British journalist Charlie Ottley, on horseback for the new documentary promoting Romania. “We mount him on the horse” PHOTO

The British journalist Charlie Ottley, producer of the famous TV documentary series through which Romania is promoted abroad, filmed in the last weekend of March 2024 in the smallest national park in our country.

Charlie Ottley and the team – filming on horseback Sursă Oltenia de sub Munte – UNESCO aspiring Geopark

“We are putting Charlie Ottley on the horse for the promotion of Oltenia under the Mountain. We continue filming with his team on the film dedicated to the aspiring UNESCO Geopark“, announced the representatives of the Vâlcea geopark, on their social media page, about the presence of the British manufacturer, between March 29 and 31, 2024, in the Buila Vânturarița National Park.

Along with the territory of two resort towns, from Vâlcea county, Horezu and Băile Olănești, as well as four municipalities (half of which are resorts of local interest): Vaideeni, Costești, Bărbăți and Stoenești, PN Buila Vânturarița is part of the aspiring UNESCO Geopark “Oltenia de sub Munte”, whose ambassador is the British producer in love with the Romanian lands.

In this capacity, he returned to Vâlcea to film again, this time on horseback, to capture through the camera lens the most beautiful attractions in this area and to immortalize their stories.

Horse riding, trekking, biking and climbing in Oltenia de sub Munte

“We already have two partners providing equestrian tourism services in the geopark, so we need to add Oltenia and horse riding, in addition to trekking, biking and climbing”stated the initiators of the project to promote the geopark, thanking the riding club “Frății Lupi” for their support, which ensured the travel of Charlie Ottley and his team during the new filming.

Florin Stoican, the catalyst of the “Oltenia de sub Munte” projects, the guide of Charlie Ottley's team as the director of the Geopark, told that the new filming targeted some of the most famous objectives of the area such as: the cave churches in the Cave of the Bats or the Cave of Saint Gregory The Decapolitan, as it is also called, administered by the Bistrița Vâlcea Monastery, the Arnota Monastery, the Bistriței Hospital, the Bistriței Gorges, the Măldărești ales, the Hurezi Monastery and the Horezu pottery, but also the enigmatic trovants from Costești, as well as the oldest wooden church from the south of the Carpathians, from Marița – Vaideeni.

“Charlie was impressed by the rock churches”

Responding to a request from “The Truth”related to the areas included in the new filming and the experiences lived on this occasion, the representatives of the Geopark told through a post: “Charlie was most impressed by the rock churches in the Bat Cave, with their uniqueness and fabulous history. Not only will it help us promote them, but it will also support us for restoration. It is not by chance that we started 3D scanning and virtual tours of these monuments. In Ia Bistrița I also filmed, in addition to the monastery, the Bolnița Church, the oldest in the area (1492), the impressive secular chestnut trees, equally old, but also the karst of the Bistriţa Gorges. We then climbed Mount Arnota, to catch the spring in the virgin forests, but also to enjoy the hospitality of the monastery”.

About the riding experience and other attractions, the same source also added: “We continued with the Măldărești hills and, of course, we couldn't stop at the emblematic UNESCO sites of the region, the Hurezi Monastery and the Horezu pottery. The partnership between the UNESCO sites will further raise the profile of the entire region. The next day we started with the oldest wooden church in Oltenia: Saint Paraschiva in the village of Marița. We explored a little the local gastronomy of the Vaideens and the geological stories, and the legends of the trovans from Costești and discovered the hills and forests of Bărbăți and Pietreni on horseback. Filming continues”.

The treasures of Oltenia under the Mountain

The cave churches in Peștera Liliecilor, located in Costești – Vâlcea, stand out due to their age (one of them is eight centuries old), but also due to the fact that they are the only ones of this kind in our country with the altar facing west.

Arnota Monastery, on the massif with the same name, also located in Costești – Vâlcea and implicitly in PN Buila – Vânturarița, is known as the necropolis of the ruler who founded the most places of worship in our country – Matei Basarab (with one more than Stephen the Great). It rises on the slope at the base of which is another famous monastery – Bistrița (Vâlceană), and from where one of the narrowest and most spectacular limestone canyons in our country begins: Cheile Bistriței.

At Costești we also find the only place in Romania where there is a museum dedicated to the huge and strange prehistoric boulders with fantastic shapes – the trovants – the geological formations that are said to grow after every rain. In Vâlcea there is also the oldest tower in our country, part of the Măldărești Museum Complex, which includes the Duca Tower and the IG Duca Memorial House, in addition to the Greceanu Tower. Hurezi Monastery and Horezu Pottery are both included in the UNESCO world heritage.

The wooden Church in Marița Vaideeni is suspected to be almost five centuries old. It was included on a list of the seven most endangered monuments in Europe in 2014, being brought back to the attention of the Romanian Order of Architects and the Pro Patrimonio Foundation who proposed it to be protected, along with its “faces” in other areas of the country. It represents one of the three wooden churches in Vâlcea county included in the national heritage.

Filming for the promotion of the aspiring UNESCO geopark

The filming project for the promotion of this aspiring UNESCO Geopark started last fall with a tour through the forests of the Buila Vânturarița National Park. On that occasion, Florin Stoican mentioned for “The Truth” that “it will be filmed everywhere”but out of hundreds of places and shots immortalized, the new documentary will focus on only 20-30 of them.

“You will meet him here again, because he loves the region and resonates with what we do and want to do through the Geopark Oltenia de sub Munte”, Stoican promised at the time, referring to how Charlie Ottley became the ambassador of Oltenia de sub Munte.

The work of the British filmmaker's team will come to fruition in May 2024 with a documentary that will present the fantastic diversity of the local natural and cultural heritage, the local people and their authentic creations, the treasures of which “Oltenia de sub Munte” is proud, an area that is not nothing inferior to Transylvania and Bucovina, as Charlie Ottley also remarked.

The production will be made for the Global Network of Geoparks, but also for Charlie Ottley's social media channels, in addition to other spots promoting “Oltenia de sub Munte”. The journalist has also previously filmed here, seven years ago, which can be found in the first documentary dedicated to the series “Flavors of Romania”but also in the second episode destined for Oltenia.

Brand born in Vâlcea

The new film dedicated to the aspiring UNESCO Geopark «Oltenia de sub Munte» will be part of the long series of documentaries of the one who is considered the biggest promoter of our country.

To those who were intrigued by the fact that the brand only promotes the Vâlcea area, the representatives of the geopark mentioned them through a comment on one of the posts: “We are promoting the aspiring UNESCO Geopark Oltenia de sub Munte, which is in Vâlcea – also part of Oltenia de sub Munte. This does not mean that Gorj or Mehedinți are not in Oltenia under the Mountain, nor that someone else from there cannot also promote these areas under the same name. It's really good for the whole region if others contribute to the promotion of this brand”. The project is currently supported by 120 community partners and its expansion in the future is not excluded.