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Photo: Gurdon Ferenc

As the only artificial lake of the upper part of the Târnava Mare (Nagy-Küküllő) river, the Sub Cetate (Zeteváralja) reservoir is located in Harghita (Hargita) county, close to Sub Cetate (Zeteváralja).
Construction lasted from 1976 to 1992, during which the team of almost 300 men moved approx. 3 million m³ of earth and laid over 70 000 m³ of concrete. Though the reservoir’s original purpose was flood protection and river regulation, locals also expect energetics, touristic and environmental benefits from it. Its real significance, however, is best observed in flood protection: while floods cause massive damage each year in the nearby Nyikó valley, the reservoir protects downstream settlements from the threat of flooding, also ensuring the suitable water flow of the Târnava Mare (Nagy-Küküllő) river in case of drought.
The lake is 2,6 km long, of which 1,4 km along the length of the former Târnava Mare (Nagy-Küküllő) river, while its capacity is 49 million m³. The width of the water surface is 400 – 800 m, though at the ramifications along the Târnava Mare (Nagy-Küküllő) and the Șicasău (Sikaszó) it varies between 150 – 200 m.

Photo: Mészáros István

The best way to get to Vărșag (Székelyvarság) is by taking county road no. 138 linking Brădești (Fenyéd) to Valea Strâmbă (Tekerőpatak): the town lies NW of the reservoir junction, 12 km from the dam. Not far after the town welcome sing we turn right near the Júlia conveniece store and continue towards the center. We then get off this road by making a right next to the saw mill at the sign that says Tekeres, towards Fântâna Mare (Nagykút). The car can be parked near the Fântâna Mare (Nagykút) school, from here we continue on foot until we reach a small sign (nailed in wood) that says Culmea lui Tálas (Tálasbérce) and make a left there. If all goes well, after about 1,5 – 2 km of walking we should reach the sign that marks the waterfall at the designated resting area. We should be able to hear the waterfall at this point so the last 50 m can be navigated by ear. The place we find at the destination is stunning: deep inside the forest, the Csorgókő waterfall is one of the area’s most significant nature sights and one of the main attractions of local tourism. Tumbling down from a height of 6-7 m, this small creek has created a wonderful two tone waterfall, and thanks to the staircase-like cracks and crevasses in the rock, its upper part can also be explored (which is highly recommended).

Photo: Gurdon Ferenc

Refreshed after this amazing waterfall we carry on upstream and after about 500 m we reach the spring of the creek. No less than seven springs are located in this small 15 m2 area, all of which are perfect for drinking. Next we reach the Tálasbérce hill, where apart from residential houses we also find a small convenience store. (The door is usually locked but the owner is quick to emerge after a few shouts.) Not far from here is the wooden observation point called Mutató (=pointer) (at the cross we first turn left, then right), whose three story high vantage point really gives us an idea of just how vast this settlement is: it completely fills the horizon. No wonder that Vărșag (Székelyvarság) is said to have the same area as the country’s capital. After this stunning view we return to the cross the same way we came, then turn right keeping in mind two important aspects: we should be heading downhill at all times and turn left at every junction. This way we should get back to the road we took to the waterfall right near the Fântâna Mare (Nagykút) school. The distance covered is approx. 10 km.


Also among the highlights of the area is the Izvoare (Ivó) Wildlife Park, located about 30 km from Odorheiu Secuiesc (Székelyudvarhely), right under the Harghita Mădăraș (Madarasi Hargita) peak. Opened in 2007, the goal of the wildlife park is to present and preserve native Romanian and European species of wild animals in a forest environment. Its almost 300 hectare area is home to examples of red deer, fallow deer, mouflon and roe deer, which visitors can observe in their natural habitat.



  • From București
    1. București – Ploiești – Câmpina – Brașov (Brassó) – Odorheiu Secuiesc (Székelyudvarhely)
  • From Oradea (Nagyvárad)
    1. Oradea (Nagyvárad) – Aleșd (Élesd) – Turda (Torda) – Luduș (Ludas) – Târgu Mureș (Marosvásárhely) – Bălăușeri (Balavásár) – Sovata (Szováta) – Praid (Parajd) – Odorheiu Secuiesc (Székelyudvarhely) – Zetea (Zetelaka)
  • From Arad
    1. Arad – Deva (Déva) – Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár) – Mediaș (Medgyes) – Odorheiu Secuiesc (Székelyudvarhely)
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Cliff circuit – Mária-kő (=Mary’s rock) hikeCifra pass, West cliff view point, North-East cliff view point, Cheia Mică a Bicazului (Kis Békás) strait
Distance: 6 km
Access by car: 1,5-2 hours
Hike duration: 3-4 hours with breaks
Hóvirág (=Snowdrop) dripstone cave – Munticsel Nature ReserveDistance: 4 km
Access by car: 1,5 – 2 hours
Hike duration: 3-4 hours with breaks

Zete learning trailThe Zete learning trail presents the environmental, historic and cultural values of one of the Hargita plateau’s hills, Mount Deság. The total length of the hike is 3 km, 1,1 km uphill towards Zete Castle and 1,9 km back. The trail can be walked at a leisurely tempo in about 2 ½- 3 hours. An additional half hour is needed for the detour towards the fire place (1 km round trip).
Vârghișului (Vargyas) straitWith its caves, limestone cliffs and characteristic wildlife, the Vârghișului (Vargyas) strait is undoubtedly among the most important nature sights in Transylvania and the Székely Land. The strait’s caves have been used as shelter since ancient times, a fact underlined by the countless drawings and artifacts found inside. Despite heavy access and scarce tourist information the strait has become a popular camping site and tourist destination, with more and more visitors each year.


Lake Saint Ann, Mohós peat swampLake Saint Ann and the Mohós peat swamp are considered to be rare nature sights even on a European scale. They emerged on two separate volcanic cones of the Csomád mountains: on one of them, at a height of 950 m the 464 m diameter Lake Saint Ann, while on the other at height of 1050 m the Mohós peat swamp. The strictly limited nature reserve can be accessed by car in exchange for a fee, but also by foot from Băile Tușnad (Tusnádfürdő).
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