Romania can trace its origins back to the ancient Dacia, created in the Roman province by Emperor Trajan in 106 AD. The Romanian people were only united in the 19th century, after having lived under the domination of various powers (Turkey, Russia and Austria-Hungary).
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- 1859 Creation of a national state through the union of Walachia and Moldavia, two autonomous principalities which had existed in the region since the Middle Ages.
- 1878 Participation in the Russo-Turkish conflict leads to the complete independence of Romania, recognised by the Treaty of Berlin.
- 1916 Romania joins the war on the Allies’ side.
- 1919-1920 The treaties of Saint-Germain and Trianon lead to the birth of a greater Romania which now includes Dobroudja, Bessarabia, Bucovina and Transylvania.
- 1940 Following an ultimatum, the USSR annexes Bessarabia and northern Bucovina. Under pressure from the Axis powers, Romania transfers northern Transylvania to Hungary and southern Dobroudja to Bulgaria.
- 1941 The Romanians enter the war on the side of Germany against the USSR.
- 1946 The Romanian communists seize power and Romania becomes a socialist republic.
- 1947 Peace treaty signed in Paris. Romania retains only Transylvania.
- 1965-1989 Nicolae Ceausescu is in power. In 1968, he condemns the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia. A dictatorship is established from the early 1970s onwards.
- 1989 The dictatorship is overthrown after a violent insurrection supported by the army. Ceausescu and his wife are judged and executed summarily.
- 1990 The National Salvation Front wins the first multi-party elections. Ion Iliescu becomes the president of the republic. He is elected in 1992 and re-elected in 2000.
- 1993 Romania joins NATO.
- 2004 Traian Băsescu becomes president of Romania.
- 2007 Accession to the European Union.
- 2007 Traian Băsescu is confirmed in his office.
- 2008 the Social-Democratic Party, which forms a coalition with the Conservative Party, wins the legislative elections. Emil Boc (PDL, Social-Democratic Party) becomes Head of government.
- 2009 Traian Băsescu is again confirmed in his office.
Bucharest is located on the plain of Walachia. According to a legend, a shepherd whose name is Bucur founded a village on the left bank of the Dambovita, giving his name to the future capital of Romania in the process. Despite this, its current name only appeared for the first time in a document signed in 1459 by the famous Prince Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler). Bucharest officially became the capital of Romania in 1862. Its economic expansion in the late 19th century was encouraged by its geographical location between Central Europe and Asia. It has remained the primary economic center of the country ever since.
Its modern urban organisation also dates from this period, with its wide avenues and attractive districts which were then inhabited by the nobility and the new bourgeoisie, earning it the nickname of the “Little Paris of the East” between the wars. The town’s historical heart suffered massively from the urban policies imposed by Ceausescu, giving way to the colossal “House of the People” (today the Romanian Parliament) and the Unirea Boulevard.
The town today offers visitors a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere which is half eastern and half western, combined with its rich and diverse cultural life.
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The sculptor Constantin Brancusi was born in Pestisani Gorj in 1876 to a rural family. After his studies at the Bucharest School of Fine Arts, he worked in Vienna and in Munich before settling in Paris in 1904. His first work showed the influence of Auguste Rodin, but from 1908 onwards (the date of the first version of The Kiss) his style changed radically. The example of the primitive arts drove him to seek out pure, simple, and plain shapes as seen in the ovoid shapes of Mademoiselle Pogany, or that of the elongated cylinder of Bird in Space.
Seeking to sculpt ideas more than reality, he achieved abstraction and shook the world of traditional sculpture. Brancusi’s sculptures gained international renown in 1913 during the great modern art exhibition of New York known as the “Armory Show”. In his piece the Endless Column (1937), created with a combination of identical modules, Brancusi created a sculpture of superposed and repetitive shapes. He painstakingly polished the outer surface of his works, giving light a key role to play in the dematerialisation of the sculpture’s volume. Brancusi died in Paris on March 16, 1957. His work inspired great contemporary artists such as Hans Arp and Archipenko or Henry Moore.