Rimetea: the village where the sun rises twice

It is considered to be the most beautiful village in Transylvania and there is a legend saying that here, in Rimetea, the sun rises twice.

Half of the little over 300 houses have been restored, thanks to a funding program that helped turning it from an ancient mining village to a charming and successful agro-touristic region. Over 75% of the tourists coming here are foreigners and their number keeps growing from one year to another, attracted by the beauty of the wild landscape, traditional architecture and the locals’ hospitality.

Due to conservation efforts, Rimetea was awarded the European Commission’s Europa Nostra Award for the conservation of the material cultural heritage and, earlier, the village was designated a protected architectural and urban area. The oldest heritage sites are the two fortifications, one from the Latène age and the other from the medieval age, prior to the Mongol invasion. Most of heritage buildings date from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

What to see in Rimetea

Anyone can enjoy a stroll to discover the architectural beauty of traditional secular buildings (houses, stables, workshops etc.) spread from the center of the village to the outskirts. The oldest house in the village is the home of a miner, built in 1668 and renovated after 2004.

Rimetea also has the oldest working water mill in the region (over two centuries old). A small blacksmith’s workshop still stands next to the mill structure.

Tourists can also visit the Unitarian Church in the center of the historic town and the main square. Built on the site of a medieval church between 1780 and 1804, its oldest part is the tower enlarged in 1670.

The ethnographic museum in Rimetea has an impressive collection of over 11.000 objects exhibited in only 5 rooms, reflecting what used to be the main occupations of the inhabitants of the area: mining, metallurgy and woodworking.

Visitors shouldn’t leave out the village’s cemetery established at the beginning of the eighteenth century, a record of the development of folk art in the village and a unique place in Romania, as some tombs are carved into the rock.

What to do in Rimetea and nearby

Throughout the year, tourists come to admire local architecture, enjoy the taste of traditional cuisine and the locals’ hospitality.

Around the end of February, on the Saturday before the start of the Easter Fast or the Great Fast, villagers celebrate Shrove Tuesday (“lăsatul secului de carne” in Romanian) through a ”fărșang” (“farsang” in Hungarian) – a carnival whose main event is a ritual procession, a burlesque of the burial of winter, symbolizing the chase off of evil spirits. The fărșang is specific to Catholic and Protestant communities in Transylvania and is the equivalent of carnival in Catholic and Protestant countries.

During the warm season, Rimetea is a great destination for hiking, climbing and air sports, especially paragliding. Other sites nearby worth visiting are the Colţeşti Fortress (or Trascăului Fortress) built in 1296 in the neighbouring village Colţeşti, Piatra Secuiului – a limestone massif divided into two parts by a ravine which makes the sun, from May to September, to actually rise twice for people living in the north of Rimetea, Cheile Vălișoarei – the gateway to Trascăului depression and home to 27 caves (the longest is 134 m) – and the famous Salina Turda salt mine, nominated in 2014 by Business Insider as the most beautiful underground place in the world (read more about Salina Turda here).

How to get there

Rimetea is located in Alba County on DJ107M county road.

Getting there by car:
– from Cluj (less than one hour drive): take the E60 road from Cluj to Turda, follow DN1/E81 to DN75 in Mihai Viteazu, take the DN75 exit from DN1/E81 and follow DN75 and DJ107M to Rimetea,
– from Sibiu (about 1h 40 minutes): take the A1 road to Aiud and then continue on DJ107M to Rimetea,
– from Bucharest (about 5 ½ hours): take the E81 road from Bucharest to Sibiu and follow the route Sibiu – Rimetea above.