Ciuc, Gheorgheni and Casinu Seats
Other names of the region: Ciuc-country, the Ciuc country, in Latin: Terra Csík, then Sedes Csík. From the 16th century, four sub-government offices were formed: Lower Ciuc, Upper Ciuc, Gheorgheni and Casinu. On its coat of arms (from 1793), the following inscription can be seen: "Sigillum Sedium Siculicalium Csik urti usque Gyergyo et Kászon". In 1799, count József Teleki wrote that Lower and Upper Ciuc, together with Gheorgheni and Casinu consisted of two towns and 51 villages. He also appreciated the outstanding beauty of this region, its fertile soil and nice villages.
The name of Ciuc - first mentioned as personal name in 1297, and as place name in 1324 - still has not been explained satisfactorily. Some see its origin in the name of a fish, others think it has the meaning of "plain" or "outside". In Turkish, "Csík" can also mean "border", border mountain.
The life of Ciuc is connected to the Olt, the life of Gheorgheni to the Mures, while the life of Casinu is connected to the Casinu Stream. The Ciucului Basin (as part of the Szekler basin-string) can be divided into two or three parts: the historical Lower Ciuc - Upper Ciuc division marks the parts lying to the north as well as south of Miercurea-Ciuc, while the triple notion of Upper Ciuc - Middle Ciuc - Lower Ciuc of natural geographical origin divides the basin at Racu and Jigodin. (According to this, the historical Upper Ciuc is made up of Middle and Upper Ciuc). Ciuc comitat, formed in 1876 in the place of Ciuc-Gheorgheni-Casinu Seats, was made up of two towns (Miercurea-Ciuc, Gheorgheni) and 61 communes. Its area was 5,064 km2, the number of its inhabitants was 146,000 (86% Magyars, 14% Romanians). At first, the comitat was divided into four districts (Casinu-Lower Ciuc, Upper Ciuc, Gheorgheni, Tulghes), then, with the restructuring in 1913 the Frumoasa district appeared and two of the original districts changed their names: the Casinu-Lower Ciuc district into Sanmartin, the Upper Ciuc district into Miercurea-Ciuc. During the province system (between 1952-68), apart from some places annexed to Moldova, it belonged to the Magyar Autonomous Province. Since 1968, it has belonged to Harghita county.
The heart of Ciuc country, the trichotomous Ciuc's Basin is a large inter-Carpathian basin. The Izvoru Mures-'treshold' connecting Ciuc to Gheorgheni is 890 m high, while the other pass towards Trei Scaune is only 640 m. The Ciucului Basin is of volcanic origin. Its main river is the Olt, out of which full length (736 km) 89 km flows in Harghita county. The main river of the higher-level - about 800 m - Giurgeu's Basin of similar origin is the Mures, out of which full length (768 km) 80 km flows on the area of Harghita county. The two brother-rivers take their source in the southern group of the Giurgeu Mountains, in the orological centre of Ciuc Seat. Beautiful lookouts of the Ciuc country: the Popa Mountain (1,165 m), the Paganului Mountain (1,350 m), Viscol Peak (1,496 m), the Rezul Negru (1,535 m), Ecem Peak (1,708 m) and the Harghita-Madaras (1,801 m).
Ciuc Seat is known as the cold pole of Transylvania (and Romania): a climatic curio. It can be attributed to its closed basin character, where temperature inversion is frequent: the cold air gets stuck into the Olt Valley, while the surrounding mountains are relatively warmer, even during the winter. The vegetation period is much shorter here than in other parts of Transylvania.
The Ciuc country is the home of mineral waters and gas flows, where a variety of carbonic, ironic, earthy, alcalic and radioactive curative mineral water springs can be found. The locals have been using them in form of drinking, bathing and inhalation cures for centuries. The sulphur-springs are sulphuric, the mofettes are carbon-dioxidic exhalations. If the evaporating CO2 meets subsurface water, it is called carbonic water. Thus the carbonic water is watery mofette and its formation is connected to the postvolcanic activities.
The bulk of the villages of Ciuc-Gheorgheni-Casinu was formed at the foot of the mountains and the decimal settlement structure characterizes them. The large families settled down relatively far from each other in order to assure pastures for their livestock. The name "ten" (tízes, szeg, szer) referring to the larger part of the settlement can be found in almost every village; there are about 5,000 such names. The "ten" is the smallest structural unit of the Szeklers of Ciuc. The inhabited area and the border of the village is still divided into "tens" of different size, although their role has been modified in time. The "ten"-properties ceased to exist following the proportioning ordered at the end of the 19th century.
The architectural legacy of Ciuc is very rich, its ecclesiastical monuments being especially remarkable. Its churches dating back to the Arpadian age (Sandominic, Sumuleu, Pauleni, Sancraieni, Sandominic, Tusnad, Cozmeni, Casinu Mare, Armaseni, Racu) were built in Romanesque style. The stone fences of 30 churches of Ciuc still stand today. Many stone crosses can be seen along the roads. The coloured carpets of Ciuc preserve the memory of the former carpet weaving. The Szekler-gate is still the symbol of the Szekler culture of Ciuc.
Being a border country, Ciuc suffered a lot during the Tartar invasions in the 17th century. 26 churches were burnt down in 1661 by the Tartars.The invasion on 15th February 1694 has remained as a tragedy of baleful memory (funesta tragedia) in the history of the Szeklers of Ciuc. The Tartars coming through the Ghimes Pass raided, robbed, slaughtered the locals unmercifully from Sandominic to Sancraieni. This was the last Tartar invasion in Ciuc.
The travel axis of the Ciuc country from the county town northwards along National Road 12 and 15: Miercurea-Ciuc - Gheorgheni (60 km) - Toplita (102 km) - Borsec (132 km) - Tulghes (152 km); southwards along National Road 12: Miercurea-Ciuc - Cozmeni (22 km) - Baile Tusnad (32 km). Along National Road 12A, on the Miercurea-Ciuc - Frumoasa - Lunca de Jos line the distance to the eastern border of Harghita county is 39 km, while to the historical country border there is a distance of 45 km.