Our Northwest Romania discovery trip was coming to an end, but there were few more places to see. After seeing so many great places already, I thought to myself how much tourism potential Romania has. It could become a real tourist hot spot with so much to offer, but on the other hand that could ruin many things as well. I love the fact that you don’t have to wait in queues everywhere and all the attractions and items are not overpriced for tourists. The local life has not been affected by tourists and it is truly authentic, not a show for visitors like in some other places. I guess it could use some small improvements with tourist facilities, but I still hope it stays as humble and true to itself as it is.
One of the last cities we visited was Alba Iulia. It is a pretty small city, but very clean and organised. The best attraction in the city is probably the citadel in the centre. You can drive there, but inside, you can only walk or cycle. First, you notice that there are multiple metal figures of people placed all around the centre. As you keep walking, you keep meeting them. And the second thing is that there are a couple of cathedrals and churches all placed there in the middle of it. It’s like they have to stick together.
What’s actually interesting about the citadel is the fact that it used to be all flat around the churches and cathedrals. During the war, people dug underground tunnels to escape if necessary. The tunnels were hundreds of kilometres long, so long that you can also go to other cities. Now they have been all dug up so you can walk around in the area and go into the tunnels. In the tunnels, they have opened up some restaurants and they are planning to develop it even further.
When you look at the picture below you can imagine that you can only see the top ground and have no clue that there is actually something under. Another fun fact is that the buildings you see behind used to be united. With a special technique, they moved them apart to create a street in between. What is even crazier is that nobody had to move out of their apartments while they did that. A local told me that they put some wheels under the buildings and then they could just relocate them with everything inside.
The whole area has a lot of history and it is very nice to walk around. Below you will see a photo of another landmark dedicated to three revolutionaries. Those three men were very important for Romania because they were the ones who fought to unite Transilvania with the country again. Unfortunately, they were imprisoned and kept in that landmark. Two of them were executed and one of them committed a suicide before his execution.
After such a historical day our local hosts took us a little outside the city to have a genuine local meal. Our meal consisted of three courses. For starters, we were served with placinta, a traditional Romanian pastry with a filling. Ours were filled with potato, cabbage and the sweet ones were filled with apple. The main course included fish and ended up with a traditional dessert – papanasi.
Salt mine in Turda
When we decided to visit the salt mine in Turda, I barely had any expectations of the attraction. It turned out to be an awesome experience and something that I had not seen before. Turda is a small city located nearby Cluj-Napoca in the Cluj county. To be honest I don’t know too much about the city and assumingly the salt mine is what it’s most famous for.
Before the attraction, its parking lot is filled with stalls selling all sorts of Romanian goods. There was a small entry fee to the salt mine and you received a map of the place. First, you enter a little tunnel going down and then you follow a corridor. You already notice that everything is covered with salt. The walls, ceilings, floor and the stairs. I licked the wall just to be sure.
There were some small rooms in the hall, which we only discovered when we were already leaving. But the mine itself was really cool. When you arrive at the main hall you arrive first on the top floor and you see a huge area all made of salt. You will also notice that there is a lot going on the bottom floor. You can wait for an elevator to get down there or use the salty stairs. The place is a lot bigger than it seems from the pictures.
At the very bottom, you can rent a boat for about twenty minutes to row around the salt mine. It looks even bigger when you are down there. The boat ride seemed to be the most popular attraction and there was a small queue to it. And everything is just full of salt. The water must be very salty too and you can touch the salt walls all around it.
One floor up from the boats offered all sorts of activities. In the middle of it is a big Ferris wheel. Around you can play mini golf, basketball, ping pong and pool. They are all offered for a small fee but you can really have a lot of fun and it’s great for kids too. After leaving, our clothes had become quite salty. For the rest of the evening, I was walking around with a huge salt stain on my butt. All worth it.
I personally had never seen anything like this before. A very peculiar and a unique attraction. If you ever would happen to be nearby, definitely visit.
Now there is one more thing left to see before leaving Romania- the capital. I’ll keep you posted!