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The Land of Zarand is a fairytale land from among the smooth hills of the Apuseni, a charming corner of nature between the brooks and the valley of the Crişul Alb. Surrounded like a fortress by long hills and mountains rich in gold, this land reveals delightful sceneries, picturesque villages with ancient customs and an absolute quietness where only the birds of the sky and the murmur of water make their songs heard. Here, the Romanians in the Apuseni and Criş region, called 'moţi', live their lives according to the customs and traditions of the elders, preserving the archaic atmosphere unaltered. In Zarand, the traditional costume, the crafts and the folklore are the most valuable gifts of the villagers and which they pass on to their children.

The stone land of the Zarand carries the memory of the Transylvanian heroes – Horia, CloÅŸca, CriÅŸan and Avram Iancu, personalities who marked the history of this region, across times. On his road, the traveler will discover not only monuments raised for the revolutionaries, but also castles and stately fortresses, wooden and stone churches, caves, gorges, lakes and villages dotted about. The people of the CriÅŸ still know how to weave on the loom, how to sculpt the wood and shape the clay, but they win you over with their ways and with the stories they calmly tell. Visit the Land of Zarand and you will fall in love with this authentic rural universe which remains unchanged, with the splendid sceneries and the spiritual richness of true-born peasants.

Land of Zarand


Natural bridge at Grohot

Tourist Layovers in the Land of Zarand

Situated on hills and bright valleys defended by the crests of the Metaliferi Mountains and bathed by the CriÅŸul Alb, the Land of Zarand is first and foremost a genuine repository of traditions and of ancient occupations. For the people of the CriÅŸ, they represent an unalterable way of life, as the customs dictate the course of life and accompany the community’s important events. The museums, the churches, the folklore ensembles and the artisans preserve the connection with the past of these places, evoking the values of the moÅ£i.

The oldest occupation of the inhabitants of this area for over 2000 years has been mining. It is said that the gold from the mines in Zarand Land was used to raise the Egyptian pyramids. Of late, the extraction was stopped in the galleries, but the tourist can admire a spectacular collection, unique in Europe, at the Gold Museum in Brad. Here, you will find items from all over the world on display, the most being the ones originating in the Metaliferi Mountains, namely tools used in gold extraction and processing, gold ore and original looking deposits – objects which, throughout time, have contributed to shaping the identity of the 'moÅ£i' in the CriÅŸ area. Seven kilometers from Brad there is Å¢ebea village, considered the capital of the Zarand historical region. Here, there is an ensemble called The Pantheon of the MoÅ£i, dedicated to the brave people whose names have remained ingrained in the memory of the Romanian people. You will see a 400 year old durmast, at the shade of which Horea planned the revolt against the feudal regime. Near this symbol of Transylvania Avram Iancu was buried, one of the leaders of the 1848 Transylvanian revolution. 

Gold Museum Brad


Gold Museum Brad


Gold Museum Brad

The spirit and the cultural characteristics of the communities in the Criş area are sacredly preserved and expressed by the age of the buildings here, so you discover the authenticity of this land at each step. Crişcior, a commune dating back to the time of the Romans, houses one of the first architectural monuments in Zarand. The village church, raised at the beginning of the 15th century in a style which combines the byzantine and the gothic, still preserves fragments of mural painting. The same battle with time is led by the wood churches in Baia de Criş, Tomeşti, Vaţa de jos, Vӑlişoara, Bucureşci, Blӑjeni and other halidoms which impress with the richness of their decorative elements and superb frescoes. They are oases of quietness and introspection, which keep faith and hope alive. the past of these places, evoking the values of the moţi.


The villages in the Land of Zarand reveal long forgotten secrets to the curious tourist. The castles of the past centuries are attractions that the inhabitants of this area do not talk about anymore, while the authorities neglect their potential. Solymosy Palace in Mocrea, the residence of the Serbian king in Bocsig and Wadstein Castle in SebiÅŸ are a bridge back to the era of noble families, of princes and countesses. For photography buffs, the neoclassic and baroque buildings can be immortalized in unique images, benefitting from the mysterious sunset light.  From among the walls of the castles you will learn details from the lives of aristocrats and the stories which made them famous.

The natural sceneries in the Land of Zarand abound in rich forests, sunny hills, green glades and lakes hidden between the knobs. The gorges and the caves dug in the rough and imposing stones are also present and equally picturesque. Ribicioarei Gorges greet you with an austere scenery, dominated by serrated crests and peaks, over which glowing and noisy cascades fall. In this canyon you can explore a few small caves: TopliÅ£a Cave, the cave at Izvorul TopliÅ£ei, Cizmei Cave. Over the hill, UibÓ‘reÅŸtilor Gorges reveal the most spectacular and the wildest attraction of this area. The natural bridge at Grohot, a tunnel of approximately 20 meters in length, formed in limestone, proves the water’s unstoppable force once more. During summer, the place is a perfect destination to take advantage of the coolness of the forest and of the fresh air. The Land of Zarand charms you from the very first meeting and invites you to travel its trails in an ever surprising journey.

Natural bridge at Grohot


Ribicioarei Gorges


Ribicioarei Gorges

Village Life in the Land of Zarand

For the moţi in the Criş area, the precincts of the village is the magical place where the important events happen; here, families are formed, children learn the unwritten rules of the community, here, grandparents care for their little ones, women work in and around the house, while men work the field. Ranging the alleyways, you see loaded wagons, pulled by stately horses, peasants who value the traditional costume, orchards with trees heavy with fruits, beautiful wooden houses. In the household, the moţ women weave carpets, huckabacks, plaids, table covers, they embroider shirts, spin wool and knit thick socks for the winter. Difficult tasks are assigned to men, such as bringing firewood from the forest, taking care of the animals and the crops.

On Sundays and on holidays, the moÅ£i, wearing traditional costumes, go to church together, old and young, to honor the teachings of the priest. Women’s costumes consist of an embroidered peasant blouse ('ie') decorated with flowers and crosses, sewn at the collar at the margins with black thread, a cotton or linen vest called 'laibÓ‘r' and a long skirt (catrinÅ£Ó‘) tied with a belt (cingÓ‘toare). On their heads they wear white or colored kerchiefs, while the old ladies wear simple black ones. Men’s suits consist of a shirt, the above mentioned laibÓ‘r and tight pants, all the pieces being white and embroidered with black motifs. Inherited from one’s parents, the traditional costume is a priceless work of art, of a special sentimental value. The holidays over the year are celebrated in a characteristic fashion, with customs specific for this area. Rural holidays or the Romanian pastoral festivals are a time of family reunion, with members gathering not only around the table, but also at the round dance in the village. On Christmas, children go caroling with 'steaua' and 'Å£urca' (a toy star or goat), wishing health and prosperity to the hosts. Around Easter time, women dye eggs with wax, a practice called 'impistrare' in the Romanian folklore, and decorate them with floral, geometrical and agrarian motifs. The inherited customs are kept both because of superstitions and the desire to preserve a connection with the past.


An ancient tradition in this area is The Maiden Fair on Mount GÓ‘ina, an occasion for unmarried youth to meet. Accompanied by their parents, boys used to invite the locals to the party, and the girls brought painted wooden chests carrying their dowry. If the families got along, the wedding took place immediately. Nowadays, the fair is a folkloric holiday, which attracts the inhabitants and the craftsmen in Å¢ara MoÅ£ilor (The Land of the MoÅ£i). The artisans still do woodwork, and out of wood they make musical instruments, distaffs, swings or pieces of furniture. A while back, men used to go to the lowlands where they sold these objects, and with the money obtained they bought food for the household. Wicker weaving, icon painting, building wagons with wooden wheels, engaging in furriers’ trade, stonework, pottery or making calcimine are crafts which prove the skill and mastery of the moÅ£i. If you cross their threshold you will learn some of the secrets of these trades and you will buy souvenirs to remind you of the Land of Zarand. 



Land of Zarand

A country corner remained unchanged throughout time, filled with traditions and history, with sceneries that charm you in an instant and make you feel like in the fairytales, this is the Land of Zarand. Among the smooth hills colored by nature in seductive nuances, golden haystacks and scented orchards spring out. On these lands, the people of the CriÅŸ, simple but welcoming and large-hearted, preserve an archaic lifestyle, harmonious and quiet. Visit this area and you will be impressed with the picturesque lands from among the mountains and the authentic customs here. 

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]