Roughly 32km north of Ploiesti (about 150km from Bucharest), in the Prahova Valley, is the small town of Câmpina. Before entering Câmpina, you’ll pass a memorial to pioneering pilot Aurel Vlaicu. Vlaicu built three planes, a glider and designed a dirigible that was never built due to lack of funding and went on to win several international aviation contests, flying these contraptions. He died in a plane crash near Banesti in 1913 while rushing to beat a foreign aviator to be the first to cross the Carpathians by plane in his arrow-shaped plane, the ‘Vlaicu-II’, a cautionary tale about rushing anything involving great heights and/or speed.
Câmpina’s main attraction is Hasdeu Castle, one of your creepier, public tributes to fatherly love. Construction began in 1893, ordered by history professor Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu in honor of his academically brilliant daughter, Iulia, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 19 – just before she was to become the first woman to enter the Sorbonne in Paris. Although Iulia was buried in the Belu Cemetery in Bucharest, Hasdeu opted to hold seances in Câmpina to communicate with Iulia. He also composed creepy funeral music which was purportedly dictated to him by his daughter from the spirit world.
Also in Câmpina is the Nicolae Grigorescu Museum (Muzeul Nicolae Grigorescu), dedicated to Romania’s most famous artist. It charts the life and works of Grigorescu (1838-1907), the pride of Câmpina, who started his career painting icons to support his family. Commissions for private work eventually rolled in, most notably the murals at Agapia Monastery in Moldavia. Grigorescu went on to study in Paris with Renoir. Much of his mature work revolved around landscapes and peasant life, though his depictions of battles and prisoners produced while volunteering at the front during the Romanian Independence War are also renowned. His works attracted the attention of the Barbizon group and even Napoleon III, who bought two of his paintings in 1867.
Hotel Muntenia (Tel. +40 (0) 244 333 091; address B-dul Carol I 61) is the only accommodations choice in the area.