One of my favorite destinations during the summer are the Western Carpathians (Romanian: Munţii Apuseni), an area with splendid landscapes, where the nature is green and unspoiled, the forested hills change with colorful open meadows. Numerous rivers have cut spectacular canyons and created the most fascinating caves.
Because of the difficult access roads, many of the mountain villages remained unchanged. It is one of the most interesting ethnographic regions with old watermills, typical farm buildings with straw roofs, wooden ox wagons.
The highlanders are called “moti” and they live mainly from agriculture, the wood processing, and are masters in woodcarving. In spring time, farmers are leading their herds of cows and flocks of sheep in the high mountain, where they rest until the first snowfall.
You may admire on the high pastures the “hodăi”, summer houses used by local people, while being with their herds in the mountains; these villages are the highest settlements of Romania. Everyone can experience here the very warmhearted hospitality in a region where tourism is still relatively new and every guest is welcomed as a friend of the family.
Some years ago, during a trekking session in Trascăului Mountains, I’ve discovered here a strange village. Strange because most of the inhabitants are Hungarian ethnic in a large Romanian area, and strange because it looks like it probably looked two centuries ago.
Rimetea (Hungarian: Torockó, German: Eisenburg) is unique. During the antiquity and middle ages, it was the center of iron mining for the region. In the 14th century, settled here colonists from Austria and Germany, to work in the iron mines. Once a town (17th century), now it is a quiet village resting on the foot of the impressive Piatra Secuiului Mountain (1171m).
The rich past of the village can be seen in the local ethnographic museum (since 1952) and some mine galleries still remained in the mountains.
The folk costumes keep Hungarian, German, Austrian and even Flemish influences, with the famous red boots and delicate lace, or the brides’ diadems made of gold threads.
About a half of the houses are registered in an Europe Union program for keeping the patrimonial buildings and the village was awarded with “Europa Nostra” Silver Medal for the way that traditional architecture is preserved, medal awarded by the Prince of Denmark.
Secuiului Rock is climbed by many tourists, for paragliding or to see the remains of Colţesti fortress.