Bucharest’s Village Museum is perhaps the most entertaining museum in the city. Dozens of cottages, farmsteads, and churches have been moved from the Romanian countryside to a park in Bucharest and reassembled. It’s a lot like Old World Wisconsin minus the cultivated fields.
The structures are arranged to give the feel of walking through an old town. Each home has a yard, now full of blooming spring flowers, and some are connected with uneven stone paths.
Shortly after we arrived, the day clouded over and it started to storm. While the heaviest rain was falling, we hid out under the roof of a wine press (wine sadly not included) with a group of German tourists. Due to our bad timing, some of the buildings were closed. However, the open cottages were displaying the typical vestiges of everyday life – looms, wood-burning stoves, textiles, and handmade furniture. The fabrics were richly patterned and were used as clothing as well as decor.
Many of the farmyards were enclosed by fences or even walls. Some looked like small fortified towns – high wooden walls sheltered a house and collection of outbuildings meant for animals, firewood, and wagons.
Bucharest has also fed several of my other nerdy hobbies this week. We arrived in time for Bookfest, the largest book-related event in Romania. Naturally, most of the focus is on Romanian-language book and authors; at least one new book was being launched every hour. Fortunately there was enough English-language literature that I was able to find a few things to read this month.
Among its grandly-buildinged national museums, Bucharest also hides a National Museum of Old Maps and Books. Located in a mansion on a residential street, it has three floors of maps showing the changing borders of Romania and Europe and how world exploration advanced. It was interesting to see the borders of Romania shift through the centuries (at one point the positions of Bulgaria and Romania basically reversed). A different map purporting to show the United States post-Louisiana Purchase had an overenthusiastic cartographer who gave the U.S. not only the area of the Purchase, but much of the West Coast and a large piece of Canada as well.