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Mini Transylvania Park, the sightseeing attraction featuring landmark Transylvanian miniature buildings

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The Mini Transylvania Park is the dream come true of a team of young Odorheiu Secuiesc locals; the collection of Transylvanian miniature landmarks opened in 2020, after the coronavirus restrictions were lifted, and has proved a great success, attracting so far over 100,000 visitors.

The vibrant estate is the brainchild of Fazakas Szabolcs from Odorheiu Secuiesc, who visited in 2012 the Mini-Europe scale model park in Brussels and realized that no Transylvanian monument was featured there, so that he had the idea to design a similar park in his native city.

He located the park in Baile Seiche spa resort, which he held particularly dear because this is where he grew up and saw, over the years, the place falling into dereliction without the authorities intervening.


Together with his colleagues from the Visus Cultural Association, he took the first steps in 2015 and three years later they received the building permit; works effectively kicked off in November 2018, with more than a hundred people working to arrange the park and using for this about 5,000 cubic meters of materials, from concrete and ballast to earth and stone.

The Mini Transylvania Park stretches on almost one hectare and has 84 models of Transylvanian landmark buildings on display, with a route winding among these "mini buildings", historical and architectural monuments included in the UNESCO or the National Heritage - castles, monasteries, fortified churches.

Fazakas says that the park represents "one of the masterpieces of his professional life" and insists that it is "a multicultural project" where buildings erected over time by Romanians, Szeklers or Saxons are equally featured.

Fazakas also had the idea to place the explanations next to each model on a rotating board, so that the information in one language would not appear before that in other languages.

The first model welcoming the park visitors is that of the Bran Castle, next they can see miniatures of well-known and important buildings, such as the Peles Castle, the Savarsin Castle, the Hunyadi Castle, the Alba Iulia Citadel, the Rasnov, Rupea and Fagaras fortresses, or the Oradea Citadel.

 

Also featured here are models of the cities of Sibiu, Sighisoara, Alba Iulia, Targu Secuiesc, Cluj Napoca, and Brasov is to follow soon. Tourists can also see the defunct island Ada Kaleh, or the Govajdia blast furnace where - Fazakas explains - several iron pieces for the Eiffel Tower were cast, but also rebuilt citadels which in real life are in ruins, such as the one at Balvanyos or Odorheiu Secuiesc.

The Franciscan monastery from Sumuleu Ciuc, the Horezu Monastery, the Sambata de Sus Monastery or the Darjiu Church - the only monument in Harghita included in the UNESCO heritage - also sit on the grounds of the park, and models of other important buildings will be added, such as the Poenari Fortress, the second residence of Voievode Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), and which is said to be the real castle of Count Dracula.

The models are crafted in Budapest by Domokos Vajda, a young man born in Cristuru Secuiesc, who works both manually and with a 3D printer, and the details are made by Auróra Hajnal Németh, an artist who puts the true-life touches on the respective buildings.

The park was officially opened on August 2, 2020 and in one year had over 100,000 visitors from all over the country, from western Oradea to eastern Constanta, and from Mehedinti to Maramures.

The park's initiator also remarks that Romanians have rediscovered their country during the pandemic as they sought accessible places to rest.

"Last year, while in full pandemic, we had 2,400 tourists in a single day. The Romanians have rediscovered their country, they opened the geography book and came home. And little by little they discovered that you don't have to leave the country for a vacation, you can perfectly rest at home too. And they saw that you can do this in Szeklerland as well," says Fazakas.

He would like the UK's Prince Charles to come to visit, especially as he is a great lover of Transylvania.

"I think the Prince would like it, I don't know if he has so much energy and health to come, but I hope that Mr. Kálnoky, the landlord of the Miclosoara mansion - Covasna County brings him here, to us. It would really be worth seeing miniature Transylvania, because he loves these realms and we also have the birth house of his great-great-great-grandmother in Sangeorgiu de Padure (Countess Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde, born in Sangeorgiu de Padure in 1841 - the great-great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain)," says Szabolcs Fazakas.

Recently, a miniature train line was inaugurated on the estate, which takes tourists among the building mockups.

The train driver is none other than the historical graphic designer János Gyöngyössy, the one who supervised the Mini Transylvania project and who now guides the tourists through the park.


"It's lovely, especially when you see so many children enjoying themselves, that's worth anything. We welcome travelers all day long, from all over the country, that surprised us too, how word got there. The route is about 300 m long, it is a journey through the southern part of Transylvania," János Gyöngyössy says.

After visiting the park, the tourists are also invited to the museum of ethnographer Balázs Orbán, which was also mounted by the young enthusiasts form the Visus Association, in memory of the founder of the Baile Seiche, in 1870.

The Mini Transylvania Park continues to develop as new models are added; an "enchanted castle" with attractions for children, an open-air cinema, but also a terrace and a boarding house are in the works.

Szabolcs Fazakas has also thought of setting up an insect park nearby, which he hopes will be a great sightseeing draw for both children and adults.

He believes that with all these beauties to explore, people will spend at least one day at Baile Seiche and will check in for the night in Odorheiu Secuiesc, because - he admits - this was also one of his ambitions with achieving these objectives.

The miniature park that put Odorheiu Secuiesc on the region's tourist map awaits its visitors Monday through Sunday, to discover the architectural diversity of Transylvania and the locals' hospitality.

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