Muntenia, also known in English as Greater Wallachia is a historical province of Romania, usually considered Wallachia-proper (Muntenia, Țara Românească, and the seldom used Valahia are synonyms in Romanian). It is situated between the Danube (south and east), the Carpathian Mountains (the Transylvanian Alps branch) and Moldavia (both north), and the Olt River to the west.
Oltenia, also called Lesser Wallachia in antiquated versions, with the alternate Latin names Wallachia Minor, Wallachia Alutana, Wallachia Caesarea between 1718 and 1739 is a historical province and geographical region of Romania in western Wallachia. It is situated between the Danube, the Southern Carpathians and the Olt river.
Area: 106.190 km2
Population: Approximately 6 milion people
Main cities: Bucuresti, Craiova, Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Ploiesti, Targoviste, Ramnicu Valcea, Targu Jiu
Wallachia’s unique mix of historical and natural attractions promises a different experience each day. Discover heritage buildings and museums in the capital city, enjoy day trips to a royal palace or century-old monastery, hike the mountains or follow Brancusi’s art trail.
First documented in 1459 by Vlad Tepes, Bucharest is the main city of the region and the capital of Romania. Whether you are spending most of your travel time here or just using it as a gateway to a discovery journey around Romania, Bucharest and its cultural scene is going to surprise you: 37 museums, 22 theaters, 18 art galleries, opera houses and concert halls await your visit.
The best way to explore Bucharest is to take a stroll along Calea Victoriei to Piata Revolutiei, site of the Romanian Athenaeum and the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum of Art. The old city center (near Lispcani) is a must to understand why Bucharest was known as “Little Paris” in the 1920’s. Also, don’t miss the Palace of Parliament, the second largest building in the world.
Beyond Bucharest, the foothills of Wallachia give way to the Carpathian Mountains. Just an hour and a half north of Bucharest is the beautiful Prahova Valley, where the popular ski resorts of Predeal, Busteni and Sinaia are located. Sinaia is also home to the magnificent Peles Castle – a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, considered one of the best-preserved royal castles in Europe. In the summer time, these resorts are starting points to hiking trails in the nearby Bucegi Nature Park.
A must stop for art lovers is the town of Targu Jiu on the banks of the Jiu River. This former market town is closely associated with Constantin Brancusi, the Romanian artist who is considered to be the founder of modern sculpture.
Some of Romania’s most tranquil monasteries can be found in this region, including Horezu, a masterpiece of the ‘Brancovenesti’ architectural style and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Horezu is also a renowned pottery center, where travelers can marvel at the colorful pottery created in local workshops by talented artisans.
•Bucharest, Romania’s largest city and capital, with its French architectural old center, the Palace of Parliament, The Museum of the Romanian Peasant, the Village Museum and many other attractions
•The magnificent Peles Castle in Sinaia, considered one of the best-preserved royal castles in Europe
•The Princely Court and Poenari fortress (the authentic residences of Vlad the Impaler)
•The beautiful Orthodox monasteries built in a Byzantine style, tucked into the foothills of the Carpathians: Arnota, Bistrita, Cozia, Curtea de Arges, Govora and Horezu
•The pottery workshop center at Horezu
•The 16th century Princely Court and monastery at Curtea de Arges
•The Constantin Brancusi architectural complex in Targu Jiu, with its famous masterpieces: Endless Column, Gate of the Kiss, Table of Silence and Avenue of Chairs
•Prahova Valley and the popular ski resorts of Predeal, Busteni and Sinaia
•The Unirea salt mine in Slanic Prahova, where 2.9 million tons of salt have been extracted since 1685. Due to the therapeutic microclimate, former mine shafts are used as asthma treatment facilities.
Muntenia and Oltenia cuisine feature a variety of sour soups with lots of vegetables. It is not unusual to find an earthen oven in the backyards of houses in the Muntenia region. Here knot-shaped bread and pies are baked and delicious vegetable stew is slow cooked in clay jars.
Soup as well as haricot bean stew, potato stew with plenty of onions, braised sauerkraut and scovergi are popular dishes in this area of the country. Other traditional dishes include chicken soup with homemade noodles, giblet sour soup, tripe soup, meatballs soup, meat and/or rice (cabbage or grapeleaf) stuffed rolls, grilled fish in pickle sauce served with polenta.
Local lore has it that the famous mititei, one of the most popular Romanian gastronomic specialties, were created by accident in the kitchen of “La Iordache” restaurant, a fin de siècle culinary hotspot in Bucharest. One night, when there were no more of the famous sausages known as patricieni, as the cook had runt short of bowels to stuff with the remaining minced meat, he placed the meat straight on the grill. The emerging sausages were somewhat smaller but the customers highly appreciated them, naming them mititei (meaning “the wee ones”).The owner of the restaurant added thyme, caraway and saltpeter to the local recipe to enhance its flavor.
When you mention traditional food in the Oltenia region, Oltenian sausages come first to mind – finely chopped beef and pork meat mixed with garlic, pepper and salt, and then stuffed into sheep guts and smoked for two hours. Then you have to mention beef ragout, carp stuffed with mushroom, lamb stew with chives and smoked bacon.
In this region, like all over the country, onion and garlic are highly praised, combined with other ingredients to make deliciously savory dishes.
Other local specialties:Fried or broiled Danube mackerel, Dried prune stew or prune and meat stew, Cheese or pumpkin pie, A la russe or boeuf salad, Moussaka (of Mid-Eastern origin), Chulama – chicken cooked in white sauce
This region produces some of Romania’s best red wines including Feteasca Neagra, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dealu Mare / Valea Calugareasca Vineyards
Dealu Mare, extending from the Prahova Valley along the south-facing hillsides of the Carpathian foothills eastwards to Vrancea County, is considered to be the best area in Romania for the cultivation of red grapes.
Valea Calugareasca (Valley of Monks) – one of a series of vineyards forming the Dealul Mare wine-growing region, owes its name and quality of wines to a hermitage – and perhaps the particular skill of the monks in preparing the wine. The standard-bearer of this vineyard is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dealu Mare Vineyard is very generous with foreign grape varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, as well as Romanian grape varieties – Feteasca Neagra.
Dragasani has an old history which can be traced back some 3,000 years. Tonic, slightly frothy and having a long-lasting flavor, the wines of Dragasani have become popular outside Romania’s borders following world recognition at the Bordeaux wine contest in 1989 and at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Today, Sauvignon, Riesling, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, and Tamaioasa Romaneasca are produced here.
Other vineyards in the region include: Pietroasa, Samburesti, Segarcea, Stefanesti, Urla