry … Haman’s. Let’s see what new, interesting and fun material can be found on the Internet about this holiday.

(video source MaccabeatsChannel)

The Maccabeats are a a capella group formed in 2007 by students at the Yeshiva University. You can learn about them and hear their music at http://www.maccabeats.com/. Here they are with a Purim song put on the net a few days ago.

(video source einpratfountainheads)

The same song gets here an interpretation mixing rap and dance in the Israeli landscape coming from a group named The Fountainheads.

(video source kartiv2)

Here is a home video by a musician from Israel named Sivan (she writes it C-van) Yihye whose videos on youTube are really fun.

Hag Purim Sameach!

With Japan on my mind and actually in so many people’s minds these days I decided to write today about the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami who was recently in the center of several segments on the European cultural TV stations.

source http://www.takashimurakami.com/

Murakami is an example of the combination of classical and popular culture that are the two principal coordinates of modern Japan. In many places they live one near the other, but in his case they seem to have merged and this is reflected in the biography of the artist and in the art that he creates. He studied classical Japanese painting but was and is fascinated by the Japanese styles of animation and comics anime and manga.More information about the artist biography can be read on his Web site http://www.takashimurakami.com/.

Mr. Dob - source http://www.takashimurakami.com/

The influence of the major pop artists especial American is also quite visible. Murakami’s work creates symbols and characters inspired by the manga world as Roy Lichtenstein did and then upscales them in dimensions or downscales them to the commercialized gadgets industry objects in a manner that reminds Andy Warhol. He did create actually a whole industry around these objects and you can buy ‘a Murakami’ in many tourist souvenir shops.

source http://www.dezeen.com/

One could also find his bigger scale works at the Versailles Castle last year, in an exhibition that caused a lot of controversy. See more pictures at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2010/sep/10/takashi-murakami-palace-versailles and read about the controversy at http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-news/japanese-manga-controversy-hits-versailles-20100914-159xv.html.

source hypebeast.com

That was not his first major show in Europe. A year before an exhibition dedicated to his superflat style sponsored by Louis Vutton was organized at the Guggenheim Bilbao. More details can be read at http://www.ilvoelv.com/2009/02/takashi-murakami-retrospective-at.html.

(video source mondaygirl)

Here is also anterview with Takashi Murakami by Jonathan Ross in Japanorama a series of documentaries realized in 2006-2007 by the BBC about life and art in modern Japan.

This series is dedicated to Rodica and Virgil, my good friends of a lifetime, who made this trip possible.

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It took me a while to start this series of travel notes. I had to finish first the previous one, of course. Then some health adventures interfered. However, I think that these were just very good excuses. The real reason is that these are not usual travel notes. These places were not completely new for us. Our relation with them is special. We left Romania in 1984, at the peak of one of the most horrible periods in the history of the country. Although we came back to visit and we are visiting our country of birth twice a year for the last decade, most if not all of our visits were conscripted to Bucharest, seeing my mother, meeting friends, seeing one or two theater plays (when we are lucky to find tickets) and buying at least half a suitcase of books. This was the first time we had a few days of vacation, and thanks to our good friends we ventured out Romania’s capital city for a six days trip. Most of the places we visited were places we had been at least once in the past but that was more than a quarter a century ago. We found some of the elements of the geography unchanged, and some of the colors of the splendid churches still shining. Yet Romania was on many respects a new country for us, a space to discover. Hence this title which hides a paradox – can you be a tourist in your own country? I do not know yet the answer, and I may not know it even when I will finish this series of notes. I will write these in English, as I want my family and friends who do not speak Romanian to be able read them. One day when I will have time I may write a Romanian version as well.

wine on the side of the road

Rodica and Virgil took us from my mother’s home, and after we discovered how to lock the slightly broken trunk of the car we started our 360 kilometers trip to Targu Neamtz. I know the distance, as this was the trip that I had taken every summer until the age of 14 to the near-by Piatra Neamtz, the city in Moldavia were my father was born and where my grand-parents still lived. Their house, the house of my summer vacation will be the subject of the next episode.

Until getting there however we had to fuel – not only the auto but also ourselves. It was the end of September, and the sides of the road near the Vrancea area were full with small barracks that were selling young wine. Of course, the wine was from the previous year vintage, but still young and towards what the non-Romanian would be called demisec. Each barrack sells basically two sorts of wine – a red and a white. I’ll write more about Romanian wine later. We stopped at one of the last barracks. From the barrels the wine was poured into five litters plastic bottles. We bought one such bottle of red wine and one of white wine. We succeeded to finish the red one in the six days trip.

the small church

The itinerary took us through several cities which are not the most exciting places on earth, and actually until we crossed the now historical border between Valachia and Moldavia, flat and uninteresting. Yet there was one aspect the stroke us – almost each village not to speak about the bigger cities had at least one, in many cases more new churches. Romania undergoes after the fall of the Communism a religious renaissance. During the Communist rule atheist Marxism was the state religion, and very few new churches were built, actually many more were destroyed by a system that in many instances ignored or even oppressed the deep religious feelings of the majority of the population.

the big church

After 1990 the freedom of religion found its expression especially in the revival of the Orthodoxy (Eastern Christianity) which is embraced by the majority of the Romanian population. Rodica and Virgil explained how the system worked in many places. First a smaller church was built. The congregation gathered money and donations and a few years later bigger churches were built near-by, dwarfing the smaller ones. The architectural value of the buildings is very un-even, you can find everything from ugly to beautiful, from kitsch to art, from grotesque to sublime. What is obvious is that churches are everywhere. We shall see of course also the older ones and the fabulous monasteries in Moldavia and Bucovina, historical and art monuments which are unique in the whole world. For this you will need to follow however the coming episodes.