What’s on your bucket list for this summer? Now that travel restrictions are being eased worldwide (although rules differ by country), we’ve got a few ideas for the best places to visit in Europe’s most enchanting region, Transylvania.
The Western world usually associates Transylvania with vampires, due to the influence of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, which has inspired many films. In our list, we focus on a specific region of Transylvania, Szeklerland, for the following reason: This part of the historical region located in central Romania is unique given its rich history, culture and diversity. So, without further ado, here is our top travel destination list for this summer.
The small town of Erdőszentgyörgy, located in the heart of Transylvania, is mostly populated by ethnic Hungarians and has an unexpected connection with the British Royal Family. In the center of the town, visitors will find the two-story Rhédey Castle, which dates back to the 17th century. It was built on the ruins of a 16th century monastery and church and acquired its present Neo-Baroque look through a remodel in the early 19th century.
Rhédey Castle hosts the first castle museum in Maros County aimed at preserving the memory of a beautiful countess with a tragic fate: Claudia Rhédey, the great-great-grandmother of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This is the place where Claudia Rhédey (or Claudine) was born in 1812. She had met Duke Alexander Paul Ludwig Konstantin of Württemberg (1804–1885) at a carnival ball organized at the Viennese imperial court, and it was said to have been love at first sight. They married in 1835 and had three children: two daughters, Claudine and Amelie, and one son, Francis, who received the title of Duke of Teck. His wife was Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a granddaughter of King George III. The couple’s only daughter, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, later became Queen Consort of the United Kingdom, the spouse of King George V, who was the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. Claudia died at the age of just 29 in a carriage accident while visiting her husband at a military training camp in Austria.
For more information, visit Rhédey Castle’s Facebook page.
Originally, it was only a dream of the Szekler Legendárium, but after years of hard work, it finally materialized: You can now explore Transylvania as a giant in the outdoor exhibit of more than 80 miniature buildings showcasing the architectural heritage of this historic region bound to the east and south by natural borders, the Carpathian Mountains.
Similar to the Mini Europe Park in Brussels, the Mini Transylvania Park shows the most outstanding pieces of architectural heritage: monuments, castles, fortresses, monasteries, churches, cites and traditional Szekler houses. Here, you can also visit the exhibition, “The Greatest Szekler, Balázs Orbán,” which presents the life of the great ethnographic collector, photographer and builder from Szejkefürdő.
For more information, visit Mini Transylvania Park’s website.
Located at the foot of the Harghita Mountains in Csíkmadaras, the Zsigmond Malom Pension serves as a green island. It’s the go-to place if you want to relax and explore nature’s untouched beauty. One can go to simply rest for a few days, but what you’ll find there is much more than a tourist stop. This is where you turn off the phone and start to really live by connecting with centuries-old crafts, traditional agriculture, and true Szekler gastronomy. The food that visitors taste at the Zsigmond Malom Pension is made from ingredients produced at a local farm. The word “malom” means “mill” in English, and the owners of the agritourism inn decided to add it to its name because of the 100-year-old watermill located on the farm.
For more information, visit Zsigmond Malom Pension’s Facebook page.
Located in the Land of Mansions of Transylvania, the Castle Hotel Daniel is deeply connected to Háromszék’s (Three Chairs region) history. But this time, visitors not only see an exhibition of historical objects but also spend a few days connected to more than 350 years of history. The Daniel Castle was completed in 1680 by a local noble family, the Daniels. The new owners have carefully restored the castle to its original form, restoring the murals that define the themes of the eight available rooms. And after a full day of outdoor experiences, visitors can relax in the Cellarum Slow Down Spa, a nice place to recharge their batteries in an enchanting milieu.
For more information about the Castle Hotel Daniel, visit the hotel’s website.
Situated above Bálványosfürdő, just a few hundred meters below the Bálványos Resort, you find a unique natural phenomenon in Europe: a bathing spot with eight different mineral water springs. This is a place you can walk to, reconnect with nature, and explore its healing effect through the various springs with different mineral content, smell, taste and color. Their pH varies between 1.82 and 4.28 as a result of the sulfuric acid produced within.
Such cold mineral water pools (traditional Szekler mineral water baths) are unique in Europe. Similar phenomena have been recorded in the Columbian Rio Vinaigrette, in the area of the Paramo de Ruiz volcano; on the island of Java; in Byron, New York; and in the Persian Gulf area, near the village of Daulakie.
For the exact location of the Apor Girls’ Bath, click here.
Title image: The Csiszár Bath in Covasna County. Image source: Visit Covasna