Route of Udvarhelyszék (M24-M05)
The starting point for the last 100 kilometers of the Mary’s Way is Parajd, the center of Sóvidék, and it is one of the most important salt mining sites in the Carpathian Basin. The village is visited by hundreds of thousands of people annually, as it is famous for its salt baths, the Salt Strait, the salt mine of Parajd, the open-air salty beach, where visitors are attracted to not only for sight but also for their healing effect. Since 1911 the village gives place for the memorial house of Lajos Áprily,and the first Romanian butterfly house for living tropical butterflies can also be found here.
The pilgrimage route leads from Parajd to Atyha, which is a "saddle positioned" village. Above the village, on Fiastető you will find a lookout tower, from where you can see the inner Transylvania, the Küküllő hills, the river of Nyárád, the Görgényimountainand the Hargita mountain range. From the lookout tower you can see Parajd, Alsó andFelsősófalva, Korond and Firtos.
At the confluence of the Küsmöd and the Firtos streams, Etéd lies on the plateau of the Etédi Basin widening valley, which includes four more villages:Énlaka, Siklód, Küsmöd and Kőrispatak. Etéd was once famous for its weekly fairs, today for its firewater called "Szekler Secret”. It is made from different fruits, using only local ingredients. The Reformed Church of the village was rebuilt in 1802 after a fire which in 1792 destroyed the 17th century Church. The Roman Catholic Church was built in 1876 in honor of St. Michael.
Küsmöd, as its name suggests, it lies next to the Küsmöd brook. In the beginning the Szeklers who founded the village were dealing with forestry. The curiosity of the settlement is the present-day reformed Church, which was already standing in the 14th century, consecrated in the honor of Virgin Mary, and which in 1446 received pilgrimage permit from the Pope. The remains of a former monastery can be seen on the ridge of the sandstone hill which is located at the northwest part of the village.
We can make a detour: Seven kilometers from Etéd to the west, we can locate Kőrispatak, where the straw hat production has almost 150 years of history. In 1879, nearly a hundred of people in the village worked with straw plaiting, so for most of the families the technique of straw plaiting is still a very common activity. Since 2000, the village has a straw hat museum, a tradition and prestige which have garnered a great reputation and attendance.
Énlaka also belongs to Etéd, which was supposed to be built on Roman settlement.The peculiarity of the village is a ring-shaped, ancient settlement structure around the temple dome.In addition to this the village has a rich wildlife population. The Unitarian church, located in the center of the settlement, was built in the second half of the 13th century. It was renovated in in 1976, at that time Roman graves, ruins and two votive altar stones were found under its floor.
Firtosváralja lies at the foot of Firtos Hill in the valley of the Konyha-patak. The village was the property of the Firtos family for centuries. His name probably comes from the former castle which was standing on the top of the mountain and was one of the points of the 12th century border protection castle system, today only its remains can be seen. The Unitarian church of the village was built between 1801 and 1805. The religious country flag of Firtosváralja was inaugurated in 1942.
At the foot of the Firtos hill lies Székelypálfalva where, according to oral tradition, a shepherd named Pál settled first, and the name of the village originates from his story. Here was born György Nagy, who was the elected leader of the risen Szeklers against JánosZsigmond in 1562. According to the tales, the Szeklers had been drinking beer at the top of Pálfalvi hill already in 1585; most probably they knew the technique of beer brewing from the past. The church which is located at the end of the village, near the road to Fitos hill, was burnt by the Tartars in 1661. The gothic door frame, baptismal font and holy water vial found here were preserved in the Roman Catholic Church built between 1765 and 1775.
The famous municipality seat of the upper stream of the White Nyikó River is Farkaslaka, the birthplace of ÁronTamási. According to the oral tradition, the settlement has been named after the wolves which were living in the near forest. The name of the village is closely related to ÁronTamási's name. Nowadays the birthplace of the writer acts as a memorial museum where we can see his personal objects, manuscripts and letters. His churchyard tomb stands in the shadow of two huge turkey oak trees, behind a large Szekler gate. In 1967, a wooden headstone decorated with tulip pattern was placed on his grave. At the square next to the tomb of TamásiÁron stands the millennial monument commemorating The Thirteen Martyrs of Arad. The 953 meter high Gordon Hill rises above the village, on whose ridge we can find a metal sculpture of the Saviour (erected in 2011), the tallest Eastern European Jesus statue. On the clayey slopes of the hill hollows and caves of different sizes were arisen. The largest of them is known as “Ferenc Nagy likja”. The 40-hectare geological reserve of the Firtos Mountain, at 1605 meters altitude, is a particularly valuable place for wildlife and flora. The area is also known for its geological values and archaeological treasures, the ruins of a 12th century castle as well as the andesite rock named Horse of Firtos. The elderly people from Farkaslaka claim that if the Horse of Firtos, which guards over the village looks white, a sunny weather is expected, but if it is gray, then rainfalls will be expected. On the side of Gordon Hill a wooden statue of Virgin Mary can be found. The Roman Catholic Church of the village was built between 1842- 1848 and its bells were cast in Sibiu. In the foreground of the church there is a memorial to the heroes fallen in the First World War.
Oroszhegy is one of the oldest villages in Udvarhelyszék, wondrously famous for its plum and firewater as well as for the beauty of the landscape. The rising “Őrhegy” (Guardian Hill) above the village is the highest point of the area, near the cross on the hill which was erected in 1940 a new four-story lookout tower was built, from which the Udvarhely basin, the downs of Nagy-Küküllő and in the distance the lacy ridge of the Southern Carpathians can be seen. The church of Oroszhegy was mentioned in the early 16th century as well, but in 1670 a new church was built in the village center. In the church built for the protection of Assumption of Mary you can see St. László frescoes, and some of the household objects of St. Catherine's mystical engagement are of outstanding importance. One of the curiosities of the village is the Urusos well, whose origin is connected with Saint László. The medicinal water is suitable for healing various wounds, so pilgrims tend to wash their sick, aching body parts and it is a tradition that in the hope of healing pilgrims are leaving a piece of clothes of the sick at the well. At the meadows to the north of the village, in May, tourists are attracted by a sea of white flowers called “Náriszrét” (Narcissusmeadow), where every year at the blooming period a Narcissist Festival is being held.
After Oroszhegy, the next destination is Zetelaka, whose name comes from King Zeta, who built the castle of the village. The ruins of the building are visible on the clifftop above the meeting of the Deság Stream and Küküllő.The dam above the village is a well-known fishing spot. The oldest architectural monuments of Zetelakaare the streets of traditional folk architecture, as well as hundreds of Szekler gates. Wildlife enthusiasts can watch and capture deer, fawns, mouflons and wild boars in their natural environment at the Ivói wildlife Park.
Kápolnásfalú is located at the watershed of theNagy-HomoródésKis-Homoród River(Great Homorod and Little Homorod River). The area was already inhabited in the 11th-12th century, but it was often used as a raiding place, later as a crossing or gathering point of the military troops of the Transylvanian monarchs. According to the records,IstvánBocskai was the one who restored the village in 1604. Supposedly the name of the village comes from the first chapel of the village which was built in 1710 and which was replaced by the present day Roman Catholic Church built in 1797. On May 13, 1721, Pope Clement XII allowed a pilgrimage to the chapel of Kápolnásfalú in honor of Saint Peter and Paul. At the local museum of Kápolnásfalú, which was built in 1800, the living conditions of the 14th century can be viewed at any time of the year.
The penultimate destination of the pilgrimage isSzentegyháza and Homorodfürdő, whose medicinal waters were already known by the Romans, this was proven by the remnants of the Roman military watchtower found at the border of the spa town. Among the mineral springs, the well of “Lobogó” and Mary are also popular. Szentegyháza's attractions include: the Roman Catholic Church of St. Andrew and the Memorial House of Géza Vitus located in the churchyard, built in 1910; which is a great example of a traditional winter house; the ethnographic collection of the ÁronGábor Lyceum- also the collection of the folk crafts of Kis-Homorod area-craftsmen, carpenters, forges and many other tools belonging to them. We have the chance to look at the Waterfall of the Szökő Brooklet (or the Peatland from Rákos) which is one of the best preserved marshes in Szeklerland, the area which is a very popular ski region because of the Madaras Mountain. The Narcissus meadow is also accessible from Szentegyháza, which is the largest nature reservation area along Homoród. The settlement also has several beaches, wellness centers and thermal baths.
Pilgrims can visit the Triple Cross on the Tolvajos-Tető(TolvajosHilltop)during their trip. The monument, which was inaugurated in 1996, is located on the main ridge of the Hargita Mountains, at the watersheds of the Olt and Maros basins, at the border of the historic Csík and Udvarhely counties. Several historic events are linked to the area. In 1576 the site gave place for the battle between the people of the two counties, who were defending their Catholic faith, which according to some sources did not happen in the end, since the leaders of the regal army realized that the internecine war was meaningless. This event is related to the name of priest István from Gyergyóalfalú, who led the local people against the monarch and who promised after the failure of the war that he will lead the people of Gyergyó to pilgrimage to Csíksomlyó in each year at Pentecost. This has happened over 450 years ago.
The final destination of the pilgrimage is Csíksomlyó, one of the famous early villages of Csík area, a famous pilgrimage destination and Marian Shrine. According to the stories, It was Mary who gave strength and courage to the Szeklers of Gyergyó and Csík to defeat the army of ZsigmondJános who was trying to force the Calvinist faith on them, thus, when the army of the monarch had withdrawn without battle,priest István from Gyergyóalfalú promised to lead the people of Gyergyó to pilgrimage to Csíksomlyó in each year at Pentecost. The pilgrimage journey is more and more crowded each year. Among its popular attractions we can count the church of Csiksomlyó, or the Franciscan church, which is the largest pilgrimage site of the Hungarians, and the statue of Virgin Mary- the most valuable object of the church. The statue was made in the early 16th century; its creator is unknown. During the centuries many miracles were reported to happen with the statue: it was glovingin the light several times, and before the great catastrophes Mary's face was looking sad to the people.
On the western side of Kis-Somlyó we can discover one of Europe's most famous open-air crossings, the Jesus Pass, or the Calvary of Csíksomlyó. The mineral spring well called „From the legs of Virgin Mary, which flows from the backyard meadow of the Franciscan monastery of Csíksomlyó, is a very popular acidic mineral water of the population and was created as a result of a volcanic activity. In the saddle of the mountains of Kis-Somlyó and Nagy-Somlyópilgrims cansee the Hármashalom altar, built on the initiative of Albert Bartok P., planned by ImreMakovecz and Ernő Bogos in 1996 for the reception of the pilgrims and the worthy celebration of the religious mass.
Other examples of cultural tourist attractions include: the Kalot house designed by Károly Kós, the “Barátok feredője”, the chapels of Saint Anthony, Salvator and the Suffering Jesus.