What can you visit during a two days trip to Transylvania, in Romania? I asked myself the same question while deciding to have a short trip to “Țara Hațegului” (The land of Hațeg) in Transylvania with my friends. The primary purpose of this trip was to go paragliding, but that would take half an hour at best. We had an entire weekend at our disposal to discover the beauty of this region, and we found even more than we expected.
Țara Hațegului has a special meaning to me. It is a place that inspires me through breathtaking sceneries. Also, this is one of the richest areas in Romania, from a historical point of view.
There are two Sarmisegetuza fortresses in Transylvania
Țara Hațegului was the most important political, military, and religious center in ancient Dacia. If you visit the place, you will discover two fortresses with almost the same name, located pretty much near each other. One is called Sarmisegetuza Regia, and you will find it in the middle of the forest, and the other one is called Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa.
What is the significance of each of these two sites?
So that it is easier to understand, here’s a short history lesson about Romania and how it came to be as we know it today:
- Sarmisegetuza Regia, or “The City of Kings” was the capital of the ancient Dacian Empire. The Dacian people built it into the mountains, in the middle of the forest. In this way, it was harder to find and be conquered by the invaders.
- Dacians are the ancestors of Romanian people. They were a nation of warriors. The Greeks called them also “Geți.” The first documents they were mentioned in date back from 514 BC.
- Curious fact: archaeologists couldn’t find any graves of the ancient Dacian people. It is believed that the dead were incinerated.
- Unfortunately, there is little information about the religious practices they were practicing in their temples. It remains a mystery until today.
- The Roman Empire conquered Dacia in 106 AD, and they ruled for 165 years. The capital of the new Roman region then moved to Ulpia Traiana Sarmisegetuza. It is the second archeological site that you will find 40 km away from Sarmisegetuza Regia.
While it is interesting to visit both sites, my recommendation is that Sarmisegetuza Regia is a must-see. 🙂 The secular forest that surrounds it, the beauty of nature, and the mountains around it make it an incredibly beautiful and peaceful place.
Sarmisegetuza Regia is part of UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites
Densuși Church – the oldest church in Romania
“Țara Hațegului” is also the place where you will find the oldest church in Romania. Densuși Church was build in the 12th century. The rocks used as a building material come from Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa. The architecture is very different from all of the other churches you will see in Romania.
In the beginning, this place was a Dacian temple. Then, after the Romans conquered Dacia, they transformed the site into a sanctuary dedicated to the God of Mars (God of War).
Apart from these historical sites, you can also go hiking in the area. The natural landscape is pretty amazing, and for sure you will find some beautiful places to relax. Or, if you are passionate about photography, for sure, you will find some awesome inspiring places where you can take pictures. Guaranteed.
These areas are included in Retezat National Park, the first National Park established in Romania. It is also called the “Blue-eyed land” because of the multitude of glacial lakes.
If you enjoy spending time outdoors and you can’t get enough of exploring the wilderness, this place will bring you lots of joy. For a smooth and carefree trip, feel free to use Google Maps to find all these places. They are pretty much close to each other, but they are only reachable if you go there by car.
If you have any questions or wish to share your own experience with these places, feel free to comment in the section below.