A Tall House, a Banknote, and a Legend on Fire for Thursday Doors

A Tall House, a Banknote, and a Legend on Fire

This tall house, a lookalike of the one depicted on the 10 Lei Romanian Banknote, comes with a legend about a fire, and about how three villages came to be.

The Tall House of Chiojdu Mic

The tall house we admired at the Village Museum of Bucharest is from Chiojdu Mic village (Little Chiojdu), Buzău County in the historical province of Muntenia, Romania. Muntenia (or Greater Wallachia, or Valachi, or Țara Românească) – where Vlad the Impaler ruled – is the southern part of Romania, where the capital city of Bucharest is also found. I was born in Bucharest, so you can say I’m a girl from Muntenia, a munteancă.

The household above is from the 18th century.

The living quarters (usually two rooms) are all on the first floor, the river-rock foundation is meant for a cool cellars, where fruits are kept throughout winter, as well as the many barrels with țuică (tzuica, a traditional Romanian spirit, 24–65% alcohol by volume, and prepared only from plums.

The four-sided roof is also characteristic for this area. It is made from fir-tree wood, and these traditional wooden roof-tiles are called şiţă in Romanian, and are arranged like fish scales.

You can see a similar house on the 10 Lei Romanian Banknote:

A Tall House, a Banknote, and a Legend on Fire
A Tall House, a Banknote, and a Legend on Fire

The Legend on a Great Fire and of How a Village Came to be

It was a time when kings grew their empires, and people grew their crops. The Kings with golden crowns and ermine capes of the west, or kings with glass beads and marmot furs of the east – they all dreamed the same fantasy. It was the people, whose hands bled, and whose children needed feeding, who dreamed of nothing else but of a roof over their heads.

That day, when apples were in bloom and farmers blessed their lambs, the army on fast horses, the army with limbs of maces and daggers, with slanted eyes and harsh goat leggings, attacked again. Their lances took without asking. Their torches fed without concern. And what they couldn’t take, they tore apart.

After their retreat, the fire burned for three days. A sprinkle of survivors sat about, waiting. Waiting to mourn and bury their families. Chiojd was one of them. A rich man that very morning, and not my his household, and his sheep, and his grains in the barn, but by the love of his wife and the smiles of his children.

When the last cross went up, Chiojd knew he’d buried his last hope. He turned his back on the ashen shadow of their village and, without looking back, he left. A pup at his heel.

It is said that Chiojd left Transylvania behind and wandered for an entire summer. His feet carried him, his eyes looking without seeing. The pup, now taller, still at his heel.

Until one day when he his feet stopped.

Ahead, sweet hills followed one another. Trees dressed in tender yellows, and hushed reds grew around gentle streams – so unlike the nature he’d known all his life. There, Chiojd build a new home. With time, a new wife appeared in his life. And three children, Big Chiojdu, Little Chiojdu and the girl, Chojdeanca, who later went to found three new villages: Starchiojd, Chiojdu and Chojdeanca.

The big doors to the cellar

Fire, a 100-Word Story

I am Life.
Contended faces surround me. They need me. Eager hands grab at my elusive energy as I pull away, then withdraw as I boldly approach them. I laugh, and I kindle the spirits around me, light the stars above. They are but my echo.
I am Power.
My vitality creates all that I see; I am but the sun on this earth. I cook their meals, melt their iron. I, I keep them alive and warm. While feeding myself. Just take what I fancy. Stretch, expand myself out of proportions, as my hunger grows.
I am their Death.

A tiny door to the cellar
thursday doors, 100 words story

For Thursday Doors weekly event over on Dan Antion’s lovely blog, No Facilities.

Transylvania’s History A to Z: 100 Word Stories

(click on the book)

A – Z, 100-Wors Stories are inspired by Transylvania’s history, from the Paleolithic Period to WW1
Each 100 Words Story is followed by a brief historical reference.

Surprising Snow North of Karoo, a Christmas in July

Swartberg Pass near Karoo snow Christmas July South Africa

South Africans were gifted with surprising snow near Karoo, so I invite you to a Christmas in July with fresh images of snow, a Christmas tree from Bucharest and some magical doors for Thursday Doors.

While we enjoy a morning as sunny as an ice cream up here, near Pretoria, with temperatures of minus 1 degree Celsius (it is winter after all), further in the south of South Africa Antarctic pulses surprised us with snowfall.

These images were taken by members of our (very) extended South African family and we thank them for sharing the magic with us, special thanks to Cobus Pretorius.

Snow covering the road between Oudtshoorn and Swartberg Pass, South Africa, July 2021
Fresh snow covers the road between Oudtshoorn and Swartberg Pass, South Africa, July 2021

Oudtshoorn is a town in the Klein Karoo area of South Africa’s Western Cape, some 1200km south of Pretoria. Karoo is derived from the local Khoisan language, meaning ‘land of thirst.’

One would imagine that mermaids belong to the sea, and their legends are to be forever rocked by waves. It is not so.

Oudtshoorn Swartberg mountain pass snow July 2021 .jpg
Oudtshoorn Swartberg mountain pass snow July 2021

Mermaids, Watermeid, are said to inhabit ( have inhabited?) the rock pools between the Klein (Little) and Groot (Great) Karoo. That’s less than 50km from Oudtshoorn, and along the Meiringspoort mountain pass. Here, charming mermaids with alabaster hair cascading over their shoulders snatch, not lure, travelers, pulling them into their underground water holes. And ancient Khoi-San rock paintings still illustrate this legend .

Oudtshoorn pass snow July202

Further up to Swartberg Pass (Black Mountain Pass in Afrikaans) the road twists and turns, as these mountains mean business, shielding the Little Karoo to the north.

Swartberg Pass is located between Oudtshoorn in the south and Prince Albert in the north. This time, only the bravest shall pass through the foggy snowfall.

Swartberg Pass snow July South Africa
Swartberg Pass snow July South Africa

A car door covered by a layer of fluffy snow. Hard to resist the urge of tracing a Christmas tree on it, isn’t it?

Snow in South Africa
Snow in South Africa

It reminded me of a past winter holiday we spent in Sighisoara, Romania. Here, a century old house with a dragon emblem on it. I particularly like the glass bricks embedded in its door:

Another winding road, one that’s best to take on foot, as it snakes among medieval homes, and still standing (see the Historical Monument badge on the blue home?) in the upper fortress of Sighisoara:

And since we celebrate surprising snow over Karoo and a Christmas in July, here’s a Christmas tree from Bucharest:

Today the Palace of Agriculture and Domains, the edifice you see above and below was inaugurated in 1895 after the plans of Swiss architect Louis Pierre Blanc, the main building designed in the French Renaissance style. End of 19th century was a time of modernizing Bucharest.

The Palace of Agriculture and Domains, Bucharest
The Palace of Agriculture and Domains, Bucharest

I like this architect quite a bit as he also designed the main building of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila, Bucharest, where I studied (in a different lifetime). And a gorgeous place it is too – down to the basement where the dissection labs were buried.

thursday doors, 100 words story

For Dan Antion’s exciting Thursday Doors – weekly challenge for door lovers from all over the world hosted over on his incredible blog No Facilities.

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Dreamy Blues, Authentic 1885 Tulcea House by the Black Sea

Window shutters painted in dreamy blues adorn an authentic house from 1885 Tulcea, a Romanian county spreading between Danube and the Black Sea.

Window shutters painted in dreamy blues adorn an authentic house from 1885 Tulcea, that dips its shores in both the Danube and the Black Sea. You can visit it now, on my blog, or at the Village Museum in Bucharest, Romania.

We have a Romanian saying, Omul sfinţeşte locul, in English it carries the same meaning as “a good farmer makes a good farm.”

I spotted the bright blue shutters from afar. I quickened my step. I wanted to know who lived in a house with such cheerful windows, and such treasures painted on its doors. Who were they? What was their story?

blue double panel window

They say that one should never start work, or a journey, on a Tuesday for it won’t end well. The year 1654 started on a Tuesday, and it is the year when the great Russian Patriarch Nikon decided to re-examine the church books, for “the Greeks should be followed rather than our own ancients.” The schism that followed affected many during the following century, but especially (as always) the masses. Those who sicked to their old believes, the starovery, were forced to pay higher taxes, wear special clothing that will make them stand out… if not burned at the stake.

I have to pause and draw a parallel between the choice the starovery from the Tsardom of Russia were forced to make in the 17th century and the Romanian population of Transylvania who was forced by Hungarian authorities, during 15th – 16th centuries, to convert to Calvinism, “the true faith.”

Thus, the starovery migrated. Some reached as far as Alaska, others loved the serene land around the Danube and, being fishermen by skill and having the sea in their blood, settled in Dobruja, Dobrogea, at the beginning of the 18th century. Today they are known as Lipovans, or Flipovans(after their leader’s name).

Bright blues and wavy eaves in a house of a family of lipoveni from Tulcea

The Lipovans brought along their personal style, the men wearing long beards, the women dressed in bright reds, greens and blues, like the feathers of the birds, and the spring shoots, and the ripples of the rivers.

Do you see the thatched roof? The way it extends low over the narrow porch? They are distinctive architectural features, as are the wavy eaves:

The house, built as a home in 1885, came to the Village Museum (piece by piece and reassembled here) from the Jurilovca village, siting at the mouth of Razelm Lake – a freshwater lagoon on the shores of the Black Sea in Tulcea County, Romania.

The Lipovans who lived here painted the tree of life, “as in Heaven, so on earth“, on their door:

blue painted door Village Museum. the tree of life, "as in Heaven, so on earth"
The tree of life, “as in Heaven, so on earth

Originally painted in 1885, perhaps as a blessing on the threshhold of their new life, in a new land, and a new home:

dark teal painted door, Village Museum Bucharest
The Tree of Life in front of a full moon painted on a dark teal door, Village Museum Bucharest

And because it meant so much to them, the Lipovans painted it again. I like the wavy movement of the greenery depicted above and how the flowers appear to sway in the breeze.

A door with a painting in shades of green and a dark teal door frame, Village Museum
The Tree of Life again, against a happy background, a new life in Romania, a better life.

The Symbology behind the Tree of Life – Art in Romanian Folklore, Patterns

The tree of life can be spotted painted on a door, such as above. But more often we glance upon a diminutive symbol of it (such as the branch of a fir tree, flowers in a pot, shoots of wheat or rye, or mere leaves), be it carved on the wooden pillar of a home, on a piece pottery, or embroidered by hand in a Romanian peasant blouse, ia.

The tree of life, or its symbols, they all stand for the biblical image of Jesus Christ, and of the His everlasting spirit.

The leaves, symbolize immortality and resurrection.

It is a cheerful house, and I hope the Lipovans led a happy life in their new home in Tulcea County, Dobruja, by the Black Sea.

thursday doors, 100 words story

For Dan Antion’s exciting Thursday Doors and for Jude’s Life in Colour Photo Challenge 2021 – weekly challenges.

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Classical or Innovative, Glass and Brick in Bucharest

Bucharest Royal Courthouse Curtea Veche Vlad Tepes

Be it classical or innovative, the futuristic glass architecture shakes hands with classical, elegant brick structures more often than some would want in Bucharest, Romania.

Classical or Innovative, Glass and Brick in Bucharest. Bucharest Royal Courthouse Curtea Veche Vlad Tepes
Bucharest, the Royal Courthouse, Curtea Veche, of Voivode Vlad Tepes reflected in a futuristic glass building

Zlatari Church on Calea Victoriei, Bucharest, reflected in the glass walls of an innovative office building from across the street. My daughter took this picture:

Zlatari Church, square photo
Zlatari Church, Bucharest
Classical or Innovative, Glass and Brick in Bucharest. Bucharest, old neoclassical, new glass buildings on Victoria Avenue, Calea Victoriei
Bucharest, old neoclassical, new glass buildings on Victoria Avenue, Calea Victoriei

One of our favorite bookshops in Romania is Carturesti, where one can spend whimsical hours, undisturbed. The shop below is on a narrow street, in a refurbished old building.

View towards the roof…

Carturesti Carusel Bookshop

… and a view of the door:

Carturesti bookshop Lipscani, Bucharest
Carturesti Carusel Bookshop, the one on Lipscani Street, Bucharest. “Book. Tea. Music. Frills.”

Among countless other bookshops, there are about eight Carturesti bookshops in Bucharest alone. Here’s another one, Carturesti Verona. Don’t be fooled by he modest one story entrance. The shop is a maze of rooms and floors and it had a restaurant with a garden at the back!

Carturesti Verona, Bookshop
Carturesti Verona, Bookshop

I love the entrance door to Carturesti Verona. The old wooden door was kept untouched, but a glass-panel door was added. The various rooms displaying books, CDs, gifts, teas… kept the original doors:

You can enjoy stories about Bucharest in my blog post Vlad Tepes, Bucharest, and a Medieval Curse out of Context. For simply unusual sights and seeings, Look Up in Bucharest with me.

Subscribe to my e-Newsletter for fun and informative content on dogs, books, history, folklore and a castle or two:

thursday doors, 100 words story

Thursday Doors is a blog feature everyone can take part in, hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities blog where you can discover more doors from around the world.

Subscribe to my e-Newsletter for fun and informative content on dogs, books, history, folklore and a castle or two:

A Humorous Legend from Țara Bârsei and Bran Castle Photos

A Humorous Legend from Țara Bârsei and Bran Castle Photos

I promised you a humorous legend, this one’s from Țara Bârsei (Burzenland in German or Barcaság in Hungarian), where Brașov and Bran Castle are located.

Țara Bârsei received its name from Bârsa River that runs through it. Bârsă is an ancient word of Dacian origin and it is a part of a plow. This area of south-eastern Transylvania and Carpathians and inhabited by Romanian tribes was donated by King Andrew II of Hungary to the Teutonic Knights invited here during the 12th – 13th centuries to defend the eastern-most borders of the growing Hungarian Empire.

During the following centuries and until today Romanians, Hungarians and German Saxons cohabited here, in Țara Bârsei.

Know that Bran Pass – with Bran Castle nearby – is the narrow mountain pass that allows access from Wallachia, located in the south of today’s romania, to Țara Bârsei and Transylvania.

The right tributary of Bârsa River is Turcu River and it runs past Bran Castle.

A Humorous Legend from Țara Bârsei

It was a hot spring day, the sun blazing for spring, yet the forest shade too cool for summer. A man from Burzenland was heading towards Bran Pass and further south, to Wallachia. His cart was filled with weapons manufactured by his guild and highly thought after in Wallachia and even as far as Moldavia. With a bit of luck he’ll return before the summer rains drenched the roads, with a cart full of grains. His wife wanted spices and silks from the east and a Turkish rug too. He would have rather bought one of those sturdy horses the Wallachians breed.

Nevertheless, any trade was a good trade and any profit made a good count.

He checked the sky, bright and blue, he checked the road, rocky but dry. Perhaps rockier than he remembered. And the cart shook in the rhythm of the horses, clip-clop, clip-clop, the reins solid in his hand, his wife by his side. Her eyes half closed against the heat. Ahead, the rickety bridge over Bârsa River. The man shook the reins, the horses pulled, and the big wheels hopped onto the bridge. This bridge needs mending, thought the man.

‘Hold on tight, woman,’ he said, ‘we’re on the bridge.’

Had she not heard him? For she slipped and fell right in Turcu River. With a big splash. Droplets even landed on the merchant’s cheek, cooling him off.

The man pulled the horses onto a halt right after the bridge, the reins still solid in his hand. He looked at the empty spot by his side, he looked at the river.

Nut much later, and quite upstream, a shepherd minding his flock saw a man running along the river, every now and then stopping to check the moving waters.

‘Good man,’ called the shepherd, ‘what’s amiss?’

‘I’m searching for my wife. She fell into the river.’

‘No, how come you’ looking for her upstream? You’ll never find ‘er there,’ said the shepherd and stood, ready to land a hand.

‘ ‘Tis my wife,’ said the merchant lifting his shoulders, ‘always so twisted in her doings. Backwards all the time. So I thought I better look for her up the river,’ and off he went.

The shepherd sat back on is rock and scratched his forehead, his black hat pushed to the side, and thanked the Lord that his wife was always doing things the right way.

Bran Castle Photos for Thursday Doors

Where we return to Bran Castle for more charming doors:

A door opening onto the inner balcony.
Bran Castle carved door terracotta tiles oven
Above: Bran Castle wooden carved door and a terracotta tiled oven
Two doors, the torture chamber room and the Iron Maiden, Bran Castle
Two doors above, witch one will you choose? The door of the torture chamber room or the door to the Iron Maiden? Bran Castle

Remember the Iron Maiden on Fagaras Castle?

Bran Castle carved door wood

Leaving the door open to Bran Castle for we will return. *Update: Bran Castle, Time Tunnel Explained, All You Need to Know

thursday doors, 100 words story

Thursday Doors is a blog feature everyone can take part in, hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities blog where you can discover more doors from around the world.