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SIGHTSEEING IN ARAD

The shores of the river Mures

The Mureș is a 789-kilometre-long (490 mi) river in Eastern Europe. Its drainage basin covers an area of 30,332 km2 (11,711 sq mi).

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It originates in the Hășmașu Mare Range in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, Romania, rising close to the headwaters of the Olt River, and joins the Tisza at Szeged in southeastern Hungary.

The river is known to be first mentioned by Herodotus in 484 BC bearing the name Maris.

It is also mentioned in 948 AD, in a document of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine, under the name Muresis (Mureios)

The Mureș River flows through the Romanian counties Harghita, Mureș, Alba, Hunedoara, Arad and Timiș, and the Hungarian county Csongrád. The largest cities on the Mureș/Maros are Târgu Mureș, Alba Iulia, Deva and Arad in Romania, and Szeged in Hungary.

Ceala Forest

The Mureș Floodplain Natural Park, set aside by the Romanian government in 2005, is located in western Romania outside the city of Arad. 

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The park covers 17,455 ha and follows the Mureş River westward from the city of Arad to the Hungarian border. The park is a typical ecosystem for wetlands, with running waters, lakes, swamps and floodplains, with forests, an important place for the passage and nesting of bird species and is subjected to periodical floods (a flood every three years). The forests (7,500 ha) in the park are made up primarily of common oak, narrow-leafed ash, black and white poplar, white willow, and American black walnut. This area is an important place for nesting and passage for nearly 200 species of birds, most of which are strictly protected internationally.

Between 2001-2005, the Mureș Floodplain Natural Park implemented, at what was then the largest PHARE grant in Romania (co-financed for 2.6 million Euros). Among other infrastructure projects, this grant built the park’s current visitor’s center.

In May 2007, the Ceala Forest Visitor’s Center, just outside the city of Arad, had its grand opening. The building houses a 34 bed hotel, a conference room that seats up to 70 people, a kitchen and dining area, a laboratory, and the park’s administrative offices.

The park’s eco-tourism program has two components: a guided/unguided canoe trip on the Mures River from the city of Arad to the town of Pecica; and bicycle rentals to be used on the park’s bicycle trail network. Both are extremely popular during the spring and summer months.

The Soimos Fortress

The Şoimoş Fortress is situated in the village of Şoimoş, now part of the city of Lipova, Arad County, Western Romania.

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It was raised on the right bank of Mureş River, on Cioaca Tăutului Hill.

It is believed that the name of the fortress which translates as The Hawk Fortress comes from an activity that was famous in the Middle Ages and was a part of the fortress: breeding and training hawks.

The fortress was built by the end of the 13th century by a noble family. It is assumed that the first owner was Paul, Ban (marquis) of Severin, between 1272-1275.

The fortress had a military role in the early 18th century, without being involved in any major military event. It was officially abandoned in 1788 and subject to demolition, but the difficult access and the relative remoteness were the reasons for the stopped destruction. In the 19th century the monument was protected by law and the last repair occurred in the early seventh decade of next century.