Visitors arriving on the summit of Madarasi Hargita/Harghita Mădăraș mountain (1,801 meters above sea level), after walking for one hour from the rest house where they leave their car, are greeted by a breathtaking landscape and a “field of kopjafas” (wooden headstones or memorial columns) a well-known cultural symbol mostly associated with Szeklerland. But the latter won’t be available for long: The Madarasi Hargita peak will be rearranged, and the majority of these wooden memorial columns will be placed somewhere else, reports Székelyhon.
The first cross was placed on the summit of Madarasi Hargita during the years of the Ceausescu regime, when Christian symbols were persecuted. Since then, the number of symbols has greatly multiplied in an almost disturbing way, so the owner, the Csíkmadaras Commonage Association, wants to end this situation.
About 20 years ago, visitors started placing wooden headstones spontaneously, which didn’t bother anyone for the next 10 years; it even gave more intimacy to the place. However, over time, the situation went to an extreme as the place became overpopulated by such symbols. “While it can be considered a religious site, this isn’t a burial place, and it isn’t a place where heroes are remembered either. The initiative was good, but it ultimately took a wrong turn,” Lóránd Lajos Imre, president of the Csíkmadaras Commonage Association told Székelyhon.
As a result, Imre and his team initiated consultations with the owner, civilians, environmentalists, and affected local authorities to find a solution to the issue. After lengthy consultations with all parties, they decided to leave only four crosses on the summit – one each for Szentegyháza/Vlăhița, Zetelaka/Zetea, Kápolnásfalu/Căpîlnița, and Csíkmadaras/Mădăraș Ciuc – and 64 wooden memorial columns symbolizing the former counties of the Hungarian Kingdom.
The rest were moved to the Via Maria, or Maria’s Way, a spiritual path for tourists and pilgrims, built by the nations of Central Europe to honor Mary. Via Maria also connects the shrines of Mary.
At the same time, the owner of the area wants to build a floor plan for a Catholic church in Csíkmadaras around the remaining symbols, using environmentally friendly elements.
The Hargita County Council is seeking to finalize a tourist development plan for Madarasi Hargita, and Imre says their plans will be updated accordingly.
Title image: Dark clouds gather above the wooden headstones on the summit of Madarasi Hargita. Photo: István Fekete