Be relaxed among dragons at Grădina Zmeilor Sălaj

Eva Poteaca | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The amazing country of Romania has many things to offer. Some of those things are surely the stunning and picturesque landscapes and the beauty of unspoiled nature. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely in love with the silence and tranquility offered by a corner of nature. While traveling in northern Romania, one can find this amazing place, Grădina Zmeilor in Sălaj County, where one can be relaxed among dragons

Picture © Credit to: Andreea Chiș

Did somebody say dragons?

If you are seeking to find real dragons, I must disappoint you. But I am sure that the breathtaking landscape will make you forget about these lovely mythical creatures and make you enjoy the dazzling nature. The words 'zmeu' and the plural 'zmei', are the words for a mythical Romanian creature, close to what one would call a dragon.  

The landscape

Grădina Zmeilor is a natural reserve in the central-eastern part of the Sălaj County. The protected area spreads over three hectares and hosts the rocks of unusual shapes like towers, needles or mushrooms. Due to the unusual shapes, each of these rocks got a representative name: the Captain, the Monk, Cleopatra, Soldiers or Zmeul and Zmeoaica.  The geological formations are made out of sandstone, and the shapes themselves are due to repeated air, water and gravitational erosion over the years. All this formed these astonishing shapes.

Picture © Credit to: Andreea Chiș

The natural reserve also prides itself with a diversity of trees like oak, horn beam and shrubs like blackberry and the wild rose. The flora also includes beautiful and unique Autumn Flax, daisies and violets. A series of mammals, birds and reptiles can be found here: squirrels, red foxes, mountain woodpeckers, blue jays, fire salamanders. Many other wonderful creatures have found a home in this nature reserve.

The legends 

Picture © Credit to: Andreea Chiș

The magic of the place wouldn’t be complete without the existence of legends. The first legend is about the “two twin rocks”, Zmeul and Zmeoaica, the male and female word for dragon in Romania. According to the legends, those stones mark the place where the dragons used to rest after undertaking a trip in the nearby city, Dej, from where they brought the necessary salt.

According to another legend, the natural reserve is placed where the house of dragons used to stand. The dragons used to take women as prisoners from the nearby villages. One day, a courageous man stole the sun and threw it into the sky. The sun was so powerful that all the dragons turned into stones. And they remained stones until today. 

Picture © Credit to: Andreea Chiș

There is no doubt that one will be relaxed among dragons at Gradina Zmeilor in Sălaj County. The fresh air and breath-taking landscape will transport one in a magic place he will be eager to visit over and over again. 

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