The Bride of Radovan

There is a forest in Radovan commune, Dolj county, which is linked to one of the most popular and frightening popular legends in the area: that of the bride from Radovan.

The story began in the late 1940s. In 1946, the eastern regions of the country were hit by a terrible drought. The lack of precipitation overlapped with more tragic consequences of the Second World War that affected Romania in those years, such as military operations and war-related destruction, Soviet occupation and its systematic local robbery or disinterest of the pro-communist government in terms of the resumption of agricultural works. In addition, during the war and after its termination, the labor force in agriculture had reduced considerably (many peasants had died or were prisoners of war), the arable land remained unworked and there were no animals or machines that the peasants would use for field works.

In this context, a large part of the population of Romania, especially the inhabitants of the east of the country, has faced the dramatic situation of the food crisis. Due to the hunger that hit Moldova, many Moldovans left to seek their luck and a better life in the south or west of Romania. Among those who headed to the Oltenia region was a young Moldovan, named Ileana, who had come here looking for work. She was hoping for a better life and wanted to earn some money to help her family stay home in Moldova.

Ileana was employed as a maid in a family from Radovan village, Dolj county. Immediately she was noticed in the village due to her common sense and diligence, but especially due to her striking beauty. Especially at the Sunday dance meetings organized every week in the center of the village, many men of all ages made advances and proposals of questionable morality. Ileana was, however, a girl with an irreproachable character and did not give in to their advances. She continued to work in the hope of returning to her native Moldova with the money she would have been able to save.

Legend says that Ileana would have fallen in love with a hard-working boy, a Moldovan like her. The two had planned to get married and start a family and, after the wedding, they would both go home. It is said, however, that the owner of the house where Ileana worked did not want her to leave and, before her wedding, he would have molested her and left her pregnant. Overwhelmed with shame, not wanting to bring an unwanted child to the world, Ileana went to Radovan forest one night and hung herself from a branch.

Over time, many claimed to have seen a ghost in white cutting off the path of passers-by or cars crossing the road near the forest. It is said that whoever stopped was taken with her to the heart of the forest and never returned.

The elders of Radovan village also claim that, after Ilena’s suicide, a figure dressed in a white wedding dress haunts the forest after dark. They advised drivers and people to stay away from Radovan at night.

However, the Craiova – Calafat road, passing through the forest, is a very busy one. It is a national road, DN56, part of the European road E79, which connects the city of Craiova with the southern border of Romania with Bulgaria, through the bridge over the Danube from Calafat. It is said that on this road there are many accidents, whose explanation has not yet been found …



• Andreea Mitrache, „The legend of the ghost from Radovan forest in Dolj county. “The bride from Radovan” avenges the living after dark”, 13 February 2013,

• “The ghost from Radovan”, 14 April 2007,

• Laura Pumnea and Cătălin Petrișor, (Re) memories: Oltenia for Moldova. The famine of 1946 – 1947, Antheo Publishing House, Craiova, 2016

• Ilarion Tiu, “Document – The Hunger of Moldova”, 8 August 2006,

• “Documentary in pictures: The drought and the great famine of 1946-1947”, 26 June 2017,

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