Today we are headed to northern Romania, in Transylvania, to Bistrita-Nasaud County
Today we are headed to northern Romania, in Transylvania, to Bistrita-Nasaud County. We will go first to the city of Bistrita, the county seat, then to the most interesting natural attractions and monuments, and we'll talk about the traditions that we can still see in the rural area. Our guide today is Razvan Cerceja, director of the Bistrita-Nasaud Tourism Development Association. We start from Bistrita, a typical German burg in origin, a major historic center, first documented around 1264.
“Bistrita has a long story. There is a lot to see. We first recommend that you start by visiting Siebenburgen, the seven Saxon fortified cities, whose traces you can see in the city still. You will see a small Medieval burg, similar to many other in Transylvania. Thanks to it, several small projects appeared for tourist exploitation of the area, and are still underway. I could start with the most important recommendation: the Evangelical Church. It stands out with its elevator tower. This may be the oldest Saxon tower with a panoramic view. Then I recommend the Silversmith House, the Lion House, the old passages in Bistrita, and part of the old city. It has undergone an ample process of renovation and reconstruction. Also, the Old Synagogue holds events all the time. Bistrita is a major tourism site in Transylvania.”
The Lion House, the Sugalete Ensemble, the Coopers' Tower, and the County museum host painting and sculpture exhibition, but also music and poetry events. If you have more time on your hands, the suggestion is to go to the rural parts of he county. Households in Bistrita, deep in the dark green of fir trees, and the natural environment, villages that quietly keep to old garb and tradition, are what attracts tourists to the area. A walk in the forests surrounding Bistrita, going to Tihuta Pass, may be an opportunity to meet, depending on the season, species such as bears, Carpathian deer, mountain roosters, white and black storks, the black eagle, all declared nature monuments. Here is Razvan Cerceja:
“We have two national parks: the Calimani Mountains National Park, and the Rodna Mountains National Park. We know what that means this season, when we are running away from crowds. Escape outdoors and running away from everyday stress are just what you need at the destination you picked. At the same time, we guide you to the center-south area of the county, which has an old story, but one which was reinvented. We have there a vineyard circuit which we want to turn into a wine tourism destination. We have nine wine cellars, which have started weaving a beautiful story. It is called The Story of Wine, Transylvania's Narrow Gauge Train. So, two activities with one stone: wine, and riding an old train. It is a collaboration with a private association that is developing the Transylvania's Narrow Gauge Train project.”
Situated at an altitude of 900 meters, the village of Colibita is the gateway to the Calimani Mountains. It is a quiet and remote place on the mountain, on the shore of a large lake, where people farm and raise cattle quietly. Colibita was a spa between 1923 and 1975. The stories of people who cured their TB here were confirmed by a study run by Bistrita-Nasaud County Council, which wanted to see if the air in Colibita is truly special. Here is Razvan Cerceja:
“Colibita is a great destination, especially for health tourism. Speaking of tourism, I should emphasize the curative elements of the area. Colibita is a spa of local interest. Considering the health crisis we now face, here we find the best air. It is very beneficial for certain pulmonary and cardiac conditions. Right now, many people go there because their lungs are affected by the coronavirus.”
The rural areas are teaming with traditions, according to Razvan Cerceja:
“Every corner of Bistrita-Nasaud County has traditions that have been kept. We tried to make a connection between sight, hearing, and taste. For sight, we have beautiful traditional costumes, hearing is delighted by the local music, and taste by the local gastronomical offerings. These are very much sought after of late. You can go to people's homes and taste the old recipes of the area. We also have master wood workers, potters, leather masters, who make old, but reinvented traditional objects. We also have masters who paint furniture in the old Saxon style. All these family workshops can be visited at any time.”
Tourism in Bistrita-Nasaud County is closely related to the Dracula myth. The first part of the novel describes in close detail the Bargau Valley, going towards Tihuta Pass. However, tourism projects are not limited to developing this brand. Here is director Razvan Cerceja:
“We want to set up around Colibita Lake promenades. We want to set up there everything related to water bound entertainment. We are setting up a skiing area in Bargau Valley. We have several projects running. Now we are identifying points of attraction. A month and a half ago, we held an event in Bistrita, with the people from the Transylvania's Narrow Gauge Train project. We want to emphasize the story of the train and the old passages in the city. A lot of foreigners were there. I don't know how they got there, it was a big surprise. They left very pleasantly surprised. We had great feedback from them.”
Here, then, is a complex destination, great for the entire family. While there, definitely try the local cheese and potato pie, and the fresh milk at the sheepfolds.