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Art Nouveau-beauty and elegance, romance and individualism, left its mark on Oradea and together with its sister style cities Barcelona and Budapest, making it part of the European network of Art Nouveau cities.
Țara Zarandului, Zarand Area, has the richest reserves of archaic traditions in Romania: caves with old (I mean Neolithic old) bears, gold naturally shaped as zoomorphic objects, churches with history tied at its corners, traditional villages and camera-ready views all along the western slope of the Apuseni Mountains, on both sides of Crișul Alb river, stretching on the territory of Arad, Hunedoara and Alba counties. Start warming up your click button camera finger!
In the morning
Stop at: Șeica Mică (Klein Schelken) fortified church
The Saint Catherine fortified church build in XIV century, fortified two centuries later, had two 14 m high defense walls, one still standing, while the name of the once populated Saxon village is presumably of Slav origins: ”sal” meaning ”salt”; so Little Salt village awaits us.
Stop at: Blaj, Holy Trinity Cathedral
Small city with huge history and without whom Romania wouldn’t look as we know it today. Its center is 1848 Square and its focal point, The Holy Trinity Cathedral build in XVIII century, baroque style, at the initiative of bishop Inochentie Micu-Klein and designed by Vienna’s imperial court architects.
Stop at: Rimetea village
Rimetea (Torocko) is THE traditional Hungarian village: white painted houses, great food, locals known for their hospitality and the views of Piatra Secuiului Mountains and Colțești fortress. This monument-village awarded “Europa nostra” award in 1999 for rural restoration keeps as its most valuable prized possession, its traditions: from painted furniture, blacksmith works or traditional folk costumes considered the most luxurious in the country next to the ones from Maramureș.
Stop at: Unguru Mare Cave
A masterpiece of nature at the base of a limestone wall, welcoming you via an entrance of 32 m high, 22 m wide. A former home to Neolithic ancestors who left behind inside the cave traces of their life. A great, big human shelter since the early days, with a spectacular source of natural light, worthy of the dimensions of a cathedral.
Stop at: Oradea city center
Founded around a monastery, medieval town of Nagyvarad as it is still called in Hungarian today, flourished during Matei Corvin reign. Add a layer of Vauban fortifications and fill it with neoclassical, baroque and Secession buildings and you have one of the most representative cities of 1900 architecture in Romania. The heritage of Art Nouveau, expressed in decorative arts, design and architecture, with the main ornamental characteristic the asymmetric undulating line is the reason Oradea become part of the European network of Art Nouveau cities like Barcelona and Budapest.
We will spend the night in Oradea.
Stop at: Bears Cave (Peștera Urșilor)
In 1975 limestone quarry workers found inside the cave dozens of bear skeletons, hence the name. This Neolithic cave might have been the final resting place of several bears, but its shift-changing splendor will make you forget all about that and focus on the sculpting power of underground water.
Stop at: Baia de Criș, The Franciscan Monastery
The XIV century Franciscan Monastery, with gothic rosette windows, stone and brick walls, triumphal arch, massive external wall support pillars, was left in ruins for two centuries due to a fire, then rebuild in 1722 by the Franciscan monks who still administer and serve it today.
Stop at: Brad, Gold Museum
1300 gold exhibits gathered from Brad, Deva, Roşia Montană and over 1100 minerals collected from all over the world, none of which has been processed by a goldsmith or jeweler, making it so unique. Discover the glitter of gold!
Stop at: Deva fortress
A 13th century fortress build to face Mongolian invasions. From its still standing towers, administrative, housing and defense buildings, you get a panoramic views of Deva city, the landscape and Apuseni Mountains.