Podu Turcului, Romania
Coordinates: 46.204°N 27.386°E
After the 2012 IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Paris, my wife and I made a tour of Romania, with a special focus on Podu Turcului and Botoşani in Romania and Chişinău in today’s Moldova (and using Iaşi as a hub). Here are some of the things we saw as we traveled around Romania. Frequent sights along the roads are horse-drawn wagons and Romani (gypsies) with their colorful clothing.
Sometimes, the wagons were amazingly heavily loaded and blocked the road. (And the hay here made a nice bed for the passenger!)
We were surprised to see numerous public wells along the road. Apparently, many houses, at least those outside the villages, do not have running water. We saw people walking along the side of the road carrying water to their homes.
As we approached Podu Turcului from the west on Route 11A, we saw the two welcome signs below.
According to one story, the village got its name (podu or podul = bridge and Turc = Turk) because, before there was a bridge over the river that runs by the village, a Turkish man operated a ferry there that served as a bridge across the river (i.e., Bridge of the Turk). However, other information says that there had been an older bridge across the river for several centuries (which makes more sense) before it was replaced by the newer bridge shown here. Perhaps the Turk built or owned the bridge.
Probably because of the heat wave and drought when we visited, the river had dried up to a narrow stream. The length of the bridge suggests that at times the river is much wider.
Here are some street scenes from the summer of 2012. Amazingly, the Google Street-View car has photographed the main streets in Podu Turcului, so one can now take a virtual walk down these streets. Click HERE to enter Street-View at the location shown in the lower-left photo.
In many countries, Jewish homes were designed differently from those of non-Jewish neighbors, and this was probably true in Romania as well. The usual house would have the entrance door on the side for privacy. Because Jews often operated small businesses from their homes, their houses had the door on the front to the street. Although there are no longer any Jews living in Podu Turcului, their houses remain.
We looked to see if we could find indications of where mezzuzot had been attached to the entrance doors, but we did not find any that were clear. Of course, it has been many decades since the Jews left or were driven away.
During the Communist era, under Ceausescu, the typical drab, concrete buildings were constructed. Most of Podu Turcului is free of such buildings, which are found only on the stretch of Route 11A that parallels the old main street.
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