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Rucar-bran footprint area in Romanian international tourism landscapes.

1. Geo-Historical Landmarks

The Rucar-Bran Couloir /Pathway, a high, oblong depression, having a NE-SW general direction, heights varying between 500-1500 m, is dominated by the Bucegi and Leaota abrupt at the South-East and Piatra Craiului at the North-West.

The strategic importance of the Bran Pathway is kept as far as back the Dacian-Roman wars, when a part of the Roman legions, moving from the Danube South, passed by that place towards the Transylvania South-East.

The localities from the Rucar--Bran Couloir have not very old registrations, the most of them had been established later on, as a result of the extension of the shepherds' dwellings from the higher "tables" and peaks, good for pasturage. At the same time with these localities development, but also because of the economic requirements, during the modern period, the present modernized main road had been inaugurated, so that the old Bran road became a European main road.

During the summer of 1916 year, the offensive for Ardeal's rescue had been started, at Giuvala Pathway the first hero of the "Great War," Poenaru-Bordea losing his life. These places remained famous because of the Romanian force of resistance towards the Austrian-Hungarian and German jump-off, firstly at Bran, and then in Giuvala Pathway, and finally on the Mateias Mountain, closed to Campulung.

The Swiss style of the villas from Bran, Moieciu, Dragoslavele, Rucar or Podu Dambovilei, fell naturally into place, led to the seeds birth of an organized rural tourism though the statement, within the 70's, of the first touristic village (sirnea). We can so say that the Rucar-Bran area is the place where the Romanian agro-tourism started from.

2. The Touristic Interest Important Places

Having various appearing and development forms from an area to another one, from a country to another one, the tourism is noted as a phenomenon of our century which became one of the most important social phenomena, having great influences over the economy.

Guarded by the massifs of Leaota and Bucegi, Iezer-Papusa and Piatra Craiului, the Rucar--Bran Couloir, thanks to its geographical features, represents a well individualized territorial unit. Joining the geographical elements, there results a high potential habitat, which is turned to good account through an old population process.

But it is something which gives a special charm to the Rucar--Bran Couloir and this is the harmoniously created landscape, where the relief, mild, varied, seems to be created after a human measure, even it takes something from the surrounding mountains monumentality and greatness.

The human localities, which continue to be on the popular ancient precincts, complete in a good way, the natural framework elements, aligning on the valleys thread, concentrating in the small depressions or spreading on the high and sweet flat mountains covered with lawns, defying the heights; however, we can meet here, many localities, placed at more than 1100 m, considered a true record of altitude for the Southern Carpathians, such as sirnea, Fundata, Fundalica.

Bran commune, having a population of 5300 inhabitants, occupies the Bucegi Northern-Western slopes and the Piatra Craiului Eastern slopes, on the Northern side of the couloir, extending also to the Barsei Depression South. It includes Bran, simon, Sohodol and Predelul villages. Bran is known as a Romanian rural tourism cradle, lots of touristic boarding houses being opened in the area.

The main touristic place is represented by the Bran Castle, a history, tradition and legend store, has become a symbol of these Romanian regions. The first document certification of Bran Castle is represented by the writ issued on the 19th of November 1377, by Ludovic I d'Anjou, through which the inhabitants of the Brasov city received the privilege to build the Fortress. At the end of the 15th century, Bran Fortress is subordinated to the Secklers' Committee authority, responsible for the Transylvania South-East defence, and, during Iancu of Hunedoara reign, it passes under the Transylvania principality administration. Through times, Bran Fortress performed in great measure its role of defender against the Turks' invasion. On the 1st of December 1920, The Council of Brasov town grants the Bran Castle to Maria Queen of Great Romania, as a sign of thanksgiving for her contribution to the Great Union of the 1st of December 1918 achievement. The Castle had been restored within 19201927, under the direction of the Royal Court architect, Carol Liman. In 1956, it had been organized as a museum of history and medieval art (Focsa, 2008).

Bran Castle represents one of the most important vestiges of Romania, its fame succeeding to be known round the world thanks to a very good conservation, to its beauty and to the Transylvanian Count Dracula's legend. An important part of the world fame of the castle is due to the Irish writer Bram Stocker, who wrote about Vlad Tepes, describing him as a vampire who fed himself with the people blood and had its residence in that castle.

Inside the castle, there is an Ethnographic Museum, a window widely opened towards the Carpathians' rural civilization, reuniting the most significant types of habitat, peasant's technical installations, popular costumes, ceramics. This museum had been opened in 1961 and it includes 14 peasant's households, each of them being arranged in detail. This museum had been structured in three sections: a. Section "The Castle " was initially organized as a history and medieval art section. After 1989, one tried to re-organize the basic exhibition for the period when Bran Castle belonged to Queen Maria. We can admire collections of rich ceramics, porcelain, silver, embroidery, carpets, icons, sculptures and coins, as well as the impressive collection of armaments. The old architecture of the castle, as well as the mystery of its secret stairs is very interesting; b. Section "Medieval Customs" organized in the former customs building until 1836. At present, this part is under conservation and restoring large process. c. Section "Bran Region Village Museum, " organized in the park surrounding the castle, presents the main types of households and dwellings, as well as different home outbuildings.

Besides this touristic objective, the commune also offers for visiting: "The Assumption" Church (a historical monument from 1836), the old Church (the 18th century) from Sohodol village, "The Pious Paraschiva" (1790) from simon village.

Moieciu commune, placed at the south of Bran, has a population of 5200 inhabitants and includes 6 villages: Moieciu de Jos (the residence village), Cheia, Magura, Pestera, Moieciu de Sus and Drumu Carului (the smallest one). The toponym Moieciu is certified by documents in 1405. In each commune or village there are historical monuments of religious art. Thus, in the residence village, Moieciu de Jos, there are: The Orthodox Church having the dedication day "Saint Nicholas," built in the second half of the 18th century, and in Cheia village there is a church having the dedication day "The Assumption," dated from 1818. Moieciu is an area having a very great touristic potential, proper for all the tourism forms development, and, thanks to the recent years progress of the mountain agro-tourism, ones builds this 3 latest years 383 villas, as well as many villeggiature. The area is yearly visited by around 9000 tourists, 3500 from which remaining accommodated in the hotels and pensions from the region, and the percentage of the foreign tourists is of around 30%. Fundata Commune: having a population of 1000 inhabitants, including three villages: Fundata, Fundalica and sirnea, it is placed in the Giuvala Gorge, at the greatest height from the Southern Carpathians (1360m). The villages are placed at high altitudes and they are enough isolated: sirnea is spread in the Rogoazei Valley basin, Fundata, a village spread on the water-shed to the East of Giuvala Gorge, and Fundalica, placed in the deep valley of the rivulet having the same name.

The mountain landscapes, houses and shelters spread on the hills and valleys represent attraction points in this area.

The church from Fundata (historical monument from 1843) is impressive by its simplicity and picturesque.

Another touristic objective inside this space is represented by the

Romanian Heroes Monument, placed in the health center's yard, being built in the memory of the hero Gheorghe Poenaru-Bordea, killed in action during the First World War. This monument had been built thanks to the initiative of the Society "The Heroes' Graves" and it is made of stone and its enclosure is made from pylons connected by chains. The obelisk has as adornment, at its up and central side, a phytomorphic motifs sculptured frame. At the low side, a bronze plate is fastened, containing a bas relief representing the infantry assault. On the front side, a golden inscription is curved in stone: "To the hero Colonel Gheorghe Poenaru-Bordea, the first officer killed in action bravely for this border displacement, the 14th of August 1916."

In 1968, $rnea was declared the first touristic village from Romania, and, at present, this place attracts the tourists by a number of events which became tradition.

The Ethnographic Museum "Nicolae Frunteq" from sirnea, reflects the past and present village life, through objects and documents proofs regarding the material and spiritual civilization oldness on these regions of a particular beauty, proofs which are impressive by their originality, utility and beauty. The museum building includes other six rooms--except that one dedicated to its founder--organized according to different themes: History and legend, Inhabitants pastoral care, The local traditional popular costume, The house specific to the mountain area, The Bran legend, Contemporary modern art.

In sirnea, there is also the possibility to visit the ostrich farm pertaining to the touristic complex "The Ostrich Valley."

Dambovicioara commune lies from Piatra Craiului Massif (North) up to Leaota Massif (South). It includes 3 villages: Dambovicioara, Podu Dambovitei and Ciocanu, having a population of 974 inhabitants.

Ciocanu is a small location of spread type, placed at the North.

Podu Dambovitei, having around 750 inhabitants, had been mentioned since the 16th-17th centuries. Location typically from Arges, placed in the intermountain depression having the same name, it is the main gate through which the entrance in the Iezer-Papusa Mountains is done, through the Dambovi(ei Valley, in Piatra Craiului Mountains through Dambovicioarei Valley, as well as in Bucegi Mountains and Leaota through Cheia's Valley.

The name of the village from the confluence of Dambovita with Dambovicioara and Cheia's Valley is connected to the existence of a very old wooden bridge over the Dambovita River, which facilitated the traffic on the road between Campulung and Brasov intensively used by the bargainers.

It was the village of sheep breeders who climb their flocks up the mountains in spring and climb them down in autumn when the "sheep scattering" is done. Podu Dambovi(ei keeps traditions unchanged for several millennia. Shepards' songs, doinas, dances can be gathered from almost every old person of the village, in dozens of variants. It is there too the place where the well-known play-writer Paul Everac initiated a cultural project which meant the creation of a statues outdoor complex, placed at the leaving the village.

Limestone formations alternating with conglomerate ones, arranged over a crystalline grain, generated the individualization of the karstic relief developed because of the hydrographic network related to Dambovita River.

The gorges accompany Dambovita River and its tributaries. The most complex gorges are found on Dambovita Valley and its small affluents, where are registered 14 gorges, the most individualized being Cheile Mari (The Great Gorges), Petrimanu's Gorges, Dambovicioara Gorges (on the Dambovicioara's Valley), Brusturet Gorges. At the same time, because of the hydro-technical facilities from up Dambovita Valley of Pecineagu, Petrimanu's Gorges also can be included in the touristic flow.

Other karst forms determining a plus of picturesque are the sinkholes and dolines which contribute to the creation of a potentially valuable landscape, but it is still less developed from touristic point of view.

The hills next to Rucar, the Pleasa Capitanului Hill (1361m), Dealul Crucii. The Cross Hill (1022 m), Posada (811 m), Pleasa Posadei (1072 m) are belvedere gorgeous points, not only for Dambovila Valley, but also farther, towards the eyesights of Piatra Craiului, Leaota and Iezer.

Other attraction points are: The bridge and the stone Cross of Brancoveanu; the church The Holy Kings, Pestera Ursilor (The Bears Cave) (upstream the Podu Dambovilei), Brusturel Chalet, Dambovicioara Cave.

The main touristic landmark of this area is the place Rucar, an old custom of Wallachia and Transylvania. Formerly, Rucar was an important customs point. During the 1st century A.D., the road from the Danube, next to Turnu-Magurele (Limes Transalutanus), towards the Dacia center passed by there. Closed to Rucar, the Romans built one of their many camps. Its traces can be still seen at the place called Scarisoara. The square, thick bricks, bearing the CF monogram, prove that that camp harbored the Flavia cohort, which built it.

It includes the slopes from Iezer, Piatra Craiului and Leaota Mountains. Having Rucar area view a population of 6200 inhabitants, this commune includes two different villages: Rucar (the biggest locality from the Couloir), placed at 630 m of height, and Saticul, having 200 inhabitants only, tailing away on the up Valley of Dambovila.

Populated since antiquity, Rucar is one of the biggest and oldest Romanian villages from mountains, and in time it became also an important ethnographic center, being stated a touristic village in 1970. The Ethnographic Museum there is in this village.

The church Holy Martyrs Gheorghe and Dumitru (1780, a valuable historical monument, bearing original pictures, can be visited in the cemetery from Rucar.

Among the natural objectives of this area, I do mention: Cheile Mari (The Great Gorges) of Dambovila, laying between Podu Dambovilei and Rucar, Ghimbav Gorges, Piatra Dragoslavelor (Dragoslavele's Stone) (limestone hillock found at the South-East).

The Rucar-Bran depression Couloir offers to the tourists the charm of the mountain regions, with its villages compact or spread among the mountains, with unforgettable images, with hospitable people, with century-old habits and traditions in the very old "transhumance gorge from Rucar to Bran."

The occupations and crafts have an important tradition in Rucar-Bran Couloir, but the most known occupation is the grazing thanks to which the Bran area is characterized as one of the main reserves of our country. Here, the sheep breeding and grazing is practiced in two specific types: the mountain pendulum sheep grazing and the transhumant sheep grazing, specific to the big flocks' owners (Toma, 2013).

Another important occupation is the agriculture, it being more developed from economic point of view in the villages" Sohodol, Predelut si Moieciu de Jos, where the natural environment of the village was favourable to the culture of potatoes, fruit trees and, in a smallest measure, the cereals culture, and, at heights over 1000m, there is practiced the terrace agriculture.

The secondary occupations are the nature picking, hunting, fishing and bee culture, all these occupations being practiced previously the agriculture and animal husbandry.

The bee culture was practiced in the Rucar-Bran Couloir for long time in primitive beehives manufactured from trees trunks inside hollowed out or from knotted works; parallel to the bee culture, the wax processing for the candles manufacturing had been practiced.

Among the peasants' crafts, the wood processing must be noticed. The wooden made parts are mentioned in the series of tools and objects used for the animal husbandry, particularly the sheep breeding, and one can specify: milk vessels, green cheese kneading vessels or butter churn barrels.

Another craft of a particular importance is the egg painting, which is widely spread in Bran area, excelling in a gorgeous drawing execution, through a rich repertoire of ornaments, the special quality of the dapple eggs made the Bran area known abroad.

Romania enjoys the advantage of landscapes of a rare beauty and traditions whose practicing in time impress the tourists, especially those coming from the Western countries.

It is necessary to develop in a greater measure the rural tourism and the traditional activities from the Rucar-Bran Couloir, and particularly abroad. In the Western Europe countries, the rural destinations enjoy a more and more important weight in the total of the holiday destinations. The daily stress of the urban life pushes the big cities inhabitants to search for peace, the peace of the environment unchanged by the civilization.

3. Accessibility and Visiting Possibilities

This is a region of the most accessible for the national and international tourism because it is drained by the DN73 national highroad which assures connections with the main roads of the country.

The road ways penetrating the couloir interior belong to the national, county and communal roads category. Campulung-Dragoslavele-Rucar-Bran has 74 km and it is modernized, representing the trans-Carpathians road of Bran, from which the county and communal main roads towards all the localities and touristic objectives emerge. Targoviste-Voinesti-Stoenesti-Valea Mare-Pravat has a length of 74 km and represents the main access road penetrating the couloir at Stoenesti. Predeal-Rasnov derives from E15 whose y-intersection is Predeal. Stoenesti-Dragoslavele, having a length of 8 km is partially modernized, favorable to the vehicle traffic, shortening with 20 km the access towards the couloir through DN 72A and then DN73.

Podu Dambovitei-Pecineagu, with a length of 21 km, accompanies the up valley of Dambovita. It is a well maintained road; even it is not modernized, practicable within the whole years. This road facilitates the access in Tamas and Otic Couloirs, as well as the penetration towards the Iezer-Papusa, Piatra Craiului and Fagaras Mountains.

The Fundata-Sirnea communal road (5 km) emerges from DN73, it is accessible almost all the year and represents the access way towards Sirnea, place, as well as towards the Piatra Craiului Peak.

The Moeciu-Fundatica communal road (8 km) is bifurcated from the center of Moeciu commune, emerging from DN73.

REFERENCES

Cocean, P. (1999), The Tourism Geography. Cluj-Napoca: Focul Viu.

Focsa, M. (collab.) (2008), The Touristic Guide Prahova Valley-Brasov-Rucar-Bran cOuLOIR. 4th edn., revised.

Hasdeu, T., (1983), Bran Fortress. Bucharest: Scientific Press.

Simion, T. (1990), Rucar-Bran Couloir. A Gate towards the Carpathians. Bucharest: Sport-Tourism.

Stoica Georgeta, Olivia Moraru (1981), Bran Ethnographic Area. Bucharest: Sport- Tourism.

Toma, Elena (2013), "Ethnic Homogeneity in Space: The Romanian Carpathians," Landscapes: Perception, Knowledge, Awareness, and Action, Addleton Academic Publishers, New York, vol. 2.

LUMINITA BOBOC

luminitaboboc@ymail.com

Hyperion University, Bucharest
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Author:Boboc, Luminita
Publication:Geopolitics, History, and International Relations
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXRO
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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