Information & Arrival

Welcome to Romania!

From a European perspective, Romania is not a typical holiday destination. History, fears and sometimes prejudices weigh too heavily in the decision to plan a holiday trip there. And yet there are many voices claiming just the opposite, as the unspoilt nature of the landscape and the settlements preserve much of what has already been lost in other parts of Europe. This is combined with the fact that Romania is part of the European Union, which means that things that are taken for granted also work here.

It is good for every visitor to know that the Republic of Romania has been part of the European Union since 2007. However, the Schengen Agreement, which provides for the free movement of persons within the signatory states, only applies to flights and not to border crossings by car or train. But it goes without saying that EU citizens only need an identity card and not a passport. The currency is the Romanian leu (1 leu = 100 bani), whereby you can calculate the value at around €1 = 5 lei. The time zone is Eastern European Time (GMT +2). The same roaming rules apply to digital data usage as in the entire EU, and the national insurance policies of the EU countries also apply. Separate travel insurance is required from outside the EU.

Welcome to Sibiu!

Sibiu is a surprise for many visitors. The city, which is documented from the 11th century, was the capital of the province of Transylvania in Habsburg times. It has retained much of its medieval character, which also helped it to win the title of “European Capital of Culture” in 2017. It has retained its German cultural character – despite massive emigration of the language group, which has shrunk to an ethnic minority. This is reflected not least in the administration. Since 2000, the mayor (now mayoress) has been appointed from the ranks of the German minority, which is represented in the city council by a strong parliamentary group.

 

Different denominations 

The denominational diversity is clearly visible. In addition to the dominant Protestant parish church (in which the Assembly holds its plenary sessions), the Reformed Church, the Orthodox Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Church are located in the immediate vicinity.  There are no tensions to report, but in many issues there is coexistence rather than co-operation. This is also due to history: The part of Transylvania in which Sibiu is located differs from other parts of Romania. While the south (Wallachia) and east (Moldavia) of the country belonged to Istanbul’s and Moscow’s zone of influence for centuries, Transylvania and the Banat were part of the Habsburg monarchy and Austria-Hungary. As a result, the ethnic composition is also different. Hungarians and Szeklers, as well as Germans (Transylvanian Saxons and Banat Swabians) characterise the cultural landscape. It was only after the First World War that Transylvania became part of Romania. Due to the assimilation policy under communism, almost all Jews and Germans – and many Hungarians – chose the path of emigration. This broke the traditional balance between the ethnic groups in Transylvania. The increase and visibility are in favour of the Roma. But the self-image of the region continues to be multicultural and multiconfessional. This is why the place names (Romanian, German, Hungarian) are used depending on the language.

 

Popular tourist destination

In 2023, the city hosted around 400,000 tourists. The infrastructure of the city centre is therefore geared towards this. The city is connected to international air traffic (SBZ airport), the railway network (although not a hub) and the motorway (A1). The city’s hotels are of a good average standard. The hotels and restaurants selected for the Assembly are all within walking distance.

From Sibiu it is a short distance to the Carpathian Mountains (highest peak 2544 m) or to the first fortified churches of the special Transylvanian landscape (there are 160 fortified churches, five of which are UNESCO cultural monuments). For this reason, the Assembly also offers two trips to the region.

The country, the region and the city offer the best conditions for CPCE General Assembly participants to feel completely at home.

Further information about Romania

 

Diverse travel destinations and some special features

The choice of travelling to Romania depends on the final destination region. The Danube Delta or the monastery landscape of Bukovina or the fortified churches of Transylvania and the Carpathian Mountains can all be reached in different ways. The largest airport is in Bucharest (OTP), but a train journey from there is always longer than expected. The average speed and availability of train connections are low. For travellers from Western and Central Europe who come by car, the driving style of the locals takes some getting used to. Traffic rules are seen as recommendations rather than regulations. The motorway network is limited and it is therefore necessary to drive through villages. Particularly in villages without good street lighting, you should be very careful in the dark, as there may be horse-drawn carts without lights, returning herds or people on the carriageway.

 

Diverse cultural influences and communist past leave their mark

From a cultural point of view, many elements of Balkan culture can be found in Romania, although this was supplemented in the 19th century by society’s orientation towards France. The traces of brutal national communism are clearly recognisable, which imposed a complete break with tradition in many areas. On the other hand, the post-communist era, which is only slowly developing into a stable social system, is more colourful. In addition to Romanian, the national language, you can often communicate in English. You should not even try to learn Russian, as the subject was not even taught during communist times.

 

Romanian Orthodox faith is experiencing a boom

It may come as a surprise to visitors that the country and its population do not fit in with the secularisation trend in Central Europe. 99.7% describe themselves as belonging to a religious community. This can also be seen from the explosion in church construction in recent years.  Ecclesiastically speaking, 86% of the population are Romanian Orthodox. The remaining per cent is divided between the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches, as well as the Protestant churches.

 

Emigration and poverty as major challenges

In social terms, Romania is one of the poorer countries. The median wage in 2023 was around 4,400 lei, the equivalent of around €900. However, the statistical need for a family with 2 children is 8,600 lei. This makes it easy to understand why so many Romanians are looking for work abroad. Of the 20 million citizens, around 4 million live abroad. This leads to the anomaly that in the last two years the number of Romanian children born abroad has exceeded the number born in Romania. 

The part of Transylvania where Sibiu is located differs from other parts of Romania because it has its own history. While the south (Wallachia) and east (Moldavia) of the country belonged to the zone of influence of Istanbul and Moscow for centuries, Transylvania and the Banat were part of the Habsburg Monarchy and Austria-Hungary. As a result, the ethnic composition is also different. Hungarians and Szeklers, as well as Germans (Transylvanian Saxons and Banat Swabians) characterise the cultural landscape. It was only after the First World War that Transylvania became part of Romania. Due to the assimilation policy under communism, almost all Jews and Germans – and many Hungarians – chose the path of emigration. This broke the traditional balance between the ethnic groups in Transylvania. The increase and visibility are in favour of the Roma. But the self-image of the region continues to be multicultural and multiconfessional. This is why the place names (Romanian, German, Hungarian) are used according to language. Ethnic tensions only exist in relation to the Transylvanian districts, where the Hungarian-speaking Szeklers live, who insist on their independence and autonomy. However, this is regularly denied to them by the central government in Bucharest. 

Sibiu is a surprise for many visitors. The city, which is documented from the 11th century, was the capital of the province of Transylvania in Habsburg times. It has retained much of its medieval character, which also helped it to win the title of “European Capital of Culture” in 2017. It has retained its German cultural character – despite massive emigration of the language group, which has shrunk to an ethnic minority. This is reflected not least in the administration. Since 2000, the mayor (now mayoress) has been appointed from the ranks of the German minority, which is represented in the city council by a strong parliamentary group.  

The denominational diversity is clearly visible. In addition to the dominant Protestant parish church (in which the Assembly holds its plenary sessions), the Reformed church, the Orthodox cathedral and the Roman Catholic church are in the immediate vicinity.  There are no signs of tension, but on many issues there is coexistence rather than cooperation.   

In 2023, the city was home to around 400,000 tourists. The city centre’s infrastructure is therefore geared towards this. The city is connected to international air traffic (SBZ airport), the railway network (although not a hub) and the motorway (A1).  The city’s hotels are of a good average standard. The hotels and restaurants selected for the Assembly are all within walking distance.

From Sibiu it is only a short distance to the Carpathian Mountains (highest peak 2544 m) or to the first fortified churches of the special Transylvanian landscape (160 fortified churches, five of which are UNESCO cultural monuments). For this reason, the Assembly also offers two trips to the region.

The country, the region and the city offer the best conditions for CPCE General Assembly participants to feel completely at home.