We don’t know how it is like for others, but us, living in a big and crowded city that’s suffocated by loads of people and cars, with shops, streets and buses full all the time, people always in a hurry, traffic jams, sirens, heat, dust, queues… we find ourselves craving for precious moments of silence and relaxation, surrounded by nature.
So, on a Saturday morning, at the beginning of May, we decided to go to Bologa, a small village in the middle of the nature, with high hills and great woods around it, far away from the craziness of the city.
How do you get to Bologa?
Bologa is a village in the Poieni commune, Cluj County, set in a wonderful location, 65 km away from Cluj-Napoca, on the road to Oradea. You can get there by car, by bus or hitchhiking, the route is quite busy and the Romanians rarely refuse to earn some extra cash.
We have not mentioned the train because, after a quick web search, we realized that there is only one that stops there, sometime in the afternoon, so this schedule wasn’t helpful at all for us. The situation got even clearer when we arrived at the Bologa railway station, which is actually an abandoned ruin, looking like a wound on the beautiful body of the nature around it.
If you go to Bologa from Cluj by bus or hitchhiking, towards Oradea, it will stop on the DN1/E60 road, across the street from the Bologa railway station. From there you can get to the Bologa Fortress, the main attraction, on a good, paved road, it’s just a 2 km walk. If you drive there, you can park right where the road that goes uphill towards the citadel begins. We liked to walk the 2 km, there were very few cars, nice houses well-kept by hardworking owners, with animals, birds, flowers, cultivated gardens and all the rest. And a relaxing silence which was dissolving in the clean air, disturbed only by a bleating or a buzzing from time to time.
Right at the entrance in the village, the Crișul Repede River is passing, with its clear and cold water, jumping lively over the stones and relentlessly singing its whisper for those who rest on its green shores. It is a good place to stop and relax, meditate and recharge.
The Bologa Fortress
After the relaxing walk on the 2 km that separate the entrance in the village and the citadel, we met on the right side of the road, at the base of a hill, near a small cemetery, the sign indicating that we were close to our destination.
From here, there are another 2-300 meters to climb on a forest road, on which we recommend you to go by foot, with appropriate shoes, because it looks something like this:
The way up is easy for a healthy person, and shortly, you can already see in the distance, on the hill, the fortress.
The Bologa Citadel is 700 years old and today only a few stone walls are still standing, which were sheltering people and soldiers centuries ago, during times of need, protecting even the famous Romanian emperor Vlad the Impaler (Dracula). The stronghold is strategically located, its high towers were used to oversee the valleys around it, so that the invaders could not come unexpectedly.
As we were getting closer to the grand walls, we were minding each step, watching the crumbled stones from above that were ready to fall, being careful not to hurt ourselves and to avoid any danger. The good news is that the fortress will be renovated soon, which could attract more visitors to this place full of history, because nobody was there when we visited it, just us, the towering forest, the lonely walls and the quietness. Therefore, if you want to see the place as it is now, we advise you to hurry up, it could be closed soon for renovations.
Inside, the dance of history with nature is fascinating, it stops you and makes you think: you suddenly wake up in a past century, in the great bustle of people who were passing the river stones from hand to hand in order to erect one of the most imposing medieval fortresses in Transylvania.
Now, the trees and the plants have taken the place of people and they are sheltered – or sheltering – the high walls, letting our imagination remake the stories and destinies of all the people who passed by here hundreds of years ago.
From the top, near the citadel, you can slowly taste the gift of nature, with its splendid views, the whisper of wind, the rustling of leaves, the fresh air, the enchanting smell of the season and you can recharge with quietness and energy, enjoying the simple things.
After the history lesson and the breath of fresh air, we said goodbye to the grand walls and started slowly the descent, walking towards the second objective we wanted to see in Bologa: the Watermill. After getting to the base of the hill, we continued our trip through the village, passing by the great church showing a beautiful architecture.
After a short while, on the left side of the road this time, we met the sign directing us towards the mill and we continued our way through dandelions and green grass, until we got to the yard of the diligent people taking care of the mill.
The Watermill of Bologa
As you get close to this… wonder, we could say, of our times, you can hear louder and louder the rumbling of the waterfalls and of the whirlpool, and once you get close enough, you can see its magnificence, surrounded by the beautiful nature, being a part of it innately, nicely, ancestrally.
The mill is over 150 years old, it is the only one from the area still functioning and it was inherited from generation to generation, and the good people who care for it now open their home and their hearts so that the guests of the village can have the honor of seeing and enjoying it.
The vortex is a round, wooden contraption, where the mill water falls forming a strong whirlpool, it is a kind of… ecological and rustic washing machine. Especially in those times when not every household had an automatic washing machine, people would come here to wash clothes, blankets and carpets with crystal clear water from the river, without the modern wonders of electricity and chemical detergents, getting them out of the vortex clean and with a real smell of nature.
After the watermill kept us still and fascinated for a while, we came back through the village to the main road, from where we headed towards Cluj, with a short break in the town of Huedin, which is located 12 km away from the village of Bologa. We got back home rested, better, brighter, a little sunburnt and with that pleasant pain in the feet after wandering around meaningful places, ready and willing to confront again, for a while, the uproar of the city, with calm and good thoughts of the simple but important things.