Surrounded by mountains and legends, the Haţegul-Retezat Land harmoniously combines all the ingredients of a unique ecotourism destination in Romania.
The wonderful world of fossils and dwarf dinosaur eggs in the Dinosaur Geopark, as well as the famous Retezat National Park with its garland of glacial lakes, both on the UNESCO World Heritage List, will impress even the most demanding visitors.
A remarkable historical heritage is added to it, consisting of stone churches, medieval churches, authentic monuments and impressive fortresses and castles. Experiences here will surely be enhanced by the hospitality of the locals and the traditional cuisine delights - you should try it!
The Haţeg-Retezat Land is located in the south-west of Transylvania, in the territory of Hunedoara County, and represents a well-defined area hosted by the geological depression of the same name. It’s guarded south by the renowned Retezat Mountains, the Poiana Rusca Mountains to the north, the Ţarcu Mountains to the west, the Sureanu Mountains to the east and the northeast.
The natural landmarks here are Retezat National Park and the Haţeg Land Dinosaur Geopark. Retezat National Park, or the "blue-eyed realm" as it’s called, due to the dozens of glacial lakes spread all over its surface, is one of Romania's most spectacular national parks. It is an ideal destination for mountain lovers who have the choice between dozens of more or less challenging hiking trails and climbing routes.
A well-known starting point for the Retezat Mountains is Poiana Pelegii, where you can get to by foot or eventually by car on a forest road starting at the Gura Apelor Dam. From here you can take a short hike of about two hours to Lake Bucura, the largest glacial lake in the Retezat Mountains.
The beauty of the rocky landscapes is complemented by the coloring of hundreds of mountain flora species such as wild daffodils, gladioli or mountain thyme. The second nature reserve of this ecotourism destination, Dinosaurs Geopark, reunites a number of archaeological, historical, cultural and ecological elements such as Sânpetru dinosaur fossils, reptiles, paleofauna from Tuştea, the Slivuţ Bison Reserve or the Nucşoara Daffodil Meadows.
The peculiarity of the land is due to the presence of fossils and eggs of a species of dwarf dinosaur that populated these territories about 70 million years ago, while the Land of Haţeg was an island lost in the Tethys Ocean.
The uniqueness of this land has been recognized by the creation of the first Geopark in this part of Europe, also included in the European Geoparks Network under the aegis of UNESCO. The world of dinosaurs and their exhibits can be discovered and admired in the museums of Haţeg, General Berthelot, Sânpetru and Densuş villages. From the village of Sânpetru, starts a thematic Dinosaurs Valley route, which has as the main points of attraction the Dinosaurs Cliff and the Dinosaurs Big Hill. Although you won’t find any dinosaur skeletons here, you’ll learn how these cretaceous creatures lived in these lands.
The historical heritage of the Haţeg-Retezat Land is highlighted by the many vestiges of medieval fortresses and towers, including the Colt Fortress (1359) located at the entrance to the Râusorului River or the Rachitova Fortress, as well as the remarkable old stone churches in Densuş and Sântămaria Orlea.
The Haţeg-Retezat Land was once scattered with many castles and palaces, noble residences of wealthy Romanian or Hungarian families. Some have been preserved and can still be admired today in Sălaşu de Sus, where the Castle of Cândreşti is located, or near Sântămaria Orlea, where you can find the Kendeffy Castle.
The ecotourism destination of Haţeg-Retezat Land is waiting for you to cross its threshold especially for its festivals. A particularly important event is "Days of Haţeg", when popular costumes are proudly presented, and where you can enjoy a special culinary experience by tasting local specialties such as sheep sausages (virsli), pumpkin jam or delicious potato pie with buttermilk.
Visit the Traditions House of Sântămăria Orlea, a local museum where you can admire traditional objects, popular costumes and many old photographs.
- The Haţeg-Retezat Land has been certified as an ecotourism destination by the competent authorities in the autumn of 2016.
- Site: www.turismretezat.ro
- Access to Haţeg Land can be made from the town of Simeria, from Banat in the Bistriţa valley, passing through the Iron Gates of Transylvania, or also from Petroşani through the Merişor-Bănita Pass.
- In Retezat National Park, visiting centers where you can get useful information and buy sightseeing tickets and maps are located in Nucşoara, Gura Apei, Cârnic, Ostrovel and Pietrele Chalet. Make sure to keep your entry ticket as it can be used unlimited for seven days from the date of purchase.
- Before you go on a hike, be sure to check the weather and routes or hire a local guide.