Bellu Manor

Bellu Manor is a mid-19th century old Romanian style architecture monument, which belonged to the family of Baron Alexandru Bellu. Originally Aromanians from the Macedonian Pindus, from the town of Pella (birthplace of Alexander the Great), the family settled in Romania around 1780. Apparently, the buildings of the initial complex date back to about the same time — only perhaps a few decades later. The residence in Urlaţi was closest to the Bellus’ hearts.

In Wallachia, the Bellu family made a fortune and became related to important local families of boyars (nobles), such as the Cantacuzinos, Văcărescus, Câmpineanus, Sturdzas, and other old Romanian families. Thus Alexandru Bellu’s grandfather, who lived in the 1900s, married Irina Văcărescu; the family later concluded a matrimonial alliance with Eliza Ştirbei, daughter of Prince Barbu Ştirbei — and the examples may continue.

Preserving Tradition

Interview with PETER RILEY

Poet, Cambridge, UK

maramures_traditie si familie_mic“If Bucharest does not consider preserving Romania’s rural tradition as a treasure of humankind, you may say good-bye to the Romanian specificity within the European Union”

After having travelled to Maramureş once, many foreigners’ lives change unawares.  They become “addicted” to the villages of Hoteni, Bogdan Vodă, Breb or Vadu Izei. Nothing is the same as before. Much more sensitive than the Romanians when faced with values that they themselves have lost forever at home, these foreigners believe that they have found “the meaning of the universe” on the Iza or the Vişeu rivers. While the Japanese, with their kamikaze spirit, buy themselves graves in the Cemetery of Săpânţa, the Americans, the French or the English go out of their way to buy “signs of life” or not miss celebrations that take place throughout the year, such as weddings, nedei [traditional festivities], and Sunday dances. More than once, due to their direct impact, traditional dances have resumed in some villages, traditional dress and customs have been preserved, old wooden houses (otherwise threatened by bad-taste, through the offensive tide of the little gypsum pillars and coloured ceramics) have been left standing. Without any exaggeration, if Maramureş is still the dreamland of a strong traditional lifestyle, this is partly due to the foreigners who love this unique area. Almost every Maramureş family is linked, by invisible threads, to one or more families abroad. When someone is born, gets married or dies in Maramureş, no one could care less in Bucharest, Timişoara or Constanţa. But they are sure to care in Paris, London or Washington. In a way, what happens in Maramureş today will happen tomorrow to the entire Romania, when it gets to be really discovered by Westerners. At least this is what a British poet and his wife, Peter and Beryl Riley, from Cambridge, believe.

“We cannot conceive spending our holidays outside Maramureş any more”

–         How has a remarkable English poet as yourself come to spend his holidays in Romania, particularly in Maramureş?

–         To us, 1993 may be considered as the year of our discovery of the Romanian music, and 1998, the year of our first visit to this country. We were in a pub one evening, in Cambridge, when strange sounds of celestial beauty resounded next to us. We immediately inquired about the magicians who were interpreting those unheard-of tunes. “Romanians from Soporu de Câmpie”, said the bartender. It was an evening unlike any others we had had. Continue reading

Father Tănase


The Camp in Valea Screzii village, Prahova county, Romania 

Father Nicolae Tănase

Everything started in Bucharest, in 1990, when poet Ioan Alexandru, also the senator for our county back then – now reposed in the Lord – got back from a conference in Oslo, where he basically “learnt” that the unborn had rights, too. That is when we started up our association — we called it “Saving Life – Provita Brâncoveanu”. During one of our conferences, a young woman, a student, got up and said: “I would like to keep my child, but neither of my parents know about it and I have no means to raise it.” — and because we offered to raise her child, that was the first child we took care of. Since then, over 1000 children have been raised or taken care of by our association. Some of them left, some stayed with their mothers for a month or two, and others were taken by their parents/relatives. We have likely had more than 1000 children in our care so far. At the moment we have only 208. Continue reading