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Tourism in Hunedoara County

Today you are invited to a trip to Jurassic country. This is a trail that takes you two and a half kilometers, which should not take you more than two hours or so to walk. It is in Hunedoara County, and is called the Hateg Country Dinosaur Geopark. Hunedoara is home to a number of good places for mountain tourism too, and boasts one of the most important monuments in Romania, Hunyad Castle, the best representation of Gothic architecture in the country.

Dinosaur Geopark encompasses the whole of Hateg Country, and is a UNESCO protected site, part of the international program for earth science, which includes 100 sites in 33 countries. The dwarf dinosaurs dug up in Hateg Country are unique in the world, with additional discoveries of nests, eggs and embryos. Once a year, in the summer, this destination gets promoted by a special day, Volcano Day. Cristian Ciobanu, PhD, manages the park:

Cristian Ciobanu: “Volcano Day is an event we created to promote the Hateg Country Dinosaur Geopark and to showcase the research we do here. The park is managed by the University of Bucharest. Volcano Day involves workshops, games and contests, aimed at parents, children, or grandparents, and all of them take place in the township of Hateg. The Dinosaur Park is a UNESCO site, alongside 130 other sites across the world. Our mascot, Andi Andezit, is a piece of volcanic rock. The idea came from our volunteers, who visited over 20 similar parks, from Canada to Indonesia. They took pictures and listened to all sorts of stories, which they have gathered in order to put up an exhibition here.”

If mountain trekking is your favorite pastime, Hunedoara County is definitely the place for you. The Retezat Mountains are some of the best known destinations in the country. You can find here naked peaks at over 2,000 meters in altitude, glacial lakes and deciduous forests. Here is Mihai Dumitrescu, who runs a boarding house in Straja:

Mihai Dumitrescu: “Our area is very rich in terms of tourism, including ecumenical tourism. Straja Monastery is fantastic. The Stations of the Cross trail held here on Good Friday is unique in Europe. In the area you can also ride horses, do rafting, paragliding, mountain climbing, as well as spelunking. We recommend visiting the caves on Jiu Valley, especially Pestera Bolii cave. You definitely should not miss visits to Hunyad Castle, the Dacian fortresses, as well as the auroch reservation. We cover everything in terms of tourism. We rely mostly on traditional tourism, on places that make you feel at home, where you can savor traditional food. We recommend a trek through the Retezat Mountains Reserve, through to the Transalpina, the highest altitude motorway in Romania. We have an adventure park in Straja resort, where you can go ziplining, paragliding or rafting, in addition to mountain climbing.”

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Tourists flock to the area, and the authorities plan to lure even more there, through an international campaign. Here is Radu Barb, head of the Hunedoara Socio-economic Development Agency:

Radu Barb: “Some of the main points of attraction here are Sarmizegetusa Regia, Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, Hunyad Castle and Deva Castle. Hunyad Castle is one of the most beautiful in the world. Last year, in 2016, we had there over 300,000 tourists. Sarmizegetusa Regia had over 60,000. DacFest festival is held in the city of Hunedoara. Straja is a beautiful resort on Jiu Valley. We also have the Gold Museum in the town of Brad. We have plenty to offer to foreign tourists. We have foreign language guides, but we are only beginning. We have started signing partnerships with travel agencies in order to attract more tourists from abroad.”

Erected in the 15th Century, Hunyad Castle is one of the most beautiful and best preserved medieval buildings of its kind. It has 42 rooms, two terraces and two bridges. Access is via a drawbridge, supported by four huge rock pillars. Ioan Bodochi, a tour guide at Hunyad Castle, tells us more about it:

Ioan Bodochi: “As you enter the castle from the courtyard, you can admire the neo-Gothic gallery. It is a rather recent construction, built in the second half of the 19th Century. Loggia Matia can also be seen from this spot. It is the first construction in Transylvania that includes elements of the early Italian Renaissance. On the first floor there is the only Renaissance-style secular fresco in Transylvania preserved to this day. In the courtyard, near the open-arcade gallery, there is the old imposing entrance, built in a semi-circular shape. Next to it, there is the administrative palace wing. Getting in the castle from the courtyard, the Mercenary kitchen can be visited, which hosts an exhibition of engravings and old images of the castle as well as an original scale model dating back to 1866.”

(translated by: Calin Cotoiu and Elena Enache)