- geographical situation: it is located in the central-northern part of Romania, on the upper course of the Somesul Mare river and includes the contact area between the Somes Plateau
and Transylvanian Plateau and the mountain region of the Rodna, Tibles and Calimani Mountains;
- neighbours: in the north-Maramures; in the west-Cluj; in the south-east-Mures; in the east-Suceava;
- surface: 7,544 square km (respectively 2,2 % of the country-s territory);
- population: 633,629 inhabitants;
- towns: BISTRITA-capital of the county (with 86.000 inhabitants, located on the Bistrita Ardeleana river, in an intrahill depression at an altitude of 365 m); Beclean; Nasaud; Sangeorz Bai.
- relief: it is formed of hill regions with mountain massifs (the Tibles Mountains in the north-west, the Rodna Mountains in the north-with the Ineu peak, 2280 m, towards Maramures, and the Bargau Mountains in the north-east, where legend says Dracula-s castle was and the Calimani Mountains, in the south-east, towards Moldovia), and the Transylvanian Plateau (knolls and hills belonging to the Somes Plateau, to the Transylvanian Plain and to the Transylvanian Sub-Carpathians), in the south-east;
- climate: it is moderate continental, with small geographical variations, so that in the high regions of the Rodna Mountains the annual average temperature is of 00C, and in the region with hills, in the south east, is of 90C, variable rainfalls, winds blowing from west;
- watercourses: the basin of Somesul Mare (with its tributaries Sieul and Salcuta), flowing from east to west, crosses the whole county, followed by Bistri-leana, Rebra, Tibles.
- The Bargau Mountains-(with the Heniul Mare Peak, 1611 m), they represent a touristic area of great attraction because of the volcanic cones and the endless forests which form a pictoresque landscape;
- The Tihuta Gorge-or the Bargau Gorge, at an altitude of 1227 m, near the little resort Piatra Fantanelor, with ski and sledge tracks. From here one can admire the beautiful panorama of the surrounding mountains. Through these mountains the characters of Bram Stoker-s famous novel Dracula travelled, novel inspired by an old Transylvanian legend which is known all over the world giving cold shivers to millions of persons. According to Bram Stoker, this was the region where the terrifying vampire had his castle, region described as follows: -an increasingly wild and deserted land. Many deep, threatening precipices, many waterfalls, as if nature would have celebrated a carnival here-;
- The Caliman Mountains-massive and with strange volcanic-Karst phenomena;
- The Tibles Mountains-with the Tibles peak, (1839 m).
- The -Izvorul Tausoarelor- Cave-(near Rebrisoara, not far from the Barlea Peak in the Rodna Mountains, on the left side of the Izvorul Tausoarelor Valley), it is the deepest cave in Romania-478,5 m, the length of the underground galleries is of 16,5 km. This cave has an interesting and rare underground hydrographic system, as well as a varied fauna all giving it great scientific value;
- The -Jgheabul lui Zalion- Cave-it is located at the springs of the Paraul Orb, with a 242 m difference of level, making it the second one in Romania;
- The Maglia Cave-on the right side of the Izvorul Magliei creek;
- -Pestera Zanelor- (The Fairies- Cave)-(at an altitude of 1435 m).
GORGES AND VALLEYS
- The Gorges and the Valley of Bistrita Ardeleana-with 65 km, they offer a charming landscape, starting from an altitude of 1562 m-the Calimani Mountains. Their clear waters fall among big fir trees creating norrow gorges with steep walls and -The Devil-s Waterfall--at the entrance of the gorges;
- The Repedea Valley-it forms a complex preserve (zoological, floristic and faunal) stretching on 7 km among the volcanic formations of the Calimani Mountains, its surface is scattered with impressive rocks of various shapes (-mushrooms-, -apostles-, -pillars-) giving the place a unique charm.
- The Lala Mare Lake-(near the Ineu Peak, at an altitude of 2279 m), one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Romania;
- The Lala Mica Lake;
- The Ineu Lake;
- The Cetatele Lake-or -Taul Caianului-, near Caianul Mic, lake protected by law;
- The Colibita Lake-artificial dam, (in the Bargau Mountains);
- The -Taul Zanelor--complex preserve.
PRESERVES AND MONUMENTS OF NATURE
- The Dendrological Park-Arcalia, (17 km west of Bistrita, near the Arcalia village), it has a surface of 16 hectares, with more than 150 species of trees and bushes from various parts of the world: silver fir tree, Caucasian spruce tree, Japanese acacia;
- -Piatra Corbului- (The Raven-s Stone)-geological and floristic preserve, (5 km away from Budacul de Sus), in the Calimani Mountains;
- The Salt Mountain of Saratel-geological preserve, (12 km south-west of Bistrita);
- The Glade with Daffodils-in the Saca Massif;
- -Rapa cu papusi- The Cliff with Dolls-(near Domnesti), geological preserve with various concretions shaped by nature over the geological ages;
- -Rapa mare- The Big Cliff-(near Budacul de Sus), 20 km south-east of Bistrita, paleontologic preserve.
- Sangeorz Bai-(56 km from Bistrita and 31 km from Nasaud, it is a beautiful spa situated in a depression-at an altitude of 465 m, surrounded by volcanic knolls, covered with beech forests. The spa has rich springs of -Hebe- mineral water, documentary attested since 1770. The climate is moderate continental, sub-alpine, with chilly summers and winters deprived of frosts, the average temperature varies around 7oC. Of the treatment facilities, we can mention: devices for electro- and hydrotherapy, facilities for internal mineral water cure, devices for warm treatments with mud and paraffin. Access: by train-the railway station Sangeorz Bai, on Ilva Mica-Rodna Veche line, by road-DJ 171 from Nasaud;
- Colibita-spa, at an altitude of 830 m, 18 km away from Prundul Bargaului, on the right side of the Bargau Mountains;
- Piatra Fantanelor-at an altitude of 1,100 m, near Tihuta Pass, a ski centre;
- Valea Vinului (The Wine Valley)-spa, at an altitude of 800 m altitudine, 8 km away from Rodna.
- The Ruins of the Ciceu Fortress-Ciceu- Giurgesti, (1203-1204), it was one of the strong fortresses in the Middle Ages and belonged to several Moldavian rulers, starting with Stephen the Great in 1489 until the reign of Alexandru Lapusneanu;
- The Coopers- Tower-Bistrita, (1465-1575), with three levels and a height of 35 m, the only preserved tower of the medieval fortresses of Bistrita;
- The Ruins of the Roman Camp-Orheiu Bistritei, (2nd and 3rd century A.D.), of big size;
- The Ruins of Rodna Fortress-Rodna, (10th century), important fortress in the Middle Ages.
- The Evangelic Church, Bistrita-it was built in the 15th century in Gothic style (with some later changes in the Rennaisance style). We can find inside the church pews carved in 1516, and also a collection of Oriental carpets from the 16th century. The tower of the church dominates the town with its height (75m);
- The Orthodox Church-Bistrita, (1270-1280), at the beginning it was church of the former Minorite Monastery;
- Church-Beclean, (15th century);
- Evangelic Church-Dumitra, (1488);
- Evangelic Church-Herina, (1250-1260), Romanesque style;
- Church- Rodna, (13th century);
- The Vad Monastery-Ciceu, it was built by Stephen the Great, in Moldavian style.
- The Sugalete Gallery-Bistrita, it is placed in the central square and consists in a range of buildings. It was built in the 15th-17th centuries, in Gothic and Renaissance styles (the main feature is the ground floor gallery, with many vaults);
- The Silversmith-s House-Bistrita, it was built in the 16th century, in Renaissance style, today a department of the County Museum;
- The Memorial House -George Cosbuc-- George Cosbuc, (12 km away from Nasaud), it is the house were the big poet George Cosbuc (1866-1918) was born. Some aspects of the life and activity of the -peasants poet- (he wrote in moving verses the desire of the Romanian peasant: -We want land-) are illustrated here.
- The Memorial Museum -Liviu Rebreanu-- Liviu Rebreanu, (3 km away from Nasaud), it exhibits personal objects, documents, pictures of the famous novelist who enriched our literature with great novels like: -Ion-, -Rascoala- (The Rebellion) etc.
MONUMENTS AND STATUES
- The Statue of Andrei Muresanu-Bistrita, in the Central Square, it was built in memory the of the revolutionist from 1848, a great personality of the Romanian culture, the author of the Romanian national anthem (-Romanians- National Awakening-), verses which, since December 1918, have found again meaning inside the Romanians- hearts;
- The Statue of the Poet George Cosbuc-Bistrita, in the park of the town.
- The ethnographical universe of this area is one of amazing variety, consisting in rural art (rich and full of imagination), folklore treasure (very varied) and interesting traditions and customs of the villages. We can mention a few centres: Bargau (carpets and pottery); Bistrita Bargaului (rural textures and seams); Ilva Mare (folk costume with coloured sews); Sant (houses with stone gates, a real museum of folk art).
Source: Romanian Travel Guide / Publirom