Friday, August 2, 2013

Romania's Incredible Folk Culture

If you look up what to do in Bucharest, everyone starts clamoring about the Romanian Peasant Museum and Village Museum. On weekends they often hold antique and handicraft markets (two of my favorite things), so we headed over to the Peasant Museum to check it out.

Holy WOW, were we blown away by the awesomeness of these places and the beauty of Romania's folk culture!

I should start by saying that the Romanian Peasant Museum itself is kind of meh. The exhibits are all in Romanian except for a few cards with two lines of (badly translated) English, which is a shame because there's quite a few very interesting things inside but you have no idea what you're looking at. On top of that, they have an exorbitant photo fee if you want to take pictures, and grumpy Romanian ladies won't hesitate to fuss at you for even touching your camera. The entrance fee is very cheap though, so it's worth a look if you like folk clothes and handcrafts. There's also a Cold War room downstairs with sickles and hammers painted on the wall and multiple busts of Lenin and Stalin. A bit weird, but we couldn't read anything to figure it out!

Romanian painted and beaded eggs in the Museum Gift Shop

The real treat is when you walk into the garden behind the Peasant Museum where the weekend markets are held and go into the Museum Gift Shop. If you don't find the folk crafts you're looking for outside, they will surely be in the Museum Gift Shop. The prices are a little more, but nothing too outrageous. Not to mention, they have everything-hand painted icons, linens, beautiful embroidered tunics and dresses, wooden spoons, rugs, hand painted eggs, chairs, jewelry, intricately beaded belts and hats...everything!

It's filled floor to ceiling with awesome

The beauty of Romanian folk culture blew me away. I love folk souvenirs and this place was like my own personal paradise. Everything is so beautiful and intricate and affordable, both Fionn and I said we could decorate our entire house in Romanian folk art. We ended up buying some of the carved wooden spoons, a painted wooden tray, and some eggs. I drooled over their hand embroidered linens, but since we only had carry ons, that wasn't possible. Alas!

The market outside was quite nice too-they had a number of beautiful antiques (especially if you're a fan of Soviet era stuff). Fionn bought a wool hat (on sale since it was summer, but it'll come in handy during our German winters!), and we both loved one stall with all kinds of wood furniture and repurposed antique farm equipment. It was all very cheap, but we had no way to ship it back to Germany unfortunately...

There were a lot of grandmas selling hand embroidered clothes, belts, and linens. As an embroidery enthusiast I seriously debated spending $30 on the gorgeous blankets she had, but Argh!

After spending all our lei at the Peasant Museum, we headed over to the Peasant Village down the road. It was created at the end of the 19th century as a way to preserve peasant life and is still going strong. They bring in old peasant homes for visitors to explore and also offer demonstrations of traditional village life and customs.

making masks

They had examples of houses, churches, traditions, and clothing from all over Romania. The English translations were usually pretty good, and we enjoyed being able to go inside the houses. 

We spent around 2 hours just wandering through houses and around corners. The park is actually pretty big, so bring water if it's warm and wear good walking shoes. Keep an eye out for the folk art you can find everywhere-the paintings, woodworking, and textiles are so pretty.

This was my favorite part of Bucharest! See anything you like?

Up next is our trip into Transylvania! We didn't see Dracula, but we did find out where you can find real vampires in Romania...


  1. That is one amazing Museum shop! Beautiful pictures! Hope to visit Romania one day, so thank you for the tips! :)

    1. I would have taken more pictures but I think the shop clerk was getting a little annoyed ;)