Apuseni Nature Park

The Apuseni Nature Park in West Romania was created in 2004 on 75.784 hectares with the borderlines of the Apuseni mountain peaks of Măgura Fericii, Poienii, Bohodei, Fântâna Rece, Cârligatele, Coasta Brăiesei, Briţei, Micău, Nimăiasa, Vârfuraşu, Dealul Păltinişului, Piatra Grăitoare, Iconii, Cuciulata, the dike of Beles lake and the peaks of Pietroasa, Dobruş, Stânii, Pasul Vârtop, Brusturi, Măgurii, Plopilor és Dealu Blidaru. Within the Apuseni nature conservation territory there are some exclusively conserved areas like Bulz, Flora meadow, the environment of the Bear cave, Ponor meadow, Padis plateau Red Bottom Mountain etc. The main appealing point of the Apuseni Park lies in its carstic nature. Limestone underlies most of the Apuseni park and is responsible for the area’s impressive land-forms and more then 400 caves, many of which can be explored. Sculptured mountain ridges, mysterious underground rivers and delicate cave formations keep visitors cameras busy. The experts of the Apuseni Nature Park make huge efforts to conserve the caves. Several caves of the Apuseni Nature Park have been closed down, or preserved by nature. Visitors can get into the nicest Apuseni caves only with the permission of the Romanian Academy. Before entering a cave, visitors shall keep in mind that a dripping-stone has to grow 20 years to reach 1 cm!

The Apuseni Nature Park (Parcul Natural Apuseni) – known as the cavers’ paradise, protects one of the most interesting cave fauna in the country. Traces of the prehistoric man, as well as fossils of animals that lived in the Ice Age were found in several of the caves, along with rare bat populations. The higher ridges of the Apuseni park are covered with spruce fir, while at lower levels the forest is dominated by mountain beech. Limestone underlies most of the Apuseni Nature park and is responsible for the area’s impressive land-forms. Sculptured mountain ridges, mysterious underground rivers, and delicate cave decorations will surely keep visitors’ photo cameras busy. The complex karst land-forms of Apuseni Nature Park are an attraction on their own, especially hikers with a fascination for geology. Deep valley and gorges, karrens and karst depression – where underground rivers and streams flow – give the landscape an exceptional character. Below ground lies the important and fragile ecosystem of the caves, the main attraction for amateur and professional cavers. Declared a natural monument and a speleological reservation, the Scarisoara Glacier cave (situated at 1150 m altitude) is famous for its glacier and perennial ice deposits older than 3000 years. The area of the glacier covers 5500 sq m and the ice layer alternates between 26 and 37 m in thickness. Scarisoara Cave is 750 m long, but only 250 meters is arranged for visit. Scarisoara Cave is 110 meters deep, the entrance shaft is 50 m in diameter and 48 in depth and visitors approach along a metallic ladder.

Most of the gold mining in Romania was done in the Apuseni Mountains. The south part of these mountains is very rich in gold deposits which were the main source of gold in Romania. It is estimated that a total of 1750 tons of gold was extracted from the 60 gold deposits known so far. From a gold mining perspective, the most important locations in the auriferous quadrangle” are: Rosia Montana, Tisa Valley, Hanes, Rovina, Cireșata, Colnic and Certej. Evidence of gold extraction dating back to the Daco-Roman and Middle Ages eras are a confirmation of the mining tradition in the area surrounding Brad town. In 1920, after World War I, the Brad mines were taken over by the Romanian mining company “Mica”, which would become one of the most important industrial enterprises in Romania during the inter-war period.

“The mining landscape in Roșia Montană, a Roman-era mining site in Alba county, saw a double UNESCO inclusion this week. It was recognized as a world heritage site but also as an endangered one, highlighting both its value but also the need for measures to protect it. At the time of its UNESCO heritage list inscription, Roșia Montană has “the most significant, extensive and technically diverse underground Roman gold mining complex known,” according to the official announcement“. Romania-Insider.com

As opposed to other national and nature parks in Romania, the Apuseni Mountains are populated up to the high altitudes, with permanent and quasi-permanent dwellings. The hamlets on the Ocoale – Scarisoara plateau, at 3840 ft., are among the highest settlements in Romania. If you wish to discover local life and preserved traditions of Romania, one of the main points of interest is the Aries Valley, where the beautiful villages of Albac, Garda, and Arieseni are located. Skilled artisans, the Motzi people, carve musical instruments, hope chests and houses from the local wood, the spruce. The Apuseni Motzi villages are some of the best places in which to find tranquility and timeless wisdom of the traditional village way of life. In Patrahaitesti, a little mountain village, you may hear the famous Bucium (“Alps horns”), used for generations in the Apuseni Mountains.

Places of interest of Apuseni National Park : Scarisoara Glacier (Pestera Scarisoara), Bears’ Cave (Pestera Ursilor), Fortresses of Ponor (Cetatile Ponorului), Turda Gorges Natural Reserve.