Romanian who walked round the world 100 years ago has exhibition dedicated to him in Belgium

The exhibition „On Foot Around the World. The Story of the 497 Pairs of Opinci” dedicated to 20th century globetrotter Dumitru Dan, opened this weekend in Belgium’s Ath city, organized by the Brussels Romanian Cultural Institute and the the Buzau County Museum.

The exhibition includes 20 images that highlight the unique heritage related to the globetrotter’s personality, images of documents from his journey, as well as personal items. The event’s venue is just a few kilometers away from the place where the Romanian entered Belgian soil during his epic journey around the world, reports Agerpres. Over a century ago, Dumitru Dan set foot in the Kingdom of Belgium, receiving the transit certificate to prove his journey around the world.

„The exhibition includes several panels displaying the documents that certify his presence in this area and, according to the statements of the local authorities, it seems that the Romanian passed through no more than 10-15 kilometers away from the venue of the exhibition, while en route to France”, director of the Buzau County Museum Daniel Costache stated.

The events held on the occasion of International Francophonie Day included the presentation of the short film „Opinci” directed by Anton and Damian Groves. Opinci are traditional lace-up leather footwear. „‘Opinci’, a winner of several national and international awards, was also screened during this event.

Between 1910 – 1916, Dumitru Dan together with another three Romanians took part in the globetrotting contest organized by the Touring Club de France, a competition that was interrupted by WW I and completed on July 14, 1923 in Paris, where he was awarded the prize and the title of world champion.

„After all the tough trials he encountered throughout his journey, Dumitru Dan chose to live in Buzau. He was a living geography book. He traveled 100,000 km on foot, breaking 497 pairs of opinci. Also, he and the other three Romanians wore out more than 70 traditional folk costumes they were dressed in during their adventure. He crossed the Equator six times, because his itinerary was non-linear, and visited over 100 countries,” explained the manager of the culture institution in Buzau County.

According to the Dumitru Dan’s diaries, all his three companions died during the voyage: Alexandru Pascu on July 17, 1911, in Bombay, India; George Negreanu fell into a precipice while crossing the Nanling mountains in China; Paul Parvu died in January 1915, in Jacksonville, Florida, of complications from foot wounds; he had already put behind almost 90,000 kilometers.

In July 1923, in a ceremony organized by Touring Club de France, Dumitru Dan was awarded the title of world champion and was offered the prize of 100,000 French francs for completing the extraordinary journey of 100,000 kilometers on foot around the globe. His performance remained unmatched, and was entered in the Guinness World Records in 1985.

Dumitru Dan – a Romanian geographer, geography teacher and globetrotter – was born on July 14, 1889 in Buhusi, but settled in Buzau County, where he died on December 4, 1978.


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