At the Soviet Europe section of YPT, one of our most popular routes starts in Kiev before heading to the Western most edges of the former Soviet Union. However, even after we leave what was the USSR, we still indulge in dystopian communist relics in the crazy country of Romania. For decades Romania was under the yoke of Nicolae Ceaucescu, an eccentric dictator who turned the country into a North Korean style state, eventually earning the nickname ‘the King of Communism.’ After years of expertise in Romania, we’re proud to offer a range of bespoke Romania tours that can be arranged 365 days a year. As part of our Chernobyl and Transnistria tours, we ensure that Romania is a feature in all of them. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the top 5 sites visited on our various bespoke Romania tours.
House of Ceauşescu
One of the most impressive remnants of Communist Romania is the Casa Ceauşescu located on the outskirts of downtown Bucharest. The house served as the mansion of the Romanian dictator and his family between 1965 and 1989. Featuring an enormous swimming pool, a cinema, gold plated bathrooms and a plethora of gifts from other Communist leaders from Mao to Brezhnev, the mansion is a paradise for lovers of dictator history.
The mansion is available to visit by guided tours only and both private and group tours can be arranged. Interestingly, the mansion was spared looting and destruction during the Romanian revolution of 1989 and was under the protection of the army. As a result, the personal effects of the Ceauşescu family from tailor made suits to silk pyjamas still eerily lie where they were left in 1989. His army of Peacocks were also left alone thankfully and today they still roam the beautiful mansion gardens probably wondering where their owners are.
The grave of Nicolae and Elene Ceauşescu is located in a civilian cemetery in Bucharest and is standard of most communist dictators being constructed of characteristc red marble. Still, a visit to the homeland of the king of Communism is not complete without checking out his grave. Whilst on one of our Communist Romania tours last year, we were not the only visitors to the grave and found ourselves alongside two fanatical Ceauşescu fans who had come all the way from Japan to mourn him. Dressed in their traditional Japanese attire, it was certainly a bizarre sight.
Ceauşescu Execution Spot
Following the collapse of the Communist regime in December 1989, Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu made an ill fated attempt to escape the baying mob by fleeing from their presidential palace via a helicopter. The pilot was naturally freaking out and told the couple he had to land or risk being shot down. Once on the ground, the pilot ran away and the Ceauşescu couple were soon in the hands of anti-communist soldiers. After a quick trial lasting just over an hour, the pair were dragged outside and went down in a hail of Kalashnikov fire.
Today, the execution site is left largely as it was the day the Dictator and his wife were shot. It’s a feature on all of our bespoke Romania tours and is located in the town of Targoviste around an hours drive from Bucharest. The town is also home to a castle once owned by the infamous Dracula, allowing us to hit up two historically important sights back to back.
Our bespoke Romania tours would not be complete without a spot of unbeatable urbex! The abandoned prison at Doftana was known as the Romanian Bastille and was once the place of incarceration for various members of the early Romanian Communist Party which included Ceauşescu himself. Today, the prison is off limits to the public but thanks to a giant hole in the wall and a pretty enticing risk of a $5 fine, we take our chances anyway!
Inside the prison resembles something from a horror movie as you explore seemingly endless corridoors of 1940s era prison cells that are remarkably well preserved. We couldn’t help but begin a search for the cell that was once the temporary home of Nicolae Ceauşescu but we found it impossible.
Ceaucescus Childhood Home
To provide a contrast to the Ceauşescu mansion and an example of starting from the bottom now we here, we always take a trip to the childhood home of Ceauşescu located just outside Bucharest. This tiny peasant house is located in a charming farmyard and is always closed. But due to it being nestled in a tight knit village, just linger around for a few minutes and a local will come out with the key and open up for you.
Inside the house is remarkably preserved and you can even test out a young Ceauşescu’s rather uncomfrtable wooden bed as well as check out some items that were left as gifts by Communist pilgrims back in the day. When visiting in the summer, the local Romanian who acts as an unnoficial guide will also treat you to some fresh peaches from Ceauşescu’s garden which is pretty cool!
To explore the history of Communist Romania and the craziness of the Ceauşescu regime, contact us today for a bespoke tour to the fascinating country of Romania!