Photo Biennial of Szeklerland

  • The 3rd Photo Biennial of Szeklerland – 2017

ro terkep2Szeklerland is a well defined historical and ethnographical region in the cen­tral part of Romania. In ancient records it appears under the name of Terra Siculorum and Regnum Siculorum. The Szeklers were an ethnic group brought to defend the borders and had special status for their military services. They called their historical-administrative units seats, therefore Szeklerland was composed of seven seats: Udvarhely, Csík, Maros, Aranyos, Kézdi, Sepsi and Orbai. In 1876 the seats were reor­ganized as counties. In Romania between 1952 and 1960 they formed the Hungarian Autonomous Region, later the Maros Hungarian Autonomous Region. Today Szeklerland is represented by the area of Covasna, Harghita and Mureș counties populated in majority by Hungarians. Szeklers are a subgroup of Hungarians characterized by a distinct historical consciousness, and particular dialectal and ethnographic features.


Life is determined not only by relief but also by climatic factors. The long cold winters and the short summers dictate a peculiar rhythm to agricultural activities. The most important crop in the agriculture of Szeklerland is potato, many regions of the country are supplied with it. The Szekler home baked bread made with potatoes is well known far and wide, and from the Szekler villages the famous kürtőskalács has set off again to conquer Europe.


Families belonging to a community still keep their animals in one herd, they hire a shepherd, who herds out the ani­mals on Saint George's Day as custom of the annual cycle requires. Folk feasts are spectacular manifestations of the living traditions. In villages, the old customs related to Carnival, Vintage or religious holidays offer  many opportunities to show the folk wear.


The hospitable villages and towns are home to popula­tion belonging to various religious denominations living together. Their fortified churches whisper songs of the past from the times of the Tartar devastations up to our days. Szeklerland is also the land of legends. Fabulous stories, passed down from father to son, tell us tales of elves and fairies, mountains, fountains, rocks or lakes, in this land every tree and stone has its tale.


One of the most fabulous sites is Saint Ann’s lake – the only large volcanic crater lake preserved in Eastern Europe. The post-volcanic activity is present in the form of dangerous, but healing gas-eruptions, called mofettas.


Szeklerland is a land of mineral waters, as well. More than 40 % of the sparkling treasure bottled in Romania comes from Szeklerland. Besides bottled water we may quench our thirst with the water of countless mineral water springs gurgling on the roadsides or hidden in the woods; just as there are plenty of traditional spas which can cool and heal the visitors with their sparkling waters.


Beside the rich flora of the large forests lying in the curve of the Eastern Carpathians, one can often meet wild games that are extinct or rare in other parts of Europe: the Carpathian brown bear, the red deer, the lynx or the grey wolf.

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