Places of interestThursday 10 August 2017

The Dragons’ Garden in Sălaj County

A natural monument of breath-taking beauty that comes to life through the folk legends it inspired

The Dragons’ Garden - Sălaj County

The Dragons’ Garden is located at the edge of a small village in Sălaj County, called Gâlgău Almaşului and it is considered one of the most beautiful places in Romania. It is an ensemble of irregularly-shaped rocks that came off Inchieturi Hill.The wind, rain, snow and frost shaped them into the strangest looking formations, which have been likened to columns, ramparts, bridges and mushrooms.

Equally fascinating is the way that folk imagination has breathed life into these rocks and made them into mythical characters. Each of them has a name and a story that make it unique.

One legend says that the rocks were formed in the aftermath of an epic battle between the forces of evil and the forces of good.

Another story says that Gâlgău Almaşului was once shelter to greedy dragons that would abduct young girls from families of the village. One day one of them went too far and stole the sun from the sky. A young man, outraged at the dragon’s audacity, decided to take him on. He managed to defeat him and once having found the Sun, he put it back up in the sky, where it belonged. But his troubles were not over, because it didn’t take long for the other dragons to come to the rescue of their imperiled brother. They were dazed by the shining of the Sun, spellbound by a girl the young man had released and turned into stone.

Another legend is connected to a couple of rocks located in the western side of the garden. In fact these two stones are the largest and most popular in the entire reserve. They are called The Dragon and The Dragoness and the legend says that dragons would sit on them to have a rest when they were travelling to the city of Dej to get salt.

Another story says that, in the '70s, rivers of red water ran down the stone wall which the rocks came off. It was considered to be the blood of a beautiful gypsy man who shot himself in order to escape the police that were after him.

But the most famous by far is the legend of The Daughter of Cătana. Cătana was an evil woman who didn’t approve of her daughter’s love for a young soldier and cursed her to turn into stone. The locals say that there used to be a rock – on which this story was based – that looked exactly like a girl with long hair and a jug in her hand. But landslides destroyed it in 1971.    

Sources:

“Grădina Zmeilor din Gâlgău Almaşului – o minune a naturii”, Financiarul, August 15th 2013, Available at: http://www.financiarul.ro/2013/08/15/gradina-zmeilor-din-galgau-almasului-o-minune-a-naturii/ , Accessed: 06.25.2015.

“Legendele din Grădina Zmeilor”, Observator.Tv, April 14th 2015, Available at: observator.tv/social/special-legendele-din-gradina-zmeilor-150135.html, Accessed: 06.25.2015.

Man, Olimpia, “Grădina Zmeilor - 'Meteora' României. De unde vine numele ciudatelor formaţiuni stâncoase”, Adevărul, June 4th 2013, Available at: adevarul.ro/locale/zalau/gradina-zmeilor-meteora-romaniei-vine-numele-ciudatelor-formatiuni-stancoase-1_51adc596c7b855ff5657c539/index.html, Accessed: 06.25.2015.

Man, Olimpia, “Vacanţă în Grădina Zmeilor - locul unde o tânără s-a transformat în stană de piatră. Porolissum- cetatea gladiatorilor”, Adevărul, July 25th 2013, Available at: adevarul.ro/locale/zalau/vacanta-porolissum-gradina-zmeilor-1_51eee251c7b855ff5668cfda/index.html, Accessed: 06.25.2015.

Pădurean, Claudiu, “Sălaj: Legendele care aduc turiștii în Grădina Zmeilor”, România Liberă, April 15th 2014, Available at: http://www.romanialibera.ro/economie/finante-banci/salaj--legendele-care-aduc-turistii-in-gradina-zmeilor-332322 , Accessed: 06.25.2015.

Pop, Alina, “Legendele Grădinii Zmeilor din Sălaj: stâncile care prind viaţă. Legătura fiinţelor supranaturale cu 'Meteora' României”, Adevărul, March 2nd 2015, Available at: adevarul.ro/locale/zalau/legendele-gradinii-zmeilor-salaj-stancile-prind-viata-legatura-fiintelor-supranaturale-meteora-romaniei-1_54f471e2448e03c0fd255a57/index.html, Accessed: 06.25.2015.

Andra Mihaela Cimpean

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