| Bunta Levente (Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania)|
Odorheiu Secuiesc ( Hungarian: , German: ) is the second largest city in Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania. In its short form, it is also known as Odorhei in Romanian and Udvarhely in Hungarian. The Hungarian name of the town "Udvarhely" means "courtyard place."
The town, as the former seat of the Udvarhely comitatus, is one of the historical centers of Szekely Land. The first known reference to the city was in a papal register of duties in 1334 when it was mentioned by its Hungarian name, a sacerdos de Oduorhel. Since 1615, when Gabriel Bethlen, Prince of Transylvania, reaffirmed the rights of the town, the place has been referred to as Szekelyudvarhely.
Udvarhely was the location of the first assembly of Szekelys in 1357. A fortress was built in the town in 1451. It was rebuilt and strengthened by John II Sigismund Zapolya in 1565, in order to control the Szekelys. Wallachian Prince Michael the Brave allied with the Szekelys and Habsburgs destroyed the fortress in 1599 during his campaign in Transylvania. It was repeatedly rebuilt and destroyed again during history. The ruins of the structure are nowadays known as "The Szekely-Attacked Fortress".
The town was historically part of the Szeklerland region of Transylvania. It was the seat of Udvarhelyszek District until the administrative reform of Transylvania in 1876, when it fell within the Udvarhely County in the Kingdom of Hungary. After the Treaty of Trianon of 1920, it became part of Romania and fell within Odorhei County during the interwar period. In 1940, the Second Vienna Award granted Northern Transylvania to Hungary, which then held the town until 1944. After Soviet occupation, the Romanian administration returned and it became officially part of Romania in 1947. Between 1952 and 1960, the town fell within the Magyar Autonomous Region, between 1960 and 1968 the Mures-Magyar Autonomous Region. In 1968, the province was abolished, and since then, the town has been part of Harghita County.
The town and the surrounding villages were hit by a significant flood in August 2005.
A statue park of historical persons of importance for the Szekelys was unveiled in the town on 22 May 2004. This gave rise to controversy, as one of the statues (The Wandering Szekler) was interpreted in the Romanian press as being the portrait of controversial writer and poet Albert Wass.
Odorheiu Secuiesc is a small yet culturally vibrant town. It has a sizeable theater, the Haaz Rezso Museum (featuring permanent and seasonal exhibits dedicated to Szekler village life, Szekler arts and crafts, history of the region and Transylvanian Hungarian painters), a philharmonic orchestra of Szeklerland, a local TV studio and several local newspapers. Throughout the year, there are festivals and youth events ( (http://tourinfo.ro/), a monthly farmers market selling local, traditional and organic products. With strong cultural ties to Hungary, the town frequently hosts artists, writers and bands from Hungary. The town also features a central park, a large open air pool and several spas. Its main square, flanked by historic public buildings, is Marton Aron Square, or as the locals call it, Horseshoe (due to its shape).
Odorheiu Secuiesc and the area have some great touristic attractions, such as a bike path to Szejke Spa (also the burial ground of the Szekler ethnographer Balazs Orban) and the Mineral Water Trails Museum, the low-Alpine-type ski resort of Madaras Harghita Mountains (part of the eastern range of the Carpathians) as well as charming mountain cottages and farm guest houses on the mountainous paths and Alpine slopes leading to the Madaras Peak (with genuine farm-to-table dining experiences), mineral water sources and pool of Homorod Spa, Lake of Zetelaka, with great fishing and hunting. The pottery village of Corund, a popular destination for aficionados of Hungarian pottery and traditional folk patterns, is only 25 kilometres (16 miles) away from the city. The salty Bear Lake in Sovata, a significant resort town that has been recently redeveloped, is also less than one hours drive away (46 km).
The region has seen increased interest in eco-tourism, wildlife hiking and bear-watching, biking, rock climbing, horse riding, photo-tourism and cultural tourism. Odorheiu Secuiesc has three hotels: Tarnava Hotel, Gonduzo Hotel and the Septimia Wellness Hotel and Spa. Other accommodation options are smaller B&Bs (panzio) and guest houses: Crown (Korona) Inn, Maestro B&B and Carriage B&B (Hinto Panzio).
The town is an ideal day-trip destination to tourists exploring the richness and diversity of Transylvania due to its closeness to the Medieval (formerly) Saxon towns of Sighisoara (50 km), Brasov (109 km), Sibiu (150 km) as well as the world-famous Bran Castle, better known as Dracula Castle, (130 km), yet it offers a distinctly different cultural experience due to its meticulously preserved Hungarian culture. The surrounding villages are marvels of traditional Hungarian house-building techniques and woodcraft, such as the stooped Szekler Gates. The rich and distinctive furniture carving and painting techniques of villages in Szeklerland were showcased in the Smithsonian Folklife Festivals Hungarian Heritage program in June 2013 in Washington, D.C, USA.
The closest airport is Targu Mures International Airport (110 km) with direct flights (Rynair, Wizzair or Tarom) to Budapest, London, Barcelona, Bergamo, Bologna, Madrid, Rome, Bucharest, Brussels and Pisa.