THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL STREET
COSMIC ROMANIA 47
-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Stancu-
Royal east-west street
or simple beauty
This introductory image shows the Sun
6 days after summer solstice 2015
and 4 hours after his rise in east-north-east,
over a special Brailan street.
Here I have to specify that I don’t believe in subjective tops,
such as the most beautiful streets in the world.
I think that each important street on which we step
could be the most beautiful.
Just like in the case of this extraordinary street
in the Romanian city of Braila…
A street with an elite part,
which begins from the intersection with the boulevard
named after the first King of Romania, Carol I,
from where its secondary part goes to the Baragan field (west)…
…and ends in the central square,
from where its secondary part goes to the Danube River (east).
Yes indeed, this street has a truly special particularity,
perfectly going from east to west (or inverse),
and dates from the times when the city was an enclave
of the Ottoman Empire on the Wallachian territory.
But after Braila re-became Romanian (1829),
the street was completely Europenised with beautiful specific buildings.
It had different names:
Bucharest, Kiseleff (after the Russian general who governed Wallachia
in between 1829 and 1834) and Royal (1881-1944).
The communist regime re-named it as the… Republic Street,
and after the Anti-Communist Revolution (1989)
its promenade part has become the Mihai Eminescu Street.
This name has an interesting justification, however.
The Romanian national poet Mihai Eminescu (1850-1889)
visited Braila only two times,
but Braila was the first Romanian city that published
his masterpiece, Luceafarul (1883).
And, symbolically, the pedestrian street begins (from west)
right with… the Mihai Eminescu Library!
And now let’s make a walk on this wonderful street
(from west to east)
and breathe from its romantic atmosphere of 19th century!
In 23 March 2013 (2 days after the spring equinox)
I wanted to check its east-west direction
watching the sunset right on it.
After my calculation, the Sun
had to cross the street just a little …
The architectural pearl of Braila’s central square is the municipal theatre,
built in 1896 and named later after the great Brailan actress Maria Filotti.
In this theatre, the Romanian authorities organize
an international festival of canto named after Hariclea Darcle,
another magnificent Brailan lady,
who was the best soprano in the world for almost 3 decades,
being chosen by Giacomo Puccini as the first performer of Tosca in 1900.
But the entire square is superb,
as we can see making its tour.
In 27 September 2014
(5 days after the autumn equinox)
I checked again the east-west direction of that street.
After my calculation,
this time the Sun had to set short before crossing it…
and I was lucky watching, in different zones,
the evolution of a fascinating festival of colors.
Then I remembered that the coat of arms of Braila
includes an eagle keeping the Moon’s sickle in his clutches…
…and this made me want to see the natural Moon
near the two statuary monuments in the central park.
The first of them (made in 1906)
is dedicated to the Roman Emperor Trajan,
conqueror of ancient Dacia and considered co-founder of the Romanian people.
The second monument is even the symbol of the city,
a clock made in 1909.
The park also includes a church with unusual aspect
(made on the structure of a former Ottoman mosque):
almost rectangular, without spires, with a big sun cross…
…which made me return to the Eminescu library,
where I saw the Sun
in 25 December 2014 (4 days after the winter solstice
and about 3 hours before sunset)…
and in 27 June 2015 (5 days after the summer solstice
and about 4 hours after sunrise).
Then I tried a solar supplement in the middle of the summer
(8 August 2015, 3 hours after sunrise)
near the same Eminescu Library,
from the Carol I Boulevard (named Independence today).
Finally, thinking that Mihai Eminescu’s masterpiece Luceafarul
(translated as Evening Star, Lucifer or Hyperion)
is both an astronomical poem and a love poem
(included in the Book of Records as the longest love poem in the world),
this title representing the Romanian folkloric denomination
of the brightest object with stellar aspect, the planet Venus,
I decided to end this project with a stanza from the poem
and 3 photos with the Evening Star near the symbol of the city:
“Luceafarul started. His wings
Brought him up into the sky,
And ways of millennia
He crossed in seconds.”
(English translation by Andrei Dorian Gheoghe and Alastair McBeath)
© 2015 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)