MUNTELE MIC / LITTLE MOUNTAIN
Mount Semenic and Little Mountain are the main attractions of Mountainous Banat tourism.
Little Mountain could be called through a metaphor the “child of the Ţarcu Mountains” with a maximum height of 1806 m. At this height, you will see a flatness of the land on a vast, surprisingly perfect and unique surface in the Romanian Carpathians. The edges of the mountain “then lean slightly, almost imperceptibly at first, but with increasing and variable gradients towards the meeting with the tree line.“ [Hamat, C., 2004].
The entire alpine pasture of 1000 ha stretches elliptically from 1806 m to 1600 m.
The most predominant of the plateau relief on the Little Mountain are the Scorilo Stones, at the Apple Glade.
Little Mountain is open from three sides: from the Caransebeș, Bistriţa and Timiş valleys.
Climb onto the Little Mountain and you will have a beautiful view over the city. We shall list only some of the mountain’s beauties as you shall feel them when you are near them.
In summer, you can see from the Little Mountain the eastern peaks of the Tarcu Mountains that are above 2,000 m. Raising your eyes to the Tarcu Peak, you will be impressed by the massive standstill slopes, feeling so small in front of the mysterious giant. If you increase the angle of view to the west and you lower your eyes, you will have the Banat Plain at your feet. Now you are the one who feels like a giant, at a difference of almost 1600 m altitude. In the sunset, looking toward Timisoara, you will see the waters of Timis lighting up on the plain, offering a unique show of colours for those who prefer the silence of a meditation, gradually awakened by the coolness of a mountain evening.
If you look over the village of Zerveşti, you can see at the left the Mountainous Banat, which does not belong to the Carpathian Mountains, and among which the Semenic Mountain raises its head hardly up to 1447 m.
In winter, the Little Mountain offers a wonderful, delightful landscape. Looking from the west, from the entrance to the city of Caransebeș, the landscape is bicolor, given by the shining white snow and the dark green of the fir forests. It impresses in the same time with the immense size and shape of the ice cap and its tresses of the woods falling down the valley.
Whereas Mount Semenic is also called the Banat’s water tower, because from it spring the rivers Timis, Nera and Bârzava, the Little Mountain has only two rivers springing from it, namely the Sebeş springs, which flows into Timiş at Caransebeș, and the other from the northern slope, the river Scorilo, which flows into the Bistra Mărului, in the climatic resort of the Apple Glade. The most important in Little Mountain is the abundance of springs existing at heights of over 1500 m, ensuring the quantity of water necessary for the development of a modern tourist resort.
There are two ways to reach Little Mountain:
1. From Caransebeş, on the DJ 608A county road, passing through the localities Zerveşti, Turnu Ruieni and Borlova, covering a distance of 37.5 km, of which 25 km to the chairlift station, and another 12.5 km on a new road, paved in 2006. In winter, the access is open only to the Chairlift Station, after which the tourists climb up the mountain with the chairlift, on the longest route in Romania, of 3360 m, and with a level difference of 758 m.
2. From the Apple Glade, from the county road DJ 683, the access being possible only in the summer on a forest road of 12 km, then another 4 km on marked trails.
In the near future they will open the “Banat’s Transalpina “, which will connect the Little Mountain with the Apple Glade, realizing the much desired ring-road from Caransebeș -Zerveşti – Turnu Ruieni – Borlova – Muntele Mic – Saua Jigorei – Apple Glade -Zăvoi – Oţelu Roşu – Glimboca – Obreja – Iaz – Caransebeş. Not far off is the day when we shall climb by telegondola from the Apple Galde to the Little Mountain. With this prospect in mind, we are proposing a new unique route:
Touristic route no. 6: The Banat’s Transalpine Road
1. Caransebeș – Chairlift Station (25 km) – by car
The jagged road of the Banat’s Transalpina Road is the third most beautiful and spectacular in Romania, after the Transfăgărăşan and Transalpina.
The departure will be by car from the centre of Caransebeș (215 m altitude) to the Chairlift Station, on the Sebeş Valley. After only 6 km you will reach Zerveşti – Banat, the village famous for the “Daffodils’ Day Feast” in May, on the day of Saints Constantin and Elena (21 May). Here is one of the most beautiful “Daffodils Natural Reserves” that stretches on nearly 40 hectares.
After 11 km from Caransebeș, you reach the village of Turnu Ruieni, where Trandafir Cocarla was born, one of the people who had promoted the tourism in the area of Little Mountain – Apple Glade. Just 2 km from the village, on the hilltop you can see the “Ovidius Tower”, a medieval tower built in 1467. In order to climb to it, you have to leave your car at the foot of the hill, near a river, and then you have to walk on an easily climbed trail.
The trip continues 15 km further to Borlova (360 m altitude), the village where the Gugulans celebrate the “ruga” for three days at the Church’Feast consecrated as the day of the “Assumption of the Virgin” on 15 August.
After another 10 km, you reach the Chairlift Station on the Craiului Valley. From here, in winter, the most pleasant and safe way to climb the mountain is the chairlift. In summer, it is possible to go up by car on the 12.5 km long, paved road.
The Little Mountain resort, situated at 1545 m altitude, is a paradise for skiers, intuited at first sight by any winter sports lover. It has three ski slopes, one with night vision:
Tower of snow
Observations: Two more slopes are to be approved on the Little Mountain.
Little Mountain was and still is “the highest and most suitable resort in Romania for practicing winter sports“. [Hamat, C., 2004].
In winter, the snow on the Little Mountain is one meter deep and it lasts most of the times for more than 6 months, from November to early May.
In summer, you can take hikes from the Little Mountain to Căleanu and Ţarcu Mountains (4 hours), to Cuntu (3 hours) and Apple Glade (4 hours). The mountain hiking trails are real challenges for the adventurous tourist, offering some extraordinary delightful landscapes.
Besides the altitude, what delights in the Little Muntain’s Resort is the clean air, the flora and fauna, the cold springs and the superb views. The chain of mountains Retezat, Godeanu, Tarcu and Mehedinti constitute a firewall for the resort against the cold Siberian climate; on the contrary, the resort is open to the influence of the Mediterranean climate coming from the south of Banat. This gentle climate, without excess, offers both summer and winter the most pleasant stays appreciated by more and more tourists.
The offer of accommodation, dining and recreation proposed by the Felix and Little Mountain Hotels, by the Nordica, Alpin and Clara guesthouses, as well as by the mountain huts Cerbu and Brădişor Chalet, stir up the “mountain appetite” and “clean air”, as it was only in the interwar period.
The history of the resort reveals some moments of reference for the region’s tourism. The first construction on the Little Mountain was the Castle (Chalet) of the Alpine Rangers Troops, of the Battalion 11th from Caransebes, with 60 beds, erected in 1930.
On August 29, 1934 was found the ” Little Mountain Association” of the officials from the city of Timişoara, with its shortened name AMIC. After 7 months, on April 8, 1935, the “Banat Tourism Club” is founded in Caransebeș, abbreviated CTB.
The inauguration of the resort took place on July 11-12, 1936, in the presence of over 1,500 people from Bucharest, Timisoara, Lugoj, Caransebeș and the villages around the mountain.
The year 1936 is a reference point for the Romanian tourism, being the year when King Carol II published and promulgated the Law of the Organization of Tourism in Romania.
In 1972 the current 3 360 m long cable railway from Craiului Valley was built, the level of the lower station is of 773 m and that of the upper station is of 1531 m. An helicopter was used to transport the pillars and the foundation materials for the construction of the cable railway.
In recent years, the resort has become attractive for practicing both the white tourism through the “Little Mountain Cup” skiing competition, as well as for the active and sporting tourism, organised on the new enduro and ATV routes.
Also on the Little Mountain you can visit the “St. Elijah” Hermitage and the White Cross from the 1670 m elevation, as the Banat Heroes’s Monument in the struggle for the reunification of the nations.
From the Little Mountain we will be able to descend soon either by the gondola or on the new “Banat Transalpina” road, on the Şucului Valley, to the Apple Glade’s Resort.
But until then, we suggest to follow the mountain paths to Apple Glade. The Little Mountain – Scorilo’s Stones – Apple Glade mountain trail is just a pleasant and healthy hike and does not last for more than 5 hours. Following the blue stripped route you can reach the trail from the Little Mountain to the Scorilo’s Stones, after 2 hours.
The vestiges of the Dacians, the Scorilo’s stones represent a natural shrine in the shape of a straight wall at an altitude of 1617 m. According to the legend the king Dacian Scorilo, the father of Decebalus, hid a great treasure in the cave of Scorilo. The place is there where the first ray of sun falls, coming from the Scorilo Peak at the summer solstice, on June 21 of each year. Although the location of the natural cave is difficult to accept in a rock of crystalline shale, this could be in the middle of the cliff, at a height of 40 m from the base and also 40 m from the top of the cliff.
Also in the vicinity of Scorilo’s Stones, there is an ancient monument, unique in Romania, in the form of a shale gravestone on which there are three semi-shaped “platter” of different dimensions.
From Scorilo’s Stones to the Apple Glade, the route is of a special beauty. It descends to the Scorilo Valley, where the Scorilo waters are gurgling.
After almost 2.5 hours you get to the Boboraţei Glade, a piece of heaven swamped with multicolored flowers. Seek to inspire the powerful fragrance of the flower bed and to experience the moment of bliss, total relaxation away from the unleashed world. It is the stopping place that offers from the distance the panorama of Tarcu. Here is the meeting place of the beech forest from the Apple Glade with the fir forest from the Little Mountain. At the heights of Boboraţei Glade, the beech and the fir are mixed in a mysterious balance and convey to the passers-byers the voice of love for nature and for fellow humans. Returning to the hiking, you have to follow keep the blue mark up to the paved road from the entrance to the Apple Glade resorts, arriving after 5 hours after leaving the Little Mountain.
It will be quite wonderful when, between the two twin resorts, Little Mountain and Apple Glade, there will be a permanent roar of the tourists’ groups looking for the treasures, with two tourist halts: Scorilo’s Stones and Boboraţei Valley. Only in tandem the Little Mountain – the Apple Glade, under the name the “Scorilo Tourist Area“, the two climatic resorts will be searched more and more. The land bridge will be the Banat’s Transalpina, starting from Oţelu Roşu (Via Zăvoi), passing through Apple Glade, Şucul Valley to Saua Jigorei and from here to the Little Mountain, from where it will descend through Borlova, Turnu Ruieni , Zerveşti till Caransebeș. The airbase will be unique through the skyline of the sceneries offered through climbing from the Apple Glade to the Scorilo Valley, over the Scorilo Stones, to the Little Mountain.
The Apple Glade’s Resort. Once you arrive in the Apple Glade (650 m altitude), walking from the Little Mountain or by car from Oţelu Roşu via Zăvoi (22 km), you will feel yourself rejuvenated. Health tourism is at home here. The treatment is a natural one, with unique mountain air, its quality given by four essential components: ozone, negative ions, purity and natural aerosols.
While the whole world is using all kinds of devices and costly treatments for obtaining ozone, in the Apple Glade ozone can be naturally found. Ozone therapy is simple. Inspire a few days, a week even, the highly enriched oxygen from the resort and you will discover that you have taken the first steps in eliminating the cellulite, reducing fat, treating eczema and joint pains. The ozone in the glade really sterilizes the air.
At the Apple Glade and Herculane’s Bath we breathe the best air in the Mountainous Banat, with a higher negative ionization than in the Davos resort from Switzerland or at the point of falling of water of the Niagara Falls. This affirmation is confirmed by the heart, lungs and brain of every tourist coming to the Mountainous Banat. While staying at the Apple Glade, you will feel how you breathe easier, you sleep is more restful, you have a good mood, the physical and mental tonus is higher; all because of the negative ions that easies the transition of the oxygen from the air into the blood and prolongs life.
Nature offers the Apple Glade’s Resort the purest air that a tourist can breathe, and at the same time natural aerosols that cure us from stress and depressive states.
The aerosols in the resort’s forests are formed from the mixture of water film, pollen particles and volatile oils emitted by the fir, pine and spruce.
Come to the Apple Glade, at Cara Guesthouse, in April and May for a cure of birch sap and you will drink “God Zamolxe’ drink”, the elixir of life, the tree’s milk, or the birch’s blood for the detoxification of the body, for beauty and for a slimming cure.
At first, the Apple Glade was a place with a ranger’s house, later other houses appeared, hunters and fishermen’s houses, then recreational houses.
In 1894, the first testimonies about Poiana Mărului appeared in a guide published in Timisoara, describing it as a lace for the summer holiday: “The Apple Glade offers everything that tourists want: silence, idyllic peace, comfortable hikes in the mountains, good accommodation, good food, clean air and a starting point for longer or shorter trips. Too bad it does not have enough buildings yet. “[Hamat, C., 2004].
The Apple Glade, after the connection to the most modern and fast means of transport, that is the railway, opens completely to the tourism lovers. The two railways are built: a forest one, Zăvoi – Apple Glade (22 km), in 1907, and one for the passengers and cargo, Caransebeș-Haţeg-Subcetate, inaugurated in 1908.
After the Great Union Day of 1918, a past period ends for the Apple Glade and begins the touristic development and consecration of the area both through CTB (Banat Tourism Club) and AMIC (Friends of Little Mountain), associations that were watching the promotion of the organized tourism.
In 1936, the Apple Galde and Little Mountain were declared “climatic tourist resorts”. The first resting house in the Apple Glade was Bistra Villa, built by the Timisoara City Council in 1937. It had 100 places for children and 12 rooms for adults, being the most important construction in the resort until 1977.
“The inauguration was attended by guests from Bucharest, Timişoara, Lugoj and more than 1000 people from Bistriţa Valley, transported by 3 forestry trains from Zăvoi by the Lomaş Company.” [Hamat, C., 2004].
After the nationalization in 1948 a period of decay followed in the resorts’ history, when the Apple Glade was known only grace to the TB Sanatorium with 10 villas, well-known in Romania, but without any additional offer of accommodation except the places offered at the nearby shelters of the Gugulan peasants.
After the Revolution of December 1989, the Apple Glade was reborn around the “Apple Glade” storage lake with an area of 273 ha and a volume of 96 m³, built during 1984-1992. The Apple Glade Resort is today one of the Mountainous Banat jewels, set in a natural amphitheatre in the form of a “horseshoe”, with a picturesque and natural dream environment, being called by the locals with an undisguised pride, Little Switzerland!
Tourists who choose the Apple Glade as their holiday destination have at their disposal multiple leisure and relaxation opportunities. The resort offers visitors the most unexpected surprises. Tall mountains, fast rivers and clear waters are just some of the “ingredients” a tourist can encounter here when coming to escape the daily stress, caused by city hustle.
The Apple Glade is a “hub” of the tourist routes. The vastness of the surrounding mountains blends perfectly with the rapid rivers and the altitude of about 650 m. The hiking enthusiasts have at their disposal several mountain trails starting from the Apple Glade.
Upstream, on the Bistra Mărului Valley, you reach the most favoured crossing point to Mount Retezat, through the so-called Şaua Iepei (1727 m), between the Bloju (2160 m) and Baicu (2123 m), towards “Mouth of the Waters” Accumulation Lake, which feeds the chain of 10 hydropower plant on the Mori River.
A second mountain trail is from Dalwec Guesthouse, on the Şucului Valley, on the forest road that will soon become part of “Banat’s Transalpina” road, through Saua Jigoriei (1205 m) towards Little Mountain (1806 m).
The third mountain trail is near the former trout farm, along the path leading to Nedeia Peak (2150 m). From the Nedeia Peak, the trail bends northwards to Pietrei Peak (2192 m) and from here you can reach Sarmizegetusa: “It is a trail that crosses mostly alpine meadows, with active sheepfolds, from very ancient times. The transhumance takes place in the mountains according to a steady calendar used for centuries. The shepherds and their flocks ascend after the Feast of Constantin and Elena (21 May), and remain there, in the mystery of solitude, until the beginning of the church calendar (1st of September).”[Terchila M., 2004].
On this route you will feel more significantly the unique phenomenon in the forests of the Apple’s Glade: rejuvenation through negative aeronautics and natural aerosols.
Usually, in the mountains, as we climb, we feel the air more and more rarefied and breathing is accelerating as the body feels the lack of oxygen in the blood, and hiking is getting harder. Climbing to the Nedeia Peak through the spruce forests, we start feeling better and better and the body becomes a real reservoir of energy, much more after a difference of more than 1500 m above sea level, in Nedei Valley, due to the negative ionization, we feel rejuvenated. In no other mountains from Romania will you experience such a sensation.
The places are so beautiful that you will find unsuspected energies to reach the alpine void. You will be accompanied from time to time by a spurred squirrel, with a bushy tail longer than its body, with its rusty back and white belly, with black, curious and intelligent eyes. Try to catch on camera the squirrel’s play, the look of a dark-red breasted finch and the chopping of a mountain woodpecker, black coloured and with a red stain like blood on its forehead, hitting the bark of a tree to find black insects.
The surroundings of the Apple Glade Resort are often visited by fishing and hunting aficionados, and during winter there is also the possibility of practicing seasonal sports on the natural slopes surrounding the resort.
The Scorilo touristic area does is not different from the other areas of the Mountainous Banat, highlighting both beauties and spectacular landscapes.
Today, the climatic resort of the Apple Glade is the heaven for the lovers of adventurous tourism. The passion for rafting, mountaineering or enduro in the apple Glade was born from the “Lonely Wolf” guesthouse.
Rafting can be practiced on the fast – flowing streams, and the Apple Glade Lake is the right place for sunbathing, swimming and water sports or boat trips. As a matter of fact, the whole area has become an attraction for motor sports enthusiasts over the last few years, with unprecedented competitions.
Rafting at the Apple Glade
The fast-flowing streams tend to become one of the area’s main attractions, especially for extreme sports lovers.
The place at the foot of Nedeia Peak, in the Apple Glade Resort, is the only one existing in the Scorilo tourist area where rafting can be practiced, the Bistra Mărului River being the ideal water for this sport. The rest is adrenaline to the maximum. Strong waves, giant stones or waterfalls are some of the obstacles facing those who dare to get in a boat and set off to the valley through the stormy, ice cold water.
The most favourable time for practicing rafting at the Apple Glade, is in March and April, when the melted snow inflates the river bed and creates an unusual turmoiled river. The route stretches over 4 km and is sprinkled with cascades in stairs and culverts under which you can pass only if you are one with the boat. Throughout the route the water is extremely fast and absorbs you totally. The stormy waters calm down when the riverbed widens, and this happens in storage lake’s tail.
Good to know:
1. The first thing a beginner needs to know in rafting is the equipment he must have at his disposal. Generally, the water is cold, and rafting cannot be done in training pants and in a T-shirt. It requires a special neoprene diving suit, vest and helmet. The costume keeps a constant body temperature.
2. Another danger is the danger of overturning, and the life jackets are supposed to keep us on the surface. The helmet is required for the head protection.
3. The boat must be “professional”, very resistant to impact and to whitstand the rocks or woods in the water. It is provided with an exhaust port and can be rented from the “Lonly Wolf” guesthouse from the resort, where all the equipment adapted to this sport can be found.
From the Apple Glade there is an annual mountain cycling torunament, called the “Gugulans’ Marathon” and here you can also visit the “Hermitage of the Apple Glade“, with the dedication of the “Ascension of the Lord“, which is held 40 days after the resurrection of Jesus.
The 22 km route from the Apple Glade to Zăvoi is full of picturesque, on the waterfront, among the gardens and the forestsin a real delight of sights, with fresh air, with plums and apples picked from trees or bought from children standing at the site of the road.
In Zăvoi, you can visit the most recent archaeological discoveries from Romania, the vestiges of Trajan’s Palace, dating from the Roman conquest of Dacia. The Roman Agmonia Camp is on the hearth of Zăvoi and according to the Tabula Peutingeriana in the Roman Itineraria, it was situated halfway between Tibiscum (Caransebeș) and Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, being the capital of Roman Dacia.
The trip will continue on Bistra Valley till Caransebeș, on a distance of 20 km. After only 2 km from Zăvoi you enter the Cireşa district of Oţelu Roşu.
There are several testimonies lying at the heart of the city dating from ancient times:
“The old denomination of today’s settlement, certified documentarily in the 14th century, was Ohaba–Bistra. The beginnings of the iron processing on the village hearth are dated back to 1796, when a forge hammer, hydraulically operated by the Bistro waters, was put into operation in the village of Ohaba-Bistra at the foot of Ferdinand’s Hill. The “Old Colony”- the nucleus from which Ferdinandsberg was born (Ferdinand’s Hill) – was formed in the immediate vicinity of the metallurgical installations. In 1848, the name of Ferdinandsberg changed for a very short period in Bemhegy (Bem’s Mountain), in honour of the Polish general Joseph Bem, with whom a part of the Banat population fraternized on the Bistrita Valley, animated by the ideals of the revolution. Following the Austro-Hungarian Dualism, the autonomy of Banat is abolished and the Hungarian language is introduced as an official language and the Hungarization (Magyarization) process extends to the denominations of the localities as well. Thus, Ferdinandsberg becomes Nandorhegy. Since 9 June 1919, it has been renamed Ferdinandsberg, and since 1924 Ferdinand. For a short time (1943-1945), the name of the locality will be Ferdinand–Bistra, and from June 8, 1948, the settlement received its current name, Oţelu Roşu, becoming a town on 27 December 1960. In 1994, they tried a re-use of one of the old names, Ferdinand, Ferdinand-Bistra or Bistra, but without an affirmative answer from the majority of the inhabitants. “[Margan S., 1996].
The name of Oțelul Roşu is a symbol of the permanent connection between man and the subject of labour of the factory, the incandescent iron, always red on melting. An emblem of the industrialization period of Romania. What distinguishes the inhabitants of the Bistrita Valley is that they have worked both in the plant and in agriculture for 200 years (1796-1996), in various occupations such as fruit growing and livestock.
You cannot pass through Oțelu Rosu without visiting the Museum of Literary Geography of the City, created in 1980, unique for the tourism in Romania. The museum was born from the passion of travelling and the love for the Romanian language and literature of Professor Tiberiu Boşcaiu from Oţelu Roşu. From the “cultural journeys” organized by the teacher with the younger generations, images of a unique beauty were captured, which anticipated the future digital photographs. By going through the museum’s “nine steps of knowledge”, the tourist will convince himself of the truth that “a picture worths a thousand words” in an “island” of the cultural beauty of the Romanian people.
An unforgettable stop can be made also at the Romanian Orthodox Church in Cireşa (Ferdinand) – Oțelu Roşu, built in Byzantine style, where we are impressed by the “moving” iconostasis, performed by famous painters as: Gheorghe and Corneliu Baba (father and son ). Wherever you may look at the icons, Mary and Jesus will follow you with a gentle gaze, conferring you peace and quiet, reminding you of the patronage of the church “Descent of the Holy Ghost”. Admiring the oak sculpture, pyrograved and patinated in the Byzantine style of the Romania’s Emblem” above the Archbishop seat, you will hear the story of its rescue from the destruction in 1949 by the priest Ion Racoveanu, who covered it with a black cloth for not to be seen and removed.
From Oţelu Roşu, at a 5 km walking distance, you reach the most beautiful village on Bistra Valley, namely the Glimboca, where you can stop to visit the Romanian Orthodox Church dedicated to “The Assumption of the Mother of God”, distinguished by its mosaic painting, , being considered from the outside the “Voroneţ of Banat“. If you are passing through Glimboca, on August 15, stop at the “ruga” dedicated to the saint patron of the church, Saint Mary, held with a great fastuosity here and with a beautiful parade of folk costumes.
The journey continues for another 6 km to Obreja, the native village of General Moise Groza, the hero of the Independence War from 1877, and of Achim Nica, the great “doina” singer of Banat. Then passing through Iaz (km 16), you reach Caransebeș (km 20), the end of the journey.