THE GURAHONŢ – HĂLMAGIU RURAL TOURISM AREA

A beautiful area in the Arad County is the Crişul Alb River Valley, ideal for rural tourism and agro-tourism, hunting, fishing and cultural tourism. The proof is  given by the large hollows linked by narrow passes, the vast beech forests, rich in game, the villages with various historical and ethnological spots, located on the border between Codru Moma and Zarandului Mountains.

 The basic conditions for easy access of the tourists are in place: a national road (DN79) and a railway route (317) pass through the valley.

 In the mild surroundings, typical for the gentle slopes of the Apuseni Mountains, wildly beautiful spots meet the eye. The gorge of the river between localities Aciuta and Leasa is bordered by volcanic hills with heights up to 641m (Danila Peak). Only the railway and a narrow communal road can squeeze between the rocky, barren walls. On the tributary river creeks Ursului and Tisei, the valleys are even narrower and more spectacular, with overhanging walls and boulders amassed on the watercourse.

 The visitors of these places may be tempted to take an itinerary route through the villages scattered along the valleys, to find the old wooden churches, like those from Bodeşti, Cristeşti, Ioneşti, Tisa, Ţărmure, Poiana, all of them built in the 18th century.  The church from Hălmagiu is quite unique, probably built in the 14th century, as the old wall painting discovered under the plaster suggests.

 The natives have not forgotten their traditional crafts. Among the local population one can still find: blacksmiths, weavers, and pitchfork manufacturers in Vârfurile, harness makers and coopers in Buteni, potters in Hălmăgel and Bârsa. Here and there one can spot old water mills still working, like the one in Hălmăgel.

 In the village Brusturi, painters Ion Niţă Nicodim and Petru Mihuţ, founded a naïve painting school.  Their followers still illustrate in their work the labors and festivities of the village and sell their paintings at the fairs organized throughout the county.

 Găina Mountain (1486m), bordering counties Arad and Hunedoara, hosts the Maiden Fair, on a Sunday closest to July 20th.  In the old times, this was an opportunity for the young people to meet and know each other; many such encounters ended up in weddings. Today, artisans, singers and dancers from counties Arad, Alba, Bihor and Hunedoara attend such festivities, coming here to trade and to party.

For the future, the tourism-oriented demand is expected to grow; therefore people started considering the idea of becoming part of a national network of rural tourism; at present some thirty households are being certified to this effect.