May 23, 2023 Cluj RO

Our plan for the day was to get going early so we could visit the historical park near the campground before we set off for Cluj. Last night the campground was nearly full, and people were still coming in well into the evening. So we wanted to arrive at the campground in Cluj early so that there was no issue with getting a place.

An interesting way to hoist water from a well. I understand levers, but how tall were Romanians in the 19th century?

Astra Park is an outdoor park that has a collection of traditional Romanian buildings mostly from the 19th century. There are homes, workshops, churches, and a lot of different types of waterwheels.

One of the many examples of waterwheels and mills in the park.

Most of the regions of Romania are represented so there is a great variation in the types of homes, and construction materials. There are also homes that were typical of the non-Romanian people who live in the country.

Grass roofed work buildings with a fence made of interwoven vines. The vine fencing was very prevalent, but this was the only one with grass on the top.

Astra Park is considered the biggest outdoor museum in Europe. It is really immense and contains hundreds of different buildings. It was started in the 1970’s and continues to be added to today. It is extremely impressive.

This cat was sleeping on the sluice boards for this mill when Ton went to take her picture. When Ton started to shoot she got up and posed for Ton.

In addition to the examples of different types of buildings the museum also highlights examples of traditional farming techniques as well as several crafts. We particularly enjoyed the potter who is well renowned in Romania.

The potters wheel with some of the finished goods displayed.
Some of the raw pieces before they are fired in the kiln.

We had planned on spending about an hour here, we were less than half way around when Ton pointed out we had already spent two hours. So we had to pick up the pace a little for the second half of the park.

They had a flock of sheep on display with a shepherd. There were several types of sheep in the flock which we supposed represented the different type of sheep raised in different parts of Romania.

In the end we regretted not having more time to spend as this place is really fantastic. The buildings are really well presented and maintained and the grounds are beautiful and a nice walk. This is one of the best historical parks we have ever been to.

These paintings were done on rough hewn boards, but are really well preserved.

Our drive was about 200km’s so I had told Ton to plan on about 31/2 hours. So far in Romania we had not seen any freeways. Even around Bucharest the roads were 2 lanes but highways with cross traffic and roundabouts, and frequent speed limit changes. On those kind of roads we end up averaging about 60 kph.

One of the largest and most elaborate houses in the museum.

After we left Sibiu we ended up on a true freeway, but I did not expect it to last long, as the few times we had been on limited access roads they only last 8 or 10 kilometers before turning into highways with normal traffic. But this one did not peter out as the others had done.

A sail type windmill from the park.

It turns out the freeway lasted all the way to Cluj. I really enjoyed being able to drink my coffee while driving without worrying about shifting gears every few minutes. Our drive was 2 hours instead of the 31/2 I had planned on.

A beautifully carved wooden crucifix.

As I said at the top of the post I was a little worried about space in the park. When we arrived the gates were closed, and the park was empty. Now I was a little worried that it was closed. I called the number on the gate, and the owner opened it up for us and told us to pick anywhere we wanted.

There was a selection of stuccoed homes painted blue. I’m not sure what part of Romania favors blue.

Having a whole campground to ourselves we became indecisive and spent the next 30 minutes trying several different places to park. We finally settled in and have been since joined by a Dutch couple so we don’t have the whole place to ourselves.

A rural Roma home with the original green roof.

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