In historical times, today’s territory of Romania and neighboring Hungary was divided into eight landscape regions, which today no longer have any administrative significance, but are still mentioned in connection with the former German population in Romania. According to historyaah, these include the Transylvania region, the Kreisch area and the Banat in the Western Carpathians, Wallachia in the southern lowlands, the Dobrudscha between the lower reaches of the Danube and the Black Sea and the Principality of Moldova and the Bukovina on the slopes of the Eastern and Northern Carpathians, in the border area to Ukraine.
Today’s Romania is administratively divided into 41 districts and the municipality of Bucharest, each district being administered by an elected district council and a directly elected district council chairman. In addition, the central government appoints a prefect for each district who represents the government at the local level and checks the legality of the actions and decisions of the local authorities.
The state capital Bucharest in Wallachia is by far the largest city in Romania with almost two million residents on an area of around 230 km² and is one of the eight largest cities in the European Union. Other important cities in Romania with a population of between 200,000 and 300,000 are the historic Klausenburg (Cluj-Napoca) and Kronstadt (Brașov) in Transylvania, Timișoara in the Banat, Jassy in the Moldau, Galatz (Galati) with the most important inland port in Romania and Constana with the EU’s largest Black Sea port in Dobruja and Krajowa in little Wallachia.
Romania’s capital Bucharest is mentioned for the first time in 1459 and developed into the prince’s seat of Wallachia in the second half of the 15th century. After a checkered history with fire destruction and various affiliations, first to the Ottoman Empire and later, after the Russo-Austrian Turkish War against Russia, Bucharest became the capital of the united principalities of Moldova and Wallachia, whose merger was recognized as the independent kingdom of Romania after the Berlin Congress in 1878. In the following years Bucharest was transformed into an imperial city according to western standards and provided with many technical innovations such as a railway line to Giurgiu, a tram and electric street lighting.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Bucharest gradually developed into a center of Romanian industry and finance. During the First World War, Bucharest initially lost its status as capital to the city of Iasi, but subsequently regained its importance as the capital of “Greater Romania”. By the beginning of the Second World War, the area of the city increased to approx. 8 km². With the construction of some boulevards and boulevards based on the French model, Bucharest was seen as the Paris of the East. During the Second World War, the city suffered extensive damage from several aerial bombings. In the post-war period, due to the rural exodus of the peasant population, Bucharest expanded to three times its original size with an area of over 20 km². After a severe earthquake in 1977, the inner city of Bucharest underwent a radical renovation, with the construction of representative state and administrative buildings in the foreground. The dominant element of this colossal inner-city architecture is the Parliament Palace, which, with a floor area of 65,000 m², is one of the largest buildings in the world.
Although much of the historical building structure was destroyed by wars, fires, earthquakes and demolitions, Bucharest still offers a number of architectural and cultural-historical monuments across the different stylistic epochs. The oldest monuments include the remains of the first Bucharest princely court Curtea Veche from the 15th and 16th centuries and the Hanul lui Manuc, a tavern and caravanserai built in 1808, in which the Treaty of Bucharest between Russia and Turkey was signed in 1812. Today the Bucharest Concert Hall is located in the remarkable Romanian Athenaeum, built between 1885 and 1888. Like Paris, Bucharest also has a huge triumphal arch in the classical Roman style, which was completed in 1936. The Bucharest Royal Castle was built between 1927 and 1937 in the neo-classical style. In addition to visiting numerous church buildings, cathedrals and museums, the spacious parks in Bucharest, criss-crossed with lakes, invite you to relax and linger.
The city life of Bucharest takes place on the large boulevards and boulevards lined with magnificent buildings and palaces, such as Calea Victoriei, with numerous cafes and trendy bars. The Lipscani zone is a historically grown district of Bucharest with well-preserved houses from the past centuries, which were predominantly inhabited by traders and today are home to a large number of cozy cafes and bars.
The city was founded in the 13th century by German settlers on the banks of the Little Samosh as the second largest city in the Kingdom of Hungary. Cluj-Napoca was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Transylvania for a long time, until after the First World War the city fell to Romania, which was now recognized as an independent state, but then came back under Hungarian administration with the separation of North Transylvania through the second Vienna arbitration in 1940. With the German occupation of Hungary from 1944 to 1945, Cluj came under German administration and thus became a place of action for the Holocaust, to which around 18,000 Jews from Cluj and the neighboring cities fell victim. Today the city with approx. 325,000 residents is the second largest city in Romania.
In the inner city of Cluj-Napoca, many historical buildings from the time before the Second World War have been preserved and shape the cityscape with different architectural styles. The most famous building in medieval Gothic is the Michael’s Church. Some Renaissance buildings and baroque aristocratic palaces from the early modern period have been preserved, as well as other representative buildings in the classic, eclectic and art nouveau styles that were built in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Museum Square and its surrounding alleys form a popular, car-free promenade with numerous cafés in a partly medieval ambience. The city’s first castle stood here.
The founding of Constanta goes back to the Greeks in the century BC. BC and later became a Roman trading center on the Black Sea, where the Roman poet Ovid lived in exile. In later centuries the city was first conquered by the Bulgarians, then fell to the Ottoman Empire and was finally added to Romania in 1878 as part of North Dobruja. During the Second World War, Constanta fell victim to the Allied bombing raids because of the strategic importance of the Black Sea port for the Axis powers.
Today Constanta, with around 284,000 residents, is the fifth largest city in Romania and the most important port on the Black Sea of the European Union. Only a few sights from the time before the Second World War have survived. The foundations of the ancient Greek city of Tomis and other ruins of Greek and Roman basilicas and necropolises, the remarkable casino built in 19910, a trading house known as a mosaic museum with Roman floor mosaics and the lighthouse from the 13th century can be visited. With the surrounding beaches, the area around Constanta has become a popular destination for bathers. An aquarium with a dolphinarium is also one of Constanta’s tourist attractions.
The city of Iași, first mentioned in the 14th century, was the capital of the Principality of Moldova from 1565 to 1859, as well as of the subsequently newly founded Principality of Romania, until it was replaced by Bucharest in 1862. During the First World War, Iași was again the provisional capital of Romania from 1916 to 1918. During the Second World War, the city was heavily hit by Russian bombing and was the scene of the horrific Iași pogrom, which killed at least 13,000 Romanian Jews.
Today the university city of Iași is Romania’s fourth largest city with almost 300,000 residents. Due to the many Romanian personalities and artists who lived here, Iași is of considerable importance for the development of Romanian culture. The city, also known for its porcelain manufacture, is dominated in its center by the Culture Palace, completed in 1925 in neo-Gothic style, which today houses the largest art collection in the country and a library. Also worth seeing are the impressively large Metropolitan Church from the early 19th century and the Coronation Church, as well as several monasteries and other cultural and historical monuments that line the inner-city squares and streets. The almost one square kilometer large botanical garden is one of the largest botanical facilities in Europe.