The Roman emperor Trajan, who ruled between the years 98 and 117, has many accomplishments to his name. He expanded the boundaries of the empire to include the territories of Dacia, Armenia, and Mesopotamia, built public baths, rebuilt the road system, and improved the Roman port of Ostia. Since 2012, he is also the subject of one of the most controversial statues in Romania. The respected Roman emperor stands totally and awkwardly naked on the steps of the country’s National History Museum, behind a wolf that appears to be floating just above his hands.
The statue is meant to represent the birth of modern Romania, with Trajan’s conquest of Dacia (which Romania was a part of) and its subsequent inclusion in the Roman empire. The union of Dacia and Rome paved the way for Romania as it stands today.
In the statue, designed by prominent Romanian artist Vasile Gorduz, Dacia is symbolized by the wolf in the ruler’s hands. But the bizarre design still raises quite a few questions, such as the wolf’s awkward floating position, and the sartorial choice to dress the emperor in his birthday suit, while the animal is wearing a scarf. These and other mysteries may never be fully solved as Gorduz died in 2008, before the statue was unveiled by Bucharest’s mayor in 2012.
The statue is more hated than loved by locals, but it makes for a great photo-op, especially for people traveling with animals, who parody the structure by holding their own pets up in the same position.
Update March 2018: The wolf broke its tail and was taken down in the summer of 2017 and as of October 2019 it has yet to be reconstructed.
Know Before You Go
Located on Calea Victoriei