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Craiova – the capital of Oltenia

Craiova is a kind of unofficial or unwritten capital of Oltenia. With almost 300,000 inhabitants, it is the largest city in the region and the 6th largest city in Romania. And it is also the first city which convince me that sidewalks are for cars and paths for pedestrians. Let me explain.

In Romania, it is probably also allowed to park on the sidewalks (similar to Slovakia). However, here in Slovakia we should park the car so that there is a distance of 1.5 m, respectively 2 people will walk side by side on the sidewalk. This is probably not the case in Romania, because everyone parks there as they come. And since you are in a big city where there are a lot of people who have a lot of cars and space is scarce, you can park wherever you can.

How to get to Craiova?

Craiova is located in Dolj County, in western Wallachia, in Oltenia, in southwestern Romania, 233 km / 3 hours and 3 minutes by car west of Bucharest.

By car

Craiova has very good transport accessibility. A Class european roads (E70, E79), B Class european road (E574) and several national roads (DN55, DN6B and DN65C) pass through the city:

  • A Class european roads:
    • E70 – leads from Georgia to Spain. In Romania, it passes through Bucharest Craiova Drobeta-Turnu SeverinTimișoara – Cenad. In the city, it identifies with the national road DN6.
    • E79 – leads from Hungary to Greece. In Romania, it passes through Oradea – DevaTârgu JiuCraiova – Calafat. It passes through the city as a national road DN56.
  • B Class european road:
    • E574 – which starts in Bacău, passes through Brașov, Pitești and ends in Craiova. In the city it is the national road DN65.
  • National roads:
    • DN55Craiova – Bechet.
    • DN6B Craiova – Melinești – Hurezani.
    • DN65C Craiova – Bălcești – Horezu.

By bus

If you are traveling to the city by bus, you can get off at one of the following stops:

  • Autogara Craiova Nord (Pelendava SA) – 2.5 km / 30 minutes walk northeast of the center (at the train station)
  • Autogara A. C. O. T. P. Dolj (Bacriz) – 2.5 km / 35 minutes walk northeast of the center (near the train station)
  • Metro – 7 km / 14 minutes by car east of the center (at the airport)

By train

The railway station (Gara Craiova) is 2.3 km / 31 minutes walk northeast of the center. The journey from Drobeta-Turnu Severin took 2 hours 9 minutes and the ticket cost 34.70 lei / 7.18 eur / person.

By plane

Craiova International Airport (Aeroportul Internațional Craiova) is located 7 km / 11 minutes by car east of the center. From the airport, you can currently (April 2020) fly to 11 destinations in 8 countries in Europe and the Middle East.

What to do, see and visit in Craiova?

There are three museums in the city, each exhibiting different collections, an art museum and several historic buildings that currently serve as offices or a university.

Oltenia Museum – Section of History and Archaeology

Oltenia Museum – Section of History and Archaeology (Muzeul Olteniei – secția de Istorie și Arheologie; 500 m / 6 minutes walk west of the center) exhibits, as the name suggests, historical, archaeological and numismatic collections from prehistory to the present. The museum is a kind of small maze, but don’t worry. Although you see the exhibition yourself, you will always have a museum lecturer on your heels, who is ready to answer any questions, will guide you, turns on and turns off the lights. Interestingly conceived exhibition. The ticket price also included a short-term exhibition dedicated to socialist toys. Set aside about 1.5-2 hours for the museum tour. The ticket cost 5 lei / 1.03 eur / person.

Oltenia Museum – Section of Natural Sciences

Oltenia Museum – Section of Natural Sciences (Muzeul Olteniei – secția de Științele Naturii; 180 m / 2 minutes walk west of the center) hides in its premises paleontological, mineralogical, botanical, malacological (mollusc science), entomological (insect science), ichthyological (fish science), herpetological (reptile and amphibian science), ornithological (bird science) and teriological (mammal science) collections. On the second floor there is a planetarium and an exhibition dedicated to space and the solar system. We went through the exhibition ourselves. Set aside about one hour for the museum tour. The ticket cost 5 lei / 1.03 eur / person.

Oltenia Museum – Section of Ethnography

Oltenia Museum – Section of Ethnography (Casa Băniei – Muzeul Olteniei – secția de Etnografie; 550 m / 6 minutes walk southwest of the center) is located in the so-called Băniei House a few meters south of the historical museum. The house is the oldest secular building in the city. It was established at the end of the 15th century. In the museum we can find handicrafts and objects of folk art made of clay, wood, metal and other materials. The basement is occupied by an exhibition focused on the production of bread. Upstairs, the museum exhibits rugs, woven products and religious objects, including icons. The museum was again a maze in which we were guided by a lecturer. The ticket cost 5 lei / 1.03 eur / person.

Museum of Art

In Craiova you can also visit the Art Museum Craiova (Muzeul de Artă din Craiova; 260 m / 3 minutes walk north of the center; 10 lei / 2.07 eur / person), which exhibits, among other things, six works by Constantine Brâncuși, about who I have already wrote in the article Târgu Jiu – the city jungle of Oltenia. By the way, Constantine studied at a local art school.

Significant buildings and sculptures of Craiova

There are several squares in the city center and its wider surroundings. In the article, I focused on Michael the Brave’s Square (Piața Mihai Viteazul), from which I also calculated distances.

The eastern side of the square is bordered by the building of Dolj County Prefecture (Instituția Prefectului Județului Dolj), which is a symbol of the city of Craiova.

Right on the square is the equestrian statue of Michael the Brave (Statuia lui Mihai Viteazul). Michael the Brave (1558-1601) was the first Romanian prince who united three principalities – Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldova into one unit. He is a national hero for Romanians. He won 4th place in the 100 greatest Romanians TV show.

Just a few meters west from statue of Michael the Brave is a statue of another Romanian prince named Barbu Dimitrie Ştirbei. Barbu was a prince twice, first in the years 1848-1853 and later in the years 1854-1856.

In the western part of the square there is Romanian Opera House (Opera Română Craiova). In front of it is a roundabout, in the middle of which is a third statue, a statue of Charles I (Statuia lui Carol I). Charles I was King of Romania from 1866-1914. He won a silver medal in the TV show of 100 greatest Romanians.

On the way from the center to the station you will walk around the university (Universitatea din Craiova; 500 m / 6 minutes walk east of the center) from the end of the 19th century, which originally served as a courthouse.

Where to stay in Craiova?

In the city we stayed in a cozy Romanian Pensiunea Luisa guest house (1 km / 13 minutes walk southeast of the center and 2.6 km / 35 minutes walk southwest of the train and bus station), located on the outskirts of the center.

The receptionist spoke only Romanian, but she was very willing to explain everything to us. She accommodated us in a double Business Room with a small window overlooking the wall of the opposite building with a private bathroom with shower. As I looked for the plug, I noticed a clump of dust under the bed. Therefore, I preferred not to look at the mattress. A buffet breakfast is served in the restaurant, which is adjacent to the guest house and is interconnected. Free (but very weak) Wi-Fi internet connection was in the whole object. It is not necessary to book a free private parking space, which is available on site.

I’m sorry I didn’t take a photo of stairs and the corridor at the guest house. If you’ve ever read Dracula by Bram Stoker, this is exactly how I imagined the hotel in Bistrița, where Jonathan Harker stayed on his way to Dracula’s castle.

For one double room for two people for one night we paid 120 lei / 24.82 eur. The price included room, 5% value added tax, 1% city tax and breakfast. In the guest house we paid by credit card in local currency.

Where to eat in Craiova?

We ate in the city in two Italian restaurants – Restaurant Il Forno and Pizzeria Trevi, and between museum tours we had a coffee break in a patisserie. A visit of the confectionery was nothing special and therefore I will not write about it.

Restaurant Il Forno

Restaurant Il Forno (750 m / 10 minutes walk east of the center) is a pleasant looking modern restaurant in the city center. I tasted Chicken rolls with spinach and feta cheese and roasted potatoes (chicken breast, spinach, feta cheese, cream, garlic, pepper), which were delicious. English speaking staff. After lunch, I recommend you a delicious Italian espresso. We paid 86 lei / 17.79 eur for lunch for 2 people.

Pizzeria Trevi

Pizzeria Trevi (1 km / 13 minutes walk east of the center) is a truly Italian restaurant. A cozy restaurant that uses every square meter of its area. There were tables with checkered tablecloths, serving tables, Italian-speaking staff and, of course, an Italian menu. I tasted Partenopea pasta. It is a pasta with onion-based tomato sauce with tuna and olives. The taste is enhanced by capers and the portion is covered with grated Parmesan cheese. The pasta was very tasty and rich. We paid 100 lei / 20.69 eur for dinner for 2 people.

After visiting the city of Craiova, I am probably most sorry that we did not have time to visit the Art museum. I would also like to walk through the large park, which is situated south of the center. Instead, the cold February weather „drove us“ to heated museums and restaurants.

Prices were converted according to the current exchange rate of the National Bank of Slovakia valid on 1 April 2020 (1 eur = 4.8340 lei).

I did not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage of the services provided by tourism businesses, institutions and organizations.

© Ing. Adam Vanečko