Route of Gyergyószék

This route is considered a bigger challenge than the route of Udvarhelyszék and delights pilgrims with wonderful landscapes and historical monuments. Moreover, those who choose this route can cross the journey of the first pilgrimage to Csiksomlyó, since this habit can be traced back to the name of priest István from Gyergyóalfalú.

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.

From Parajd we climb through the pine forests to the peak of Bucsin (Bucsin-Tető), which is considered as the most beautiful viewpoint of theGörgényi Mountains. The Bucsin peak is 1287 meters high on the western edge of Gyergyó basin and awaits its visitors all year long, offering hiking possibilities, the collection of blueberries, raspberries and mushrooms, as well as ski resorts and sled slopes. On the occasion of the millennium, a 20-meter-high cross was erected on the hilltop.

Below the Bucsin Peak, Borzont lies in the valley of Great Borzont brook. From here springs the Borzont River, which gave the settlement its name. Not so farm from the village we can discover the nature reserve of Nyíres, which is surrounded by the Maros River and the brooks of Small-Borzont and White-brook. We can find several rare plant species in the nature reserve. The sole chapel among the settlements was built in a forest called Bariczok in 1999, where the Pentecost ceremony of Saint István is held on August 20th each year.

One kilometer from BorzontliesGyergyóalfalu, one of the largest and oldest settlements in the Gyergyó Basin, and one of the coldest places in the country. The village is crossed by the Békény stream, which flows into the Maros River at the border of the settlement.  In the center of the village we can discover one of the oldest Roman Catholic churches of Gyergyó area, surrounded by a stone fence. There are several other attractions in the village, thus from the point of view of the pilgrimage we are talking about a very prominent historical site.

According to the chronicles, the first pilgrimage to Csiksomlyó, with the leadership of priest István, was started from Gyergyóalfalu more than 450 years ago. According to the records, Monarch János Zsigmond wanted to force the population of Csík County to change to the Unitarian religion and sent an army to capture the captain of the Csík castle.

The priest from that time, István priest, gathered the people of Gyergyóalfalu and its surroundings and went to Csiksomlyó to confront the ruler’s army, but eventually the battle did not take place, because the leaders of the army realized that the internecine war was meaningless. The peaceful retreat of the ruler’s army is considered as a miracle of Mary, thus priest István promised that he will lead the pilgrimage for the people of Gyergyó to Csiksomlyó on Saturdays at every Pentecost. The significance of „pilgrimage branch” can be traced back to the same story, which is collected by the pilgrims of Csiksomlyó. When the army of the monarch retreated, they sent a messenger to the church in Gyergyóalfalu, where the woman, the children and the elders remained to pray. The messenger signaled with a white branch in his hand that the danger has passed. The chroniclers noted this phenomenon very impressively: "They were better prepared to die than to break the holy faith of the ancestors."

Three kilometers from Gyergyóalfalu we arrive to the center of Gyergyócsomafalva. The village is situated in the middle of Harghita County, in the south-western part of the Gyergyó basin, and at the foot of Délhegy which is the interconnection of the Harghita and Görgényi Mountains. Due to the increase of the population, in 1878 the Transylvanian bishop sanctified the Catholic Church of Saint Peter and Paul, whose church clock was very famous because a local craftsmen designed it in such a way, that the clock showed the year, month and day at the same time. In the churchyard we can discover the millennial monument called Saint Stephen's Sword, which was set up in 2000. In the village pilgrims can visit the statue of Lajos Kossuth, the memorial house of Miklós Borsos, and the statues of Miklós Köllő and Miklós Borsos. There is also a lookout tower called Redflower of Southill, from where we can see a wonderful view over the Gyergyó basin.

Our next stop is Gyergyóújfalu, one of the largest settlements in the Gyergyó Basin and the first starting point for rafting on Maros River. The Roman Catholic Church of Sarlós Boldogasszony, situated in the village, was built between 1825 and 1830. The village is extremely rich in mineral water springs. Tourists can choose from various programs such horse-drawn carriage rides, learning about traditional arts and crafts, hiking activities and Kürtőskalács baking (chimney cake).

Vasláb is located three kilometers from Gyergyóújfalu, which consists of Vasláb commune and Marosfő village. JózsefTeleki described the settlement in 1937 as follows: “It consist of 30 houses, it has almost no boundaries, that’s why the people of Vasláb live with needlework. Near the village, at the northern part of the Fekete Réz Mountain flows the Maros River. The Roman Catholic church of Marosfő was built between 1992 and 1999 and the Orthodox church of Vaslab in 1864. Three kilometers from the center of the village, in the valley of the Heveder stream, we can also visit the watermill monument building.

Karcfalva is located at the top of the Csíki basin surrounded by the Csíki Mountains and the Hargita Mountains, where the Madicsa and the Székaszó streams flow into the Olt River. In a less common use, the village is also called “Nagyboldogasszony” vicarage, its name coming from the church built in the honor of “Nagyboldogasszony” located at the border between Karcfalva and Jenőfalva. The Roman Catholic Fortified Church was the most important and most impressive castle church of Felcsík, built around 1448 by the reconstruction of an older church, donated by János Hunyadi. It was subsequently rebuilt several times. The defense corridors of the fortified church are unique in Szeklerland.

Danfalva commune was also a member of the Nagyboldogasszony parish until 1923. The Neo-Gothic church of the village, which was consecrated in 1935, is known as one of the most marvelous churches of the Felcsík area. It is famous because of its dimensions, red brick walls and the high tower. The church stands near the memorial stand of Queen Elizabeth. Other examples of attractions in the village are the homespun wool making, the black ceramics and the “Dugás” bath, whose thermal water is very rich in minerals.

Csíkmadaras, the highest peak of the Hargita Mountain, lies under the Madarasi Mountain, near theOlt River. It is believed that the village has been named after the rich birdlife in the area. Csíkmadaras was once considered the center of pottery and a mining village. Here we can visit the newly built Catholic church, dedicated to St. Peter and Paul, the statues of the members of the Holy Family, the water mill which has a history of more than 100 years, the Saint Anthony Chapel, the hunter stand of Ceaușescu, various Szekler gates, the monument built to the heroes of World War II, the memorial of the victims of guardsman, the Szökő Falls, and the reed lakes at the edge of the village. Off all above the mentioned attractions we have to highlight the MadarasiHarghita, often called as the sacred mountain of the Szeklers. The highest point of the mountain is 1801 meter high, due to this, it is the highest mountain of the Hargita mountains range. The Doll’s museum of the village is also a very famous attraction where we can see the dolls dressed in traditional clothes since 1900.

The next stop of the Mary’s Way is Csíkrákos, or the so called ancient gathering place of the Szeklers. Its castle church, a fortified Roman Catholic Church, located at the edge of the village Göröcsfalva was built in 1270 in the honor of Kisboldogasszony. The curiosity of the church is the fact that some of the zodiac signs are visible on its tower. On the hilltop, situated between the brooks of Vár and Kulcs, the remnants of a Bronze Age castle are visible, near the Chapels of Saint Jacob and Philip, consecrated in 1720. Below the castle we can discover several water springs. Between the brooks of Várpatak and Szilas, another castle remnant can be found, the remains of Pogányvár. The last but not the least attraction of the village is the Csereimanson, built between 1667 and 1674 by JánosCserei.

Csíkborzsova is located in the southeastern part of Hargita County. The church of the village was built between 1930 and 1940, while the chapel between 1794 and 1821, both of them were named after Saint Joseph, the patron of the workers. In the forest, to the east from the village, once a mineral water bath existed, unfortunately today only its mineral springs are visible. In 2005, a monument was inaugurated in the village, in the honor of the Borzsova fighters, who fought in the Revolution of 1848.

The penultimate station of the Gyergyószéki route is Csíkdelne, where lies the lonely Roman Catholic church of Saint Johh, one of the most impressive religious monuments in Szekerland. The church from the Árpád-erawas made in the year of 1673 and its church ceiling is made up of 103 wooden facades decorated with traditional Hungarian elements.

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, priestIstván 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-Somlyópilgrimscansee 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 “Barátokferedője”, the chapels of Saint Anthony, Salvator and the Suffering Jesus.