The Lunca Muresului Natural Park, located on the inferior course of Mures River, between the dams built on each side of the river and its high terraces, is a biodiversity paradise in a relatively confined area. The massive number of protected species of plants, as well as the over 200 bird species nesting in the park give a plus scientific value to the area, currently protected through a great number of domestic and international treaties.
Photo credit: (c) Ioan WEISL / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
Inside the Lunca Muresului Natural Park, which has a 17,455.2 ha area and is spread on the territories of Arad and Timis Counties, its eastern border being only 4 km away from the centre of the Municipality of Arad, the river covers an 88 km distance, with a 120 metre average width, the last portion, from Nadlac to Cenad, representing the border between Romania and Hungary.
The floodplain of the inferior course of Mures River is a typical wetland ecosystem, with running waters, lakes, swamp forests, willow and poplar galleries, as well as riverside coppices and floodplains, unique in Romania for its natural beauty, an important nesting and passage place for a number of over 200 bird species, many of them under a strict international protection regime.
Photo credit: (c) Dorina BUZILA / AGERPRES ARCHIVE
According to Paul Hac, the Park Administration Director, the natural reserve area of Lunca Muresului initially covered less than 100 hectares and was located in the Prundul Mare zone, which was declared protected area in 1970, when, following some studies carried out by a group of experts, it was decided that the grey heron population needed to be protected. In 1988, the reserve area was extended to 12,000 hectares and, due to the diversity of the bird species and the international relevance of some of them, Bird Life International designated it Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.
The Lunca Muresului National Park (PNLM) has kept the present-day shape since 2005, when the authorities declared it protected area in its entirety of almost 17,500 hectares, being one of the four areas of Romania included on the RAMSAR List of Wetlands of International Importance, currently drawing tourists from all over the continent.
According to Paul Hac, the PNLM administration is more focused on conservation and protection rather than on development, taking into account that the confined area of the park itself is partly responsible for the biodiversity here.
The flora of the reserve is very diverse, with over 1,000 species and subspecies of woody and weedy plants, out of which a great number of plants are on the Red List of Threatened and Rare Species of Romania.
Photo credit: (c) Dorina MATIS / AGERPRES STREAM
The fauna of the protected area is rich and diverse, as consequence of the variety of the aquatic and land ecosystems, which ensure proper living conditions to many animal species, relevant in terms of hunting and science. It counts over ten thousand species, vertebrate and non-vertebrate, out of which a few thousands are part of the second category. Within the vertebrate category, birds are represented with over 200 species, fish, with 50, mammals, with 40, and amphibians, with 8-10 species.
The bird population of the park numbers a multitude of species. Some of the common species encountered here are: the great cormorant, the night heron, the little egret, the grey heron, the mallard, the black-headed gull, the coot, the plover and the bee-eater. But there are also bird species more rarely seen here, some only during the passage, such as: the white-tailed eagle, the common shelduck, the little grebe, the water rail, the purple heron, the great snipe, the common sandpiper, the lesser spotted eagle, the saker falcon and the black stork.
Photo credit: (c) Ioan WEISL / AGERPRES STREAM
Among the various mammal species living in the park, it is worth mentioning the stag, the wild boar, the otter, the fox, the coypu, the European pond turtle, the crested newt and the ground squirrel.
Tourists can admire both the mammals and the birds from especially built places.
At the same time, in the running and still waters of the reserve, there are over 50 fish species, making it one of the richest areas on a river segment in Romania.
‘For the tourists wanting to spend a holiday surrounded by tranquillity, in a place where nature rules, the Lunca Muresului National Park provides 40 accommodation places in the Ceala Visiting Cenre, the Pecica Information Point and the Cenad Information Point, Timis County, and those who cannot give up comfort can find accommodation in one of the hotels of Arad Municipality,’ Paul Hac pointed out.
According to him, most tourists, who want to admire the special beauty of nature, take walks through the protected area, with their cameras hanging around their necks. Another option for those who want to stay on land is taking a bicycle ride, the cycling lovers being able to enjoy a 12.7 kilometre itinerary following the Mures River course, a marked route, with information panels on the tourist landmarks in the area along the way.
However, the ideal way of spending time in the reserve is going by boat on the river, the Park administration providing various types of boats for rent, from canoes or kayaks, to motor boats, at different prices, depending on the tourist package of choice.
It is worth mentioning that the Lunca Muresului Natural Park includes a wild area, called Balta Bezedin (Bezedin Marshland), where from May through September white water lilies cover the water surface.
Last but not least, the existence of two very old monasteries inside the Lunca Muresului Natural Park must be brought to mind. The first in terms of age, which was first mentioned in an official document in 1177 is Hodos — Bodorog Monastery, belonging to the Romanian Orthodox Church, the oldest monastic place on Romania’s territory, at about 10 kilometres away from Arad Municipality. The second, located at approximately 20 kilometres from the County Residence Municipality, is Bezdin Monastery, one of the few Serbian Orthodox monasteries of Romania, first mentioned in an official document in 1539. AGERPRES