Vurpar, Romania
Vurpar Street
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Vurpar, Transylvania, Romania



Romania is located in southeastern Europe and is about the size of Oregon. Its neighbors are Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and Serbia and the Black Sea. Today's 24 million Romanians are descendents of native Dacians and 2nd Century BC Roman invaders, while the language they speak is considered the purest living form of Latin. There are large numbers of Bulgarians, Hungarians and Germans in pockets around the country. Many words from those languages add spice to modern Romania. You will also hear many words from Russian and Turkish. Centuries of political domination of the Romanians by those two erstwhile powerful neighbors left indelible marks on the culture.

Bucuresti (Bucharest) is the capital of Romania. It was once called the Paris of the Balkans thanks to its wide, tree-lined boulevards and imposing memorials. Around two million people live in the capital on the country's fertile southern plain. Other major cities include Iasi, Cluj, Sibiu, Timisoara and Brasov.

The Danube and the Carpathians give character and heart to Romania. The Danube forms much of the southern border of Romania with Bulgaria, separating Latin from Slav. The great river divides into three forks and becomes a broad, marshy delta before it merges into the Black Sea. The southern plain of Romania is a breadbasket of grains and fruits, a potential source of food for all of Europe.

Farther north, the craggy Carpathian Mountains, the eastern end of the Alps, rise up to split the country virtually in half. Two passes traverse the wild mountains creating two different perspectives, one markedly eastern and the other, the Transylvania culture north of the mountains, looking toward the west.

South and east of the Carpathians the land was defenseless to frequent invasion by Turk, Tatar, Magyar and Russian. North of the Carpathians massive fortresses and walled cities were built by German settlers, invited to protect the passes and keep the invaders at bay. Sibiu, Brasov, Sighisoara and other cities carry both Romanian and German names in recognition of their mixed heritage. Other cities add a third name, usually Hungarian. It has been against Hungarian rule from Budapest and Turkish suzerainty from Istanbul that Romanians have most often fought. In the last two hundred years Russian imperialism has been an increasing threat to Romania, culminating in 45-years of Soviet domination.

Vurpar is fifteen miles from Sibiu (Herrmannstadt), a city of 200,000 persons. Sibiu was built by Romanians and Saxons to protect the strategic nearby pass from invasion. Surrounded by mountains, decorated with great churches, medieval walls, grand plazas and charming cafes, Sibiu is an undiscovered tourist attraction with rock bottom prices and lovely attractions. It is where the children of Vurpar go on to high school and where occasional bus loads of Sasi return to visit friends, relive events and snap a few shots for family back "home" in Germany.

It was in this town square that citizens fought heavily armed communist forces during the 1989 Revolution. The people won and now have a budding democracy. In the center of the square is a memorial to the men and women who died in Sibiu fighting the dictatorship.

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