Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Romania & Bulgaria has to say about the National Village Museum:
“National Village Museum
??Built on the shores Herastrau Lake, this museum is a terrific open-air collection of several dozen homesteads, churches, mills and windmills relocated from rural Romania. Built in 1936 by royal decree, it is one of Europe’s oldest open-air museums and a good choice for kids to boot.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We have been to several village museums both at home and during our travels, but I have to say this is one of the best we’ve ever seen. There are over one hundred different structures that have been relocated from the various regions of Romania and have been lovingly situated in an almost magical place.
The museum stands along the shores of beautiful Herastrau Park (the 200-????????hectare park surrounding a large lake is arguably Bucharest’s nicest park, with plenty of shaded strolls and open-air cafes, plus boats to hire). The buildings are grouped by region and have storyboards giving detailed information about their original village and the approximate date they were constructed.
The land slopes down towards Herastrau Lake, and just above the shore, the farm and implement buildings have been arranged side-by-side. Here we were introduced to amazing wooden mechanical machines that were built to process wheat into flour, fruits into wines, wool into rugs and even a unique water-powered wheel that was designed to make the felting of wool less labour intensive.
I’ve shown you a sampling of the buildings that caught my eye, but I have to say, there wasn’t a single structure that didn’t have something special to offer to the overall village museum. We had walked over six kilometers across a large section of Bucharest just to reach the museum, but still stayed for more than two hours to explore the museum from beginning to end.
The traditional Romanian buildings left such an impression on me, perhaps because I’m descended from pioneers who left a comfortable life in Ontario to ‘homestead’ in Alberta in the early 1900s. I’ve grown up with stories of how my maternal grandmother started life in Alberta as a young girl and her first winter was spent living in a ‘sod’ house, partly below ground level, much like one of the houses at the end of my photo array.
The family eventually built a log house, and I remember seeing it when I was a young girl, when it was being used as a barn for animals, years later when my maternal uncle was farming the same land cleared by my grandparents. My uncle raised a large family on that land, and every summer my siblings and I would get an opportunity to spend a week at the farm and his children would get a chance to come to the city in return.
It was there that I had a chance to see what rural life was all about, to feed the chickens, milk the cows, churn butter from the cream, drive a tractor and harvest the produce from my aunt’s massive garden. Over time life on the farm became easier and more comfortable with more modern housing and modern farm machinery. As a matter of fact, one of my cousins still lives on the family homestead almost one hundred years after the land was first cleared.
Our visit to the Romanian Village Museum brought back tons of old memories, and in a small way I could relate to what life must have been like for the farmers in this far off land.
What made it even more special was the quality of the late afternoon light and the opportunity to peek through the lovely autumn foliage towards the lake and the people walking along its edges or boating on the water. Romania does not observe daylight saving time so the sun sets around 4:30 pm. This didn’t leave us any time to explore the park; so we vowed to come another day before leaving the country.
Unfortunately, the following day dawned foggy and cool so we gave up the idea of taking a taxi to walk through ‘Bucharest’s nicest park’. It was disappointing for sure, but at least we’d had a chance to see a little of it from the village museum. It was time to pack our bags and rest up for our upcoming adventures in Cyprus.