Exploring Craiova: A Hidden Gem in Romania

What is it Craiova?
Nestled in the southwestern part of Romania, Craiova is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. As the capital of Dolj County and the sixth-largest city in Romania, Craiova offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. Despite being less known than other Romanian cities like Bucharest or Cluj-Napoca, Craiova boasts a plethora of attractions that make it a worthwhile destination for travelers seeking an authentic Romanian experience.

Diana Dondoe: Craiova’s International Model:
Diana Dondoe

is a name that resonates beyond Craiova’s borders, known for her successful career in the international fashion industry. Born on December 22, 1982, in Craiova, Diana Dondoe rose to prominence as a model in the early 2000s. Her striking features and versatile look quickly caught the attention of major fashion houses and magazines. She has graced the covers of prestigious publications like Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar and walked the runway for renowned designers such as Valentino, Chanel, and Marc Jacobs. Despite her global success, Dondoe remains connected to her roots in Craiova, often speaking fondly of her hometown in interviews. Her journey from a small Romanian city to the pinnacle of the fashion world is a testament to her talent, determination, and the opportunities that Craiova can offer its residents.

Historical Background:
Craiova’s history dates back to ancient times when it was a significant settlement during the Dacian era. It later became an important center in the Roman province of Dacia. Over the centuries, Craiova evolved into a notable political and economic hub, particularly during the Middle Ages when it served as the residence of several notable Wallachian rulers. The city’s historical significance is reflected in its well-preserved architecture, including churches, museums, and old buildings that tell the story of its rich past.

Cultural and Architectural Highlights
The Craiova Art Museum
Housed in the stunning Constantin Mihail Palace, the Craiova Art Museum is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. The palace itself, an architectural marvel built in the early 20th century, is a blend of Baroque and Renaissance styles. The museum’s collection includes works by prominent Romanian artists such as Constantin Brâncuși, Theodor Aman, and Nicolae Grigorescu, offering a comprehensive overview of Romanian art history.

The University of Craiova
Established in 1947, the University of Craiova is one of Romania’s leading educational institutions. Its campus features a mix of historical and modern buildings, reflecting the city’s commitment to preserving its heritage while embracing contemporary advancements. The university also plays a crucial role in the city’s cultural life, hosting various events, lectures, and conferences.

The Nicolae Romanescu Park
One of Craiova’s most beloved green spaces, the Nicolae Romanescu Park, is an expansive area perfect for relaxation and recreation. Designed by the French landscape architect Édouard Redont, the park opened in 1903 and remains one of the largest and most beautiful parks in Eastern Europe. It features a picturesque lake, charming bridges, and various sculptures, making it a favorite spot for both locals and visitors.

Festivals and Events
Craiova hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and arts to local traditions and folklore. One of the most popular events is the Craiova International Shakespeare Festival, which attracts theater companies and audiences from around the world. The festival showcases a diverse range of performances, from traditional interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays to modern adaptations, highlighting Craiova’s vibrant cultural scene.

Romanian cuisine is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes, and Craiova is no exception. The city’s restaurants and cafes offer a delightful mix of traditional Romanian fare and international cuisine. Some must-try dishes include “sarmale” (cabbage rolls filled with meat and rice), “mici” (grilled minced meat rolls), and “ciorbă” (sour soup). For dessert, “papanași” (fried doughnuts served with sour cream and jam) is a local favorite.

Modern Craiova
Economic Development
In recent years, Craiova has seen significant economic growth, driven by investments in various sectors such as automotive, manufacturing, and information technology. The presence of major companies like Ford, which has a manufacturing plant in the city, has boosted employment and contributed to the local economy’s dynamism. Additionally, Craiova’s strategic location, with easy access to major transportation routes, makes it an attractive destination for businesses.

Infrastructure and Transportation
Craiova’s infrastructure has also undergone substantial improvements, with modern roads, public transportation, and facilities enhancing the quality of life for its residents. The Craiova International Airport connects the city with several European destinations, facilitating both tourism and business travel. The city’s public transportation system, including buses and trams, ensures convenient and affordable mobility for locals and visitors alike.

Tourist Attractions
The Oltenia Museum
The Oltenia Museum is another cultural treasure in Craiova, comprising several sections dedicated to archaeology, ethnography, history, and natural sciences. The museum’s extensive collection provides insights into the region’s rich heritage, from prehistoric artifacts to contemporary cultural exhibits. The ethnography section, in particular, offers a fascinating glimpse into the traditional customs and crafts of the Oltenia region.

The Craiova Botanical Garden
For nature lovers, the Craiova Botanical Garden is a serene oasis showcasing a diverse range of plant species. Established in 1952, the garden spans over 17 hectares and features various thematic sections, including a rose garden, a Japanese garden, and a tropical greenhouse. It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll or a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The Electroputere Mall
As a testament to Craiova’s modernization, the Electroputere Mall is one of the largest shopping centers in the region. It offers a wide range of retail stores, entertainment options, and dining establishments, catering to both locals and tourists. The mall is built on the site of the former Electroputere factory, seamlessly blending the city’s industrial heritage with its contemporary lifestyle.

Notable Personalities from Craiova
Marin Sorescu
Marin Sorescu, a renowned poet, playwright, and novelist, is one of Craiova’s most celebrated literary figures. His works, characterized by wit, irony, and profound philosophical insights, have earned him a prominent place in Romanian literature. Sorescu’s legacy is honored in Craiova through various cultural events and institutions dedicated to his memory.

Craiova, with its rich history, vibrant cultural scene, and modern amenities, is a city that beautifully encapsulates the essence of Romania. From its well-preserved architectural landmarks and lush parks to its dynamic economic development and notable personalities, Craiova offers a unique blend of tradition and progress. Whether you’re an art lover, history enthusiast, nature admirer, or simply looking to explore a lesser-known gem, Craiova promises a rewarding and memorable experience. As more people discover its charms, Craiova is poised to become a prominent destination on the map of Romanian tourism.

Exploring Craiova: A Hidden Gem in Romania