Buila Vinturarita National Park - Romania
Placed in the Romanian Carpathians, Buila Vinturarita is the smallest national park in the country, just 4186 ha. It is like a compact, mountainous island less than 14 km long and 4 km wide. The average altitude is about 1200 m, while the highest peaks are over 1800 m high. The region contains large deposits of limestone, with spectacular exokarst shapes such as peaks, gorges, steep slopes, detritus valleys, and endokarst features such as over one hundred caves.
Due to its isolated nature, traditions, beliefs and handicrafts are very well preserved. The climate has sub-Mediterranean influences, so both alpine and Mediterranean fauna and flora species can be encountered.
The entire area of the park has been proposed as a Natura 2000 site because of its rich biodiversity: all Carpathian big predators (brown bear, wolf, lynx, wild cat) and herbivore (chamois, red deer, roe deer) are present, there are 17 important forest and meadows habitats and a large variety of glacial relict, endemic, rare and threatened flora species.
Ancient human activities such as sheep breeding, beekeeping, wood carving and pottery are still practiced. Ceramics produced in the Buila Vinturarita are famous all around the world, not only because of their fine quality, but also because interesting pre-Christian symbols are depicted on them, i.e. the Hurezu rooster, snakes, the sun, trees etc.
Inside the National Park boundaries there are two Christian Orthodox monasteries and two convents. The most significant is the Bistrita convent, built in the 15th century. In its vicinity there are two hermitages built in the Grigorie Decapolit cave. Near the National Park there are 19 monasteries (established in the 14th century), hermitages and churches, one of them, the Hurezi convent, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Local feasts such as the Pottery Festival, the Golden Beecomb, the Gipsy Festival and several religious feasts (hram) are considered national and international events. Both the wilderness and the religious facilities, once isolated among mountain clouds, are facing now increasing number of visitors, who want to discover the area.
Responsible: Sebastian Catanoiu