An oily smell and the eerie night-time flare of vented gases proclaim PLOIEŞTI as Romania’s biggest oil town. In 1857, the world’s first oil wells were sunk both here and in Petrolia, Canada; the first ever refinery was built in Ploieşti, and in 1858 Bucharest became the first city in the world to be lit by oil lamps. By the outbreak of World War I, there were ten refineries in the town, all owned by foreign oil companies; these were wrecked in 1916 by British agents to deny them to the Germans, and patched together again only to be destroyed once more, this time by the retreating German forces in 1918. However, it was the townsfolk who really paid the price, when Allied aircraft carpet bombed Ploieşti in 1944 – hence the town centre’s concrete uniformity today. That said, you could spend quite some time exploring the town’s disproportionately large number of fascinating museums.