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From Cluj 2 days tour: the Apuseni Mountains. The Apuseni Mountains are the girl next door of Transylvanian tourism: always overlooked, never getting undivided attention because the popular chick -Fagaras Mountains, gets it all, with its cloudy peaks, good roads and infrastructure, flock of tourists from its nearby lover, Sibiu city. Yet no jealousy need it because if you’re into the less crowded, paved path and looking for a way of life, wisdom and tranquility, this is the mountain for you. Forget about Alice, check out Apuseni!
In the morning
Stop at: Rimetea village
“It was pleasantly quiet here” that’s what most tourists say. A former mining village, today a monument-village which managed to keep and conserve its heritage, the architectural values of old times, for which it was awarded in 1999 the “Europa nostra” distinction for rural restoration: each house declared a historical monument has to be preserved, restored according to its initial neoclassic architecture.
We’ll be crossing Trascau region, a botanical and geological sanctuary with wooden bridges, sheep flocks, cliffs long as you can see, good food and traditional Hungarian villages.
Stop at: Huda lui Papara cave
The longest, the most uneven, the most difficult, with the largest hall (56 m wide, 92 long and 102 m high), the largest gallery, the longest underground course, the longest highest flow, the largest waterfall, the largest bat colony in Europe; mystic, dangerous, cradle of legends dating back in ancient times; we can explore it only from the outside, the inside is accessible only for speleologists with proper gear.
Stop at: Lupșa Monastery
Lupșa holds the oldest Transylvanian wood church dating from 1429, build from oak wood by monks who were in reclusion in the Apuseni Mountains.
Stop at: Detunatele Reserve
Literally lightning strike, the 1258 m tall hexagonal shaped basalt columns form a giant dark grey church organ. Not mean for singing but a great sight for sore-eyes, pictures, hymns and mantras.
We will spend the night in Bucium village.
Stop at: Rosia Montana village, the Roman goldmines
Still the richest goldmine in Europe, Rosia Montana, (Latin name: Alburnus Maior) was one of the many reasons why the Roman Empire conquered the ancient province Dacia and a landmark of Apuseni area. In its two thousand years of history the village has had its share of both overwhelming riches and stark poverty. It kept its charming center that has seen better days, bearing numerous marks and tokens of gold mining, including a Museum of Mining and several mine galleries still open for visitors. Sitting on top of 300 tons of gold the remaining community of Rosia Montana is poor, skilled, proud, strong, stubborn and unique, gathering around it NGOs and a faithful, enthusiastic, young “hay” generation. Together they made a festival, petitions and won several rounds in court against a gold-digging corporation. The village today may look like a ghost, but look closer: its potential is a mere scratch under the surface.
Stop at: Poarta lui Ionele & Scarisoara cave
The two caves not far from each other are testament to the world below the known surface. Both show caves, with stairs and rails for taking a closer look inside. One holds a giant 4000 years old ice block and is a natural wonder, the other a legend of a renegade.