Hunedoara, most atypical county in Romania: from disaster to medieval charm via fun military training, all in 7000sq km.

Posted: November 25, 2013 in Classy Sightseeing

4 days are not enough to discover a region in Romania, especially one so interesting as Hunedoara. Lying between one of the most beautiful national parks in Europe – Retezat and Apuseni mountains, where life is so simple, unaware of the calendar, technical evolution, at 2 hours distance from Sibiu (European Capital of Culture in 2007), Hunedoara and may seem at first sight it has not so much to offer. Touristic guides insist on only two “must see” objectives, in a place where, well, what else is there to see? One is of the most impressive castles on continent where Dracula was prisoned for a few of months, the capital of DACIA, today UNESCO monument, which attracts tourists daily, but they remain with the impression that this is all that the county can offer. WELL, I had the opportunity to discover in November 2013 that Hunedoara is an amazing realm at each step, that could be easily highly ranked that any area of Romania. It is, maybe, the most interesting and beautiful to see county of Romania!

Of course I started my journey at Huniazilor Castle (also called Corvinilor Castle). It is an Gothic architectural jewel, recently considered the eighth most scary place in Europe. In one autumn morning, in the dungeon, I felt some goose bumps, inevitable when a load music rumbles in your years and you assist to live executions, of course played by actors who almost fooled me they are real prisoners! Otherwise, the castle is as welcoming as the Gothic structure allows, the stroll through interior old yard and rooms allowing me to feel myself for a few minutes the master of the castle. A fantasy yes, but you get used to this feeling is so hard to let it go!

Huniazilor Castle

I continued my trip climbing the Orastie mountains, after a 20km forest road we arrived at Sarmisegetusa Regia, the ancient capital of Dacia, the land of Romanian ancestors! The image that impressed me so much that I will never forget it, the one that is posted on all Romania promo materials, opened to me under a warm noon light – The Great Circular Sanctuary was vibrating under the divine sun!

Sarmisegetusa Regia

At this point I should have packed my bags and say good bye to Hunedoara County, but I discovered a small little place where I was feeling more that delighted to sleep and recharge my batteries, in the middle of nature, but with 5* comfort. “Casa Gradinii” (House of the Garden) from the estate of Archia Mansion was the first BIG surprise: WiFi, painted armchairs, furniture, living room, terrace; coziness, refined taste accompanied by an excellent autumn weather – my definition of what Classy Romania is all about! Lifting my head from fluffy pillows and throwing the sheet on the colored floor, I drank my coffee and hit the road for the 2nd gradinii conacul archia noiembrie 2013 DSCF0671 But where? It was not far when my next discovery happened, as Hunedoara was set to surprise me. A stop for refreshing on the Lake Cincis, known also as Hunedoara’ sea, then some photos taken with the oldest furnace in Europe that delivered cast iron to no other than Eiffel Tower, located in Govajdia village, hidden between hills.

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Few kilometers from Hunedoara City, a lunch among crystal ponds, falling leaves and fairyland scenery at Dendrologic Park Simeria, the largest and rich in species of trees park in Romania and the 6th in Europe. Then, all was followed by and intense session of military stuff at Arsenal Park, an adventure park with military theme where even girls can catch the taste for ‘man stuff’ at least visually. In one hour tour with a golf cart I had fun driving the small car on the paved alley, most of the times 🙂 , while the tanks, rackets, trolleys and all sorts of machinery were competing in a ‘war’ to conquer my attention. At the end I declared myself ‘defeated’ .. by pleasure. The day could not end but high.

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Literary! Up, at Deva fortress that guards the county capital Deva, the view captivated me until sunset. After the smooth climbing with the cable way with the highest incline in the world, the desert of a full day was exquisite! Deva is an amazing city from above as well as from its streets .. from where we offered the world one of the greatest champions of gymnastics – Nadia Comaneci! Deva, the capital of Romanian gymnastics, a sport of sweat but also graciousness couldn’t not have been anywhere else but in this county where you sweat and are bewildered by beauty!

The next day I sweat in front of the power of nature, to which no matter what we do it has the power to revive. As much as attractive Hunedoara is, it can be also ravaged in the same time. If even natural disasters can attract tourists like Cernobyl for instance, well, also Hunedoara is a region where industry, mines and pollution made their hard imprints. I could not ignore them in my short visit: from the ash pond and Mintia thermal plant to cyanide pond from Certeju de Sus or immense quarries they all impress you, but nature is everywhere present at the edge of disaster trying to impose its will. I have the hope it will succeed!

To cheer up I headed to the city Hateg. Unbelievable how many things still to be seen in this corner of Hunedoara! The aurochs (wild bulls) reservation, Densus church, probably the oldest in Europe, a stone church and Kendeffy Castle from Sântămăria Orlea or the Carphatian Castle from Jules Verne book, known to locals from Suseni village as Fang Castle (Cetatea Colt).

cetatea colt castelul din carpati biserica densus 2008-2 After 4 days I was exhausted and happy in the same time. I wondered picturesque routes, I caught myself in thistles and I lay down on leaves carpets waiting for the winter, I laughed, I cried, I lived every moment! All in a county of only 7000 km².

By Anda Stanciulescu, our blogger partner

  1. Mihaela says:

    I’ve been there and I loved it! Don’t forget Sarmisegetusa Ulpia Traiana (the roman town), as well as Geoagiu Bai.

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