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In the Nagyhagymás Mountain, 24 km from Gheorgheni, is one of the most beautiful and fascinating lakes in Transylvania, it is positioned 983 m above sea level and can be reached by national road 12-C.
The lake formed in the summer of 1837 when a large amount of red rock from a slope of the mountain crashed down after several days of heavy rain. The resulting rubble dammed up several streams in the valley forming the Red Lake.
The sediment of the Verse Stream is often rusty colored and gives the lake its distinctive red color, hence the name, “Red Lake”. Local folklore for the name of the lake establishes a link between the “red” and “killer” epithets by referencing a legend which speaks of the collapse of the mountain onto the valley beneath, completely burying grazing sheep and their shepherds under the rock face, their blood flowing into the waters of the lake turning it red.
A part of the charm of the lake is the remnants of the flooded pine forest. Stumps of the trees, which decayed through the years, are visible above the water. As the flooded forest rapidly died, the remaining stumps beneath the surface have been preserved by calcium oxide and iron oxide present in the water.
The trees that initially remained in the newly formed lake have been steadily decaying. Photographs from a century ago show the trees protruding 3-5 meters above the water, now, the preserved stumps barley reach 1-1.5 meters above the waters surface.
The lake is further enhanced by the beauty of the overhanging limestone rocks, which are as follows: Gyilkos-hegy (1.381 m), Kis-Cohárd (1.352 m), Nagy-Cohárd (1.507 m).
Annual measurements of lake sediment show a thickness of 4.88 cm. Without human intervention, it is predicted that by 2080, these sediment deposits could cause the lake to completely disappear being filled in by these deposits.
A Gyilkos-tavat elhagyva érünk be a Békás-patak völgyébe, a Békás-szorosba. Ez a Keleti-Kárpátok legszebb és leghosszabb szurdokvölgye (5km). A tényleges szorosnak három fő része van: a Pokol kapuja, a Pokol tornáca és a Pokol torka. A szoros a 200-300 méter magas, függőleges sziklafalaival Európa egyik természeti ritkasága és a hegymászók paradicsoma.
Csaknem valamennyi szikla függőleges oldalával fordul a Békás-patak medre felé, magas falat alkotva. A környező hegycsúcsok átlag 1.300 m magasak. A szoros legzordabb része a “Pokol tornáca”. Az Oltárkő (1154 m) a Békás-szoros legszembetűnőbb szikla-alakulata.
Jól elkülönül környezetétől és az egész szurdokvölgy fölött uralkodik. Csúcsára a Békás-szoros legszebb sziklamászó útjai vezetnek. Először a brassói alpinisták jutottak fel rá 1935-ben, ma három alpinista-útvonal vezet a csúcsra. A varázslatos szépségű szurdokvölgy úgy keletkezett, hogy a víz fentről lefelé mosta ki a mészkövet. A sziklafalak tele vannak repedésekkel, barlangjáratokkal.
Egyetlen ismert nagyobb barlangjárata a Hóvirág-barlang. A Gyilkos-tó és a Békás-szoros 1996-ban nemzeti park rangra emelkedett. Az itteni növényritkaságok közé tartozik a tiszafa, a különféle kővirágok és a nehezen hozzáférhető helyeken a havasi gyopár.
The castle of Lazarea, Harghita County, is a major tourist attraction, alongside the Gothic cathedral in Ditrau, only 6 km away. The 19th Century Hungarian writer, historian, ethnographer and journalist Orban Balazs mentions the Lazarea Castle in his writings: “a noteworthy old castle of the Lazar counts.”
What distinguishes it from other castles is its Renaissance architectural style. The Lazarea Castle, built under Prince Bethlen Gabor in the first half of the 17th Century, is one of the few in Transylvania built in this style.
As the name of the castle indicates, the castle belonged to the Lazar family, of the local nobility, which was rising in the early Baroque age. It was built in several stages, by successive generations of the family. The first stage began in the 15th Century, when the stone tower above today’s portal was built. The tower used to be surrounded by a wooden fence, intended to protect the housing area. The name Lazar was first mentioned in the early 15th century, in a document dating back to 1406.
A century later, in 1506, Lazar Andras, a notable Szeckler, chairs a local council. He is the one who orders the construction of a stone wall and of a watchtower. His son, Lazar Janos I, extends the wall to its current size, builds two rooms above the gate tower and later adds a second floor. The text on the gate, written with Gothic characters, mentions the year 1532 as the date when the construction was completed.
But with the Ottoman power on the rise in the 16th Century, which the local nobility regarded as a threat, one of Janos’ sons, Lazar Istvan II, strengthens the defence features of the building. He builds the outer bastions, reinforces the weaker walls facing the Szarmany Hill, where he builds double walls and several towers, and consolidates the north-western bastion.
The best-known member of the family, Lazar Istvan IV, was born in 1597. Much of his huge wealth was the result of the privileges he received in exchange for services provided to the Prince of Transylvania, Bethlen Gabor.
He monitored the completion of the fortifications of the castle to which a council hall, a Franciscan monastery and a prison were subsequently added. The Italian Renaissance style with turrets and loopholes dates back to his time. This style can also be encountered in Austria, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.
Lazar Istvan the 4th got involved in the anti-Ottoman fight started by Bethlen Gabor and continued by his successors. His son, Ferenc, was the ally of the Habsburgs and at 22, years of age, in 1702, he received the title of count. His promising career was ended in 1706 by the emperor of Austria for the fact that Ferenc had allied with the anti-Habsburg movement of Rakoczi Ferenc 2nd.
In 1707 Austrian general Acton set the castle on fire in retaliation for the fact that Rakoczi’s insurgents had taken refuge there. The fire marked the beginning of the decline of the castle that was never re-constructed to reach its former grandeur. During the 18th century the castle was the bone of contention between heirs while by mid 19th century it had gone derelict. Reconstruction works only partially managed to turn the castle into a local museum and an area for fine artists to create new works.
The castle in Lazarea, is today a contemporary art museum. It is also home to a permanent exhibition of painted eggs and zoological specimens. The council hall is the venue for medieval, choral and chamber music concerts while the premises of the castle offer visitors a full panorama of the surroundings.
The 65 million year old Sugo Cave is a natural rarity. Situated 13 kilometers from Gheorgheni, the first description of the cave is from 1930. The cave’s name, “Sugo”, is due to the rustling or sighing noise made by the constant flow of air through the complex.
There are three known entrances and three levels of which two are dry and one is wet. At various points of the main tunnels are significant halls within the cave: (Buzoganyterem, Letrasterem, Gyokerterem, Szoszek, Rokak terme, Omlas terme). In every tunnel of the cave there are unequalled specimens of stalagmites and stalactites. The known length of Sugo Cave is about 750 meters.
In 1931, the bones of the Cave Bear (Ursus Spelaeus), which became extinct 27,500 years ago, were found in Sugo Cave. These bones are now held in the museum at Cluj Napoca.