Via Transilvanica: Long-distance trail in Romania available on Google Street View
Close to 900 km of the 1,400 km that make up the long-distance trail Via Transilvanica can now be explored on Google Street View.
Via Transilvanica, a project developed by Tășuleasa Social, crosses 20 different ethnic and cultural regions of Romania and around 400 communities, showcasing 12 Unesco World Heritage Sites.
It starts in Bucovina, at Putna, crosses Transylvania, and ends at Drobeta Turnu Severin, near the Danube shore. The trail was inaugurated in 2022 after four years of work with the involvement of local communities and over 10,000 volunteers. It is marked by signposts and andesite milestones, individually carved by national and international artists.
Two-thirds of the route are photographed and available on Google Street View. A virtual traveler can see landmarks like the Sucevița Monastery, a site on the Unesco World Heritage list, tour the Teleki Castle in Posmuș, or visit Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa. Nature sites, such as the forests in Bucovina, the meadows near Viscri, or Râpa Roșie (Red Ravine) close to Sebeș, are also among the places available for a virtual exploration.
The team tasked with taking the photos used a specially designed recumbent trike (pictured), fitted with a panoramic camera. The photo-taking process lasted approximately a month, between August and September of this year.
In the coming period, Via Transilvanica will be published on Google Maps in the hiking trail format.
"The foundation upon which Via Transilvanica was built means an exceptional rural universe and nature patrimony, covering 2000 years of history, culture, and diversity. The partnership with Google came naturally as the presence on Street View and Google Maps opened the project to those connected to the internet. Anyone can design their visit on Via Transilvanica. Regardless of how much we would do to make Via Transilvanica attractive, it will only exist and prosper as long as it is visited and walked by as many people as possible from all over the world," Alin Ușeriu, founder and president of Tășuleasa Social, said.
He referenced the ten years he spent living in Germany and the many negative reports about the country he was seeing. When asked about the country, he could only mention personalities or characters such as gymnast Nadia Comăneci, canoeist Ivan Patzaichin or Dracula. "I thought that maybe it is an issue not of all journalists hating Romania but of us needing to do something about it. And Tășuleasa Social was born, 18 years have passed, and I think we have reached a second, very important milestone - to have a project that is not based on fear or catastrophe, pandemic or corruption," he explained at the event announcing the availability of Via Transilvanica on Street View. "These are problems we know; they need to be solved. Tășuleasa Social has many social activities, but what if we, with all the problems we have, had a project that is like a path where you don't get lost? This was our thought in 2018 [when the project of Via Transilvanica was launched]. We called it the Road that Unites, and what happened afterwards was just incredible."
"With this new project, we invite lovers of hiking, nature, culture and history to embark on a digital trip across Romania, on Via Transilvanica. Tășuleasa Social created something special, a road that unites and highlights authentic places, people, and stories. Street View can be the first step the future traveler on Via Transilvanica takes in the forests of Bucovina or the meadows in Terra Saxonum," Elisabeta Moraru, country director of Google Romania, said.
The Transfagarasan Road, Brukenthal Museum, Bran Castle, the channels of the Danube Delta and Turda Salt Mine are among the local landmarks that are available on Street View.
At the end of September, Via Transilvanica won the Public Choice Award at this year's European Heritage Awards. The project raised the largest number of votes, cast via an online poll. The trail, was announced as one of the winners in the Citizens' Engagement and Awareness-raising category earlier this year.
(Photo courtesy of Google)