The Hungarian Area of Transylvania: Harghita
For those of you (like us) that didn’t realize, there’s a solid Hungarian presence in the center of Romania. The area, Harghita, is unique, complex and interesting. Curious, almost.
We noticed the gates first. The Székely Gates are large wooden carved gates, famed for their intricate detail and dove-cotted designs (carvings of flowers, insignia or family symbols).
They’re large enough for carts or cars to get through, with a small people-sized door to one side. Some are colorfully painted; some are natural wood. Many museums vie for the chance to have one authentic gate in their collection, worldwide.
We wound up staying at a lovely place close to Satu Mare which had the oldest gate in the region (200 years-!) and was run by a beekeeper. We spent a quiet and relaxing evening, minus Armando’s camera panic.
He’d had a problem with a rattle in his camera, and it simply stopped opening. It turns out that a teensy screw had come loose and dropped inside, shorting out the entire camera.
A hobbyist in the town took in the camera and repaired it overnight- for a fraction of the cost Panasonic would have charged. Not to mention the fact that it could have taken a month and a half for its return. (Thank you, Bomher Gyula Repair Services: cameras, computers and electronics).
The next day we had a meeting at Kovats Photography Studios, where we met Zoltan (our guide and translator) and the owners. We did an interview with one of the owners and took footage of this amazing historical place.
It’s one of the oldest photo studios still around- and functioning, not a museum- in Europe. They use the original backdrops and cameras, all over 100-years-old. They now also offer workshops to have a photo taken, go into the darkroom and get a finalized print. How cool is that? (Photo/Graphics, Anne, thought of you both here).
Two quick notes of things we also found interesting: the Romany/Gypsies here dress to impress. The women look gorgeous in brightly colored skirts, shirts and scarves embellished with sequins. They literally shine as they walk. Their gents are like dapper fellas that stepped out of the 1920s. Tailored suits, vests, shined shoes and slicked back hair. Just wow.
The second note: many people who live in Harghita identify their citizenship as Romanian but their nationality as Hungarian. Some of them spend time in such a small portion of their home* area, they don’t speak Romanian.
Our Easter was spent quietly camping next to a creek in the middle of nowhere. We loved and needed those few days to relax. We’re now in Corund, and we’ll be off to the Salt Canyon, the Plateau and perhaps the crazy Turda Salt Mine by the end of the week.
We’ll keep you posted on our Romanian travels and learnings as we go. From one of our more interesting parking spots, ever, M, A & Mork