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Rimetea / Torocko at the Rock of Szeklers (Romania) – guidebook

Cerkiew Torocko (Rumunia)Wieś u podnóża Gór Zachodnich Torocko (Rumunia)

The village Rimetea is located near the city Turda, in the Trascau Mountains. Due to the fact that the majority of the inhabitants (circa 90%) are Hungarians, the village is also known under another name: Torockó (Torocko – first syllable accent). The name Rimetea can be found in maps and travel guides, but due to the dominance of Hungarians the name Torockó is commonly used in spoken language and for this reason I am going to use it, too.

Torockó looks like a fairy tale town. Situated at the foot of the monumental Rock of the Szeklers it seems to be a Hobbit land since low-rising white buildings with hip roofs characteristic of Hungarian villages strongly dominate in here. In the village there are two churches – an Arian one (Unitarian) attended by most inhabitants and an Eastern Orthodox Church built at the beginning of the 20th century.

ATTENTION! Everyone who visited Romania or is planning to go there soon is kindly invited to contribute to this guide. Any inquires regarding this matter should be referred to the editor's address redakcja@libertas.pl.

History

Ogródek z altanką Torocko (Rumunia)Dom Torocko (Rumunia)

The history of the village is associated with mining industry. According to some sources it was a gold-bearing region exploited as soon as in Roman times. One thing is certain; there were iron ore mines in Torocko exploited since the 18th century. At that time miners from Germany (Saxons), Hungary (Szeklers), Austria and Slovakia began to appear in the village. The mined iron ore ensured the region development and prosperity for long years.

Since the Reformation there was a school in Torockó which had a status of a high school in 1595. It was known in the neighborhood for its high quality of teaching and wealthier inhabitants used to endow scholarships to the students. Among the graduates there were many Arian bishops, the ethnographer – Janos Kriza, the scientist Samuel Brassai and the Romanian historian Gheorge Baritiu. In 1780 a female school with a dormitory was founded in Torockó.

After the mines had ceased to be profitable, a recession came. It was also caused by the political situation. As a result the inhabitants started to look for a better place to live and were leaving the village. In 1765 it was inhabited by 1500 people whilst in 2006 – by only 600.

Why Torockó is worth seeing?

Młyn Torocko (Rumunia)Widok z winiarni na  cerkiew Torocko (Rumunia)

The answer seems to be simple – since it is a very beautiful place. Due to enterprising spirit of the local authorities and inhabitants Torockó profits from rural tourism. Bed and board are offered in almost each house. Most tourists visiting the city are from Hungary.

The houses are beautifully renovated but the village has preserved its provincial appearance. The landscapes are undoubtedly beautiful enough to make an adventure fantasy movie. Hospitality and cordiality of the hosts are without equal. One feels like coming back here again and again (in order) to rest from the hurry burry world. If you are, however, not in hurry, it is worth your while to spend one day in Torockó in order to walk around. Underway there are: renovated houses, a mill, an ethnographic museum, a cemetery, picturesque streets, a wine bar, and a souvenir shop.

Torocko z Szeklerskiej Skały (Rumunia)Widoki z Szeklerskiej Skały (Rumunia)Kładka wąwóz Turda (Rumunia)Szeklerska Skała (Rumunia)Szeklerska Skała Torocko (Rumunia)

What is worth visiting in the neigbourhood?

The Rock of Szeklers

Wejście na Szeklerską Skałę (Rumunia)Po drodze na Szeklerską Skałę Torocko (Rumunia)
Zejście z Szeklerskiej Skały Torocko (Rumunia)Wejście szlakiem niebieskiego krzyżyka Torocko (Rumunia)

The mountain – despite being not too high as compared to other mountains in Romania – 1128 MAMSL – poses a great challenge due to its step (even though not very much exposed) climb and even more step way back. Certainly one can start the trip in reverse direction; however, because of the sights it would be a better idea to climb the mountain along a route marked with a blue sign and leading amongst the rocks – there are beautiful sights upwards and downwards. The route leading back is a footpath along a red strip on a grassy steep hillside with a view at the Western Mountains. After rain the path might be slippery; for this reason it would be advisable to have, apart from good shoes, also Nordic Walking poles. If you want to have a ‘stick of the snufkin’ you should attempt to get it in the village, because there is no forest underway.

The entire trip takes circa 7 hours (providing that you are in good shape); it took me about 8 hours. On the way back it could be a good idea to stay in the village called Coltesti, in a restaurant in a newly opened hotel in order to celebrate being on the peak. If we take a picture on the top confirming the fact we have really ‘conquered’ it, we can get, after showing that picture, a special certificate from the owner of a wine-bar situated on the market square.

In the wine-bar you can hear Polish-Hungarian ‘brotherhood’ conversations. Transylvania was once a part of Hungary. When you listen to Hungarians speak, you can hear, therefore, some nostalgia, homesickness, sometimes objections to the history... It is an interesting sociological experience.

Salt Mine in Turda (Saline)

Wejście do wąwozu Turda

We have a chance to visit a dormant mine (would you believe it?) converted into something like a salt cave-sanatorium. It is a modern luna park situated amongst huge excavations under the ground. It is not a place like the mine in Kaczyka and for certain not to compare with the mine in Wieliczka. On the walls there are salt overhangs, the microclimate is nice. The route leads consecutively through a hall for the spa guests (inhalations), a bowling hall, a Ferris wheel, a lake with boats and places with attractions for children. For a country like Romania the number of tourists was really impressive. Personally I am not keen on attractions like those but I can understand that it might be a nice fun for many, particularly for children.

Attention! It is cold inside the mine. Even during summer heats you should wear a jacket and long trousers, this is, clothes appropriate for a cave trip. Souvenirs shops are at the mine entrance. You can buy here a nice, cheap products made of ceramics.

It is, however, not easy to get there – you need to ask the inhabitants of Turda about the Saline. You can combine the visit in the mine with a trip to the gorge Turda, within walking distance from the mine.

Turda Gorge

Skały w wąwozie Turda (Rumunia)Wąwoz Turda (Rumunia)Widoki z wąwozu Turda (Rumunia)

It is a very picturesque gorge, situated not far away from the city of Turda. One has to pay for the entrance, but it is not expensive at all. It is better to park the car in the first parking area from the road and to walk next about 500–800 meters to the gorge entrance. Some tourists park their cars directly in front of the hostel but it does not really make any sense.

The gorgy is easy to get by unless you suffer from acrophobia. There are exposed places but everywhere there are also protection devices – ropes or climbing fasteners. You should have climbing boots since the rocks are here and there slippery. Views at the towering, 300 meters high rocks make all efforts worth one’s while.

How to get to Torockó?

Kościół unitariański Torocko (Rumunia)

Driving along the road E60 (or 1) from Ordea towards Cluj-Napoca we are approaching the highway in direction of Turda. Next we should leave the highway and turn in direction of the city of Turda looking for brown road-signs leading to Cheile Turzi. We need to drive into the road DN 75. We are passing by the exit road leading to the gorge (the mentioned Cheile Turzi), driving still forwards and in Buru we are turning left to a bridge. Be careful! The road through the bridge is in a terrible condition and there are huge pits in the road surface (according to data from 2012). After passing by the monastery situated on a hill on our left, the condition of the road is getting better. This is a sign that the Szeklers Rock and my beloved Torockó are going to appear soon.

Accommodation and food?

Gospodarstwo agroturystyczne Torocko (Rumunia)

We will find them actually in each house. I was accommodated in the house of Mrs. Anna Maria Dulo. The food was just delicious and Palinka – even better. The website is- www.welcometoromania.ro – you can find there the accommodation offers. It is a good idea to choose the option with food (circa 20 Euro/a person for accommodation and two meals). Delicious and much enough. Palinka is included in the price of the dinner.

In Torockó there is only one restaurant where you can get something to eat, and a wine-bar combined with a bar where you can order beer, Palinka and salty sticks.

Joanna Kuklińska
Translated by Jacek Konopka.

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