Horezu Depression (Romania)
The Horezu depression combines five localities, namely Horezu town and its adjacent main villages, Costesti, Maldaresti, Vaideeni and Slatioara. It is located at the foot of the Capatânii mountains and sub-Carpathian area. Horezu is at the heart of the valley which characterises a community united in its linguistic, cultural and traditional features.
The valley has an exceptional cultural and natural patrimony which the area benefits from. From the tourist’s point of view, the valley is characterised by many peculiarities which grant this destination individuality and uniqueness. There are numerous natural monuments and as many as 93 cultural and historical monuments, enlisted by the Ministry of Culture.
A unique landscape
The area’s natural geographic environment consists of a mountainous area covering nearly two thirds of its surface, woods, pastures, hay fields and orchards. The Capatânii mountains offers the highest peaks such as Ursu (2 124 m) and Cosana (2 011 m).
The region is criss-crossed with many brooks – Costesti, Bistrita, Bistricioara, Horezu, Râmesti, Luncavecior, Luncavat, Recea, Marita and Cerna. Most of these brooks cross the limestone streak at the southern end of the Capatânii mountains; in the Buila-Vânturarita massif, the water left its mark on the karst relief made of impressive gorges (Bistritaand Pietreni gorges - particularly wild) and caves (the Bat’s cave).
The climate differs depending on the relief and altitude. The temperate and Mediterranean influenced climate of the valley contrasts with the high mountainous area’s snow that lasts over 180 days a year and offers an extended skiable domain such as Zmeuretu, Govora and Valeanu. The flora develops according to the geographic features of the region – coniferous forests and orchards cover the hills.
An enriching walk
Orthodox Romanian heritage and culture marks the region. The Hurez monastery, a UNESCO monument, is one of the region’s symbols. The diversity of the natural surroundings and historical buildings in the area is astounding and offers a wide array of possibilities to tourists. Among other religious monuments, the 500 years old Bistrita monastery housed the first printing press in Wallachia, and the first book ever to be printed on Romanian land in the 16th century. The Maldaresti fortified houses (Cule) are perfectly preserved fortified dwellings that served for defence during the medieval period. They offer a perspective of local architecture that dates back to medieval times. They are also rare sights of ethnography and folk art that can only be found in some localities.
Mineral springs in the Costesti village with therapeutic properties have been proved over time with a treatment base in the Costesti baths and balneoclimatic spa. The gorges of the Bistrita, Costesti and Pietreni are Romania’s narrowest and most impressive limestone gorges.
A visit to Pestera Liliecilor, the bat caves, can be an interesting affair. The Trovanti museum in Costesti is a natural reserve strewn with huge gritstone rock formations that are of scientific and tourist interest due to their dimensions and zoomorphic aspect.
The Horezu enamelled pottery – unique to Romania through its chromatics and floral motives – is emblematic of the region. And, its ceramics are known worldwide. These objects preserve the local tradition and display Byzantine influences that have turned the craft into a brand for the Horezu valley. Traditional tools such as the potter’s wheel, the jay, the horn or the oven, and decorating elements such as the stylized flowers, the spirals, the garlands or the dots, as well as the “Cocos de Hurez” (the Hurez cock) highlight Horezu pottery’s uniqueness.
Elements of material and immaterial ethno-culture are the legacy of two traditional cultures of mountainous areas Oltenia and Mărginimea Sibiului Surroundings (situated in the north of Capatanii Mountains), whose inhabitants live and interfere for hundreds of years on these lands due to the ancient occupation of shepherds and to the phenomenon of "transhumance" (moving sheeps from mountain to plain and vice versa and all rites that this phenomenon involves); these elements, through their artistic and touristic value, make the area unique.
Shepherds long influenced the regional cuisine bringing together milk-based products (jintita, urda, balmos), and lamb and mutton-based products.
Several villages preserve traditional crafts and folklore – traditional costumes, weaving, embroidery, as well as the making of sheepskin coats, artistic woodwork, wool processing, architecture. Fairs and cultural events with choirs, whistle-players and folk dancers emphasise this ethno-cultural richness.