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tara

fagarasului
Awarded THE TITLE
European Destination
of Excellence 2008.
the
land
OF
CROSSROADS
“ I wouldn’t call myself a globetrotter. But, mate, I was a corker in
the few places I reached. Everybody said this happened because
I hadn’t visited others, but I know I chose them carefully. And they
sure were a beauty.

Romania is one of them. A wonderful country with tall poppies


and as “Edenish” as a place on Earth can be. There are, of course,
good things an’ crooks too, as everywhere. I remember the first
time I learned how to greet people. In Romanian it’s “buna ziua”
for “G’day”; I know, already a cliché, the tourist arrives in a new
country and learns a few words only to boast in front of his friends.
But this was not my case. That was the way I felt it. I don’t really
know why, but those words felt so clucky.

The Land of Fagaras is a wide area, part of Brasov County,


situated in the middle of the country. Arriving there, everything
I had discussed with my German mate who was born in that area,
proved to be dead set. That was the place where the true life of a
village still preserved an amazing folk culture. Even if I tested my
camera on all the monuments I encountered, more than enough,
over 900 actually, the area means much more than that and I was
stoked.Well-kept customs, folk festivals where everyone can come


if they know when to book the flight, kind-hearted people and
gorgeous scenery.
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fagarasului
what
a small
land
is hiding
“ While I was on the bus, heading for Fagaras, a group of dag old, well-
meaning ladies convinced me of the almost magical features of a
cave that was inhabited in the past by orthodox monks, that carved
two small churches into the rock and held their divine service there
for hundreds of years. The place, called “The Temple of Fates”, was
a bottler, but nothing supernatural ever occurred to my mind.
The villagers are cobbers, especially if you are from abroad, so
they started telling me about some pyramidal structures I could
find in a neighboring village. I knew it was about another kind
of “Egyptians”, so I headed towards the mentioned place,
near Sona. The exact location can’t be found on a map, but, with
a little help from the local people, one can easily get there. The
That was until the moment I saw the pictures I took inside the cave: “Pyramids” were in fact several medium hills, the tallest was
exactly as the locals were telling, there were some semi-transparent higher than a 4-storey building. I would rapidly associate them
and vague spheres on the film, invisible to the eye. The stories about with some tumuli or barrows, mounds over a grave in some Asian
the positive energies the temple had influenced me as well. I have or European cultures. Squizzin’ from far away they look like lonely
no idea if there was any selfsuggestion or divine intervention, hills and you start to feel small and to understand the splendor
but I felt completely recovered and fully energized after some of a gone away culture only when you arrive at their bottom. And
time spent in the centre of the cave, under a cupola generating more than ever you are grinning like a shot fox to be alive. So you
a kind of pyramid effect. Afterwards I climbed the hill only to start climbing the artificial mountain in a hurry. I found it difficult


discover another religious shelter, an Orthodox Monastery, and to arrive there after I slipped in some fox holes. From above,
entered its gates to see the monks that lived there. the entire horizon seems at hand.

The Temple of Fates is a of several religious chambers to have mystical powers. The “Pyramids” in the
construction which had a prior and altars with strange In 2005, the Sinca Veche village Sona are pyramidal
function of a religious site, sculptures among which the settlement has been restored formations, about 20-30
and is said to be almost 7000 Star of David or the Yin and and is once again visited metres high, built on a soil
years old. Its location is near Yang symbol. It was dug in by tourists. Also, on the terrace. Although they were
the village Sinca Veche, under a rock formed of quartz and hill nearby an Orthodox submitted to several thorough
the Plesu hill. It is made up silicium sand and it is believed Monastery has beed built. archaeological researches
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their origin hasn’t been different paranormal events
elucidated so far. At first going on near the pyramids
sight they can be compared and also tell a legend of their
to Celtic or Scythian tumuli formation. Similar pyramids,
but no one knows if they had though not as well preserved
the same funerary function. are found in other villages,
The villagers often talk about Halmeag and Bunesti.
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fagarasului
centuries
of
inventivity

“ After visiting Sona, I needed to see people, to go off. I had to get rid
of the feeling of loneliness I had there, not to drink with the
flies. Only a few kilometers up into the mountains, “Samabata de
Jos” shelters the biggest and most exquisite “Lipizzan” horse farm
in Europe. These are some frames I had to have on my camera. The
“Lipizzan” breed is part of the European cultural heritage and the
From Sambata de Sus I headed towards Lisa, another village that
preserved a strong tradition, where, I was told by a bus driver, I
would find the spectacular things I was looking for and I would get
some great pictures. Too right...in most parts! A traditional centre,
named “At the Whirlpools” sheltered a complex hydraulic/
water system. This was used to produce and process woolen
performances of the people at Sambata are well-known all around fabrics and it was almost a century old. What gobsmacked me
the World. The horse shelter is near the “Bruckenthal” Castle built the most was that in areas holding such up-to -date technologies


by Johannes Bruckenthal in 1874. The farm is open to visitors, and having all facilities of a modern city one could find such well-
there are some nice shows with experienced horse breakers preserved proofs of the past.
and also some very pleasant carriage trips/rides. I couldn’t help
getting in such a carriage and it was totally worthing the
zacks because the farm also holds mapped out woods specially
planned for such trips.

The Lipizzan is the most The Lipizzan breed is part of equipment, training and “At the Whirlpools” is one
ancient European modern the European cultural heritage, keeping the Lipizzan horses at of the three traditional, still
breed which has a more than originating from Lipizza, levels of performance known functional stations which uses
400 years old history. The near Trieste, from where it worldwide. The complex is water power; it is located in
farm in Sambata de Sus is the was brought in Austria in open to visitors. the village Lisa, near Sambata
biggest in Europe and shelters 1580. The farm in Sambata de Sus. Moreover, this plant is
over 300 stallions. has European standard the only one used to process
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sheep wool. The three stations In 2000, the complex was
that survived are part of an restored and introduced in the
older hydraulic system built touristic circuit as a museum;
in the 19th century by the nowadays it still is a functional
villagers, by means of which workshop.
they “put evil to work”.

tara
fagarasului
between the sky
and the earth,
two worlds
live together
“ I don’t miss my laptop. Not even the crowded supermarket or a day
at the Mall. Here, time stands still. For the people, everything
they do makes a certain sense, far beyond the moolah. Here is the
land where everything means more than you can see. Charms,
rituals, chants, superstitios or curses still have their place in a
present time that wishes to forget them. Here is the land where
One can still find out some of the old generations’ secrets even if
they became more solitary because they are no longer in touch
with the new generations. I talked to an old woman who was
sitting on an old bench, in front of her house. We yabbed with
the help of her third-grade nephew who spoke English pretty well.
I told her I wanted to hear magic words. The old lady began to say
people chase away bad spirits by using plants. The land where the charm in her own language but I soon lost the words. I couldn’t


one can no longer believe in magic and go to church at the same understand a thing but I was aware that a great mystery was going
time. The land where the third day after their birth, little babies on right in front of my eyes.
are visited by fates who predict their future and where young girls
put basil on their breast and tell charms to make lads fall in love
with them.

“The burning wheel” is a The feast of the Ploughman The festival of the Lipizzan the Fortress of Fagaras at the
custom practised b y the boys is a traditional custom which horse: After the Assumption end of August.
of the village; it takes place at is held every year at Orthodox of Mary (August, 15th) all the
Shrovetide, before Easter. It is Easter time. The origin of this owners of a Lipizzan horse
in fact an open trial of those custom is linked to magical from the Land of Fagaras
who didn’t observe the rules beliefs, prior to Christianity. prepare for this special event
of the community. which is generally held near
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The feast of bread is an and various kinds of bread can
event specific to the area of be tasted.
Sambata de Sus and is based
on the popular significance
of the bread. All the tools
traditionally used at baking
the bread can be seen here
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back
to
THE
Origins
“ On the first night I had to choose between sleeping in the open,
on a woolen rug bought at “The Whirlpools”, or spending the
night at a pension. I chose the latter and it was ace, especially
after I hadsome turps, namely several glasses of palinka/fire-
After that, all that’s left is the distinct taste of home-made bread
with veggies from one’s own garden and the most delicious pork
bacon I ever tasted. I can’t help remembering the taste of that
red onion from Fagaras: I still feel some tears in my eyes but


water offered by the host. It might be fun to sleep at a pension not because it was too spicy but because the taste was pretty
in a village. I split wood, for the first time in my life I milked a spiffy.
cow, and my Patagonia boots had a gas bath while I was trying
to start a camp fire. I also made butter out of milk: in a large
pot the milk is skimmed with a wooden spoon until it becomes
butter; I’ve skimmed it for the first 5 minutes, and the host
for the last 40. But the cart ride was above all. We rode in big
carts loaded with hay and with large logs or fresh Lucerne. I wasn’t
turned down by any villager I even got to hold the bridles for a
while. I couldn’t though use the whip. I had more guts when I had
to ”beat” the fresh bread just taken out of the oven. The bread
is “beaten” with a short wooden stick until all the burnt crust falls.

Accomodation: Comfortable households; meals, tourist or religious celebrations. Since Sambata de Sus, Berivoi,
households, hospitable guidance, initial training for they are not introduced in Breaza, Harseni, Sebes sau
people, gifted craftsmen, all various traditional handicrafts any tourist circuits yet, these Dejani.
lend huge touristic potential (painting eggs, glass painting), places can be discovered by
to the Land of Fagaras. In participation in traditional simply asking the villagers but
the villages, various services customs, fairs, singing you can easily find pensions
are offered in the peasants’ Christmas Carols, folk-festivals most of them located in
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Transylvanian cuisine
resembles the villagers: it is
simple and healthy. You should
try mais polenta, stuffed
cabbage leaves, vegetable
spread among the other
gastronomic delights of the area.
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fagarasului
where “go wild”
is not just
a way
of speaking
“ My host invited me to a cattle fair “to see how things slog here”.
Everything could be sold and bought around here from geese to
horses, from brooms to harnesses. That’s when I remembered my
comfy seat in the rented SUV and I decided to change it for a while
with a horse saddle. I admit, I first thought of that when I saw
a Romanian excellent movie with and about cowboys. It wasn’t
That’s what happened when I felt like trying something more
extreme. You can go hiking from Sambata de Sus on the whole
northern part of the Fagaras Mountains. There are quite many huts
for shelter as Podragu, Urlea, Valea Sambetei or Arpas and the
route is varied and spectacular. You can do almost anything linked
to mountains climbing and if this isn’t enough, there are a lot of
long until I was in the saddle as the pension I was staying at had its pensions in the valley which have ATVs or snowmobiles. I drove


own herd. … and then again on the ground with some bruises. the ATV until I had no breath left but I had to choose off-road
routes as villagers aren’t larriking the noise.
This is what happenes if you choose not to listen to the manager.
The equestrian program is very strict and starts from the scratch,
with beginners lessons and then with some rides in the surrounding
area. I got a spirited horse but I soon learned how to bridle it.
Bravery replaces fear when you are bitten by the wind and you
enjoy freedom more than ever.

Horse riding is part of the The mountaineous region Balea is a glaciar lake situated
services offered in private of the Land of Fagaras is in the Fagaras Mountains. It is
pensions and farms. It can be varied and you can find a large the favourite place of mountain
taken up by beginners and range of mountain routes; lovers and especially for those
practiced on various routes. here tourists can go mountain ptacticing extreme sports. It
climbing, hiking, practice photo- is the ideal place for heli-ski,
hunting and winter sports. gliding, skiing and others.
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the past
is tall
and has
thick walls
“ When I decided to become a journo, I was still preparing for the
exam at the Arhitecture University by drawing compositions,
buildings and portraits. So I couldn’t stop noticing that almost
every village I passed through had a fortified church.
The Saxons came here by royal order bringing over a special
architectural style. I only moved my camera off the clocks in the
what was there behind the ruins, I reached the Fagaras fortress that
shelters a modern, acclimatized museum and where a thorough
guide told gave me good oil.

The land of Fagaras is an area that offers very much to the


traveller and never expects to get anything back. I felt an endless
towers whenever I spotted the storks that had their nests on the devotion from both men and nature when I walked along and
poles in the streets. I only entered a few and everytime I was across it. Everything out here is an adventure, more than even in
able to visit them, I found them really surprising. I had to ask the Australian Outback. A continuous discovery of some traditions
everybody for the key holder and everytime an old Saxon came and people, which by means of their complexity, prove to have
from inside a house next to the church, holding the keys. I didn’t been here for a long time and plan to stay quite as long.
need a guide at the Cistercian Convent in Carta because the


church was ruined more than a half. I could however see what I for sure will come back next year, there’s still so much to be
had been well preserved and imagine myself being an ancient revealed.
knight walking by the high, early Gothic arches of the church.
And because from a certain moment on I felt the need of knowing

The museum of popular The Fagaras fortress was The Brancoveanu Monastery them being illustrations of
costumes in Copaceni was set turned into a fortified castle (Sambata de Sus) was founded naïve art; you can also find a
up some years ago and it looks in the 16th century and it by the martyr ruler Constantin valuable collection of religious
like a peasant household became a princely residence Brancoveanu. At present objects.
specific for the area. in the 17th century. At present the Monastry has one of the
the Fagaras Fortress is a richest collections of century-
modern museum. old glass paintings, most of
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Fortified churches are of their styles, while in
buildings inspired by others you can find old and
the Saxons, brought to rare religious objects. Such
Transylvania in the 10- churches can be found in
11th centuries. Some are Cincu, Cincsor, Halmeag,
architectural monuments Sercaia and in other villages in
impressing by the originality the area.
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info
How to get here Holidays:
By car Burning Wheel - Sinca Noua (February)
1. Fagaras is about 70km east of Brasov and can be reached following Lent lily Celebration - Sercaia - Vad (May)
E68/ DN1: Brasov/Fagaras/Sibiu “Golden Onion” National Humor Festival - Fagaras (June)
2. From Bucharest you can choose between: E68/DN1: The Bread Festival - Sambata (August)
Bucharest/Brasov/Fagaras, or the A1 highway to Pitesti, DN7 Peasents Celebration - Comana (August)
Pitesti/Ramnicu Valcea/Sibiu and E68/DN1 Sibiu/Fagaras Fagaras Days (August)
Fagaras Winter Fest - Fagaras (December)
By bus National Wooden Pane Festival - Victoria
departing from West Brasov Bus Station, Lunga St, no 247. National Exhibition of Religious Glass Painted Icons - Victoria
For more information regarding the time table please visit

Sport and leisure activities:


www.autogari.ro

By train Horse riding (Sambata de Jos)


from the central Railway Station, there are about 65 km. Swimming (Blue Lagoon - Fagaras)
For more information regarding the trains time table please visit Paragliding (Balea)
www.infofer.ro Abseiling (Balea)
Cycling (Track: Sâmbăta de Sus - Piscu Alb - Sebeş - Valea Cetăţii
Râşnov - Stejeriş - Drumul Poienii - Prejmer - Perşani - Şoarş - Viscri
- Sighişoara - Biertan - Sâmbăta de Sus)
Off road trail
Bow shooting
Mountain Climbing (Balea)
contact
Accommodation
www.brasovtourism.eu

Tourist information office:


Public House of Culture
1st , Mihai Viteazu St
Tel./fax. 0268 210000, 0724072911, 0749072123
Email: fagaras@brasovtourism.eu

BRASOV TOURISM BOARD


23 Ecaterina Varga St, Brasov
Phone: 0040 268 474 288
Email: apdt@brasovtourism.eu
Web: www.brasovtourism.eu

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Brașov Tourism Board,
23 Ecaterina Varga St, Brașov,
tel: 0040268 474 288
email: apdt@brasovtourism.eu
web: www.brasovtourism.eu

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