Although it is by far not as famous as its Southern sister, Northern Transylvania is a small treasure chest waiting to be discovered. Century old traditions, Roman and medieval sites and mouthwatering dishes (also a result of the cultural melting pot Transylvania has always been) are quite unknown to the frequent travelers.
We will depart in the morning from Cluj and drive to Zalau, a small industrial town, which is the capital of the Salaj county. This was also the place where the Roman Empire once reached its Eastern borders, reason why a big fortification was built, and a great army was brought to defend it. The city was called Porolissum and one can still visit the ruined walls and towers that once defended the Roman world from the invading Asian enemies.
From here, we will depart to Simleul Silvaniei, a small city which was once inhabited by important German and Jewish communities. Sadly, most of the Jews were deported during the Holocaust and a museum was erected to remind people of these tragic times. After visiting it, we will go to the small village of Carastelec. Although it is one of the oldest wine regions in Transylvania, most of the vineyards were deserted during the communist era and this century-old tradition seemed to be lost. Nevertheless, in 2011, the wine plantation started again and nowadays, the Carastelec wines are becoming more and more popular throughout the country. We will get the chance to visit the winery and taste the wines produced here, as well as find out more about Carastelec and Salaj County.
After this, we will continue our journey into the cultural and gastronomic Transylvanian world and reach Badacin. Although it is a small village, its importance in the Romanian history is extremely essential: Iuliu Maniu, one of the country’s most important politicians, who died in a communist prison, was born here. Our visit to the village has another purpose: we are searching for THE regional brand: the local brandy called tuica or palinka. A local family has a long tradition in distilling brandy and they are waiting for us. We will visit the production sites, see the orchards and understand the principles behind this fantastic craft, as well as taste different types of brandy. Delicious homemade products, such as the local Badacin Pie, will complete our culinary journey to Northern Transylvania.
In the evening, we will return to Cluj.