A beautiful day in Bucharest, Romania. A Sunday that was required to be celebrated outside the house. This time I chose to visit the largest museum, a museum close to the largest park, the Village Museum. After its name, it is obvious that it refers to the village and the traditional life in Romania.
The Village Museum occupies an area of 14 hectares and has 380 large exhibits, houses from all parts and regions of the country as well as over 60,000 objects in heritage collections.
This museum was founded in 1933 and is the only museum I know of that has survived in three forms of government in Romania. In the year of the museum's founding, Romania was a kingdom, then, after the Second World War, it became a communist state and after 1989 it became what it is today, a democratic republic.
This Sunday was a special one. The Romanian version of Saint Valentine is celebrated. The holiday of lovers was called Dragobete in rural and traditional Romania. The Village Museum always has Dragobete special events, folk music concerts, and many stalls with traditional products, handmade by folk artists.
But let's get closer to the museum...
On such a festive and pleasant day, many people want to visit the museum. I like it when it's not crowded but now I have to adapt to the situation.
What is, in essence, a village museum? It is an attempt to preserve constructions and objects used in the village, in the past and which are now on the verge of destruction and loss forever.
The Saul Museum is built as a large village where houses and peasant households from all areas of a country are exhibited. I don't know if it's a kind of museum that exists in all countries, but at least in Eastern Europe, I think it exists.
Now is the time to start visiting and presenting some parts of the museum that are at the same time some parts of my country, with specific houses in the traditional village.
We passed the entrance, we bought the tickets and now we are inside. The walk can start, because visiting such a museum is, at the same time, a very beautiful and long walk.
The most representative regions of Romania, the best presented in the museum are Moldova, Transylvania, Muntenia, and the south of the country, and finally, but not least, the Danube Delta.
I start with Transylvania, because it's the most famous region of Romania, thanks to the legend of Dracula. My wife is from Transylvania, she loves the popular traditions and the music there, and every visit to the museum reminds her of her childhood spent in the country.
The northern part of Transylvania is a special area. It's called Maramures. The place where old customs and traditions are respected and preserved with holiness. This place borders Hungary and Ukraine, countries that have important and strong folklore but those from Maramures keep their traditions with great care so as not to be influenced by these neighbors. Maramures is called the place of the free Dacians (who were not defeated and occupied by the Romans, as happened with much of the current territory of Romania).
Maramures is a territory of forests and because of this wood is the main construction material and the people of Maramures are artists in its processing.
As you can easily see, everything is made of wood.
Transylvania is a large region and very different from one area to another. What is specific and unmistakable are the wooden churches. Only in this region of Romania are the churches built of wood.
Everything made of wood! Even a Jewish house. It's time to see a Jewish house in Maramures.
All the houses (ie the vast majority of them) are furnished inside and are full of household items. Unfortunately, and I don't know why the vast majority of houses did not allow visitors to visit the interior. Only a few exceptions, including this old house, a Jewish house in Maramures.
A house built in 1860. Quite large and spacious compared to the size of the country houses from the nineteenth century and even with many houses built now.
Not only houses can be seen in this museum. Many archaic types of machinery are exhibited here. Such as this wooden wax extractor.
Built of solid oak, in the eighteenth century, it functioned until 1997. Incredible, about 200 years!
The extraction of honey was relatively simple. Wax combs, emptied of honey from them, were boiled in these boilers.
The wax was extracted from the combs by pressing. Beeswax, of very good quality, was exported to the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Poland, Genoa, Venice, and Germany.
If such machines prove the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the peasants, however, the work was particularly hard and still rudimentary.
So far I have only shown wooden houses, dark brown, quite dull, and sad. I imagine a hard life for their inhabitants who, in order to survive, were forced to work permanently, from morning until evening. Work was for everyone, from children to the elderly.
Now I want to bring a little color, because the peasants were trying to color their houses, to bring a little beauty. The houses were painted with lime, most of the time in white. In some parts of the country, a blue pigment is added to the lime to bring a little sky to their yard.
For this house that is being arranged, even more blue was used. It is a house from Bistrita Nasaud, also in the north of Transylvania and Romania, on the outskirts of Maramures. My wife is from this part of the country and she was excited to see a house similar to the one where she grew up.
I was pleased to find (because it is my favorite color) that blue is the color most often used to paint houses. Here are some more examples ...
Even more colors, maybe too many. This house, thus decorated, was a dance hall and then it is somewhat explained the way it is decorated. It had to be seen from afar and attract people to the dance, fun and there was probably a small pub there as well.
This was the most recently arranged part of the Village Museum. Access is direct from the largest park in the city, my favorite park called Herastrau Park. The name of the park was recently changed to King Mihai Park, in memory of the last king of Romania. Next to the park and museum is the Elisabeta Palace, the residence of the former royal family of Romania, here lives the daughter of King Michael, Princess Margaret. Heiress to the throne and Queen of Romania, if there was a monarchy in Romania. It is no longer a monarchy, it is a republic and we still do not know if it is better or not.
This part of the museum is separated from the rest of the museum by the alley leading to the Palace.
I have more to present from this museum, from houses and other exhibits, the stalls with the products sold here and to the folklore show that took place to celebrate the feast of Dragobete (meaning St. Valentine of the Romanians), I will have to write a continuation of this blog. Soon!