Home LifeStyle Under the UNESCO umbrella: Buzău Land, part of the world heritage

Under the UNESCO umbrella: Buzău Land, part of the world heritage

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Between the mountains and the hills, in the area of ​​curvature of the Carpathians, is the Land of Buzau. With an area of ​​over 1,000 square kilometers, consisting of 18 communes, the region has a geological history of over 40 million years and was once the bottom of a sea. Over time, however, the stretch of water has dried up and shrunk, and tectonic movements have transformed the marine environment into a terrestrial one.

Currently inhabited by about 43,000 people, Buzău County is a place where traditions are the main component of local identity, of course, along with nature. Here are housed some of the deepest salt caves in the world, while the traces of the past have been well preserved by the largest accumulation of amber in the country.

In total, more than 24 tourist attractions can be visited in Buzău County. In addition, tourists can interact with local craftsmen, who carry on traditions such as weaving to war or making musical instruments out of shock or plum wood. Every year, the Buzău County Association tries to open a new space for visiting, in order to perpetuate the stories of the past and support local values.

Muddy volcanoes – not just a dragon

When the locals from Păclele found that the places where they took their animals to graze, green fields, turn into a dry land, from which the mud occasionally gushes, they thought that they were facing the presence of a dragon. Others thought that the small craters, resembling the mouths of volcanoes, were traps set by ogres who wanted to lure the cows of the villagers in the area.

Today’s explanation is simpler and does not involve as many mythological details. Natural gas from the ground rises to the surface, stirring groundwater. Reaching ground level, they create mud-filled craters. When they erupt, volcanoes bring to the surface pieces of rock, salt, or even small fossils. There are five active muddy volcanoes in Buzau County: they can become extinct and change their location, changing it to a nearby one.

On the land of Buzau, there were other volcanoes. More than 10 million years ago, on the site where the Buzău Land is today, there was a sea. And a volcano, with a hitherto unknown position, erupted. The ash was deposited under water in the form of a compact pile. After the sea dried up, the ash composed of volcanic glass particles and crystals dried and hardened, resulting in a white mountain, which can be seen near the village of Mînzăleşti.

Fires that do not go out

Near the village of Terca, on a hill, pieces of land burn incessantly. It is a natural phenomenon, resulting from gases coming to the surface from a depth of three kilometers, through cracks in the ground. It is not known exactly when this spectacle of nature was first observed, but it is certain that fires have existed since ancient times.

One of the attributes of live fire is protection: it is said that they are “spirits of the place”, with the role of keeping intruders at bay. When, centuries ago, the Tartars invaded the village and pursued a few locals on the hill, they were burned alive by fires from nowhere. It is said that no Tartars have ever entered Terca since.

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Looking for amber

Also known as amber, Buzău County is home to 13 former amber mines – the fossilized resin of old trees. The locals used the semi-precious stone as a protective amulet, which is said to have the power to protect people from trouble. Even though amber’s valences are not as strong now, tourists visiting the country’s mines hope to find a piece of amber on the paths, which can have different colors, such as yellow, orange or blue. The red one, called romanite, is the most precious and can be found only in Buzău County.

A lost world

Even though over 20 old forms of household have been identified and documented, there are many more in Buzău County. The stone carved houses are one of the attractions of the place – they are said to have been inhabited by an unknown population and later by a group of Christian monks. In addition, the large stones placed around the forests near the villages of Aluniş, Nucu and Ruginoasa contain signs, symbols or words written in a language that no longer exists.

Throughout the land, travelers can see a multitude of crosses, everywhere: wooden, carved, painted, with Cyrillic or Latin inscriptions. Most were reportedly killed in the vicinity, either by sudden death or by a young person. However, there is another variant in the region: some crosses would be placed in obscure places, where various “appearances” would appear. Thus, the myths in the area refer to the protection that the crosses would offer to people who would need help.

There are many more testimonies of lost worlds to be seen in Buzău Land – such as the traces of the last ice ages. There have been three such eras in history, the last of which took place 12,000 years ago. Since then, glacial valleys, melting lakes, eroded rocks and rocks carried by glaciers in unpredictable places have remained in Buzau. And for the most curious, it is good to know that in the region of the 18 communes lives a plant that was consumed by dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

The mountains of salt

In addition to mud and amber volcanoes, Buzău County is a place where a large salt deposit can be found. Among the green hills are various bright rocks, and underground, the stalactites in the caves contain cubes of salt. Legend has it that on Mount Meledic, an ancient meeting place for shepherds, there was once a castle. But only a few boulders remained.

Years ago, the salt here was appreciated and marketed in fairs or used as a basic ingredient in pickles. Now, after years, the salt is no longer sold, but the locals still use it to preserve food or feed the animals during the winter.

And remaining in the area of ​​the rocks, Buzău is famous for troubadours – “strange stones of unknown origins”. In the past, troubadours were thought to be living stones and to grow out of sand. But reality shows that nature, through wind and rain, shaped the micro-relief of “living rocks.” They received the name 100 years ago, and the most representative such stones are Babele de la Ulmet and Moşii.

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Nature, a UNESCO priority

A UNESCO geopark is a unique location, geologically, biologically and culturally valuable, which can be a model for highlighting heritage. One of the aims is to raise awareness and understand the problems facing society, such as the sustainable use of the earth’s resources, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing the risks associated with natural hazards.

Among the positive effects that UNESCO geoparks have had are the recognition of international recognition, the emergence of innovative businesses, the creation of new jobs and the generation of sources of income, resulting from the promotion of geotourism.

Rural exploitation

Buzău does not aim to become a tourist resort or to practice mass tourism. The vision was focused on a sustainable form, alternative tourism, which encourages the exploration of rural areas, with minimal impact on wildlife and tranquility.

UNESCO Geoparks require the involvement of all stakeholders and require the commitment of local communities, public and political support, as well as a comprehensive strategy.

The first steps for the development of Buzău County appeared 15 years ago and were based on a partnership between the University of Bucharest and the Buzău County Council. In the summer of 2020, the Buzău County Association, the NGO behind the project, sent a letter of intent to UNESCO, and the file was submitted at the end of the same year.

Six months later, in September 2021, two international experts spent three days in Buzău County, considering 101 evaluation criteria. Of these, 99 had to be met in order to receive the title of UNESCO geopark. On the spot, the specialists discovered an involved team and impressive natural elements, aspects that were decisive in the decision of 2022, when the land, together with eight other regions of the world, entered the global network of geoparks.

“We are very pleased to witness the validation of the efforts of many local people, both in the local administration, in the non-profit and professional field, as well as the locals and entrepreneurs who have been with us and who have put their shoulder to the work – and whom we would like to thank. The new statute honors us, but at the same time obliges us to accelerate the process of sustainable development of these truly special places. As a team, we will do everything we can to ensure that all local communities in the Land take full advantage of this opportunity, “said Dr. Răzvan-Gabriel Popa, Executive Director of the Buzău Land Association.

In four years, Buzău County, together with the rest of the geoparks in the world, will be re-evaluated, to see if it still meets the criteria necessary for the status received. The UNESCO International Geopark Network comprises 177 parks in 46 countries – most in China, Spain, Japan, Germany, France and England.

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