Top Traditional Areas
Romania is one of the few countries in Europe where folk traditions are still well preserved, and that is especially true in areas such as Maramures, the land where modernity hasn’t yet obliterated the traditional lifestyle of their inhabitants. Let’s take a look at the top traditional areas in Transylvania.
The Land of Maramures
No other Romanian traditional area can rival Maramures when it comes to authentic folk culture. Unlike other areas, in Maramures traditions are not only alive, but they are thriving – walk through a traditional village, and you’ll see old women in tradition dress, people working the land just like their ancestors, beautifully sculpted gateways and homes, and above all, the towering wooden churches that made Maramures famous throughout the world. A civilization of wood, Maramures is also a deeply spiritual place, where time appears to be slowing down and harmony sooths the soul of weary city-born travelers.
The Outskirts of Sibiu
Just west of Sibiu, cradled between the rivers Saliste and Sadu, Marginimea Sibiului (literally, the Outskirts of Sibiu) is one of the finest Romanian traditional areas, an idyllic place that teems with traditional culture to this day. Traditionally, Marginimea Sibiului has been inhabited by Romanian craftsmen and shepherds, that regularly crossed the Carpathians during their seasonal transhumance, thus maintaining essential links to the Romanians in Wallachia. The Romanian traditional elements harmoniously intertwined with the Saxon culture, creating a unique multicultural area. To this day, people of Marginimea Sibiului dress up for major events in traditional black and white folk costumes.
The Motilor Land
Tara Motilor (The Motilor Land) is the cradle of Romanian spirituality in Transylvania. The Moti are the inhabitants of the rugged Apuseni Mountains in central Transylvania, hardy, modest people that have been earning their living from woodworking, shepherding and mining since the dawn of time. Due to their geographical isolation and proud independence, the Moti have kept alive many of their ancestral traditions. Perhaps the most picturesque example is the Girl Fair of Gaina Mountain, a yearly folk festival that was originally an occasion for young girls to show their dowry and find a worthy suitor.
Tara Secuilor (Szekely Land) is a region in central Romania comprising parts of Harghita, Covasna, and Mures counties that is inhabited by secui (in Hungarian szekely), a Hungarian population, along with a minority population of Romanian and Germans. Most of the Hungarians in Romania are concentrated in this mountainous region that once served to protect the Kingdom of Hungary against attackers. The Szekely are fiercely independent and proud people that managed to preserve their traditional culture. Traditional elements that survive to this day include folk costumes and traditional cuisine, such as the famed kurtoskalacs.
The Land of Hateg
Out of all traditional areas of Romania, Tara Hategului (The Land of Hateg) is probably one of the richest and most diverse. Home to the ancient capital of Dacia, Sarmizegetusa, and many other historic landmarks, Tara Hategului awaits visitors with picturesque landscapes and elements of authentic traditional culture. Medieval churches, a wisent reserve, paleontological reserves, castles, natural parks – these are just some of the attractions that people in Tara Hategului pride themselves with. For those interested in folk culture, the Village Museum in Pesteni and the Tara Hategului Museum in Hateg exhibit traditional costumes, domestic objects, furniture, tools, and more.
The Land of Fagaras
Tara Fagarasului (The Land of Fagaras) is a region in central Romania delimited by the middle course of the Olt river to the north and the Fagaras Mountains, the highest in Romania, to the south. Historically, Tara Fagarasului was a distinct region separate from Transylvania, that was owned as a personal property by the princes of Wallachia or Transylvania, depending on the historic period. Tara Fagarasului boasts several historic monuments, including the well-preserved Fagaras Citadel, while tourists can admire a rich collection of traditional costumes, tools, art, and other objects at the History Museum of Fagaras.
The Land of Nasaud
The Land of Nasaud traditional area is located in northeastern Transylvania, covering a mountainous landscape that was once the border of the Habsburg empire. While the city of Bistrita, the seat of the region, displays a distinctive Saxon and Hungarian heritage, the area of Nasaud, and especially the Somes Valley, shows a pronounced Romanian character. Due to the nature of the relief in the Nasaud area, people here have mostly earned their living from shepherding, but also beekeeping, woodworking, and fishing. One distinctive feature of traditional folk costumes from the area is the crest of peacock feathers worn on headwear by both men and women.