“Childhood never disappears from us; it becomes a continuous spring from which all of life’s turns come forth.”
Once upon a time there was an emperor. This big, powerful emperor had defeated and submitted everyone surrounding his kingdom, and forced each emperor to send one of their sons to serve him for 10 years. At the other end of the world there was an emperor who had not been defeated until he turned old. When his turn to send a son came he did not know what to in order to please the powerful emperor as he did not have a son, but three daughters…
So begins the story of one of the most cherished characters in the Romanian Folklore, Ileana Cosanzeana. Ileana is the original concept of feminine beauty said to use her power of white magic to heal or revive. She is a mythical character with supernatural powers and with symbolic features. In some tales “Ileana Cosânzeana” was the fairy of flowers, a fairy that puts the perfume into every flower, but she has the power to take it back; even the wind loves Ileana, but he can never catch her. She is the main female character in the Romanian mythological tales and the female correspondent to Fat Frumos – Prince Charming, usually his ideal female. According to folklore, she is kidnapped by a dragon (the Romanian term is zmeu) and locked in a tower or the Other Land, but she is always saved by Fat Frumos.
You can find depictions of these characters and several others inside one of the accommodations belonging to Raven’s Nest, The Transylvanian Village. The Guesthouse comprises renovated buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, a garden house and a traditional outdoor dining space. The story behind the name of the location is a no brainer. When deciding upon the location the owners saw some ravens flying around the area, so they called the place the Raven’s Nest.
If you want to immerse yourself in nature and disconnect this is the perfect place. Dive into the Guesthouse’s private forest, where you will find hammocks and hideouts, and an open-air cinema. There are two large decks built on the cliffs, from where you can enjoy the panorama of the Apuseni mountains: “Turnul de Apus” (The Eye of the Raven) and “Cuibul Tainic” (The Lovebirds’ Hideout). You can choose to spend your evenings at the campfire or watch the sunset from one of the decks or from the hot tub, located near the sauna, “Căldarea Vrajitoarei” (The Witch’s Cauldron).
Guests can enjoy authentic recipes together with a selection of Romanian wines or locally brewed beer at the on-site restaurant, The Dragon’s Tavern or the outside space called “Umbrarul Voinicului” (The Arbor of the Brave). The outside space also features an old stone oven and an on-site natural water spring. Meals are prepared with local, fresh ingredients. For breakfast they offer a full buffet, while for lunch and dinner the menus are pre fixed. Lunch and dinner consist in a three-course meal and they can also include vegetarian or vegan options if you request it in advance. There is also an impressive list of cocktails, lemonades and several other plant based drinks. We were welcomed with a delicious cold drink based on locally prepared raspberry syrup which proved to be the perfect remedy to a hot summer day.
If you love hiking and other connected activities, you have a lot of opportunities to explore. Some of the closest attractions are Vanatarele Ponorului Waterfall, Zalmoxe’s Cave, Dragon’s Gate and Cave, and Sipotele Waterfall. By car you can easily reach Rimetea, Coltesti Fortress, Valisoarei Gorges or The Temple of the Knights Castle, Mount Baisoara or Turda Gorges.
In a nutshell, The Raven’s Nest is a good starting point to access the endless beauty and history of the Apuseni Mountains. The road that accompanies the Aries river is a scenic drive in all seasons. Several years ago there was also an old train – Mocanita, running along the road and crisscrossing it. This was my favourite route as a little girl, as I used to come here almost every year. I am actually very fond of this area as my father was born here so I have a lot of relatives who live here and a lot of memories. Subjectively I can say that it is the most scenic area in Romania. Some of the places that I have explored together with my family and friends and were not mentioned so far are Scarisoara cave, Pisoaia Waterfall, Mount Gaina, Avram Iancu Memorial House Rosia Montana, Geamana, and the list can go on with a lot of places that I did not have the chance to see yet. There is some sort of time stopping beauty in every corner.