Craiova

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Craiova is a busy university town, swathed with museums, and, somehow, exactly zero decent eating options. I guess the poor students just can’t keep a respectable place in business, so the only places that survive are crap-holes selling gruel.

A bunch of prominent Romanian characters spent time here: Wallachian Prince Mihai Viteazul was born here, the world-famous sculptor Constantin Brâncusi carved his first sculptures from scrap wooden crates in the town, and the first cartridge fountain pen was invented by Craiovan-born Petrache Poenaru (1799-1875). Today, Craiova is better known as the source of Craiova beer, which will come in handy for washing down and deadening the after taste of the local culinary disasters.

The Art Museum (Muzeul de Arta) is the town’s treasure, with an incredible collection of Brâncusi’s finest works, including The Kiss, The Thigh and Miss Pogany. The museum is housed in the Dinu Mihail Palace (1907), built by the wealthy Romanian nobleman Constantin Dinu Mihail and was home to former Polish president Ignacy Moscicki in 1939 and later sullied by Ceausescu’s presence. Even if art isn’t your thing, the second floor room of mirrors is worth the price of entry alone.

Craiova also has a ho-hum Natural History Museum with all labeling in Romanian. In the park across the street is the red-brick Holy Trinity Church (Biserica Sfânta Treime). Behind the church is the city’s Opera & Operetta Theatre on Str Ion Marinescu.

Craiova’s old town lies east of Calea Unirii around Piata Veche (Old Square). Nearby, on Str Hala at the end of Str Dimitru, is the Ethnographic Museum (Muzeul Olteniei Sectia de Etnografie), housed in a grand, former governor’s house dating from 1699.

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