Let's travel together #203 - Complexul National Muzeal ,,Astra" (ASTRA Museum)

When you ride a bike on the way to the place you want to discover on a day, it's a completely new feeling, because suddenly, it's not only about the destination but about the whole journey on the way to it and a different effort you feel exploring new realms offered by nature.

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Last week I wrote a post with a huge smile on my face sharing the birthday gift I made for myself, namely a mountain bike.
Since the excitement level was to the maximum looking forward to a real journey out there riding a bike, we didn't wait for too much and decided to visit a place we wanted for a long while now and which is quite popular when it comes to what tourists love seeing while they are in Sibiu.
Though, this is an older journey we had (around 3 weeks ago), when the weather was perfect and we could still see the sun on the sky and not just clouds and cold wind, but when I was also able to do more things other than just laying in my bed because I have a few days already since I had a positive test for COVID.
The good part is that I had the vaccine and I think the symptoms are not as bad they could be, but it's still a new thing I have to learn to deal with, getting exhausted quite easily and not being able to do too much.
I'm actually writing this post from my laptop while laying in my bed and taking short breaks every once in a while because I tend to lose my concentration and feel tired pretty often, but hopefully I will feel better soon and be able to return with more posts as I planned to.

Anyway, the place we decided to explore back to that day, it's located around 5 km away from where we are living, on the way to where we often go camping, so we can't say that we didn't know about its existence but somehow we always postponed the meeting.

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I think we can also say that we are talking about waiting for the right timing when to visit ASTRA Museum, because both my family, I and my boyfriend wanted to see this but we only got options to either visit it only with my family or only with my friends.

That day was different though. Because the city was hosting an event for 7 days where people tried to encourage more people to use bikes or different ways of traveling other than cars with the scope of reducing pollution, and one of the benefits for those who were doing so, was to be able to visit the museum for free if you were coming with a bike.

Since all three of us: I, my boyfriend, and my sister had bikes, we decided to go to the museum by riding a bike, while our parents came with the car.
During the summer there are quite a few festivals of either promoting traditional stuff, watching movies open-air, attending concerts or gastronomic workshops which often come with the benefit of not being needed to purchase a ticket for visiting the museum.
However, since we have recently bought our bikes and wanted to take a proper ride with them but also visit a new place, it was an occasion we couldn't miss.
So we got ready for the new journey that was knocking at our door and started pedaling, not being sure if we should drive on the street or on the sidewalk, but we slowly made room among the other people that were enjoying the Sunday and had a lot of fun on the way to the museum.
As soon as we arrived and met with my parents, we started exploring the museum which we had no idea how big it is and that was going to take care of the rest of the day for us, time passing very fast and collecting lots of new memories both in our hearts and phones.

Complexul National Muzeal ,,Astra" can be visited any day of the week between 8 AM and 6 PM, but the schedule may be different depending on the time of the year you are visiting it, as well as if there are any festivals going on with the help of the museum.

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Tickets and other taxes:

  • Adult ticket (individual): 25 RON / 5.05 EUR ;
  • Adult ticket (group of at least 20 members): 20 RON / 4.04 EUR ;
  • Retired ticket (individual): 12 RON / 2.42 EUR ;
  • Retired ticket (group of at least 20 members): 10 RON / 2.02 EUR ;
  • Kid/Student ticket (individual): 7 RON / 1.41 EUR ;
  • Student ticket (group of at least 20 members): 5 RON / 1.01 EUR ;
  • Kid ticket (younger than 6 years old): FREE access.

  • Yearly subscription for families: 150 RON / 30.31 EUR ;
  • Yearly subscription for students: 35 RON / 7.07 EUR ;
  • Yearly subscription for individual people: 100 RON / 20.21 EUR ;
  • Yearly subscription for retired people: FREE or 50 RON / 10.10 EUR (based on the income) .

  • Romanian language guidance: 150 RON / 30.31 EUR per hour ;
  • Foreign language guidance: 250 RON / 50.51 EUR per hour ;
  • Wagon / sleigh ride: 30 RON / 6.06 EUR for 30 minutes ;
  • Carriage ride for two: 150 RON / 30.31 EUR per hour ;
  • Carriage ride for six: 200 RON / 40.41 EUR per hour ;

There are no taxes for either taking pictures or videos as long as it's not for public events or professionals, so we can say that we got the right moment to enjoy a great location without being needed to pay anything for either visiting or taking pictures of it.

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Since ASTRA Museum is an open-air museum that is part of the Dumbrava Forest which covers a total surface of 960 hectares, the things you can see are endless, time being the single enemy you have against the whole journey because it will never be enough to actually see everything this part of Sibiu has to offer for the tourists and locals.

There are two main gates you can use to enter the museum, but what I really loved about this place is that not only you will find a little bit more about the culture and traditions of Romania, but everything is also kept very authentic with rooms decorated as they were during the living of our grandparents, but also some animals that most of us had grown up with if we used to spend time at the countryside.
The complex gathers under the same authority four ethnology and civilization museums open-air, a series of laboratories for conservation and research, and a documentation centre that can be found on a distance of 4 km away from Sibiu.
ASTRA Museum existed in the city since 1905 but its modern life started with the opening of The Museum of Folk Technology in 1964, now called The "ASTRA" Museum of the Traditional Folk Civilization, which is bringing in the attention of the tourists both the history and culture of Romania but also of the Saxons who are still living in Transylvania these days.
The name of ASTRA comes from Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and the Culture of the Romanian People which is a cultural association that decided to build up the museum back in 1897 with the desire to bring further everything as a shelter for keeping the past alive.

Even though things looked a little bit different at the beginning, if you visit ASTRA Museum in 2021, you will find places to check out on a surface of no less than 10 kilometers, being able to discover the culture and traditions from different regions of Romania.

You will see that some of the most interesting things you will notice and which are gathering the most curious eyes are the windmills that are different depending on the areas they are coming from.

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Anyway, not too far from the 2nd gate we used to under the museum, we found a first house that we could visit and kind of teleport ourselves in the past, but also a very gentle and beautiful horse that was welcoming every tourist who wanted to caress her and take a picture together. ❤️

There are two more Ethnographic Museums that were created in Romania, one in Cluj in 1929 called Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania and one in Bucharest from 1932, namely Village Museum that I visited a few years ago and represented my first experience learning more about the traditions and cultures of my home country.
However, the ASTRA Museum is the first one that was created and the largest open-air museum in Romania, but also one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe.
The open-air museum contains over 300 houses, buildings and workshops of the traditional Romanian folk culture from the pre-industrial era that can be found in the forest and around two artificial lakes that are creating a more relaxing and peaceful journey for you, easily forgetting about the kilometers you will walk on the walkways between the constructions.
It's true that the options of what to see are almost infinite and you will often lose track of what you have already checked out and what not, but the museum represents the perfect place if you want to see the traditions that are still being kept alive in the regions of Romania, in a single place.

As much as I love my home country and as much as I've seen from it, I never stopped being surprised to see how different things, people and traditions are depending on the region you are visiting, so there is no doubt that visiting ASTRA Museum will help you sum up an experience easier than roaming the whole country.

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As I said earlier, there are often exhibitions held in the museum, but along with these, you will find different buildings and activities with the purpose to present the traditions and culture of six thematic groups:

  1. food production and animal husbandry;
  2. production of raw materials;
  3. methods used for transportation;
  4. manufacture of household objects;
  5. public buildings;
  6. exhibition of monumental sculpture.
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Some of the most spectacular buildings are a group of windmills from the Dobrogea area, but also some floating houses that can be still met on Danube Delta used by fishermen. Whereas there's not too much since I visited that part of Romania, the biggest surprise came for me being able to find the house that can be seen on the banknote of 10 RON which is quite hidden in the forest and not too many people stops by.

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There was another thing that got our attention and was a great thing to see again considering that some of these are still used by our grandparents at the countryside and they also represented a luxury that not everyone afforded back then, namely a building with more carriages and accessories used for the animals.

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As much as we enjoyed the experience, it was literally impossible to see everything, even though we walked for around 3 hours in the forest and took no less than 200 pictures with different buildings and locations. But it's a great reminder that we should take advantage of the next opportunity to visit it again and explore the rest of the museum, which in the future might extend even more, because there is an important and exciting project under construction for a few years already, namely, to bring another museum in the ASTRA complex that will be entitled The Museum of Culture and Civilisation of the Romany.

This one is meant to bring together cultural artifacts of the Romans (also called Romany) which is the only significant ethnic group in Romania that does not yet have a museum even though a big part of the history is related to those times and people.

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Alright, I know this was a loooong post, and I really appreciate it if you made it till the end, but it was a great throwback to some times that are not so old but where a lot of things changed since then and made me realize that I never appreciate the life as much as it deserves even if I don't have a life full of activities and some might call it pretty boring, but it was a great way to keep my smile on my face while I can't wait to be healthy again and return doing what I love so much - traveling.

Anyway, ASTRA Museum is located around 4 km away from the center of Sibiu city in Dumbrava Forest, on the way to Rasinari and Paltinis and it can easily be accessed by car, bus, or tramway.

In 2007, Sibiu was, along with Luxembourg, the European Capital of Culture and the museum didn't miss the chance and organized a series of events to promote the Folk Traditions in Romania.

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SEE YOU IN THE NEXT TRIP! 🗾

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