The starting point of European Road 79 is Miskolk town in Hungary. After crossing Debrecen it enters Romania by border town of Bors.

This road crosses Western Romania descending on the NW – SE direction through the beautiful region of Western Carpathians.

Oradea is the first major city you will pass through following the road. First mentioned in 1113, the city is the capital of Bihor County. The city fortress was built between 1570 and 1620 in the Flemish style with Italian influences and is now at the forefront of modernization and transformation process in an important cultural and artistic center.

Not far from Oradea you find the well known SPA resorts with thermal waters: Felix Baths and May 1st. Here, due to geological factors thermal waters rise to the surface at a temperature between 32 and 49 degrees Celsius and here was the ideal place to develop significant treatment facilities. The white lily (Nymphaea alba) found here an ideal area for development.

Not far from Sudrigiu village is the gateway to the Apuseni Mountains. Just 35 kilometers on the mountain roads to reach the heart of the mountains. Padis karst plateau with its many wonders invites you to visit it. Focul Viu Cave, Cetatile Ponor, Galbenei keys and Lost World are some of the most important natural attractions of the area. The famous Bear Grylls filmed here an episode of the series Essential Survival Techniques by Discovery.

Not far from E 79 there is a water bottling station for the famous mineral water Izvorul Minunilor, award winning in European competitions.

In our opinion, Vascau is the most beautiful village in Romania. Here in the heart of the Apuseni Mountains to East can be seen on a clear day Curcubata Mare peak (1849 m) and westwards to Codru Moma Mountains foothills stretching the village with its church steeple dominated houses.

Soon Brad town is reached, an old mining town at the foot of the Melafieri Mountains. It is distinguished by the Gold Museum (unique in Romania) but also by the desolate appearance of blocks of flats built in the era of communist industrialization.

After crossing the Ore Mountains – volcanic origin, exceptionally rich in precious metals come in wide valley of the river Mures, in Deva.

Ancient Dacian fortress of Deva rises above whole Mures River corridor overlooking the town and villages below. An important industrial and commercial center, Deva is the city where Romanian women’s gymnastics national team is training.

On the way to Hateg depression we cross the old metal center Calan. From Hateg, the old capital of the Hateg Land, you easily reach the ruins of the Roman capital city of Dacia – Sarmisegetuza Regia. Hateg is an old Romanian region, proven by the famous church in Densus, one of the oldest Orthodox churches in the world built with stones taken from ancient Roman city. From this small provincial town in the foothills of Retezat Mountains start wearing nationally famous name Road 66. The road goes west direction to east, crossing Shureanu Mountains and after passing Merisor Pass at 759 meters altitude reaches Petrosani Depression. Capital region Petrosani is the most important mining town of Romania. Bordered by mountains on all sides its geological depression Petrosani is particularly rich in coal and potential benefit and winter mountain tourism is facing a promising future.

Jiu Valley is the most spectacular gorge of the Carpathians. In 1950’s on this mountain valley a railway was built with more than 130 bridges, tunnels and viaducts. The railways was designed to connect Petrosani powerful mining center with the rest of Romania.

At Bumbesti Jiu E79 road leaves the Romanian Carpathians and crosses the Sub-Carpathians hills soon to arrive in Targu Jiu. Brancusi city is distinguished by the exceptional architectural ensemble built by the father of modern sculpture: Table of Silence, Gate of Kiss and The Endless Column.

On the way to Craiova our way follows the river Jiu passing Getic Plateau.

With a population of over 300,000 inhabitants, the former stronghold of Bania region is an important economic and cultural center of the southern Romania. To the Danube are only 90 kilometers south-easterly direction. The new bridge over the Ister (the ancient name of the Danube) linking the Bulgarian city of Vidin with Calafat will be opened in the year 2013.

Here at the South border of Romania concludes our description of a road that is 1300 km long. After 540 kilometers the route goes across Bulgaria in the Balkan peninsula to the shores of the Aegean Sea all the way to Thessaloniki.

Regardless of the direction of travel, this road will not disappoint you. Landscapes and cities passed will convince you that you go through one of the most spectacular roads in Europe.

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We return to Bukovina to explore some more of its famous treasures.

Sucevita Monastery

Sucevita is chronologically the latest of the painted monasteries of Moldova. The monastery is a real fortress with strong walls. The painting of Russian influence is very valuable and is distinguished by the finesse of the details. The most important painting is the Virtue Ladder that represents angels helping believers get to heaven while the devils are trying to pull them down to hell. The Final Judgement scene remained unfinished due to the death of the painter who fell from the scaffolding. Sucevita Monastery has a spacious yard with old trees and a gazebo where the nuns find time once in a while to read a prayer book.

Not far from Sucevita is the most important center of pottery of Moldova. It produces black pottery that is found in all households in the area. In recent years artisans have adapted to the market and started producing various ceramic ornaments.

Putna Monastery

At Putna is the most important monastery made by Stefan the Great, ruler of Moldavia. Legend has it that Stefan chose the place for the altar where his arrow was stuck. Built as royal crypt, the monastery is fortified on all sides. Owning 24 villages nearby, the monastery was destroyed several times by the Turks. Stefan the Great was sanctified by the Romanian Orthodox Church and a national survey named him the most important Romanian.

12 km from Suceava town is Dragomirna Monastery, built in 1602. The Church is the highest in Moldova at 42 meters high and 9.60 meters wide and creates a powerful impression of slenderness.

Suceava – cultural and historical center

In 1388 Suceava became the first capital of Moldova. The city walls built in the 15th century are 10 meters high and 2 meters thick. The city withstand the Turkish siege in 1476 led by Mohammed the 2nd, conqueror of Constantinople. Suceava is today the capital of Suceava County and the main city in northern Moldavia. Here is the main administrative and cultural center of the county and the gateway to the land of monasteries.

Visit this wonderful region of Bukovina and return whenever you feel the need to regain the human values.

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Today we offer you an exceptional Romanian destination: the historical region of Bukovina.

A land with a great history behind

Bukovina has a rich history full of great moments. This ancient free Dacians’ territory knew its glory in the medieval time. Under the leadership of Stephen the Great, Moldova became a powerful state respected by the neighbours. The battles with Turks who were expanding only served to strengthen the rule of regional power. From this tumultuous period of the 15th and 16th centuries have struggled to us true art and architecture masterpieces.

Today we will focus on some of them. The exterior painted frescoes of the churches in Bukovina are the culmination of the expressions of faith of the inhabitants of this area of Northern Romania.

The main gateway to the monasteries is Suceava. Here there is an international airport and a major railway junction. On road we follow European road 85 that then branches to Transylvania and Maramures.

Voronet, the Sistine Chapel of the East

At Voronet, Stefan cel Mare raised the most valuable monastery in Moldova. Built in just three months and three weeks in 1488, the church was not designed with a crypt. Voronet is one of the first buildings built in authentic Moldavian architectural style, a synthesis of elements of Byzantine, Gothic and indigenous.

On the western wall was painted famous Judgement Day, a composition in five registers, unique in Christian Oriental art. Experts consider painting as being superior to the ones on Mount Athos because of the decorative effects, the polychromy and composition. This work received the surname Sistine Chapel of the East. Portraits of ancient philosophers and those that compose the Tree of Jesse on the southern wall are also considered masterpieces.

Near the monastery declared UNESCO monument, you find numerous boarding houses which welcome travelers from all over the world to enjoy the beauty of places and human kindness.

Continuing west on Suceava River you run into a welcoming landscape. Villages line the edge of the old road that linked Moldova and Transylvania. During the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bukovina here was the border with Moldova. Vama village still keeps alive the memory of those times.

Moldovita Monastery

Not far from the border lies Moldovita monastery. Located in areas with a difficult access, in the middle of dense forests, close to the end of roads the fortified monasteries had also a military role, guarding the roads not supervised by castles. The fortification make us think of the warriors of medieval times. Just like in Voronet, the painting here is kept in a good condition. Red is the dominant color of exterior painting. The most important is the representation of Constantinople siege in 1453 by the Turks. The painter also included the Persian siege of 626. Virgin Mary protect the city from infidels attack. This painting was done in the years when Moldova was at war with the Turks and now this representation cannot be found in iconography. Another valuable fresco is the “Heaven Customs”, a Romanian tradition that is found in other monasteries too. Their way to heaven souls must pass through several customs guided by angels and they must pay to the devils for their sins. There is an old custom of throwing coins into the coffin of the deceased, in rivers passed by the procession or on the crossroads.

We conclude this first part of our presentation and we will get back to you with new stories about monasteries in this region.

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Today we introduce you to a hiking trail in Retezat Mountains that host probably the most beautiful mountains in Romania.

How to get here

Starting from the North, we enter the area of Retezat National Park from Nucsoara village. Here are the National Park headquarters along with the main information point. You can get to Nuscoara either by railway from Bucharest – Targu Jiu – Petrosani – Hateg descending at Subcetate railway station. By road you should follow National Route 66 Petrosani – Hateg. From Ohaba de sub Piatra village you follow Lolaia Valley up to the mountains. Leaving the village we cross the river bridge over impressive Lolaia river and a forest road leads to a former cottage. Here at 1005 m altitude the civilization ends and the mountains begin.

Not far away we encounter Lolaia waterfall. Way beyond the headrace channel that feeds the Raul Mare reservoir. After less than 2 hours following the forest road to reach Pietrele chalet. Here is one of the most important complexes of wood chalets in Romania. At 1480 m in an extensive glade around the old cottage a true holiday village appeared. A few years ago the old hut caught fire and its reconstruction is needed. We continue from Pietrele Chalet to Gentiana valley. The trail enters dense forests of fir and winds through huge boulders.

Dreamlike landscapes

Arrived at 1670 m, a recently upgraded old refuge awaits us : Gentiana Chalet. This is the maximum we can overnight in minimum comfort conditions. Pietrele glacial valley is one of the easiest access points to the Retezat Peak. After passing more thresholds you reach a huge glacial moraine: Bordu Tomii. From here you open a dreamlike view to Bucura peaks 1and 2 and Bucurei saddle. After the last glacial threshold exceeded you’ll find Pietrele glacial lake. From here, the path climbs steep hiking the high area of the ridge. In Bucura Saddle we are on the edge between the Northern bucket and South bucket valley. The mountain ridge is narrow and does not allow a long staying.

From here you have several options for your expedition: climb Bucura Peak from the west and the road will lead you to the summit of Retezat Peak at 2482 m.

 

 The end of the trip

Following it you can reach the highest peak of the Retezat mountain range – Godeanu, Peleaga Peak at 2519 m above sea level. Finally, descending to South you will find largest glacial complex in the Romanian Carpathians. Bucura Valley is the longest high valley with a length of 18 km. Bucura Lake is the largest glacial lake in Romanian with an area of 9 hectares and a depth of 15.5 meters.

Here, the lake is the highest point of the massif where you can spend the night in tents. The rescue shelter near the lake offers you protection. During the total sun eclipses in 1999 there were over 400 tents installed in here.

More interesting routes can be found from Bucura, situated in the center of the massif. Peleaga, Jude and Bucura peaks and Zanoaga, Ana Lia and Viorica Lakes are available in the pathways that require less than one day of hiking.

In winter this route will open one of the most impressive sights in the Romanian Carpathians. Do not miss this unique route in Retezat National Park.

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Today we propose an urban destination in wonderful Romania.

Sibiu’s legend

At the foot of the Fagaras Mountains is a wonderful area crossed by the river Olt. Not far from where the river changes direction south, near the river Cibin, was born around 1200 the current city of Sibiu. One of the legends about the foundation of the town says that a German shepherd named Herman asked the group leader of the settlers to give him to a patch of ground covered only by the skin of an ox. The group leader agreed and the shepherd cut the ox skin into narrow strips and managed to cover a large area. The remaining colonists seeing the sharp minded Herman decided to stay with him in this place he got.

Today Sibiu is a city that breathes a modern European air. The old buildings were refurbished and pedestrian streets were impeccably paved. The new look of the historic center was due to the fact that in 2007 Sibiu was designated together with Luxembourg as Cultural Capital of Europe.

 
A city full of history

During middle ages Sibiu was part of the seven cities of Transylvania, called Siebenburghen (seven cities). Being located near the Olt Valley, near the border with Wallachia and always threatened by Turkish invasions, Sibiu easily grew as one of the best fortified cities of Eastern Europe. The maximum fortifications in the 18th century made Sibiu the second fortified city of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, after Vienna.

Brick defense walls gave Herman’s city a new name: the Red Town. With the advancement of technology, the old military fortifications lose slightly in functionality and are demolished. Today the walls of the third belt of fortifications are preserved in very good shape along with several defensive towers.

Must-see places

The most important sights of the city are: The Big Square, The Small Square, Tower Hall, Brukenthal Museum, Evangelical Cathedral, Orthodox Cathedral, ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization, Stairs Passage and Liars Bridge. The latter is the first iron bridge built in Romania and derives its name from a series of legends. The most famous is the one of the young soldiers that lied their girlfriends that they will marry them after completing the military service.

Here are some of the events in the history of Sibiu:
* 1292 – the first hospital in Romania is open;
* 1380 – the first school in Romania;
* 1494 – the first pharmacy in Romania is established;
* 1551 – the first experiment with rockets, by Conrad Hass;
* 1788 – the first theater in Romania is established;
* 1871 – The first museum is established in Romania (Brukenthal National Museum )
* 1928 – the first zoo in Romania is set up.

The city formerly inhabited by Germans is today a true pearl of Transylvania; from the lifestyle of the inhabitants to the bustle of tourists that come from all over the world to admire a real museum town, Sibiu gained the name of capital of cultural tourism in Romanian.

We invite you to spend a week-end in the heart of Transylvania, in a city that makes you think of Western Europe.

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Western Romania holds one of the least known mountainous regions in the Romanian Carpathians. Banat Mountains are keepers of exceptional natural richness.

Nera River Valley

One of the major tourism areas in the Romanian Banat mountains is the Nera River valley. With a length of over 18 km, Nera pierces Anina Mountains and forms the boundary between them and Locvei Mountains. The area was explored since Roman times when soldiers built an access road at the west end of the gorges. This road was had several tunnels designed to connect the exploitation area to the Danube valley.

With a mild climate and sub-Mediterranean influences, Nera hosts rare species of birds and plants in Romania. During spring, the intrepid are likely to cross the wild lilac in the forests. In summer, you should be careful where you step while hiking. In rocky areas sunbathes the horned viper whose snakebite can be fatal.

A trip in Banat Mountains

From Sopotu Nou, the tourist route follows the river through meadows and locals’ gardens. Soon the rocky areas are surrounding the watercourse. Not long after, you arrive at Devil’s Lake. It is the largest karstic lake in Romania with a depth of over 9 meters. Here is a good resting place both for those who cross keys down and for those who choose to go by rafting boats. Further, the tourist route becomes increasingly challenging. Besides escalating, water crossings by limestone slopes is a challenge. With cables installed in the area’s hardest parts, the journey ends in an area called Damian Canton. This where Nera Gorges officially end, but the beauties of the National Park never stop. Nera receives on the right side as affluent Beiul stream. On its valley, an enchanting forest road cuts through the woods to a magnificent cabin. Forest road continued up the river and after about an hour’s hike to reach Ochiul Beiului Lake. This is a lake fed by the Bei river through an impressive fall of breathtaking beauty – the famous Beusnitei Waterfall.

Sasca Montana town is the terminus of the keys and the place for staying overnight in this area. The village is full of ruins of old mines from the 18th and 19th centuries when it was in economic expansion. The old houses, some uninhabited for many years, have something special which reminds you of old westerns.

How to get here

To reach Sopotul Nou, you must follow National Road 58B connecting Cerna Valley to Oravita and continue on a local road to Stancilova. Following this local road over the mountain, you can reach Sasca Montana. In Carbunari the Roman road built about 2000 years ago is still used. For Sasca Montana north access is on Route 57 descending from Oravita to Danube Valley all the way to Moldova Veche.

Even if the offer is not so varied, you can find nice accommodation in boarding houses where the locals are always happy to have guests.

You will not regret the choice you made if you plan to explore Banat Mountains.

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Today we invite you in an autumn hiking destination: Rodnei Mountains.

How to get there

Situated in the far north of Romania, this impressive mountain is part of the Northern Carpathians and represents their highest point. The highest peak is Pietrosul at 2303m above the sea level. For reaching the ridge you have multiple access ways. On the south and the north side you can choose one of the traditional villages in Bistrita or Maramures region. From Borsa, in the north, you have a chairlift that goes all the way up. You can get to Borsa by driving on the national road 18 from Sighetul Marmatiei. Another easy way to get to the top is to start climbing from west in the Setref pass. Situated at the border of Maramures and Bistrita Nasaud counties on the national road 17C, at 817 m altitude this is a good place to start a hike.

Camping in unique settings

We want to introduce you to some of the most important things to see while reaching the mountain by its North-East side. On the way to Prislop pass, coming from Moldavia you turn left on Lala valley.

After about 2-3 hours of hiking you reach the first glacial threshold. Not far away you encounter the Lala Mare glacial lake. On a hot summer day, a brake next to the lake will help you refresh and will give you strength to continue. Not far up, you will meet another wonderful lake, Lala Mica. This is a good place to stay overnight. Camping under the clear sky is a unique experience. In order to enjoy this, you need to have proper gear for climbing, a good sleeping bag, a good tent and some reliable hiking boots.

Wondrous views

Ineu peak is your next destination. Let us give you a hint: try to catch the sunset from the peak. At 2279 m altitude Ineu is the highest peak in the East end of Rodnei. The view from here is amazing.

Once you reach the ridge, you just have to keep west and pass by some large green alpine meadows and some rocky walls. Here, on the heights of Rodnei Mountains you will encounter herds of horses left free to wonder around by the owners all summer long. Another place in Romania where you can find “wild horses” is Letea forest in Danube Delta.

Once you reach Gargalau peak, you are half way from the ridge. Here you can chose to descent to Borsa, either using the chairlift or just hiking down. However, you have an impressive perspective over Maramures depression from here. Since the Ukrainian border is not too far, from over 2000 m height you can easily spot the mountains, today in our neighbor country.

Due to the fact that Rodnei mountains represent a valuable habitat, conservation programs are ongoing. Muntii Rodnei National Park consists of many natural reserves from which we mention Pietrosu, meant to protect the rocky area of the highest peak and Lala, the glacial complex with natural lakes and alpine flora and fauna.

Only by hiking and camping on its highest points you can truly enjoy this magnificent mountain. We advise you to take advantage of the lack of tourist traffic and of the relatively difficult access to this mountain and you will feel the true adventure thrill.

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Today we invite you on a trip into the heart of Transylvania to discover some of the gems of the land beyond the forests – the fortified churches built by the German settlers during the 13th and 14th centuries.

The Hungarian ruler of Transylvania in the Middle Ages invited settlers from Germany and Flanders to set here and create towns and villages in order to rise the number of inhabitants and take advantage of the hilly region.

Remains of the Teutonic knights

In Prejmer, the local community built some of the most interesting fortified churches in this part of Europe. In 1200, the Hungarian king allowed the Teutonic knights to built fortifications inside Transylvania. Here, at Prejmer, they started building a church that was later on continued by the locals in Gothic style. A particularity of this fortification is that each family owned its own room within the walls. The local families and the guilds were in charge of maintaining the fortification in good shape and defending it during sieges. Each rooms had the owner’s house number and was supposed to host grains and meat all year long. Each season the food reserve was freshened. Not far from Brasov, Prejmer is a nice destination for those passing by or wanting to spend the night in the area.

Biertan. Traditions and curiosities.

Further into the region we reach Biertan. This village hosted the archbishopric center of the Germans in Transylvania for more than 300 years. Because of this reason, the fortified church was extended and extremely well guarded by 3 inner yards. If you climb on the highest tower you’ll have a magnificent view over the valley. You can take a look inside the locals’ yards and see how they are organized. Its close location, only 30 km away from Sighisoara, makes Biertan a must stop on the road between Sibiu and Sighisoara. In Biertan you will find a fantastic door with an ingenious lock with 23 latches which was awarded the gold medal at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900. Another interesting thing to see here is a small room used by the locals in order to close the matrimonial conflicts. The recipe was simple: one bed, one chair, one plate, one cup and one spoon. The couple who intended to separate, after days or weeks of forced cohabitation, finished by remaining together for the rest of their lives. The success rate is impressive: 3 divorces in 800 years.

Not far away, at Valea Viilor, you can find another masterpiece belonging to the Germans. In the 14th century, a well fortified Evangelical church was built here by the locals. You have the chance to meet an old lady keeper who will be more than happy to give you the keys of the defending tower. From up there, you can enjoy a nice view of the village. The area around the village was famous for its vineyards, and that’s where it got its name from: Vineyards Valley. Only 6 km from Copsa Mica on local road, the village is definitely worth a stop.

These are some of the most interesting places to see in Transylvania, an area full of surprises for the foreigners and for Romanians alike. The fall in the hilly region in the middle of Romania offers you a wonderful scenery. Come and see for yourself!

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Today we invite you to climb with us the Romanian Olympus – the Ceahlau Mountain. It is said that this mountain is sacred and indeed it is the only mountain in Romania with a patron saint and also with a church. On August 15th, thousands of people come and climb it up to the top.


How to get here

In order to reach the Ceahlau Mountain you need to follow European Road 85 to Bacau and then turn left on Bistrita River valley towards Piatra Neamt. From here you’ll arrive in no time in Bicaz. Here, in the 50s, the largest reservoir in Romanian internal rivers was built. Izvorul Muntelui reservoir hosts over 2 billiard cubic meters of water and stretches for over 45 km upstream.

Unique flora

The hiking route we suggest starts in Izvorul Muntelui village, on the eastern part of the mountain. Leaving the tourist chalet behind, the path takes you into the thick forest. In a the place called Lutul Rosu (The Red Clay) the path splits into two. Following the path at your left you start climbing the rocky walls of the mountain. For one hour the path takes you into the forest and in no time you’ll be up. The middle of the way is marked by a wonderful natural reserve of European Larch (Larix decidua). Locally named Crin, this tree is unique in the world. Being the only conifer that loses its leaves in the winter, it is well protected by the national laws. Here in Ceahlau, this unique tree found a good place to grow and extended on the natural porches of the mountain. At altitudes of 1300 – 1600 meters, the relief’s particularities make the perfect place for this sun loving tree to live.

Historical myths

Keep climbing to the upper plateau and you will encounter a small cave – Piatra cu Apa (The Water Cliff). From the mountain walls, a small spring streams, just perfect for the thirsty mountaineers. Not far away, the rocks of the mountain reveal their true consistence: a mixture of river bed rocks and shells once on the bottom of the sea are in front of you. Not long after, you start seeing the blue sky and the green meadows ahead. Dochia Chalet is situated at 1750 meters altitude and its name comes from old legends. There are two stories about Dochia. The first says that she was the daughter of the Dacian king Decebal and that she fell in love with the Roman emperor Trajan, her father’s enemy. The second one says that she was an old bad lady who wished for an early spring and took her sheep onto the mountains at the first signs of warm weather. Because she started her journey too early, the sheep died because of the cold weather and Dochia herself froze and turned into a cliff.

From the chalet a short hike takes you on top of the Toaca peak at 1900 meters. From the weather station on top of the mountain you have a wonderful view over the Eastern Carpathians. Down to the East and North, the Izvorul Muntelui reservoir looks like an inside sea.

You can choose to stay overnight on the upper plateau or you can descend to the West side of the mountain. From here you choose to go either in Durau mountain resort or go back in Izvorul Muntelui.

With this article we’ve just wanted to open your appetite for hiking in the Ceahlau Mountains and we promise you to come back with more interesting routes in the next weeks.

Come and discover Romania’s wonders and keep in mind that the most spectacular views are not those you can enjoy in the comfort of your car.

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We continue today our trip into the beautiful Oltenia.

Dacian and Romanian Religion

At Polovragi, on the right bank of Oltet River, a monastery was built in 1505 as a refuge and pairing place for a local noble family. After more than 200 years the church was rebuilt. On the western wall of one of the churches here we encounter a unique element in Romanian iconography – paintings of the Romanian hermits on Athos Mountain. Down stream of the monastery you can hear in the hot summer evenings the church bells that call people to the evening ceremony.

Only a few minutes away, into the mountains we find the famous cave where Zamolxe (the Dacian god) is said to have lived. Also, the legend says that here existed a communication tunnel that allowed the locals to escape into Transylvania. The narrow valley of Oltet River stands as a border between Capatanii Mountains in the East and Parang Mountains in the West.

Caves filled with history

Muierilor cave (Women’s Cave) is not far away of Baia de Fier village. The cave´s name was given by the fact that, during wars, the locals wives and children found refuge here while their husbands and fathers where fighting the enemy.

With over 7000 meters long galleries this is one of the largest caves in Romania open to the public. This is the first electrified cave in Romania and it offers visitors the change to see some marvelous stalactites, stalagmites and columns. Here were found relics of the Cave Bear conserved in site in the Bear Gallery. The cave has two entries and the visit usually starts from the North, of course only accompanied by a guide.

Tismana Monastery is one of the oldest Orthodox Churches in Romania and is a worship place since the 14th century. In the near by mountain, Saint Nicodim found refuge when he was sent to this region to support Christianity during the dark ages between 1300 – 1400. In Tismana the yew tree (Taxus baccata) is to be found in large number. Nicodim himself built the first wooden church from one yew tree. The nature monument lives up to 1200 years and is the only conifer that has no resin into its wood and its bark. The elasticity and the durability of the wood made it an excellent wood for bows, masts and long lasting goods.

World-famous monuments

Going West on National Road 67 we reach the capital city of Gorj County (The Upper Jiu in Slavonic). The small city is famous world wide for its sculptural ensemble created by the biggest Romanian artist of the 20th century – Constantin Brancusi. Born not far away, in Hobita, Brancusi is known as the “father of modern sculpture”. The Table of Silence, The Gate of the Kiss, the Endless Column along with an Orthodox Church make the The Hero´s Path, an ensemble of inestimable value, unique in Romania.

We invite you to continue to West through Sohodol Gorges, a nice area cutting the limestone walls in Valcan Mountains. Here you can find edible chestnuts and wild lilac. Here the spring arrives earlier and on the hills you can find flourishing lilac, chestnuts and white acacia.

Our journey in Oltenia is ends here, at the meeting point with the Mehedinti Mountains, a region with a special flavor in which the limestone massifs had the power to rise and create marvelous landscapes completed by the vegetation with Sub-Mediterranean influences. Here you can find nice villages gathered on the rich valleys or scattered on the rocky hills ridges. But we’ll tell you more about that in a future article.

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