In Hoia Baciu Forest, Romania, the trees stop suddenly in "The Circle".

A mysterious, near perfect circle in the center of the forest where no vegetation grows. Soil samples and tests for radiation have been ran all around the circle, all returning the same results to the rest of the forest. Trees outside the circle grow in bizarre twisted ways - in zig-zag patterns or in clockwise spirals. Science is yet to explain this.

The Circle. Photo / Syfy
The Circle. Photo / Syfy

This is Hoia Baciu, just outside Cluj-Napoca, Romania's second city in the depths of Transylvania. Hoia Forest is a 30-minute drive from Cluj-Napoca. Some even call it the "Bermuda Triangle of Romania."

Strange lights can be seen. Photo / hoiabaciuforest.com
Strange lights can be seen. Photo / hoiabaciuforest.com

According to local legends, strange energies lurk among the crooked trees. One tale tells of a young girl who disappeared into the forest, only to reappear years later, looking the same as she did when she vanished, unable to remember where she had been.

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Yep... Nothing to see here. Photo / hoiabaciuforest.com
Yep... Nothing to see here. Photo / hoiabaciuforest.com

It was named after a shepherd who went missing in the forest with a flock of 200 sheep, Hoia Baciu came to international attention in 1968 when Emil Barnea, a military technician, photographed what he claimed was a UFO hovering over The Clearing.

The odd trees. Photo / hoiabaciuforest.com
The odd trees. Photo / hoiabaciuforest.com

Unlike other UFO sightings, Barnea had nothing to gain from reporting the sighting, and everything to lose. The Communist government equated a belief in the paranormal with madness and state-sabotage, and Barnea lost his job in a country which had no support for the sacked.

Unidentified flying objects are an eerily routine sight. Photo / hoiabaciuforest.com
Unidentified flying objects are an eerily routine sight. Photo / hoiabaciuforest.com

Before Barnea's photograph, biologist Alexandru Sift took great interest in the stories of the strange happenings inside the forest and in the early 1960's he began to venture out into the woods to research light and magnetism phenomena in the forest in which according to him he gathered substantial photographic evidence. Sadly Sift died in 1993 and he too became part of the mystery of the forest because after his death all the photographs he took went missing and most of them were never recovered.

Some say the strongest evidence of supernatural activity took place when the television show 'Destination Truth' were filming there 10 years ago.

He was gone in half a frame. Photo / Destination Truth, SyFy
He was gone in half a frame. Photo / Destination Truth, SyFy

One of the crew, Evan, suddenly flew through the air as he sat in "The Circle". Following the appearance of a "sudden flash of light", Evan suddenly flew from one side of the clearing to the other. He would also find wounds along his arms. This, despite them being completely covered by long sleeves. The most frightening aspect of the encounter, though, were the claims by Evan that just prior to the sudden force that moved him, "strange female voices" came from behind him.

You can check out that particular incident on 'Destination Truth', though, on the short video below.


While you're there: Bran Castle is a four and a half-hour drive from Cluj-Napoca. Famous as the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula novel, the stately castle on a cliff was an official residence for the Romanian royal family for centuries and a wonderful example of Gothic architecture at its finest.

Booking.com recommends: The Magna Suite.