The history of Romania is shrouded in mystery, myth, and misunderstanding. Few people, including a good deal of Romanians themselves, are aware of the glorious standing of Romania in the Roman Empire and the vision of Romania as a second Rome as held by Roman leaders shortly before the fall of the Roman Empire. Romania's name itself denotes it's importance in Roman times. Romania in latin stands for Rome and the Eastern Roman Empire.
Indeed, it is a land unseperatable from it's legendary past as a highly valued part of the Roman Empire. A visit to almost any history museum in-country gives credence to this through the many artifacts from ancient Roman times excavated here such as busts of Roman leaders and gods, coinage and relics. A visit to the sea will also be a visit to Roman ruins such as those of Histria and coastal towns named after Roman gods like Neptun, Jupiter and Venus. Bucharest, in homage to Rome, is built on 7 hills. Although as early as the mid 19th century Bucharest was described as a “savage hotchpoch,” traces of the historical city of Roman days remain.
That Romania was a part of the Roman Empire is not particurarly revealing. Many modern day countries were once part of the Roman Empire, largely due to there geographical location. What's unique in the case of Romania is the role that it played in the Roman Empire and there vision for it's future. Why specifically was Romania elevated to such as prestigious position in the most famous empire of all time ? Our brief study of history will reveal the current modern-day potential of Romania and why Romania should be on the forefront of every international investor and relocaters mind.
Ceazar bathed in the hot springs of western Romania known as ” Baia Herculane “. Romania is one of the most naturally rich countries on the continent (as will be explored below). In fact, the land known as Romania was a vacation hotspot of the Roman elite. However, it was much much more then that to the ancient Romans.
Romans, like ancient Greeks and others, also came in groves to Romania because of it's skilled, hard-working laborers. This set the stages for economic growth and increased prosperity in the region. Similarily today international companies, such as Microsoft, are making Romania a major base of operations for much the same reasons.
Let's flash forward now some 2,000 years into the future. Romania is poised to be the 7th largest superstate in the European Union. That's larger then Czech Republic, Hungary, or Switzerland. The acension will result in increasing political and spending power. As a soon-to-be member of the EU, Romania will have more clout on global affairs and as wages are forced to increase, 24 million Romanians will have increased budgets for buying everything from household goods to houses, boats, and cars.
Just as the Roman Empire sought Romania to be a member of it's conglomeration of states so is the modern day European Union, and with good reason.
Romania is conviently located in the center of the “old world.” Many Romanians airports are 1-2 hour flights to cities like Istanbul, Kiev, Vienna, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Athens. Take a map and draw a 360 circle from Bucharest and you will see that Romania has a strategic world location.
The country is already becoming a tourist hot spot for Europeans and Middle-Easterns.At the same time, residents of Romania, be they Romanian or expats can take advantage of all the natural beauty of the country or with a quick flight find themselves in diverse locations on the European and Asian continents. Foreign business people can travel between there home country and Romania on what really amounts to a short commuter flight. All of this means foreign influences and investments which results in increased wealth for local citizens and a cosmopolitan flair for the country.
24 million financially empowered individuals means significant spending power. That means businesses will boom and so will real estate. That also means the old reminents of years of failed communism will disappear soon enough.
Already real estate prices have increased steadily and significantly in recent years, such as in the city of Brasov, which boasted a 212% official increase in the price of real estate last year. Often times vision means not seeing only what is but envisioning what will one day be. Don't be thrown off by decaying buildings and disgracefully kept train stations. You won't likely find many of these in Germany or England but neither will find the sheer opportuntity there that you will here.
The investor in Romania needs to be a historian as well as a visionary.
Successful investors in Romania are successful because they see the past, present, and future all in one glimpse. They know what was, what is, and what will be.
In Romania, the maxim is particularly true that ” he who hesitates, is lost .”
Now, let us continue our journey into the past and use as it a tool for opening a window to the future :
Metamorphoses – A country undergoing change
Sitting on the riverbank, Pan noticed the bed of reeds was swaying in the wind, making a mournful moaning sound, for the wind had broken the tops of some of the reeds. Pulling the reeds up, Pan cut them into pieces and bound them together to create a musical instrument, which he named “Syrinx”, in memory of his lost love. – Ovidiu
The celebrated Roman poet Ovidiu wrote that shortly after his exile to modern day Constanta, Romania by Emperor Augustus. In his poem he describes what many consider to be the origins of the pan flute – later made famous by the Romanian artist Zamphir.
He entitled the poem Metamorphises. In the ancient Roman city of Tomis (now Constanta) Ovidiu wrote a number of his more important works such as Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto.
The above has little relevance to our study of the connection between the ancients and the modern-day Romania other then serving to set-up our journey to the past to discover the future which will take us frequently to the ancient city of Tomis, modern city of Constanta. No one word describes better what happened, what is happening, and will happen in Romania then the title of the poem wrote here by Ovidiu, “Metamorphoses.”
A City By the Sea
Constanta has been built on and around a promontory of land extending into the Black Sea, which has allowed it to shield ships from the strong winds that blow along the seacoast. Its position may also account for its long history, which is that of a seaport ever since the 6th century B.C.. The foundations of the city were laid in some 2,600 years ago, when Greek colonists built the city of Tomis on its present site.
Ancient Tomis has been associated with the legend of Jason and of the Argonauts who embarked on a long voyage from Greece to the Asian country of Colchis on the Black Sea Coast in search of the Golden Fleece. On their return voyage, they laid anchor on the site on which the town of Tomis was to be later on built. Under the Roman rule, Tomis became a prosperous city, graced with statues, temples and a monumental architecture.
Much of the prosperity of ancient Tomis exist today only in museums and in ruins but now a new prosperity has come to town that may well overshadow the glory days of old.
The new source of prosperity also comes from the descendants of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well the new Roman Empire – the European Union and various other local and foreign forces.
These forces are metamorphizing Romania from a backwards, socialistic country into a nation to be reckoned with. While Western Europe declines in investment potential and opportunity, Romania is the new promised land, where all the streets are seemingly paved with gold.
The results of these forces at work are easily identifiable to anyone who spent time in the country. Seemingly overnight where there were once shambles of old buildings, high-rise office complexes have arisen, where once farms stood, exclusive resedential communities have taken root.
Many streets stand as symbols to the rapid rate of change – old Communist style apartment buildings, turn-of-the-century villas, and modern office and apartment buildings all side-by-side.
It's not hard to imagine where things are headed. Bucharest's old historic city center “Lipscani” is today a shadow of it's former self with many buildings gutted and destroyed. Yet traffic has now been prohibited throughout the entire area and the cobblestoned lanes are witnessing the slow birth of a new hay day for the historical area. Dutch investors with the vision to see what was and what will be made a major investment in the area and opened the restaurant-bar-disco “Amsterdam Grand Cafe” which soon led a number of other predominately foreign investors buying and renovating under-cared for historic buildings and transforming them into night clubs, cafes, and shops. Now the city is promising help in funding for the revitalization of the area and quite potentially in a short-time frame, the Old Historic City Center of Bucharest will be an elite city quarter with fine restaurants, exclusive shopping, and luxury apartments.
That's how change has happened, happens, and will happen in Romania. Behold, in the twinkle of an eye, everything changes here at a seemingly supernatural level.
Since 2000 I've seen spectacular change here. The kind of change most people in the Western World might see from the time of there birth to say middle-age. Time here moves at supersonic pace. 1 year here can bring about 10 years worth of change and progress as it would occur in more Westernized countries.
Foreign Direct Investment Leads to Growth and Prosperity
It all started when the Greeks began colonizing the Black Sea Shoresin the late 7th century BC, looking for new trading grounds. The business was good, and soon the newly created colonies became large and prosperous settlements.
Although it started as a small, secondary colony, the city of Tomis soon became the most important Greek settlement and the military capital, and centuries later turned into the modern city of Constanta.
That's the way history records what happened in the now city of Constanta a few thousand years ago. Now here's how I predict history will record what will happen in this city, as indicitave of any Romanian city, in the near future.
“It all started when the European Union began the process of ascension of Romania in the early 21st century, looking for new trading grounds. The business was good and soon the towns and cities of the newly added member country became large and prosperous settlements.
Although, it suffered years of decay and hardship after war and Communism, the city of Constanta (ancient Tomis) soon became an important sea port and military capitol for foreign (i.e. US) forces and together with the rest of Romania became a prosperous European superstate.”
Is my prediction for how history will read this metamorphism period from Romania far-fetched? Not at all. We are already witnessing history in the making. The EU ascension process has already had significant political and economic implications for Romania. Constanta, our example city, under the direction of an admirable mayor has become a clean, welcoming, and entertaining sea port and beach resort. Foreign tourists come in increasing numbers yearly and more ships (including cruise ships) are using Constanta as a port. The US Military has a major base in the region as it's a strategic ally relatively near the Middle East. This has caused an influx of American involvement in the area, including marriages between Romanians and Americans at an unusually high rate.
The facts and figures for Romania at large speaks volumes. Romania now has the highest FDI (foreign direct investment) level in all of Central-Eastern Europe with more then 4 billion Euros currently being invested in the market. Source Creditanstalt – Bank Austria – 2006
International companies and investors are increasingly joining the Romania scene Just as the ancient Romans, Greeks and others helped transform the ancient city of Tomis into an important and prosperous settlement, so to today the forces of the EU and international players are setting there sights on Romania for the 21st century. The results will be no less impressive in the short-term future then they were in ancient times.
Romania has all of the makings of a success story.
The Start of a Good Thing
Started by Romans, unique in Europe, today Romania's 70 natural spas provide relief for many medical disorders and illnesses including rheumatism, endocrine, kidney, liver, respiratory, heart, stomach and nervous diseases as well as nutrition, metabolism and gynecological malfunctions.
“The Start of a Good Thing” in Romania began during the time of the Roman Empire. Ceazar, Augustus and others had the vision to see Romania as a hotbed of opportunity. There legacy still permeates Romania to it's core.
Romania is home to more than one third of Europe's mineral and thermal springs. The Romans took advantage of this fact by starting spas as mentioned above, many of which are still in use today.
The Romans secret was that they looked for untapped potential and then they tapped it. Pure and simple.
Amazingly, Romania has in modern times understated all of it's incredible natural resources and left them to a larger extent to there own devices.
Romania has a long coast along the Black Sea, one of the highest mountain ranges in all of Europe, the largest black bear population on the continent, a significant state park, the second highest amount of vineyards in Europe after Italy and the Danube Delta, a UN protected biosphere environment. Outside of the gifts of nature, Romania has some of Europe's most impressive castles and monasteries, best preserved medieval towns and authentic village life. Then there's all the ancient ruins and artifacts from pre-Roman times until present.
None of the above resources have been adequately and fully tapped and incredible opportunities continue to exist.
Then there's the 24 million inhabitants, many of whom are skilled, mult-lingual employable work force and a consumer base.
Everything adds up to equal OPPORTUNITY with capitol letters.
Just don't take my word for it. Ask Ceazar, The Greeks, The Byzatines, The Turks, the Russians, and the European Union as well as modern day investors in the region. The writing is on the wall and it has been ever since the days of the Roman empire.