If you’re like me, you probably never heard of the Bucovina, Romania. It’s one of the most beautiful regions of the world I’ve visited and it’s rather remote lying on the northern slopes of the central Carpathian Mountains. In fact, it’s about it’s about an 8 hour drive from Bucharest to Bucovina and it’s near the Ukrainian and Moldovan borders. During my partnership with Experience Romania, we explored this region rather thoroughly learning about it’s people, local customs, and experiencing its beautiful wilderness. While it’s rather remote and a bit off the beaten path, it’s definitely worth visiting. You’ll experience a region of the world like no other and have some fascinating experiences. You should definitely add this to your potential Romanian tours!
History of Bucovina, Romania
If you’re easily bored by history, just skip this section…
Bucovina’s history is one of constantly switching hands when it comes to rulers. The Polish Kingdom once laid claim to the area until Stephen the Great defeated the army of King John I Albert sealing the region’s autonomy for a time. The people of the region later paid tribute to the Ottoman Empire in the 1500s. Later the, the Ottoman Empire was defeated by the Russians who occupied Bucovina. Eventually, the Austrian Empire occupied Bucovina, Romania as a reward for its assistance in helping the Russians defeat the Ottoman Empire and used the region for an important thoroughfare between it’s territories as well as for lumber harvest. When the Austrian Empire reorganized as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bucovina became part of the Cisleithanian or Austrian territories of Austria-Hungary.
After World War I, Austria-Hungary collapsed and both Ukraine and Romania claimed the region. Romania quickly moved to exert its sovereignty over the region and in 1919 the province was internationally recognized under the control of Romania. Later, following World War II, Romania was forced to cede the northern part of Bucovina to the USSR. Forced resettlement and deportations, eventually severed the connections between northern and southern Bucovina and as a result the northern section of the region is under Ukrainian rule and the southern area is under Romanian rule.
Face-to-Face Encounters With The Traditions of Bucovina, Romania
When visiting Romania, you are bound to explore the major hot spots like lively Bucharest, Transylvania, and Brasov. These are obvious picks for all Romanian tours. But a detour to the north, to Bucovina, Romania, is definitely worth the experience. In a world where technology permeates our lives making it difficult to escape our daily routines, Bucovina offers that respite we often need. You’ll sometimes find it difficult to get a signal for your wireless devices in this region and that’s OK as you come face-to-face with the deeply rooted traditions of the people of Bucovina, Romania. The link to the past is well and alive here as the people live much the same way they have for centuries. As a visitor, you have a front row seat to experiencing the simple yet rich lifestyles which have practically vanished elsewhere around the world. But not only can you observe the culture, you can also truly experience it in Bucovina during your Romanian tours.
Personally, I wasn’t sure how to feel about traveling to Bucovina, Romania. I knew it was remote and wondered what I might find to do in the region. I thought: “Great, there are going to be a lot of trees and nothing else.” But I was completely caught off guard by its natural beauty and culture. It felt as though I journeyed to the past learning how people lived long ago…but the
crazy part is people still live this way today, cooking over open fires, farming, pulling water from wells, and generally embracing a small village lifestyle. I definitely noticed a real pride in the people for their culture and history which was refreshing.
What To Do In Bucovina, Romania?
While half the fun of exploring Bucovina, Romania is meeting the local people and understanding their history and culture, there are also a number of interesting things to do in the region during your Romanian tours. We definitely hit up as many of the attractions as possible! If you plan to visit Bucovina, Romania, just remember the region is rather large so you’ll need a vehicle to get around. Sometimes it’ll feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere but embrace it! Don’t worry, there are few roads so you’ll likely not get lost often. Trust me, you’ll want to have these experiences in Bucovina, Romania!
1. Painted Monasteries
Let me just say this at the beginning: All Romanian tours should include a visit to at least one of the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina, Romania. Why? Well, all of the monasteries were built and painted in the 1400-1500s and they have remained the same for over 500 years. Every square inch of these monasteries is painted by hand inside and out with frescoes illustrating the life of Jesus Christ, religious symbolism, important battles, as well as other church canonical references. The paintings have survived, mostly intact, and are just waiting for you to explore. I visited Varonet (also known as the Sistine Chapel of the East) and Moldovita Monasteries and was blown away. There are six other monasteries which you may visit called Humor Monastery, Arbore Church, Patrauti Church, Probota Church, St. George Church and Sucevita Monastery. Oh, and let’s not forget the eight churches are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site!
Pro Tip: You can take photos of the exterior of the monasteries but no photography is permitted inside. I received special permission to shoot photos and video record. Also, do not photograph the nuns. It is disrespectful.
2. Huțulca Train
The Huțulca steam train line was originally opened in 1888 and used for forestry transport. It spanned approximately 45 miles (73 km) but is now substantially shorter with a journey only taking approximately 45-55 minutes. Riding the train is a very pleasant experience and an excellent opportunity to capture unspoiled photographs of the surrounding countryside and villages. It’s also an great way to understand how remote Bucovina is as this train use to be the only connection outside the region. One of my favorite aspects of the train ride is each car is heated by an actual wood burning stove. I’ve never seen that on a train so it’s the real deal and all Romanian tours will be even more fun by including this interesting train experience.
Pro Tip: The train requires at least 10 passengers to run. You can see the schedule here.
3. Museum of Painted Eggs
As you may or may not know, painted eggs are huge part of Romanian culture and you can find these beautiful works of art sold all across the country. But did you also know painted eggs are actually found in just about every culture in one form or another? You can learn the history of the painted egg and see a multitude of examples from across the world at the Painted Egg Museum in Bucovina, Romania. Letitia Orisvschi is whom I would consider a painted egg expert and she is more than happy to show you around her private museum. She’ll explain the history, symbolism of, and even demonstrate the techniques used for creating these works of art. On top of this, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase a few eggs to take home as a wonderful memory of your Romanian tour.
Pro Tip: Set aside about an hour to tour the small museum and see a demonstration. The museum is located at
4. Painted Houses
It seems Bucovina is fond of applying art to everything. I’ve already shared the painted monasteries and the painted egg museum. Now, how about adding an entire painted village to your Romanian tours? The village of Ciocanesti is famous for it’s painted houses. In fact, the law in the village states the houses must be painted to resemble the designs from the famous Easter eggs and/or designs from traditional Romanian clothing. If you enjoy art, you’ll love wandering about looking at each house’s unique artwork. While the designs are wonderful, it’s also nice to just walk around the village and get a feel for that super small town Romanian life. One of my favorite memories was watching a herd of cattle amble down the sidewalk as though it were quite normal.
**Want to learn more about the village of Ciocanesti? Check out this great article that goes more in depth!
Pro Tip: Visit the egg museum in Ciocaniesti (Muzeul National al Oualor Incondeiate din Ciocanesti) to learn more about the history of the village and the importance of the designs.
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