Strehaia Monastery (Mehedinti county), situated forty-seven kilometres from Drobeta Turnu-Severin, was founded in 1645 by Prince Constantine Brancoveanu, on the site of an older foundation of the Craiovesti boyars. An atypical element is the siting of the church altar to the south rather than the east. It seems that it was thus oriented because of the palace of the Craiovesti boyars, which communicated with the church via a corridor. The porch was added during the reign
Brancoveni Monastery of Constantine Brancoveanu. The church resembles a veritable fortification: the four to five metre-high walls, formerly equipped with five round towers, of which just one survives, can still be seen today.
Strehaia was an old princely estate, which, for a short time, was the residence of the Bans of Craiova. According to legend, Strehaia was the birthplace of Prince Mihai the Brave.
Brancoveni Monastery (Olt county), situated twenty kilometres south-west of Slatina, dates from the 14th century and was founded by the Brancoveanu family. It was rebuilt by Matei Basarab in 1640, and subsequently by Constantine Brancoveanu, in 1699. In the cellar beneath the abbot’s house there is now a lapidarium, which is famous for its valuable exhibits.
Calui Monastery (Olt county), situated twenty kilometres west of Slatina, was founded by the Buzescu family in 1588. The murals were executed by Mina in 1593-4. The narthex houses the tombs of Preda and Radu Buzescu.
The kules (from the Turkish “kule”, meaning “tower”), which originally belonged to the old boyar families of Oltenia, combine elements of peasant, civil and military architecture. The kule was a fortified residence built by the boyars to protect them from the bands of Turkish marauders who, during the 18th century, crossed the Danube from the Ottoman barracks in Bulgaria. The buildings were in the form of a square tower, one or two storeys high, with thick walls and an inner stair. On the second floor, there was a spacious loggia. These buildings, with their whitewashed walls pierced by merlons, are like small domestic fortresses.
In time, the Greceanu, Duca, Bujoreni, Poenaru, Izvoranu, Cernatescu, Cornoiu, Crasnaru, Tudor Vladimirescu, Cutui, Galita and Zatreni kules have become tourist rather than strategic objectives on the map of Oltenia.
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Before it empties into the Black Sea, the Danube crosses Romanian territory for a distance of 1,075km, beginning at Bazias. There are many areas of interest along its length: the Danube Gorges (144km), of which the most spectacular section is the Cauldrons, and the ports of Orsova (the ancient Dierna), Drobeta Turnu-Severin (where one can see the remains of the bridge constructed by Apollodoros of Damascus), Calafat, Turnu Magurele (on the site of a Roman-Byzantine town dating from the 2nd century), Giurgiu, Oltenita, Calarasi, Braila, Galati, Tulcea (the gateway to the Danube Delta), and Sulina.
Cetate (Dolj county), part of the Mircea Dinescu Poetry Foundation, 30km from Calafat and 70km from Drobeta Turnu-Severin and Craiova, used to be a port for cereals, dating from the 19th century. Today this village on the banks of the Danube has been transformed into an unusual tourist and cultural destination, whose aim is to “create a zone of permanent cultural commerce between Romanian artists in various fields and the rest of Europe.” One of the celebrated cultural projects undertaken here is the”Park of Angels”: for the length of a kilometre, wooden statues are to be positioned along the Danube, with the intention of creating an image of Romania other than as the land of Dracula.