Take a walk in Corund!

Corund walk

Corund walk

A few days ago we’ve been invited to a small town, which we had known as a traditional Transylvanian folk-wear and pottery-making little village. Because of the fact that it’s merely at a 75 kilometer distance from my city, we’ve previously been there a lot of times, but little did we know that with this trip the image of Corund that was once in our heads was about to change forever. People mostly stop by on their way to somewhere, to buy a little souvenir for the family, a vase, a plate or a little set of cups, so nobody really knows that Corund is much more versatile. 

Corund shops

Corund shops

As we got there right on time, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we were told that the meeting point would be in the big parking lot at 4 o’clock sharp. We were kindly greeted by the travel guide who told us that our ride would be here in seconds. Considering that the tour’s name was “A walk in Corund”, I began to wonder what kind of ride she was talking about when we heard the sound of hooves approaching.

the carriage

the carriage

Two beautiful and strong horses turn up, pulling a carriage after them, and suddenly a feeling of nostalgia surrounds me as I remember my first carriage ride at my grandparent’s house when I was very little. We begin to smile as we feel that this is going to be a very unique experience, and we also thought that in a way we should  have been expecting it, because what else is in better harmony in a rural and environmentally-friendly community than a carriage?

As we eagerly jump in, the guide starts explaining that we will have 6 stops along the way, the tour might take from 3 to 3 and a half hours and shows us our tickets. (Tickets can be previously purchased at the info booth or you can buy them directly from the guide). The price of a ticket is 20 RON (about 4,5-5 euros) and assures you entrance to the sights as well as the services of a tour guide.

the ticket

the ticket

The carriage was a real blessing, because the heat started to be unbearable and the distinctive way the wind blew in our faces made the trip much easier. Our first stop was a place called Snail Hill (on one hand because it used to look like a shell, on the other hand because there are a lot of snails), which is considered to be the largest aragonite occurrence in Romania, thus being a geological reservation. A lovely Szekler gate greeted us at the entrance with the words “The Home of the Szekler Diamond” being engraved in it. We soon found out that the aragonite was used for making different nick-knacks and ornaments. These ornaments were quite valuable, only the aristocracy could afford them, so the Szekler people made quite a fortune out of it.

snails everywhere

snails everywhere

szekler gate

szekler gate

the pathway

the pathway

aragonite

aragonite

We then arrived to a little spring of salt water, which is bubbly because of the high pressure of carbon-dioxide. It also contains gas and hydrocarbons, hence the funky smell. When we reached the peak of the hill, a beautiful panoramic view of the surroundings emerged in front of us. There were some panels exhibited and the guide told us the stories of the neighboring hills and villages.

the spring

the spring

panorama

panorama

Our second stop was the Aragonite Museum, freshly opened only two weeks ago. It exhibits and displays all kind of ornaments made out of aragonite, a short history about the exploitation of this particular rock,  tools and utensils they used, the story about the man behind it (Knop Vencel), and some photos  back from the day of the szekler population helping at the quarry.

old photos

old photos

aragonite ornaments

aragonite ornaments

Knop Vencel's story

Knop Vencel’s story

The next checkpoint was the Árcsó natural mineral water spring, where we could soothe our thirst. We even took home with us a bottle of it, because it has a really nice taste and it’s really clean. The most important part is that it’s really healthy for the immune system, because it’s highly ferrous (has a lot of iron in it). It also contains a certain amount of carbon-dioxide, that’s why it’s called natural mineral water. The locals have a daily habit of drinking this precious water, they even stand in line waiting for their turn.

having a drink

having a drink

After a short breather we continued our journey and went to a Tinder Fungus Maestro, who showed us how his particular profession works. He actually collects the mushrooms from the foot of three-four hundred year old beech trees, dries them and puts them away. If properly dried, without any unwanted worms, he can work on a fungus even after 5-10 years (he softens them by putting them into hot water). You can achieve a great deal of stuff from ties to hats and even thongs, but sadly there are 5 masters left in Corund and very few around the world, so the profession is endangered.

tinder fungus

tinder fungus

a short demonstration

a short demonstration

hammering it to make it thin

hammering it to make it thin

finished works & the shapes

finished works & the shapes

Our next stop was at the Claysculptor’s Workshop, where the guy made a sculpture right in front of us in a matter of minutes, from a big block of clay. As  we were casually chit-chatting, we suddenly noticed that he made half the sculpture already. He was working quite fast with his hands, creating merchandise from basically nothing. He told us that once the sculptures are ready (dried and burnt), they can be sold for 150-200 RON a piece, depending on it’s size (that’s about 35-45 euros).

the beginning

the beginning

the legs

the legs

the body

the body

finished

finished

ready to sell

ready to sell

Our final stop was at the Natural Reservation Expo, where endangered species’ photos were exposed to raise awareness among tourists that they need to take care of their surroundings, no matter what they do. The Corund area was greatly illustrated with it’s natural uniqueness.

natural reservation exhibit

natural reservation exhibit

Natural reservation expo

Natural reservation expo

These were just a few words about the almost-four-hour-long tour, so if you’re in the area don’t hesitate to drop by! The tour guide offers a lot of interesting and rich information both for those who have come a long way, and for the one’s in the area that think they know Corund, but actually- they’d be pleasantly surprised..I know I was! 🙂

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