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Râmnicu Vâlcea – a surprising city

As we were saying in our last post, while spending 8 days at the over-relaxing Căciulata resort, we were really looking for some interesting things to do besides laying all day in hot thermal water. This is how we ended up visiting Râmnicu Vâlcea – one of those places which was not necessarily on our travel list and we got there by chance, it being close to the place we were.

This short trip was not planned ahead, we did not make any research so we did not have any particular expectations – we just went there to see how it was, but if we would have had expectations, they would have been surpassed, in a very positive way.

The city of Râmnicu Vâlcea – a short description

Râmnicu Vâlcea is a city with about 100,000 inhabitants and the capital of Vâlcea county, located in the central region of Romania, in the Oltenia region, where the rivers Olănești and Olt meet.

Our impression was of a well-kept city, with many green areas and places where locals and tourists can walk and relax in the shade.

Of course, as any other city in this country, there are many communist buildings, even in the center. But you can also find old buildings with beautiful architectural elements.

The center of Râmnicu-Vâlcea

After traveling the 20 kilometers between Căciulata and Râmnicu Vâlcea, the bus left us right in the center of the city.

The first thing we noticed was that the center is very… breathable. Being used to the crowds of people and busy traffic from our home city, Cluj, we really liked this detail.

The second thing that we liked is that the central square of the city is a pedestrian area. A nice and modern place, with a water fountain and some green spaces.

An underground pedestrian crossing and parking can also be found here, so those driving by this city can leave their car and explore the surroundings on foot.

The church “Cuvioasa Parascheva”, a historical monument, dating back to the XVIth century, is located closely and is worth seeing if you are in the neighborhood.

The Mircea cel Bătrân Park

Located in the heart of the city, this park is said to be built on the place where the citadel of Mircea the Elder, ruler of Wallachia, used to be – and the old walls around it seem to support this. The statue of the king guards the entrance to the park.

Behind the state you can find another fountain and a house with beautiful architecture from the XVIIIth century, which now hosts the Children’s Palace, but used to be an aristocratic residence and then town hall headquarters.

The park is not very large, but it’s a nice place to walk on the alleys and relax on benches shaded by old trees.

Zăvoi Park

The entrance to Zăvoi Park is from Știrbei Vodă street, on the shore of Olănești river, through a beautiful wooden gate, ornamented with flags.

Walking on the alleys, we observed the first nice thing about this park: a small pool with waterlilies.

Getting closer, we were delighted to discover turtles, small frogs and lively colored fish among them.

The walkways are well kept, with many benches for relaxation in the shadows of trees and green spaces with nice flower patterns that enchant the visitors.

A lake with a water fountain in the middle and a restaurant with terrace can also be found here.

It’s said about this park that it is one of the oldest in Romania and that this is the place where the national anthem was sang for the first time, 170 years ago. This is an important part of the country’s history, making it a must-see for both Romanian and foreign visitors who happen to be in the area.

The Palace of Justice

The area with the Law Court of the city in the Revolution Square is nicely maintained, with imposing buildings, erected at the end of the XIXth century and declared historical monuments, water fountains and greenery.

The Independence Statue stands at the end of this lovely square.

The Archdiocese of Râmnic

Although we are not religious, we are always positively impressed by the religious places we visit, due to their architecture and surroundings.

Located at the base of Capela hill, the church, monastery and administration buildings with the well cared greenery between them are splendid and worth admiring.

Anton Pann Memorial House

The memorial exhibition is located in a beautiful XVIIIth century building and it contains elements of daily life in a typical house from that period, but also some of the most representative works of Anton Pann. You can visit this place full of history on 4 Știrbei Vodă Street.

“Casa Simian” Art Museum

This house hosts valuable art works from well known local artists, but it is also worth seeing for its architecture.

The villa has a beautiful design, which made us remember the residencies from sunny Italy.

Besides the interiors rich in artistic creations, the museum also has a summer garden, where you feel that you become one with the fascinating atmosphere of this place.

The Neo-Romanian Style House

After exiting the Art Museum, you can see on the other side of the road a great house with special architectural elements, built in the neo-Romanian style.

The “Alexandru Lahovari” National College

A nice building that stood out while we were walking on the streets of the city.

The History Museum

The History Museum of Vâlcea County is situated in a XIXth century building, known as the former establishment of „The School with Clock”.

The exhibits are presented in chronological order on the two floors, starting with the first human settlements in the area and up until the modern period.

From houses, tools, pottery to traditional clothing of the people living here and examples of masterful restoration of ancient artifacts, the exhibits take you on a journey in time, helping you to discover and understand better the culture and specificity of the area.

Besides the permanent exhibition, the museum also hosts periodical and temporary relevant exhibitions. The building is well maintained and it has modern equipment and the staff is kind and friendly.

The Zoological Garden

The Râmnicu Vâlcea Zoo is located in the Ostroveni neighborhood, on the street with the same name, at number 95.

It is relatively small, but well-kept and it hosts animals and birds from several species, coming from different parts of the world.

Inside the garden there are also an aquarium and terrarium, where visitors can admire various types of fish, snakes, spiders and cockroaches.

We liked best the tigers, laying in the shadow, trying to get away from the overly hot sun rays.

A pack of wolves made us enjoy more than ever the presence of a fence. 🙂

The stork was busy talking to its neighbor, the goose, so it did not give us much attention.

You can also find here a playground for children, so that the visit to the zoo can be very entertaining for them!

The People of Râmnicu Vâlcea

Although it’s the last point on our list, we consider it to be the most important. Being somewhat experienced tourists, we have inevitably interacted with hundreds and maybe even thousands of people in our journeys, from many parts of the world. Some experiences were very nice, other… less than nice.

The people from Râmnicu Vâlcea impressed us positively. Usually, when visiting a new place, we do not ask the locals about places to visit or ways to get somewhere, because we are pretty good at managing these by ourselves, using maps and GPS. The same was true in Vâlcea. Nevertheless, maybe we looked like… tourists, because in two separate instances people on the street engaged us voluntarily and asked if we needed any help, if we wanted them to tell us where to go and what to do. We were pleasantly surprised, because we cannot remember another place visited in Romania where people were so friendly.

Another nice episode was the interaction with a bus driver, who picked us up from the zoo and we asked him to tell us where to get down in order to catch the next bus to Căciulata. Although he did not know to tell us exactly what we needed to know, he called a colleague to make sure he can leave us in the best place and he did exactly that. Thank you!

Other locals from Vâlcea were just as helpful. The shop keepers, the museum attendants, the lady who sold us tickets at the zoo – they were all kind and friendly. People from Vâlcea seem to be nice!

Conclusions

Although we did not manage to get to all the interesting places worth seeing in Râmnicu Vâlcea, because we were there just for one day, the city impressed us in a positive way. It’s great to go to a new place without having expectations and to be surprised like that.

The people managing the city are doing a great job and the conditions are good both for locals and for tourists. We do not know when we will get there again, but surely we would like to explore it a little more.

We cannot says that is a touristic city as it does not meet all the requirements for that, but it can be a place worth visiting if you are in the area or you are passing by.

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