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The World's Most Mysterious Railway Line: Embark on a Train Journey in the Footsteps of Dracula

The World's Most Mysterious Railway Line: Embark on a Train Journey in the Footsteps of Dracula
photo: Maramu1976 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA/Viseu
27 / 12 / 2023

Are you intrigued by the fascinating world of Dracula, mysterious castles, and medieval villages? The Viseu Forest Railway in Romania is a tourist attraction tailored just for you!

This narrow-gauge forest railway, which has held the status of a cultural monument since 2010, runs from the town of Vișeu de Sus through the Vaser River valley to the Maramures Mountains near the Ukrainian border. From the open carriages of the Mocanita steam train, passengers can admire untouched nature, including rural buildings, typical Romanian haystacks shaped like loaves, grazing cattle, and horse-drawn carriages.

Jan Pešula / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA

The forest narrow-gauge railway in Viseu de Sus has been operating almost continuously since 1932 and is currently the only one still serving its original purpose – transporting wood from inaccessible mountain areas. During its construction, the so-called "Bosnian gauge" was chosen, ideal for the local zigzagging track that follows the riverbed. While the rest of Europe saw a decline in timber transport by rail in the latter half of the 20th century, Romania operated more than 3,000 kilometers of forest railways in 1970. However, economic and social changes in the 1990s led to the closure of most mountain narrow-gauge railways, with only the one in Viseu de Sus remaining operational in Romania today.

Herbert Ortner / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA

If you have the opportunity to spend a few days exploring Romania, don't hesitate to take advantage of the Transylvania Triangle Train Tour program, which allows you to see all the major sights of Transylvania on your own via Romanian railways. Where you start your tour is up to you, but most travelers opt for a triangular route, with "corners" in Brasov, Oradea, and Timisoara. The starting point is often Brasov, on the eastern edge of Transylvania, renowned for its impressive 14th-century castle, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's depiction of Dracula's Castle.

The journey includes a day trip through the beautiful scenery of Sinaia and a trip from Brasov to Sighisoara. Then, it's on to Cluj-Napoca, Oradea, Arad, and Timisoara. The triangular railway connection of major cities is impressive not only for the simple possibility of exploring the most interesting cities of Transylvania in a relatively short time but also for transforming what might otherwise be an annoying commute into a distinct travel experience in itself, offering ample opportunity to admire the breathtaking scenery of mountains, forests, lakes, and picturesque medieval villages.