Călimani National Park

Călimani Mountains represent the most grandiose volcanic complex of the Romanian Carpathians and the youngest mountains of our country. It cover an area of about 2000 sq. km. laying from north to east on 60 km. It is an immense andhesytic barrier between the two Romanian provinces, Moldavia and Transylvania. Mountains with volcanic origins, Călimani is the biggest crater (without activity) in Europe, measuring about 10 km in diameter. The highest peak is Pietrosul Călimanilor (2103 m), but there are also other formations more than 2000 m height, like Retitis, Călimani Izvor, Călimani Cerbuc.

Photo: Marius Traian Roşca

In 1975, the Biological Research Center in Cluj proposed Călimani Mountains as national park. In 1976, the scientific data for park establishment were gathered in a research work. In 1990, the Ministry for Waters, Forests and Environment declared the park with a surface of 15,300 ha In 2000, the Romanian legislation list the Călimani National Park with a surface of 24,041 ha (actual surface). Since 2003, the park is officially a protected area, category II IUCN, managed for ecosystem protection. The main objectives include preserving wildlife, habitats and landscapes as well as sustainable development of the neighborhood area so that the conservation targets to be achieved; education and research are encouraged, while recreational activities are allowed. Landowners and local communities benefit from their rights in accordance with the conservation management principles. In May 2004, the Călimani National Park Administration was settled as part of the National Authority for Forests Management.

The sulfur quarry in Negoiul Românesc (photo: Alpinet.org)

Călimani National Park shelters a rich variety of wild plants and animals along the rim of the largest volcanic crater in Romania. From the valley floor up the sides of Călimani's crater, a large variety of forest ecosystems thrive: mixed forests of spruce and beech in the Mureş River Valley; spruce forests in the Neagra Valley; mixed forests of spruce and Arolla pine trees in the scientific reservation; and above the tree line, dwarf pine bushes and juniper shrubs. Beyond 1900m are the siliceous alpine grasslands. Călimani National Park plays an important role with respect to the conservation of Romania's wildlife and mountain ecosystems. The beetles identified to date belong to the following 7 families, the Amphibian Class is represented by 8 species, and 5 species of reptiles have been identified. 68 species of birds have been identified through field observation in the north side of the Park. But research on the Calimani Mountains by Milvus Group indicates that there are some 108 species of birds, 21 of which are included in Annex I of the Birds Directive, species requiring the designation of special areas of conservation. Mammals make up a relatively small fauna group in the Park, but are well represented by big carnivores, including brown bear (Ursus arctos L.), wolves (Canis lupus L.) and lynx (Lynx lynx L.); by the weasel family, including otters (Lutra lutra L.), martens (Martes martes L.) and badgers (Meles meles L.); and finally, by the wild cat (Felis silvestris Schrb.).

Saru Dornei (photo: Alpinet.org)

The landscape is also animated by roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L), red deer (Cervus elaphus L) and wild boar (Sus scrofa L), all preferring the abundant fresh grass and remoteness of the Park. We ask that visitors respect the peace and tranquility which makes Calimani such a haven for wildlife. From the rodent family the main source of food for owls and other small predators. The Park is home to fat dormice (Glis glis L.), common dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius L.), wood mice (Apedemus silvaticus) and alpine shrews (Sorex alpinus Schinz). In the Park's forests, two bat species have been observed: the brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus L.) and the parti-coloured bat (Vespertilio murinus L.). Both are listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, species requiring strict protection.

The 12 Apostles (photo: Dinu Oprea)

Things to do in Călimani National Park: hiking, mountain biking, equestrian tours, cross country skiing, bird watching, photo hunting, backpacking, paragliding.

Info from the official site of the park.

Prislop Pass

Prislop Pass (Romanian: Pasul Prislop) is a mountain pass in northern Romania, connecting the historical regions of Maramureş and Bukovina over the Rodna Mountains, in the Eastern Carpathians.

The Prislop Pass is situated at an altitude of 1,416 meters, being the highest Romanian pass. It has a length of 50 km and a width ranging from 30-40 km, the north is steep gorge to the south continuing with a gentle slope. The road that crosses the pass (DN18), links Vişeu, Moisei, Borşa (province of Maramureş) with Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Suceava County (province of Moldavia).

In winter the pass is blocked by snow, because of the altitude, but in the summer the tourist has a wonderful view to the Obcinile Bucovinei, to the Rodna Mountains with Pietrosu (2303m) and Ineu (2279m) peaks, and to the springs of Golden Bistriţa. In the second Sunday of August here it takes place the folk festival "Hora de la Prislop" celebrating the descending of the sheep flocks from the mountains.

Photos from Wikipedia.

Duruitoarea Waterfall

Located in Ceahlău Massif (Eastern Carpathians) in the point called Duruitoarea (1270 meters altitude), the Duruitoarea Waterfall is formed on the Rupturii Rivulet that comes from the alpine valley and flows into the Schitului Valley and then in the Bicaz Lake. This impressive waterfall has height of 25 to 30 meters on every drop of water. At the waterfall base is built a wooden staircase that one can climb about 30m up on a platform that fragment the waterfall in two different columns of cascading water, accompanied by a strong noise.

One can reach the waterfall on the alpine trail from Durău Resort (840 m altitude) to the Dochia alpine chalet. The trail has a length of 7.5 km, and its difficulty is medium

Photo from Wikipedia

The Banloc Manor

Banloc (Hungarian: Bánlak, German: Banlok) is a commune in Timiş County, Banat, Romania. The village was first attested on 13 May 1400 in a document given by the copyist of Cenad as "Byallak" and for almost two centuries (1552-1716) became the summer residence of the Ottoman Pasha of Timişoara. In 1716, the Banat was conquered by the Austrians. The Banloc estate became the property of Croat Ban Draskovici and in 1783 was sold to Count Lázár (or Lazarus) Karátsonyi of Beodra (today Novo Miloševo, Serbia).

In 1793 the Count built the manor and during the 19th century and in the first years of the 20th century the buildings and the park enjoyed many improvements. At the end of WWI, the Serbians occupied the manor and devastated it. Covered in debts, the last count – Keglevich Karátsonyi Imre – sold in 1935 the remains of the domain, including the manor and the park to the ex-Queen Elizabeth of Greece, the sister of King Carol II of Romania. She renovated the entire complex, so the castle knew it’s last period of glory.

U-shaped, the Banloc castle is a Renaissance-style massive building with thick walls (approx. 1.25 m) of burnt brick, with the main façade facing south and at north with two wings forming a terraced courtyard. On the south façade the sole ornament was the Karátsonyi family crest carved in stone. The heraldic insignia was retained after the castle became property of the House Royal Romania, and was taken down after 1948. Compared with the simplicity of the south facade, the north façade - especially the two wings enclosing the yard - shows several elements of decoration: Baroque windows, alto-reliefs with well-defined themes (motives and heraldic themes inspired by Greek and Roman mythology) embedded in the masonry.

In addition there are 18th century iron decorations and the wrought iron lamps (one on each corner of the court) with the year 1793 specified on them. The wooden gates are provided with 18th century iron hardware and above there is a different themed alto-relief for each entry. The castle has basement, ground floor, first floor and attic. Each floor has a central large room, two rooms at left and two at right, and three rooms on each left and right wing.

An article appeared in "Dacia" newspaper in 1939 said: "Banloc’s beauty is given by the park which takes a good part of the right wing of the village, ending its surrounding walls – like ones of a castle - in the center. At the crossroad of the alleys there are Roman statues and lapidary inscriptions, chiseled in the first decades after the conquest of Dacia, taken from Sarmizegetuza after a german paleography study enlightens me. Among the lines of trees, sit in circles and connected with the cemented wounds, one of the 100 acacia, brought to America by Maria Thereza (1740-1780). Banloc Castle walls have a Gothic sweetened line with the arrow pointed top, in front of the park. It was built on the old ground in 1783."

In 1948, immediately after the Communists seized the power in Romania, the Queen left and the manor was devastated, the statues were vandalized, and the archives and the library were burnt. Between 1950 and 1997 the building and its land were successively used as a headquarters of the agricultural association, care home for the elderly, orphanage or local school.

Photos from Wikipedia.

The Turkish Bazaar, Lipova

Lipova (Hungarian: Lippa, German: Lippa, Serbian: Lipova, Turkish: Lipva) is a town in Romania, Arad County, located in the Banat region of western Transylvania. It is situated at a distance of 34 km from the Arad and it consists of two rural settlements called Radna and Şoimoş, its total surface is 134,6 square km.

The first written record of the town dates back to 1314 under the name Lipva. In 1324 the settlement was mentioned as castellanus de Lypua, a place-name that reflects its reinforced character of that time. Situated at the crossing of the roads leading to Transylvania, Banat and Ţara Românească, Lipova had a history full of vicissitudes. It was situated strategically at the Mureş River's exit from the defile, and consequently it was an extremely enviable centre. After the Tartar invasion in 1241 the fortresses were rebuilt, and the lines of the future urban settlement started to get contoured around the castle. Due to the continuous disputes, the town has became two times under Turk administration (between 1552-1595 and between 1613-1716), and starting with 1716 it became under Habsburg domination. In the 18th-19th centuries Lipova was a well-developed economic centre with famous craftsmen working here. In the period of the revolution in 1848-49 and in the beginning of the 20th century Lipova became an important centre of political and national emancipation.

The Turkish Bazaar is perhaps the most important and interesting monument, a true emblem of Lipova. It lasts from the second phase of Ottoman rule (1613-1716), and its construction began in 1637. Its imposing proportions confirm the data in documents about the intense exchange that took place here between merchants coming from the three Romanian countries and from central Europe. The Bazaar, as it survived until today, kept its original shape, with a large facade guarded by eight massive cylindrical pillars connected by arches. In the center of the facade there is a triangular frontispiece, decorated with five ceramic discs with figures, probably added later. Behind the columns there is a wide passage, where merchants, according to Eastern traditions, exposing the merchandise to reach buyers. The rooms of the Bazaar have been transformed and adapted to other requirements during time. Under the Bazaar is a huge basement, originally used for storage.

The Turkish Bazaar is listed in the catalog of the Ottoman monuments in the world and is unique in Romania.

Photos: CiMEc, Wikipedia.

The Şofronea Castle

Şofronea is a commune in Arad County, Romania, lies in the Arad Plateau and it is located at 15 km from Arad. It consists of two villages: Şofronea and Sânpaul. The first documentary record of Şofronea dates back to 1437, while Sânpaul was first mentioned in 1235. Its most attended touristic sights are the springs of thermal water with therapeutic effect in the treatment of rheumatic diseases and the complex of the Purgly Castle with its park and households, registered in the national cultural patrimony.

According to documents kept in London, Lisbon, Budapest, Vienna, the Şofronea Castle was built in 1789. In 1889, the owner of the castle exchanged properties with Purgly Janos, the owner Gurahonţ Castle. After he established in Şofronea, Janos Purgly has renovated the castle in Secession style and bought an important area of agricultural land. He was one of the well-known barons of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. His youngest daughter, Magdolna Purgly de Jószáshely, married in 1901 with Horthy Miklós, a young officer. The wedding took place at the Reformed Church in Arad. The exact involvement of Horthy in maintaining of the Şofronea property is not known. Horthy was concerned about its military and political career; during World War I he became the commander of the Austrian-Hungarian fleet in the Adriatic, then in 1920 he became regent of Hungary until 1944, when he was arrested.

Purgly Janos donated the property to his son, Purgly Laszlo: 860 acres of land, the castle, an animal farm, a plantation of fruit trees and a vineyard. Purgly Laszlo's one of the main concerns was the financing of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (The Red Church) in Arad, which he was the main sponsor. In 1922, the baron's wife, Margit, committed suicide because of her husband's infidelity. He buried she in the courtyard of the castle and remarried his wife sister. In 1949, the Communist authorities deported him to Târgu-Jiu, then he returned to Arad in 1951 and died of starvation in the basement of the parish which belonged to the Red Church.

The castle was nationalized by the Communists and became the headquarters of the local agricultural association. After the Revolution of 1989, it was leased to the Humanitas Gura-Popii Foundation, that renovated it according to the original design. The facade is richly decorated and provided with medieval-style projections and towers. The interior maintained its original shape. The main entrance conduce to the central body, in the reception room where the ceiling provided with wooden boxes is a remarkable artistic work. The ground-floor dining room, lounge and the great room are very spacious and decorated with specific ornamentation. The staircase is richly carved, there are many other artistic works made of wood and stained glass windows. In the courtyard are the Roman baths with thermal water, visited by thousands of tourists.

Photos from Wikipedia.

The Liteni Fortress

The Liteni Fortress (or Geczy Citadel, or Lita Citadel), is a medieval fortress built 3 km southwest of the present village of Liteni (Hungarian: Magyarléta), Cluj County, on a cliff above the Iara River Valley. The ruins (some of the most picturesque ruins of medieval Transylvania) are located in Apuseni Mountains (Western Carpathians), about 30 km southwest of Cluj-Napoca and about 30 km north-west of Turda, on the road between Luna de Sus and Buru, near the Muntele Băişorii resort.

It seems that here was a citadel in 1241, where the authorities of Cluj County fled during the Mongol invasion. Attested since 1324 as "Castrum Leta", the fortress had a very troubled past. In 1405 King Sigismund of Luxembourg (1368-1437) gave the citadel to the city of Cluj, and later the municipality shared the lands into three parts and gave them to Jakcs Janos, to judge Vana, and to Laszlo, voivod of Beiuş. After the death of Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, the fortress was first the property Losonczi Dezsö, and later (after year 1441) was owned by Herepei Márk.

In 1456, Ioan de Hunedoara (Ioan Corvin, Hunyadi Janos) gave the fortress to Csolnokosi Klara, a cousin of Pongracz Janos. Then, it has successively passed to several owners (Perényi Orsolya, Corvin Janos, Balassa Ferenc, Artanhazi Bornemissza Boldizsar etc.). It was badly damaged following the explosion of the powder warehouse in the underground on 12 February 1562, during a siege. In 1569, the ruins and the surrounding forests were given to Geczy Janos, who renovated the fortress, and his descendants lived here for a century (until approximately the second half of 17th century). There are no precise data on the causes of the definitive abandonment of the city, but seems that it happened during the Kuruts' war led by Francisc II Rákóczi in the early 18th century.

The Dietrich-Sukowsky Castle

Pâncota is a little town located in Arad County, Western Romania. A Catholic monastery belonging to the Benedictine Order is attested here since 1177; famous handicraft center of the nineteenth century, Pâncota was known for its fairs since the eighteenth century.

The estate belonged to the Losonczy, Gyulay, Rajnáld noblemen, then to the Prince Rinaldo of Modena. The Pâncota estate, that included several villages, was bought in 1822 by the German baron Joszef Dietrich, whose family was ennobled for its military services to the Austrian Empire. He established in Pâncota, and began the construction of a castle using stones taken from the ruins of the Benedictine monastery.

The castle was completed in 1840 and at the time was the most representative Baroque castle in Arad County. It has the U shape, with three wings, one central and two lateral. The main wing facade is richly decorated and the roof with colored tiles has the shape of scales. The castle includes spacious rooms and a large living room, very interesting and with great artistic value being the wrought iron doors and the grilles on the windows. The baron Dietrich was not only a good manager, but also an arts lover, the castle being visited by Franz Liszt and the famous Hungarian writer Jokai Mor. Dietrich bought four Sequoia trees during a visit to the United States in 1835, that he planted in his wineyard, two of them surviving until today.

The prosperity of the Dietrich estate ended up after the death of the baron; the domain was inherited by the Polish Prince József Schulkowschi (or Sukowski), the baron's son-in-law since 1855. After the untimely death of his wife, the prince married an actress from Budapest, very fond of parties and spending, so the family need for money has increased to meet the insatiable spending appetite of the wife and the prince began to sell his properties. In the years 1919-1920, the surviving wife had great debts and sold the rest of the estate and castle to some Jewish merchants who have managed it through an anonymous company.

After the Second World War, the castle was nationalized. It was renovated between 1967-1968 and became the siege of Pâncota Town Hall, but the owner company claimed and obtained the castle in court.

Photos: Dream Destinations.

Tia Peltz

Tia Peltz (January 30, 1923, Bucharest - March 5, 1999, Bucharest) was a Romanian graphic artist, painter and writer of Jewish origin, a member of Union of Artists of Romania and of Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. She was the daughter of writer and journalist Isaac Peltz.

He studied fine arts at the Institute of Fine Arts "Nicolae Grigorescu" in Bucharest. His artistic work includes paintings, graphics, drawing and book illustration. Prolific artist, Tia Peltz has had numerous solo exhibitions and participation in collective exhibitions both in Romania and abroad (Berlin, Köln). Some of his works are exhibited in museums such as the National Art Museum in Bucharest and the Craiova Art Museum, other works being in private collections.

Images from here, here, here, here.