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- goegraphical situation: it is situated in the north-eastern part of Romania, (the central-western part of Moldavia), on the wide valley of Bistri-on the Moldavian valley, at the confluence with the Siret,
guarded by the Ceahlau Mountain;
- neighbours: in the north-west-Suceava; in the east-Iasi, Vaslui; in the south-Bacau; in the west-Harghita;
- surface: 5,836 square km (respectively 2,5 % of the country-s territory);
- population: 584,000 inhabitants;
- towns: PIATRA NEAMT-capital of the county (with 125,000 inhabitants, one of the most beautiful towns in Moldavia set on terraces, on the left bank of the Bistrita, at the confluence of two rivers, Cuejdi and Bistrita, at an average altitude of 345 m. It is surrounded by mountains: Cernegura, Cozla (850 m), Pietricica (532 m) and Carloman (617 m). Piatra Neamt enjoys a unique background, a temperate continental climate, with short, chilly and pleasant summers, long, serene and romantic autumns, mild winters, deprived of frosts, but with lots of snow. -Small Paradise- where times seems to be frost, the city deserves the name of -Moldavia-s Pearl-); Bicaz; Roman; Tg. Neamt.
- relief: it is varied and largely uneven, structured on levels going from west to east: the mountains in the west (occupying more than half of the county surface), represented by Stanisoara (1,531 m),
Bistrita (1,864 m), Ceahlau (with Ocolasu Mare Peak, 1907 m)--The Moldavian Olympus-, Tarcau, Hasmas, divided by longitudinal valleys), the Sub-Carpathian hills (Moldavian Sub-Carpathians, in the centre, closing the Sub-Carpathian Depressions of Neamt and Cracau Bistrita, but also the ridges of 900 m in height belonging to the Ple-ului Hills, prolonged north-south), which go to the wide valley as a corridor (widened by well developed terraces, especially at the confluence with the Moldova river) of the Siret. Beyond the corridor we find the hills of the Barlad Plateau;
- climate: it is continental, with important variations depending on the relief levels, with winds blowing predominantly north-west and west, and on the Siret Valley from north and south;
- watercourses: Bistrita crosses the county with its tributaries: Bistricioara, Bicaz, Tarcau, Cracau, the inferior course of Moldavia and parts of the middle course of the Siret at the county border.
- the Fortress of Neamt: it was built by Petru I Musat (1374-1391) and couldn-t be destroyed by the siege of Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of Hungary (1395). Mehmed II tried to conquer (1476) it, but he failed. In times of Stephen the Great, the fortress resisted to the siege of the Polish King, Ioan Sobieski (1691), for four days.
- The Ceahlau Massif-(40 km west of Piatra Neamt), the most visited massif of the Eastern Carpathians, also named -the jewel of Moldavia- (D.Cantemir), -giant reaching for the sun- (G.Cosbuc), -the old king of the Moldavian Carpathians- (Al.Vlahuta).
The Ceahlau forms a clearly outlined geographical unit, and although of moderate height (Ocolasu Mare Peak, 1,907 m), when the sky is clear it can be seen from great distance. Its form, of huge castle eroded by winds, rains and waters, attracts with an irresistible force. It is made up of pyramids and towers (Detunatele, Turnul Sihastrului), gorges and waterfalls (Duruitoarea, Stanile, Bistra Mare). Each rock (interestingly shaped by nature) has a beautiful legend: Dochia (the daughter of the Dacian King Decebalus, who-), The Tower of Butu and Ana (Butu-brave soldier of ruler Alexandru the Kind, who -), Piatra Lacramata, Detunatele, Caciula Dorobantului, Panaghia. Several climber routes were opened towards these -extraordinary accidents of geology-. There are also many accessible paths. Within the massif it was created the National Park of Ceahlau which includes a complex natural preserve with many rare species of plants -Polita cu crini-- -The Lily Shelf-, animals and geology;
- The Bistritei Mountains;
- The Tarcau Mountains.
GORGES, NARROW PATHS AND WATERFALLS
- The Narrow Path of Golden Bistrita - it is cut into the hard rocks of the Bistrita Mountains by its furious waters which find peace in the dam lake of Izvorul Muntelui;
- The Bicaz Gorges-(20 km away from Bicaz), one of the most impressive monuments of nature in Romania;
- The Duruitoarea Gorges-(in the Ceahlau Massif at an altitude of 1,021 m), formed on Rift Creek, 25 m high, its presence can be heard long before it is seen, by a thrilling roar.
- The -Izvorul Muntelui- Lake-Bicaz (35 km away from Piatra Neamt), dam formed on the Bistrita, behind a dam more than 120 m in height, a real artificial mountain. Approximately 35 km long, -the sea beneath the Ceahlau-, it is an attractive leisure area. One can go by small boats or rent one.
PRESERVES AND MONUMENTS OF NATURE
- -Codrii de arama- (Brass Forest)-(30 km away from Piatra Neamt, 1 km north of the Varatec Monastery), forest preserve of secular oaks. Together with -Silver Forest- of secular birch trees, they represented a source of inspiration for the great poet Mihai Eminescu: -There, beyond the brass forest, / in the distance you can see / the white trunks and hear the rustle of the charming silver trees-;
- Piatra Teiului - geological preserve (near Poiana Teiului, 65 km away from Piatra Neamt), huge limestone structure formed through erosion;
- The Vanatorii Neamtului Forest - forest preserve (3 km west-north of the Vanatori village), oak secular forest, of great landscape value;
- The Gosmanu Forest - forest preserve in the Tarcau Mountains, with secular spruce firs, firs and beech trees, of impressive heights;
- Cernegura, Pietricica, Cozla Geological Preserves.
RESORTS AND SPAS
- Durau-(60 km north-west of Piatra Neamt, 6 km away from the Izvorul Muntelui Lake),
spa and resort situated at the foot of the Ceahlau Massif, in a sunny glade (780-800 m in altitude). The climate is mild sub-alpine, stimulating, with fresh air rich in ozone. In winter, snows are abundent, in December-April the layer of snow is 50 cm thick. There are many facilities for winter sports. In the spa it was opened an Ayurvedic health centre using naturist techniques. Many trips are possible (see the Ceahlau Massif and the Izvorul Muntelui Lake). Access: by train-Piatra Neamt and Bicaz railway stations, then by road to the spa, by road-DN 15 from Bacau or from Targu Mures, with deviation at Bistricioara;
- Bicaz-(28 km west of Piatra Neamt), touristic centre situated in a picturesque position, at the foot of the Ceahlau Massif (at an altitude of 430 m). It can be also called -the Bicaz harbour-, due to its situation on the shore of the Izvorul Muntelui Lake (-the Bicaz Sea-), and it is the staring point for the leisure cruises on lake (little ships, motorboats, boats). The beauty of the lake and of the mountain combined with the alpine climate create a place of major touristic attraction.
- The Neamt Fortress-Tg. Neamt, it was built by Petru Musat (at the end of the 14th century) on a plateau overlooking the entire Moldavian Valley; for those times it was an impugnable fortress. The impressive fortress entered the chronicles and legends, being attested in documents since 1395. The time of Stephen the Great represented the maximum glory of the fortress, a real hawk-s nest. The huge walls preserve the echo of a dramatic past: they suffered hard sieges laid by Sultan Mehmed II (1476), by Polish King Ioan Sobieski (1691). Nowadays, one of its halls hosts a small museum;
- The Ruins of Voivodal Court-Piatra Neamt, it was built by Stephen the Great in 1491. Today we can see the traces of the walls and cellars, as well as Stephen-s Tower (built in 1499, more than 20 m in height);
- The Vestiges of the Dacian Fortress-Bⴣa Doamnei, near Piatra Neamt, with massive walls (about 3 m), it resembles the Dacian Fortresses in the Orastiei Mountains. The sanctuary, the dwellings illustrate the high level of the Dacian civilisation. It was identified with the great Geto-Dacian settlement of Petodava mentioned by Ptolemeus in 106 B.C.;
- Palace of the Knez - near the Ceahlau village (76 km away from Piatra Neamt), 17th century, ruins;
- The Ruins of the Fortress-Roman, it was built by Roman Voda Musat (1391-1394).
Source: Romanian Travel Guide / Publirom
- The Neamt Monastery-Vanatori Neamt (16 km from Tg. Neamt), one of the most valuable architectural sites in Romania, the most imporatnt centre of culture and art of the Medieval Moldavia. The first documentary mention comes from 1407. The church of the monastery is the most impressive construction of Stephen the Great (1497). We find here one of the oldest libraries in the country (more then 600 years old) as well as a museum illustrating the vivid cultural life that lasted here for centuries;
- Bistrita Monastery-(10 km away from Piatra Neamt), it was built by Alexandru the Kind (his grave is here) in 1402; it was repaired by Stephen the Great who built the tower in 1498. The original building is not preserved, only the one built instead by Al. Lapusneanu in 1554 (he brought skilled painters from Venice). The monastery had cultural importance, as it is here thet the first chronicle of Moldavia was drawn up. The monastery hosts a valuable museum of Medieval art;
- Agapia Monastery-(32 km away from Piatra Neamt), it was built between 1642-1647 at the initiative of hetman Gavril (ruler Vasile Lupu-s brother). Later changes altered the original structure of the monastery. It was painted in 1858 by the great artist Nicolae Grigorescu when he was only 20 years old. M. Kogalniceanu said: -- the paintings from Agapia form for Moldavia a real art gallery which will always be admired by Romanians and praised by connoiseurs foreigners-;
- Secu Monastery-(75 km away from Piatra Neamt), it was built by great chancellor Nestor Ureche, in 1602. Adorned inside with remarkable art, the facades decoration bear the mark of Wallachian architecture. The museum of the monastery has embroideries, manuscripts, tapestries, carpets;
- -Saint John- Church-Piatra Neamt (1497-1498), one of the few churches from the time of Stephen the Great, preserving the original form;
- Bishopric Church-Roman, its construction started in 1542 under Petru Rares and it was ended in 1550 under his son, Ilias Voda. It preserves frescos from the 16th century;
- Pangarati Monastery-(15 km away from Piatra Neamt), it was founded in times of Stephen the Great and rebuilt by Alex. Lapusneanu in 1560;
- Bisericani Monastery-(15 km away from Piatra Neamt), it was founded by Stephen the Great in 1498 and ended by Stefanita in 1517;
- Tazlau Monastery - it was built by Stephen the Great (1496-1497);
- Durau Monastery- it was built in the 17th century by a daughter of ruler Vasile Lupu, painting made by N. Tonitza;
- -Precista- Church-Roman, it was built between 1568-1569 by Ruxandra, Alex. Lapusneanu-s wife;
- Horaita Monastery-(1725, 12 km away from Piatra Neamt).
- -Ion Creanga- Memorial House-Humulesti, (2 km away from Tg. Neamt), home and places so beautifully described by the great storyteller (1837-1889) in his immortal -Memories of Childhood-: -I so love our village with the gentle and crystal clear waters of Ozana, for centuries mirroring the proud Neamt Monastery-;s
- -Calistrat Hogas- Memorial House-Piatra Neamt, it preserves the memory of this writer who was also a famous traveller. He left us wonderful pages speaking about the beauties of this land: -I believe forests have soul ...-;
- -Mihail Sadoveanu- Memorial House-Vanatori-Neamt, near the Neamt Monastery It was here that the great writer gave life to many of his historical stories;
- -Al. Vlahuta- Memorial House-near Agapia Monastery, he lived here (1859 - 1919);
- The County Museum - Piatra Neamt, valuable exhibitits. Visitors can admire exceptional works, for instance, -Romanian Ring Dance from Frumusica-, -The Thinker from Tarpesti-, -The Goddesses Assembly.
Source: Romanian Travel Guide / Publirom