Vlad the Impaler is by far, the most famous Romanian ever. The Prince of Walachia, was also the subject of Bram Stoker's fiction novel, Dracula, in which he was portrayed as a vampire.
Historical and archaeological evidences show us that the country has been inhabited since the prehistoric times. Owing to this, it has a long and a rather imposing history, if we consider certain epochs in time.
What is even more fascinating about Romania is that it has been consistently producing some of the brightest and most versatile minds, who have left their impact, not only on the country, but also on the world. Here are some of the most famous Romanians.
Mihai Eminescu (1850 - 1889)
He is considered to be the most popular and most influential Romanian poet of the Romantic era. Although his works have been translated in numerous languages (over 60 languages), a unique "flavor" of his native language always remains, and this is what makes his works stand out.
His poems embrace a large range of themes, from love and nature to history and social commentary. Some of his most notable works include, Luceafărul (The Vesper), written in 1883; Mai am un singur dor (I Have Yet One Desire), also written in 1883; and Sara pe deal (Evening on the Hill), written in 1885.
He also wrote some prose in the form of short stories and the like. Some of his most notable prose works include, Sărmanul Dionis (Wretched Dionis), and Făt-Frumos din lacrimă (The Tear Drop Prince).
George Enescu (1881 - 1955)
When you hear the name George Enescu, you hear his music too. He was a famous Romanian musician, virtually involved in everything that music is about. He was a violinist, a pianist, a composer, a conductor, and a pedagogue - he played music, he composed it, and he taught it too.
Enescu's music was influenced by Johannes Brahms, the German composer. Enescu wrote chamber music - three violin sonatas, three piano sonatas, and two string quartets, but also orchestral works - three symphonies, two Romanian rhapsodies, and an overture on Romanian folk themes.
The artist represented the ideal for his generation of violinists, and due to his outstanding teaching skills, he was loved and appreciated.
Henri Coandă (1886 - 1972)
Henri Marie Coandă was the Bucharest-born Romanian scientist and inventor. He built an experimental aircraft, the Coandă-1910, and in the mid-1950s, claimed the same to be the world's first jet.
Though this claim met with a lot of controversy, there were also many, who supported it. He invented numerous devices including an aircraft, which was powered by two engines driving a single propeller. He also designed a flying saucer. But, he is most known for his discovery of the Coandă effect of fluid dynamics.
Mircea Eliade (1907 - 1986)
He was a Romanian historian, who taught the history of religion at the University of Chicago. Apart from this, he was also a noted fiction writer, philosopher. At the age 21, he spent some time in India. It was during this visit, that he had a chance to see and study Indian philosophy and yoga.
His Ph.D. thesis was titled, Yoga: Essai sur les origines de la mystique Indienne (Yoga: An Essay on the origins of Indian mysticism), and this was the first ever exhaustive study on yoga to have been published by a westerner.
Other than Romanian, he was fluent in French, German, English, and Italian, alongside Hebrew, Persian, and German, which he could easily read. Some of his most notable works include, Maitreyi (La Nuit Bengali or Bengal Nights), Tinerețe fără tinerețe (Youth Without Youth), Noaptea de Sânziene (The Forbidden Forest), and La Țigănci (With the Gypsy Girls).
Eugène Ionesco (1909 - 1994)
One of the foremost Romanian playwrights, who wrote in French, he was also one of the most prominent figures linked to the Theater of the Absurd. He is known for his innovations brought to the dramatic techniques used in the field of theater. Though Ionesco eventually became a famous playwright, he started off as a poet and a literary critic.
He is known for his innovative writing, and non-conventional storylines. His works render his vision on the individual's struggle to survive in a society that isolates and alienates people. Some of his famous works include, Tueur sans gages, (The Killer), 1959; Le Roi se meurt (Exit the King), 1962; and La Soif et la faim (Hunger and Thirst), 1966.
Emil M. Cioran (1911 - 1995)
He was one of the most eminent Romanian philosophers and writers, who wrote both, in Romanian as well as in French. He graduated from the University of Bucharest in 1932, and became part of a group of enthusiastic and bright people who profoundly influenced the Romanian culture between the two world wars.
In 1937, he studied in Paris, and since 1947, he only wrote in French. Among his best known French works are Précis de décomposition (A Short History of Decay), 1949; La tentation d'exister (The Temptation to Exist), 1956; Écartèlement (Drawn and Quartered); and Histoire et utopie (History and Utopia), 1960.
Some of his most remarkable Romanian works include, Pe culmile disperării (On the Summits of Despair), 1934; Schimbarea la față a României, (The Transfiguration of Romania), 1936; and Îndreptar pătimaș (The Passionate Handbook), 1991.
Sergiu Celibidache (1912 - 1996)
His name is also linked to music. Celibidache had a vast experience in conducting orchestras. For seven years, he was the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic (1945-1952). After that, in 1962, he conducted the Stockholm Radio Orchestra for 10 years, then the Stuttgart Orchestra (1972-1977) followed.
The Munich Philharmonic had him as a conductor for 17 years (1979-1996). He was known for his peculiar style of performance, which was largely influenced by his study of Zen Buddhism.
Though his later career was caught up in controversies and accusations of discrimination and sexism, he earned a lot of international acclaim throughout. He also won a lot of awards and accolades throughout his career, and he was also one of the honorary citizens of the city of Munich.
Dinu Lipatti (1917 - 1950)
With his name, you can already hear a beautiful piano song being played. Yes, Lipatty was an exceptionally gifted pianist of international stature. Born in Bucharest into a musical family, Lipatti was widely renowned for his interpretations of Bach, Mozart, and Chopin. Unfortunately, his musical career was cut short by his untimely death at the age of 33.
Nevertheless, he was left behind, a huge legacy in the form of his numerous recordings for the newer generations of pianists. Alfred Cortot, a famous French composer, had such a deep appreciation for Dinu Lipatti's playing skills that he even resigned from the jury when, in an international competition, the jury awarded Lipatty only the second place.
Gheorghe Hagi (1965 - present)
He is the most internationally known Romanian footballer, and is considered a hero in his homeland. Nicknamed, The Maradona of the Carpathians, Hagi played for the Romanian national team in three world cups viz., 1990, 1994, and 1998.
In November 2003, he was declared as the Golden Player of Romania by the Romanian Football Federation. Conferred with numerous national and international honors, he also found his way in the Pelé's list of world's top 125 living footballers, in March 2004.
Herman Oberth (1984 - 1989)
Oberth, though born in Transylvania, spent most of his life in Germany. Rocket design is where he left a significant mark, but his ideas, like those of his peers Robert Goddard in the U.S. and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in Russia, were way ahead of their time, and when Oberth tried to get a Ph.D. in rocket design at the Heidelberg University, he did not succeed.
Later Oberth's book, Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (By Rocket into Planetary Space), that he wrote in 1923, explained how rockets could escape Earth's gravitational pull. After a lot of criticism in the beginning, the book finally gained him widespread recognition.
The Romanian Patent Office awarded Oberth a patent for inventing a liquid-propellant rocket in 1931. His first rocket was launched on May 7, 1931, near Berlin.
These are just a handful of the large number of Romanians, who have succeeded in making their mark on the world. With the passage of time, more and more Romanians are coming to the forefront and earning great name and fame for themselves as well as their country.