We woke up one Sunday morning in the middle of the summer with the thought of going somewhere spontaneously, which is not happening too often with us. For our one-day trip, we chose the Botanical Garden “Vasile Fati” in Jibou, which the A part of the AZ Travel Tips had never seen, and the Z part had been there before and liked it very much.
How to get there?
There are about 80 kilometers from Cluj to Jibou on the road. But we didn’t go by car, and as the direct bus is very rare, we had to change transportation in Zalău, so the distance became 110 km. There is also a route through Dej, but the distance becomes even longer.
We took a bus from Cluj to the capital of Sălaj County, that took us there in about an hour and a half. From there, we wanted to experience a local train, as we didn’t travel like this for some time. The bus left us at a gas station on the other end of the city so the walk to the train station was quite long. The railway station in Zalău looks surprisingly good, much more decent than stations in larger cities, it seems to have been recently renovated.
The train to Jibou was a “Blue Arrow” gasket, with good conditions and few people. It was supposed to make the 23km distance in 40 minutes. But in the end, it did over an hour because the train stopped in the middle of a field, due to an engine failure. The train company (CFR) staff were not at all panicky, apparently this type of event was happening frequently, it had already become a routine.
We arrived late at our destination after more than 3 hours on the road and rail. When the Cluj-Oradea highway, passing by Zalău, will be ready, this route could take one hour. But when will it be ready?!
Why should you go there?
Jibou is a small town where there isn’t much to see. The first stop we made was at a pizza place, amongst the few in town, with low prices and decent food. We walked a little in the center of the city, which still reminds of the chic atmosphere of an interwar Transylvanian small town. Then, we’ve reached our destination, which is the main tourist attraction of the city.
The Botanical Garden dates back to the communist period and was founded in 1968 by Professor Vasile Fati, whose name it currently carries. The garden was established in the park surrounding the Wesselenyi Castle, which formerly belonged to a Hungarian nobleman. It was originally designed as a research space for those studying biology at the nearby high school, being called the Young Naturalists’ Resort. After the revolution, the garden was subordinated to Jibou Biological Research Center, and in recent years its popularity among the public has increased.
Besides biology enthusiasts and nature lovers, people come here for recreation, in a green and pleasant environment away from urban agitation. It is also a good place to bring foreign tourists or do photo sessions on various occasions. When we got there, it was a wedding ceremony inside.
How does it look inside?
The Botanical Garden is organized in sectors, each of them housing certain types of plants. There are also several greenhouses with futuristic design, spaces for biological production and research, fish aquariums, a mini-zoo, bird cages, a Japanese garden and a rosarium. The entrance fee is 10 lei, accessible to anyone.
Summer is probably not the best time to visit botanical gardens. It is more interesting in the spring, when everything is blossoming, or autumn, with the many colors of the falling leaves, covering the earth to protect it from the cold of winter.
After entering the garden and walking for a while along the beautifully cobbled paths, we went to the greenhouses. These are some very cool glass and metal buildings in the form of domes. Inside, you can find numerous types of exotic plants from all corners of the world, which enjoy here constant heat and humidity in all seasons.
We walked among the palm trees and bananas, cacti and ficuses, took pictures of the turtles and the golden fish and went out to continue our exploration. Even the toilet was cleverly integrated into the landscape, being in a building covered with green, creeping plants, with abundant leaves.
Then, we arrived in the aquariums area, where we could admire all kinds of lovely fish of all colors and sizes, brought here from the warm seas of the South. After that we saw the area planted with hundreds of roses, but only a few were in bloom during this period. The Japanese Garden resembles the one in the botanical garden in Cluj, about which we recently wrote.
Getting to the top of a hill, we could admire the whole area around. Jibou is set on a typical Transylvanian landscape, on a plateau, with many valleys and hills succeeding quickly. Near the garden there is a neighborhood with beautiful houses and new villas, and you can see far away in the distance, the landscape is superb!
Then, we passed through the swan and duck sector, which are not fenced, but the birds remain near their favorite lake. There are also birds of different races behind fences, who would have preferred to walk free rather than be exposed to visitors.
At this moment of our journey, the atmosphere suddenly changed – that is, a torrential rain began. It was warm and really beautiful outside, it was a summer rain, but it soaked us, and we rushed through the area with large animals (deer, pigs, boars and other cute animals) looking for a shelter. Although the shower didn’t last long, it managed to get wet us to the skin, and after it was over we could see a rainbow through which nature tried to make good with us.
We couldn’t enter the castle of Baron Miklós Wesselényi because it was still under renovation. We plan to return here anyway, to walk more leisurely on a day when no rain is announced. Most likely, we will do so next spring to see how the blossoming nature in the garden looks.
The way home & Conclusions
We returned to Zalău by hitch-hiking, because on Sunday evening there weren’t many travel options. In the bus station here, we met again with the torrential rain. Fortunately, we had a place to hide this time. The bus took us home, and we were very happy that we had a new adventure.
We recommend this botanical garden to all those who haven’t visited it yet! In our opinion, it is the most beautiful in Romania, better than those in Cluj, Bucharest, Timișoara and Iași, which we visited before. Probably in time it will become more and more known. Farewell!