Ok, ok… you see snow in photos 😊 Agreed, this post took a while to be written, but I had almost forgotten about my trip to Miercurea Ciuc back in January. As I was cleaning up my laptop storage, guess what I found?! These great photos! How could I not share them? So… a few days after the discovery, read all about that time I visited Miercurea Ciuc. And since I am never short on advice, as you know from my other posts, see the top 5 things to do in Miecurea Ciuc and around, while you’re spending a week-end there (and if you read all the way through, you get a bonus :P).
Visit Miko Castle
Located in Miercurea Ciuc, the castle dates from the 17th century and it is considered the oldest building in Miercurea Ciuc. Since the 1970s, it doesn’t act as a fortress against the Otomans (go figure!) and has been repurposed as a museum. It now houses the Szekler Museum of the Ciuc.
A short history – the Szekler are people who are inhabiting the territory of Romania and are connected to the Hungarians. Their history is intertwined with the ones of Romanians who are inhabiting the same territory and is, sometime, cause for dispute between the two countries.
Going back to the castle – as mentioned, since it is now a museum, there are several permanent exhibits that you can visit. One of them, “Pace of time in Ciuc (Csík) – Folk snapshots of everyday life”, is rather interesting, as it presents day to day activities from the rural part of the area, complete to objects and customs that you can find only in older villages nowadays. For me, coming from Bucharest, it was really surprising to see how people were occupying their time in older days and how their daily activities were performed. This particular exhibition is very well curated, bringing to light accurate facts, costumes and folk objects.
Another exhibit that you can find in the museum is related to the preservation of sacred art treasures, with an emphasis on printing objects, old books and manuscripts. In the exhibition you can even find manuscripts from the 13th and 14th centuries and objects used to print various books, to decorate parchments or official documents.
From time to time, the museum holds various temporary exhibitions, mostly related to paintings and drawings. Whenever you visit, I suggest to check their website and decide which exhibition to see 😊
Walk the streets of Miercurea Ciuc
Like many other cities in Romania, Miercurea Ciuc is a combination of various architectural styles. Here we can find buildings built in a Neo-Romanian architectural style, but also impersonal buildings, built during the Communist regime.
I absolutely loved to walk the streets of Miercurea Ciuc, especially since it was cold and they were deserted. I got the chance to check out the beautiful buildings and enjoy the walk. Don’t imagine that in the summer, everything would be full, because Miercurea Ciuc is a rather small city and still not that touristic, so you will still be able to enjoy the urban scenery.
As I mentioned, in the city center you will be able to see examples of how ugly architecture during the Communist regime was. For me, these type of buildings are so impersonal, dark and do not bring any beauty. However, for the communists these were practical, built quickly, to show the citizens of the city how many good things the Communist Party can do. In most of the cities they were used as political meeting points for the party members or for various ceremonies, organized by the party.
One advantage, in my opinion, is that, in the city center, you have a huge plateau, which can be used for various fairs and ceremonies and concerts. They become, in those cases, a place where people come together, where it does not matter where you come from and where you are going, you just need to have fun!
Enjoy some fresh air in the Central Park
It was a surprise to discover this wonderful location. Even in winter, it was full of children, playing in snow, fighting with snow balls or building snowmen. It is a green oasis in the urban scene, meant to help visitors to relax and enjoy a quiet time.
At one point, I discovered still brightly colored box. I had to take a shot, just because of these colors. However, when I asked around about it, I was told that, in the warmer seasons, people leave books in there or take something from there themselves. I think it is just a good idea, showing a community that considers culture still an important item in the day to day life.
Visit the Franciscan Monastery in Sumuleu district
Located just outside Miercurea Ciuc, this church has a very interesting history. It was built in the 15th century, by one of Hungary’s most important rulers, János Hunyadi (Iancu de Hunedoara, in Romanian). It was meant to commemorate the victory of the Hungarians against the Turks, at Marosszentimre.
In the 19th century, the present church’s construction was started, in late baroque architectural style and lasted for more than 70 years.
Nowadays, the church is not only a pilgrimage place, for the Catholic Hungarians, on various holy days, but also a touristic attraction in Transylvania. It is, indeed, an architectural marvel, despite the fact that the outside does not show much of the greatness of the interior.
I particularly enjoyed the stained glass, which can be seen all around the church. These are actual works of art, depicting various saints and martyrs. This Roman Catholic church also hosts a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, known as the Weeping Mary. The 12-meter-high aisle hosts magnificent paintings by Italian and Hungarian painters.
Outside, the monastery has a beautiful garden, where people gather to chat some more, after the service has ended. In the winter, the trees provide a spectacular, surreal show, that I managed to capture at a perfect moment.
Spend a day in Harghita-Bai
Located approximately 20 km outside Miercurea Ciuc, this place is definitely a “must visit”. In the winter, you can ski, enjoy a fun ride on a horse drawn sled or just play around in the snow. The resort has 4 different ski slopes, with a funicular installation, with different difficulty degrees. It is a perfect location for both beginner and advanced skiers.
The resort is best known for its mofettes. Ok, ok… I get it, you have no idea what that mean! I didn’t either. So, I looked it up. A mofette is a fissure in the earth’s bark, through which carbon dioxide emanates. In Harghita-Bai, there are two mofettes, which produce carbonated mineral water, with various chemical compositions, useful for both internal and external use. These are prescribed as cures for various conditions, by medical doctors. That is why Harghita Bai is very visited in the summer time, as well, and not only in the winter.
Moreover, Harghita Bai offers such a beautiful alpine scenery, it would be ashamed not to enjoy a bit of fresh air here.
Soooo… since you have been patient and read all the way through here, my gift for you is a small bonus 😊
On your way to Miercurea Ciuc, from Bucharest, stop by Tusnad-Bai. This is another type of resort as the one mentioned before. It is a great location to relax, rest and enjoy the mountain side. Also, in the winter, a dog sled competition usually takes place. You can then enjoy the beauty of the sled dogs. They are so well behaved and friendly. Or, if you are a sportier type, there is also a chance for some skiing. The slope is prepared for the approximately 4 months a year it is used. Or, just take in the scenery, walk around the small town and take in the winter wonderland. If you visit in the summer, you will be able to enjoy the magnificent green of the trees, so all is not lost.
While you are in the area, you definitely need to try the local food. Whether you are having polenta, with cheese and sour cream or the adapted version of the Wiener Schnitzel, cooked with cheese and dry plums, your taste buds will definitely be thrilled. Top tip: you have to try out the chestnut purée! It is incredibly smooth and tasty. It was so good, I was not even able to remember to take a photo…. So, you can understand why this is a top tip 😛
For my part, I was truly surprised by these locations. I would definitely have stayed more than a week-end, but who knows… I might be back sooner rather than later 😊