Ten strange things about the Caraiman Cross

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The Cross on Caraiman Peak, one of the most famous monuments in Romania, is also the holder of several national and international superlatives. It was built between 1926-1928, on Caraiman Peak, Bucegi Mountains, to honor the memory of the soldiers who died in the First World War. A 100% Romanian construction, it has become one of the most famous landmarks of Prahova Valley and a national symbol.

1.In 2014, the construction has entered the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest cross in the world (39.30 meters) placed on a mountain peak, at over 2,291 meters altitude.

2.At the inauguration in 1928, the Cross was the highest steel structure located in a mountainous area. From engineering and symbolist point of view it was compared with the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Statue of Liberty or Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.

3.The construction was erected at the initiative of King Ferdinand I and Queen Maria of Romania during 1926-1928 in order to be seen from a distance as larger as possible, so they chose the secondary peak of Caraiman (2,291 meters), because it had a greater visibility nearby the plateau.

4.Although the most common name in the official documents of the National Archives is the ‘Heroes’ Monument’, the colloquially Caraiman Cross has been preserved since 1933.

5.The design and implementation of the entire monument are 100% Romanian. The whole project was conducted by Romanian architects George Cristinel and Constantin Procopiu.

6.A determining compositional element of the Cross is the symmetry that governs the architectural solution, existing both vertically and horizontally. The cross is made of steel profiles and has an overall height of 39.3 meters and a horizontal arm opening of about 15 meters.

7.Initially, the cross was inserted directly into the rock, and the pedestal was carried out after the inauguration, in 1930. Also originally, the cross housed an electric generator, which operated 120 bulbs of 500 watts, distributed on the perimeter of the cross.

8.Funds required for the construction were accessed from various sources and donations from private companies and state institutions. Tools, wood, metal parts, components and the remaining materials were transported by train to Busteni railway station. From here they moved a part of the materials with the help of ox-carts and the remaining ones with Busteni Paper Factory’s funicular. Up to the Bucegi Plateau, they carried with horses and donkeys on narrow paths to the top of Caraiman.  A bank has even granted a low-interest credit to purchase multiple carts, necessary for transportation. Due to the very bumpy road, it took about two to three weeks for a carriage to get up there.

9.The cross was lit on the night of St. Mary, on August 15 until communists came into power in 1948. During the communist regime, the monument was threatened with mutilation. There were rumors that the arms of the cross will be cut, and a red star will be mounted to the remaining column.

10.In 1939, the Cross was connected to the national power system. Currently the Caraiman Cross is illuminated by 300 bulbs of 500 watts each and can be seen from dozens of kilometers away, in Prahova Valley.

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