-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
special guest astrophotographer Valentin Grigore
design Florin Alexandu Stancu-

“Here, on these ruins with proud memories,
I’m watching how the horizon becomes full of torches
And how the Moon appears to inspire
Religious thoughts to Apollo’s sons.”

-Grigore Alexandrescu -1810-1885-,
from Midnight, Poems, 1832,
ADG translation-

Combining above:

-a stanza by the Targovistean poet Grigore Alexandrescu
(known also as the greatest Romanian fable author),
in which he probably made an allusion to the fact
that the Olympian god Apollo was half Hyperborean,
and, after some, a possible location of Hyperborea was
ancient Dacia - current Romania;
-and three images by the Targovistean astrophotographer Valentin Grigore,

I have to confess that I dreamt to see, in only one day,
the sunrise in Bucharest (current Capital of Romania)
and the sunset in Targoviste (former Capital of Wallachia or the Romanian Land,
placed at only 80 km distance),
at the Monarchical Court (“Curtea Domneasca”) and Tower Chindia.

“Chindia” (directly articled) in Romanian mainly signifies
moments of the day before sunset,
the place of the sunset,
or a ring dance as a sunset ritual.

Here are a few samples from Romanian literature,
which I took and translated from “dexonline.ro”:

“I went to the vineyard
Under evening, on chindia.”
(Romanian folklore)

“When the Sun was in chindia,
My fight was furious.”
(Romanian folklore,
probably inspired by the Romanian-Ottoman battles)

“The evening hour of chindia was announced by drums and trumpets.”
(Alexandru Odobescu, 1834-1895,
Romanian complex cultural personality in literature and archaeology)

“On the time of chindia we arrived in the palace of the dragons.”
(Petre Ispirescu, 1930-1887,
folklorist and the most important teller of Romanian tales and legends)

“Come on, darling, in a hurry
Together to play chindia.”
(George Cosbuc, 1866-1918,
important Romanian patriotic poet)

“The Sun descended to chindia…”
(Mihail Sadoveanu, 1880-1961,
important Romanian writer of historical novels)

So Tower Chindia may be also named
the Tower of the Sunset,
just like in Valentin Grigore’s pictures!

-astrophotographic poem by Valentin Grigore-

Returning to that dream of mine,
from various reasons
I could try to achieve it not in the same day,
but only in the same week.

Here is the sunset series
I caught in 9 April 2014 in Bucharest:

In April 12 I started to west-north-west
and I arrived on the Bucharest Way in Targoviste.

Created on a much older settlement,
the city of Targoviste became the residence of
the ‘voievod” and “domnitor” Mircea cel Batran (the Elder) in 1396
and the seat of the first Romanian typography since the 1500s,
remaining the Capital of Wallachia (the Romanian Land) until 1714,
when the last ruler from the Basarab Dynasty,
Constantin Brancoveanu,
was killed by the Ottoman Sultan at Istanbul
because he didn’t want to change his religion
from Orthodox Christian into Muslim.

Even if after that the Capital of Wallachia was moved to Bucharest,
since 1993 Targoviste has become the Romanian Capital of astronomy celebration,
after Valentin Grigore founded
the Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy (SARM),
the first national astronomical society after the communist era.

Thus, in this city, SARM
organized a few editions of the Perseid national event,
the EuRoEclipse Perseids 99 international event,
and hundreds of activities for popularizing astronomy
(some of them right near Tower Chindia),
introducing in Romania the International Astronomy Day
and the Global Astronomy Month,
and winning awards in 2009
at the largest world festivals of astronomy celebration in history,
during the International Year of Astronomy:
Highly Commended for the largest event (second place) in 100 Hours of Astronomy,
and the Outstanding event (first place) in Galilean Nights.

And it is to note that previously, also in Targoviste,
Valentin Grigore’s high school teacher of mathematics,
Ioan N Radu
(world champion and recordman in model rocketry,
and founder of the first high school magazine
of model rocketry and astronautics in the world, Astronautica, since 1969),
had launched in the 1970s a model rocket which reproduced
even Tower Chindia!

After the old Targovistean Gate of Bucharest,
I advanced on the Monarchical Way (“Calea Domneasca”)…

I stopped for a moment near a school named after
a local man of letters, Ion Alexandru Bratescu-Voinesti (1868-1946),
who was one of the most beloved Romanian writers for children,
and not only…

From his opera,
I chose a cosmic-philosophic except from Darkness and Light,
since 1912 (my translation):

“Among the people,
those who make fame and pride and beauty for humanity
are not the people who regale with the abundance of material delights,
but those who can comprehend in their minds
a larger part of the universe in which they live and,
sometimes with the price of their lives,
try to reveal the mysteries of the world.
And art is not something vain,
the artists help in making the progress of competence.
Admiration or softheartedness for the sufferings of other ones
bring the liberation of minds from earthly things.”

Then I went further…

At the high school named after other local man of letters,
Ienachita Vacarescu (1740-1797),
I stopped to remember his delicate poem
(which I reproduce below in my translation)
about an essential trilogy for mankind: flower-sun-love!

“In a garden,
Near a stem,
I saw a flower like a light.

If I cut it, it spoils!
If I leave it, I’m afraid that
Another one will come and will take it.”

And I continued to go further,
among old aristocratic houses, various institutions, historical churches,
works with “voievods” and “domnitors”…

The Monarchical Court in Targoviste was permanently enriched
by the Romanian rulers until the death of Constantin Brancoveanu.
After that it was abandoned, and burned in the 1740s
during a Russian-Ottoman war which touched Wallachia.

However, along with the ruins of the palace,
a few edifices have remained entire until today,
the most important being Tower Chindia
(made by Vlad Tepes Draculea - named Dracula by Occidentals - soon after
he defeated the conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmed II,
in a night attack near Targoviste in 1462),
the Saint Friday Church or the Little Monarchical Church
(made in the 15th century by Vlad Calugarul the Priest)
and the Great Monarchical Church
(made in the 16th century by Petru Cercel).

On that afternoon I was the guest of Valentin Grigore
at his (almost) weekly TV show, Us and the Sky - Columna TV,
in a central building near the Stelea Monastery (made in the 17th century),
and we told about the Global Astronomy Month.

Then I came back to the Monarchical Court
to catch the sunset near Tower Chindia,
but the sky was cloudy and all I could see in the sky
was the flight of birds.

In exchange
my feelings superposed to those of Vasile Carlova (1809-1831),
a young officer and poet who was so impressed
seeing the Monarchical Court in Targoviste
that he wrote The Ruins of Targoviste,
from which I chose and translated two stanzas:

“Oh sad walls! Oh praised monument!
In what high grandeur did you shine
When a sweet and much happier Sun
Overflew his light over this heavy-hearted earth?

In my belief I console myself rather
Thoughtfully watching your ruins
Than admiring a high building, a beautiful palace
With a proud, but useless brightness!”

I didn’t climb Tower Chindia
just because Valentin Grigore did it many times,
realizing special photographic views of the Monarchical Way.

-photos Valentin Grigore
verses Andrei Dorian Gheorghe-

Targoviste’s Calea Domneasca is
A national vein or something like this.

And how could I end this project without remembering
the greatest cultural personality of Targoviste,
Ion Heliade Radulescu ((1802-1872,
nobody else than the first president of Romanian Academy),
and putting some of his cosmic verses in combination
with Valentin Grigore’s astrophotography?


from A Night on the Targoviste Ruins, 1836, Collections, Bucharest
by Ion Heliade Radulescu
(ADG translation):

“Now the Sun is setting, while the night is advancing,
Slowly commanding the vaporous chariot,
Thousands of lights around it are sparkling,
While the veil of ebony is broadening.

My amazed eyes are looking at eternity,
Walking from a star to another, and I read in them,
My winged soul is flying in the heavens,
Bathing in the light of the celestial ether.

And then it comes back, stopping in my chest,
Silence and darkness are ruling around me,
All nature is sleeping, my being is watching out,
Above the ruins, the ancestors’ tomb.”

-astrophotographic poem by Valentin Grigore-

And finally
a contemporary (astropoetry + astrophotohraphy = cosmopoetry) combination:

-dramatic astropoem by Andrei Dorian Gheorghe-

“For earthlings,
although I am so small in reality,
it seems I am much greater than all of you are,
proudly said the Moon.

“Let us defend our part of Cosmos,”
replied the stars,
“we see your Sun much smaller
and we just suppose that you are placed near the Earth, between
Venus and Mercury, on a side,
and Mars and the belt of asteroids,
ruins of the former planet Phaeton,
on the other side.
So we don’t know if you are true
because, simply, we cannot see you!”

“Well, all of you are right, heavenly bodies,” said Terra.
“Then why does your light tenderly bless
the Targoviste Court and Dracula’s Tower?
It seems you know very well this address!”

-astrophotographic triplets by Valentin Grigore-


























© 2015 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)