The Turda Gorge is one of the most visited sights in Transylvania. Few natural sights attract so many tourists as the Gorge. It is important to know that the Gorge is not in Torda (Turda), but at a distance of 7-10 km, on the Hesdát (Hăşdate) creek.
According to the myth, Saint Ladislaus, while escaping the Cumans, cut the cliff in two with his sword, or it was a sign from God. The Saint Ladislaus coins (fossils) were scattered by the Cumans to distract the Hungarian soldiers chasing them. However, the coins were turned into stone, as sign of divine providence, answering Saint Ladislaus’ prayers. In 1241 General Gyula Kendi took refuge here, then attacking the army of Batu Khan, he defeated the Mongolians.
János Tulogdy, a geographer, describes the formation of the Gorge in one of his works. The Turda Gorge is one of the limestone cliffs of the Transylvanian Ore Mountains (Erdélyi Érchegység/Munţii Metaliferi). In the Modern Era the cliff suffered breakages in northwest-southeast direction. This is how the Hesdád Creek was able to cut through the cliff, expanding it over the millennia into caves. The carbon-dioxide rich water easily dissolved the limestone, resulting in the formation of the caves. The already high (60-70 m) wide vaulted and heavily shrouded cave collapsed. The creek dug deeper and deeper in the limestone.
Many inscriptions were found on the walls of the caves: the years 1563, 1570 and 1574, and the names of the visitors were discovered here. The first shelter was inaugurated here in 1894 by the EKE. The first brick of the shelter still standing today was set in 3 June 1934, also under the patronage of by the EKE, in the presence of about 4000 participants. “Let this new building be the true haven of tourism! Let this place be a kind and friendly meeting place for all nature lovers! Let this place be the sign of appreciation between the cohabiting sister-nations!” The opening ceremony of the shelter took place on 8 September, 1935. The land on which the shelter was built was donated by Mihály Bors, landowner from Szind (Săndulești), but he also donated 40000 lei for the construction works.
The Gorge was declared Natural Monument by the Transylvanian Nature Conservation Committee on 8 April, 1938. According to the researches of Erasmus Julius Nyárády, there are 964 species of flowering plants and ferns and 63 species of trees and shrubs in the Gorge and its area (Romania has a total of approx. 3400 known species). Out of these 790 are field species, 172 are alpine and 2 alpine. The rarest plant is the Allium obliquum, commonly known as lop-sided onion or twisted-leaf onion. Beside the Gorge, the twisted-leaf onion grows only beyond the Volga River, south of the Ural Mountains and in the mountains of Central Asia. The Gorge is also “home” to rare species of butterflies, the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the common rock thrush (Monticola saxatilis), the wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), the rock bunting (Emberiza cia) and the bats living is in the caves.
A scene of the Havasi Magdolna movie were shot here in 1915.
Mór Jókai (outside Hungary also known as Maurus Jokai), the famous novelist, visited the Gorge in 1853. He expressed his admiration and wrote about his experience in his novel, Egy az Isten (God Is One).