Romania: A Multi-Part Journey with Dr. Guillaume Durand

Romania: A Multi-Part Journey with Dr. Guillaume Durand


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Join Guillaume Durand on a multi-part virtual journey through Romania, a region at the crossroad of History and Empires which has kept breathtaking monuments and landscapes both included as the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Based on a holistic approach that includes history, art, archaeology, religion, and natural sciences we will discover some of the emblematic sites of the country. Our sites will include everything from Bucharest (known as “Little Paris”) between the two World Wars to the Delta of the Danube river, a natural park that keeps the vestiges of Greek settlements (Istria, Constanta). We’ll discuss the victory at Adamclisi of the Romans over the local population, the Dacians, to Transylvania and its Saxon / Germanic Medieval cities and villages whose churches were fortified to face the invaders. We’ll conclude our journey in the North-West part of the country as we learn about the unique and incredible sixteenth-century Painted Churches of Bucovina. As a result of these impressive locations and sites, we will understand just what it is that makes Romania such an exciting and endearing country.
Along our journey, we will encounter some of the prominent figures who shaped this region into a unique one in Eastern Europe, “A Latin island in a Slavic and Hungarian sea”. We’ll meet characters such as the Roman Emperor Trajan and his enemy Decebal, prince Vlad Ţepeş (better known as Dracula), Nicolae Grigorescu who went to Barbizon in France and learned plein-air painting, Constantin Brâncuşi considered as the father of modern sculpture, Nicolae Ceausescu the last Romanian Communist leader and Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1986.
Led by Guillaume Durand Ph.D., an expert on the history and art of Romania who spent years living in this country and still guiding groups there, this journey will explore the main cultural and natural objectives of Romania. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased knowledge of the region and its historic and natural sites.

Lecture 1: Bucharest–From Dracula’s Capital to the ""Little Paris"" of the Balkans
Our first stop is Bucharest, Romania’s capital. We’ll discuss its growth from the fifteenth century as a custom and trading outpost under Dracula’s reign and its independence from the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century. From this period, Bucharest is known as the Little Paris of the Balkans as the architecture imitates that of the French capital. Today, Bucharest ranks itself as one of the most cultural cities in Eastern Europe, with its museums (fine-art museum, archaeology museum, museum of the village…) and universities, and despite the 50 years of Communist regime illustrated by the mammoth monument known as the House of the People (Casa Poporului).
Lecture 2: The Delta of the Danube River and the Dobrogea Region 
Leaving Bucharest, we will drive to the seaside, a region known as Dobrogea, and to the Danube delta. A melting pot of ethnicities, it is the only region where we can meet, along with the Romanian population, some Tatar minorities. These are Old Russian Orthodox groups who were exiled at the time of Czar Peter the Great and ancient Ottoman Turks who settled in this region during the Medieval period. Apart from its beautiful natural landscapes, this region is known to hold the oldest archaeological vestiges of the Greek and Roman presence, especially illustrated by the ancient city-states of Constanta and Istria, or the trophy built under Trajan after his victory over the Dacians at Adamclisi.
Lecture 3: Following the Footsteps of Dracula in Wallachia
We cannot leave the region of Bucharest, Wallachia, without walking on the steps of the one who is considered as one of the most prominent rulers during the Medieval period: Vlad the Impaler (Tepeş in Romanian) better known as Dracula. Our third session will allow a discovery of the places where this prince got his reputation: his capital Targovişte, Poienari when he built one of his castles, Cozia and Curtea de Argeş, and the Monastery of Snagov considered by some historians as his burial site.
Lecture 4: Saxon Settlements in in Transylvania 
The name of Transylvania immediately brings us into an area where mist, mountains, and castles combine together to create a kind of fantasy movie. Taking the distance with this cliché, we will discover how this region of the Hungarian marches was heavily occupied by a Germanic Saxon population in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Moving from one city to another, we will visit the fortified churches of Saxons at Prejmer and Harman, the Medieval citadel of Sighişoara (Schäßburg), the birthplace of Dracula, and the cities of Braşov (Kronstadt) and Sibiu (Hermannstadt) known for their Central European ambiance.
Lecture 5: The Mountainous Region of Maramureş–Popular Icons and Atrocitious Dictatorships
Our fifth stop will lead us to the border between Romania and Ukraine, in the region of Maramureş. Landlocked in the mountains, this microregion of Transylvania has preserved the most ancestral Romanian traditions which can be discovered through the wooden Orthodox churches. These spaces are filled with religious paintings made by the local icon painters which testify to the presence of popular worshipping. Maramureş also holds the sinister reputation of having the most-secured prison in the country: Sighetu Marmatiei was built by the Austrian authorities in the eighteenth century. The place has then served as a political prison during WWII and the Communist era. We will discuss this past through the lens of Maramureş-born Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Peace prize in 1986, and survivor of the Holocaust.
Lecture 6: The Painted Churches of Bucovina (Moldova region)
With our last stop, we will discover what is considered as the jewels of the country: a set of Orthodox churches that were entirely painted on the exterior walls. These paintings deal with the main topics of Orthodox religion, from the Genesis to the Revelation, and were all created in a short span of time in the first half of the sixteenth century by the local Prince Peter Rareş and the metropolitan Grigorie Roşca. Apart from the breathtaking iconography, these vivid and colorful scenes offer a snapshot into the mind of these people during the transition between the Medieval period and modern times, 70 years or so after the collapse of Constantinople, the second Rome, in 1453.

Passionate about the regions and countries at the crossroad of civilizations, Guillaume Durand Ph.D. has long standing expertise in Ancient art and archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean Basin. Assistant dean and professor in archaeology and art history at the Institute for American Universities and the American College of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence, France, Guillaume has traveled many times in Iran during these six past years in order to study the Persian Empires. He is also a tourist guide / lecturer in this country for French citizens.

How does it work?
This is a six-part journey series held on consecutive weeks and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.
How long are the lectures?
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A. 
How much is the journey?
$210 USD for six 90-minute lectures.
Is a recording available?
Yes, a recording of each session will be emailed to attendees within 24 hours of the course's conclusion.

Not suitable for children under age 13 (sensitive content).

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 39 reviews
90%
(35)
8%
(3)
3%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
S
S.S. (Oxford, US)
Romania

I enjoyed my Romania course with Dr. Durand. I learned much about the complicated history of the country. I learned about its tragic times and also about the wonderful painted churches.

J
J.G. (Charlottesville, US)

Excellent!

S
S.S. (Oxford, US)
Romania #5 i think

I thought this part was really interesting. Some political history, some really beautiful wooden churches and a painted cemetery that was wonderful. the best thing is Guiliaume worked hard to show maps of the current situation facing all the countries that border Ukraine!

A
A.O. (Chico, US)
Learn about Romania, history and present date

Well done, full and easy to understand lecture

P
P.R. (Québec, CA)
Outstanding

A very generous and insightful seminar that is rooted in modern geopolitics!

Customer Reviews

Based on 39 reviews
90%
(35)
8%
(3)
3%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
S
S.S. (Oxford, US)
Romania

I enjoyed my Romania course with Dr. Durand. I learned much about the complicated history of the country. I learned about its tragic times and also about the wonderful painted churches.

J
J.G. (Charlottesville, US)

Excellent!

S
S.S. (Oxford, US)
Romania #5 i think

I thought this part was really interesting. Some political history, some really beautiful wooden churches and a painted cemetery that was wonderful. the best thing is Guiliaume worked hard to show maps of the current situation facing all the countries that border Ukraine!

A
A.O. (Chico, US)
Learn about Romania, history and present date

Well done, full and easy to understand lecture

P
P.R. (Québec, CA)
Outstanding

A very generous and insightful seminar that is rooted in modern geopolitics!