Discover Oltenia. The place in Romania with an incredible history spanning 380 million years VIDEO

A land like no other in our country, so far little known and explored, reveals its secrets in the only film in Romania made by Charlie Ottley exclusively from the funds of an NGO, «Discover Oltenia», whose premiere took place in Bucharest.

«Discover Oltenia» (SEE VIDEO) shows the whole world the most precious treasures of Oltenia under the Mountain – a territory that wants to become Romania's third UNESCO geopark, part of the global network: from nature reserves (15 reserves and three Natura 2000 sites), to geological sites and paleontological, from caves (about 120), gorges, virgin forests (over 1300 hectares), to flora and fauna (the most emblematic species of the Carpathians), from monuments, traditions, customs, local community, to sports and recreational activities .

Its creator, the well-known British promoter and journalist Charlie Ottley, had six months to film and document one “unique regions, with extraordinary potential, with landscapes, mysteries and stories” – one of “the wildest and most beautiful in Europe”during which his team managed to capture the splendor and richness of colors over three seasons.

The promotional film of Oltenia under the Mountain, now available in full version on all relevant online platforms, highlights the authenticity and richness of some areas with everything they have most precious, including information related to the emergence and necessity of this aspiring UNESCO Geopark located in the area south and at the foot of the Southern Carpathians, in Vâlcea county.

Geopark documentation, validated by the most important forum of geosciences

Although the steps for the official launch of the UNESCO geopark began in 2019, its roots stretch back to 2004 when the Buila – Vânturarița National Park around which it is located was established.

Behind both initiatives are the Kogayon Association and its hearty people, who pioneered these two projects in our country: the first national park established by an NGO in our country and the first documentary made by Charlie Ottley with the exclusive funds of the same NGO. But their achievements are much wider.

Returning to the documentary, «Discover Oltenia», which presents hundreds of hours of footage concentrated in 17 minutes, begins by mentioning the strong point of the geopark – the incredible biodiversity of the area, which currently stretches over approximately 650 square kilometers. An area that includes famous localities such as Băile Olănești and Horezu, but also the smallest national park in Romania – Buila-Vânturarița.

“We have indicators that there was a coral reef here 145 million years ago, in the north there are metamorphic rocks that go back 380 million years, and in the south, at the foot of the mountains, there are the troubadours from Costeștithe clays from Horezu from which it is made ceramics – newer, only 6 million years old. This shows that Oltenia under the Mountain has a geological history starting from 380 million years ago, he continues”geologist Florin Stoican, director of the geopark, revealed in “Discover Oltenia”.

He also mentioned that the documentation for the UNESCO geopark was validated by the most important forum in the field of geosciences – the International Union for Geological Sciences.

“Oltenia has the largest concentration of heritage sites in the country”

The incredible geodiversity of Oltenia under the Mountain can also be seen in the famous mineral springs that are enjoyed by extensive areas of Vâlcea county, not only the balneoclimatic resorts known at national and international level, such as Băile Olănești, part of the UNESCO geopark territory, or Băile Govora and Ocnele Mari, which are in the vicinity or Călimănești – Căciulata, on the Oltului Valley.

The whole area sits on a bag of mineral and geothermal waters, a fact known only to specialists and locals. Water with a high content of salts, for example, was also exploited for years in Costești – also part of the geopark.

As Charlie Ottley mentions in the documentary, the natural heritage is complemented by the cultural one, Oltenia de sub Munte being one of the richest areas in Romania in this regard: “Oltenia has the highest concentration of heritage churches, monasteries and historical monuments in the country”. Among the most spectacular are the cave churches from Bistrița – Costești, from the Liliecilor Cave, used as a hiding place during the Ottoman invasions of the 16th – 17th centuries, the Hurezi Monastery in Horezu, included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, which few know that it hosted princes and kings throughout the ages – from Queen Mary who in her youth flirted with the idea of ​​being buried here to the current King Charles of Great Britain who stayed here for three days in 2007.

In addition to these, there are other ancient churches in the area, some being mentioned, others only shown in images, such as the most isolated heritage monastery in our country – Pătrunsa and its sisters – Pahomie – the hermitage built centuries ago, being located in amazing way between two rocks, one above and one below (SEE PHOTO GALLERY) and the Jezer Hermitage – to which Saint Anthony of Jezer linked his destiny.

Unique crafts in the country

“Another aspect of this cultural diversity is the wealth of crafts practiced for centuries by the locals, the most famous and recognized by UNESCO being Horezu ceramics… At the same time, in Stoenești, there is the only family business in the country which also manufactures borangic produced from silkworms raised in an adjacent mulberry orchard. Pure silk cloth and garments are woven from their threads. Wool rugs (rugs – ed.) from Olteni can be found in many traditional houses (still – ed.)”, Charlie Ottley tells in the documentary.

Shepherding was also included in this list of local residents' occupations, remembering the fact that the Vaideeni, for example, owe their existence to the shepherds who came here from Mărginimea Sibiului, to escape the oppression of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Their traditions have enriched the area.

“We no longer have an area with so much wealth”

“From the ridges of the Carpathians to the Danube and from the Banat Mountains to the Black Sea, we no longer have an area with so much wealth, both from a natural and anthropological point of view, here in Wallachia… Oltenia under the Mountain is important… also at the European level, because it is one of the areas with the greatest biodiversity, but also diversity of traditionsanthropic diversity… Existence as a UNESCO geopark comes as a certification of the values ​​that the people here have managed to preserve for generations, and our mission here is that we can preserve this heritage and transfer it further.. . We are in the process of recreating this identity…”tourism expert Cristi Pitulice told Charlie Ottley.

The largest limestone wall in Romania and the most difficult climbing route

The fact that the entire geopark can be discovered on foot, by bicycle or on horseback makes it accessible on all 30 marked and approved tourist routes, 500 km of footpaths and hiking trails, plus 350 km of forest roads and trails for bicycles.

The area is also explored by climbers, from the country and abroad, having more than 200 prepared routes, among the most challenging in the country, among which we would mention the largest limestone wall in Romania (in the Canyon Cheia), the most difficult and least traveled climbing route in Romania, with only five people achieving this feat so far.

Oltenia de sub Munte is approximately three hours away from Bucharest, two hours from Craiova and another few hours from Transylvania, depending on the chosen route (on the Oltului Valley, Transalpina or Jiului Valley).