ABOUT RAMNICU VALCEA AND VALCEA COUNTY Picturesque and charming! That is the way Valcea county reveals itself to the traveler who has just arrived in this land blessed by God with mountains, plateaus and hills, depressions and valleys, all of unrivalled beauty. The Olt Valley, dominated by century-old forests, is by far the most spectacular and the most attractive region. The county is also renowned for its miraculous curative waters. For centuries the mineral springs in the villages surrounding Ramnicu Valcea, Calimanesti-Caciulata, Govora and Olanesti have worked miracles in curing some disorders. There are numberless attractions in Valcea. One can see here settlements and historical buildings of great value, such as the monasteries of Cozia, Hurezu, Govora, Arnota. The Roman camps and the Geto-Dacian or Daco-Roman fortresses in Buridava, on the Olt Valley or Calea lui Traian, add to the monuments mentioned above. Valcea County is located in the central - southern part of Romania with the country capital, Ramnicu Valcea, at 175 Km from Bucharest and has many characteristics that differentiate it from other counties of România The Romanian writer Alexandru Vlahuta once said in his "Picturesque Romania", nature was generous with Vâlcea, it "gave her with both hands from all the beauties and treasures that endow this country". History The ancistors of the today Romanian people are the Romans who came to Dacia and colonised it, romanizing the entire population of Dacians living there at that time. Traces of prehistoric civilisation have been discovered and studied in depth by archaeologists. Many Dacian forts have been excavated, the most important of them is Buridava, the old capital of the country during the reign of King Burebista. The banks of the Olt river have witnessed the passing of the Roman conquerors, who have left behind the famous "Limes Alutanus" fortification system, discovered and studied by the Romanian historian Vasile Parvan. The numerous monasteries built during the medieval times - some of the best preserved architectural monuments of Romania - have been important centres of culture for the entire country through the centuries. Soon after Guttenberg discovered the printing press, the first book in the Romanian language was printed in 1640 at the Govora Monastery printing press, property of King Matei Basarab. The book was entitled "Pravila de la Govora - The Govora Laws"; it comprised a collection of laic teachings. In the next century Constantin Brancoveanu, the King who is known in Romanian history as a scholar and a martyr for the preservation of Christianity in our country (he was sanctified by the Orthodox Church in 1992) introduced enlightened ideals into Romania and created a beautiful original architectural style that is known as the Brancoveanu architecture. Reference information The Vâlcea County covers an area of 5,765 sq. kms, representing 2.4% of the national territory. The relief includes all forms, from mountains heights of about 2,300 m northward in the Fagaras massif, sloping down towards the sub-Carpathian hills and the Olt Valley at an altitude of only a few tens of meters in the Dragasani area. Vâlcea County has 432,375 inhabitants, at a density of 75 pers./sq Km. The percentage of people living in urban areas, 41.1 %, is primarily given by the population of the county capital, Ramnicu Vâlcea with its 119,000 inhabitants, of Dragasani (22,900 inh.) and also of the other six smaller towns: Baile Govora (3,200 inh.), Baile Olanesti (4,900 inh.), Brezoi (7,700 inh.), Calimanesti-Caciulata ( 9,000 inh.), Horezu (7,400 inh.), Ocnele Mari (3,650 inh.). The rural population lives in 78 communes which gather 568 villages. The transportation network has over 2,028 Km of public roads of which 550 Km are national roads and 164 Km of railroads. The extent of this network is below the mean national density of transportation routes, a situation which will hopefully be improved in the following years through an ambitious development plan that envisages several objectives: a highway that will cross the county from north to east and connect the county capital Râmnicu Vâlcea with the chain of spas in the Olt Valley (each spa is located less than 20 Km from the county capital); finishing the Vâlcea-Vâlcele railroad line which will shorten the time required by the present route between Bucharest and Râmnicu Vâlcea; the building of an international airport that will facilitate travel to Râmnicu Vâlcea. Economy - The industrial sector The major industries of the county are based on the exploitation and marketing of natural and human resources. There are several strong industries: The power industry - which manages the energetic potential of the Olt and Lotru rivers - over 1,000 MW are being produced, 510 MW of which are obtained at the largest Romanian hydropower station, the Lotru-Ciunget station. Chemical industry - one of the largest capacities in Romania (over 70 products among which some basic products such as: caustic soda, soda ash, PVC, heavy alcohols, polycarbonates, insecticides, pesticides and their intermediates, etc.). Many of these products are intermediates or raw materials suitable for further conversion to products of increased value. The chemical industry development in our county is best represented by its two large units: Oltchim S.A. and U.S.G. S.A., that manufactures key chemicals used in industry, agriculture and constructions and exported in many countries around the world as well. Wood cutting and processing up to, and including, furniture manufacture (half of the county is covered by woods). Timber industry is represented by two large units: Cozia Forest S.A. and Carpatina S.A. The first one has as main object forestry and wood exploitation, while the second is specialised in furniture and timber processing. Exports are targeted mainly to Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Holland. Machine construction industry - manufactures equipment for the petrochemical industry, parts for the automotive industry and the nuclear energy industry, hydraulic cylinder units, etc. Machinery industry is well represented by the French-Romanian joint venture Vilmar S.A., the car-wheel manufacturing unit Roti Auto S.A. and Hervil S.A. that produces a wide range of hydraulic equipment to be delivered inside and outside the country. There are also several light industries in the county (leather and rubber footwear, other leather goods, non- woven textiles, thread) and food processing businesses (mills, bakeries, canned vegetables and fruit plants, breweries, and a milk processing plant). The tourism sector Some of the most valuable resources are the mineral waters with reputed therapeutic effects for various diseases, a large number of historical and art monuments, facilities for hiking, rowing, and skiing. More than 11,000 people can be accommodated in hotels, villas, camping places, vacation villages, etc. Tourist agencies can arrange holiday accommodations or details for meetings, conferences, seminars, etc. Developed resort facilities include: Baile Olanesti/Olanesti Spa has the largest number of mineral water springs in Romania and was awarded the Gold Medal at the International Exhibition in Vienna in 1873 for the special healing quality of its waters. The mineral waters of Olanesti are comparable to those of other famous European spas: Baden-Baden, Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Aix-les-Bains, etc. The mineral waters of Olanesti are recommended in the treatment of the digestive tract diseases, of the urinary tract diseases, nutrition and metabolic diseases as well as associated diseases. Baile Govora/Govora Spa is famous for the treatment of respiratory tract diseases, of the locomotion apparatus diseases and of neurological diseases. Negative aero-ionization is an excellent remedy for persons suffering from nervous disorders. Calimanesti-Caciulata Spa has mineral water springs which are recommended for the treatment of the urinary tract diseases, the digestive tract and gland diseases, as well as associated diseases. Voineasa is a mountain resort located on the Lotru river valley, accessible throughout the year. In summer tourists hike in the mountains or to Obarsia Lotrului (Lotru Springs) and Galcescu lake. In winter, the main activity is cross county skiing. The two mountain resorts Vidra and Obarsia Lotrului, at altitudes of about 1,400 m, could be further developed with tourist facilities. The Ocnele Mari-Ocnita area which is famous for its fossil saprophelic mud and heliothermal pools has potential as a balneary resort for the treatment of rheumatism and locomotory diseases. The agricultural sector Because of its optimal altitude, climate and location, at latitude 45 degrees north and longitude 24 degrees east, Vâlcea county has long been known for its orchards and savoury fruits. This basic agriculture activity in Vâlcea is assisted by two research institutes in the county: Dragasani Research and Production Centre for Vines and Wine. The Dragasani vineyard is one of the oldest and most famous in Romania. The Vâlcea Research and Production Centre for Fruit Trees maintains an intensive research program for: o the genetic improvement of fruit tree species (plum, hazelnut and walnut), o determining the best varieties of fruit trees that can be grown in the area, o developing new technologies of sapling propagation, o improvement of orchard planting on sloping hills. This Research Centre also provides new, high quality varieties of fruit trees for the domestic and international market. For foreign partners, it can offer: new varieties of patented plants (hazelnut, plum trees); production of saplings (hazelnut, walnut, plum, apple saplings, etc.) on special order; dendrologic saplings; sale of plant stocks (plum, hazelnut, apple trees, etc.); sale of fruits: nuts, plums, apples, etc.; teams of specialists (5-10 persons) for special operations in orchards (engrafts, cutting, etc.). The agricultural sector in our county also includes crops of cereals (corn, wheat, barley), vegetables, fruit trees, wood(land) fruits: raspberry, bilberry, mushrooms, etc. Here are some pictures from Ramnicu Valcea city.