The Hoia Baciu forest can be found in the heart of Transylvania, Romania, near the city of Cluj. From a distance, the Hoia Baciu is unimpressive, being a mere 729 acres (1.14 miles square). Yet upon closer inspection, this dense area is nothing short of notorious, dark and foreboding. The forest is considered to be the most haunted forest in the world, and for a litany of reasons.
The historical record of the area is limited. Evidence has been discovered of an early Neolithic settlement (6500 BCE) in the area, part of the Starčevo–Kőrös–Criș culture, which is the earliest documented evidence of civilization in the area. Yet none of the archeological work has indicated anything traumatic or catastrophic occurred there. There isn’t much else in the record until reports of a large group of peasants being murdered in the forest several hundred years ago. From that point on, tales of ghostly apparitions, shadowy figures, and other unexplained phenomena, began to populate the local lore and there are cases of people entering Hoia Baciu yet never coming back out, which led to it being nicknamed, the Bermuda Triangle of Romania.
The name, Hoia Baciu is said to come from a very old Transylvanian legend. In the late 1800s, a poor shepherd named Baciu, traveled into the forest with his flock, yet never emerged on the other side. No living soul knows what happened to the shepherd, or his flock of 200 sheep. This tale of disappearance might be overlooked, but when coupled with the story of a young girl (5 years old) who wandered into the forest and was presumed lost or dead. Yet remarkably, she returned five years later, looking the same, wearing the same clothes, but with no memory of what happened. These two stories are the ones most publicized, yet local legends speak of more than a thousand people disappearing in Hoia Baciu over the years.
Deep in the interior of the forest, people have claimed to see strange lights in various colors, sometimes moving, sometimes not. Additionally, reports of human-like sounds and whispers on the wind. Photographers have captured what appears to be shadowy human figures peeking out from behind trees and countless numbers of visitors claim they felt a chilling feeling of being watched while traveling through the area. Many professional ghost hunters and paranormal experts have certified Hoia Baciu as a hotspot for paranormal and supernatural activity, and the forest has been featured on many different broadcasts.
Unexplained Growth and Twisted Trees
The forest itself is filled with unique flora and fauna and has a high population of bats. Strange plants are visible, but visitors are drawn to the Hoia Baciu trees. Different species exhibit strange characteristics here. Some grow in bizarre shapes, with unexpected twists and turn and long skeletal branches are common, but the hook-shaped twisted trees are what really grabs the spotlight. Almost as if they were bent by unseen forces, these trees all pull to one direction and then return growing upward. To this day, no scientist has been able to explain why the trees grew this way. Because of this visual and lack of explanation, the connection of Hoia Baciu to the supernatural world is considered validated.
The Clearing, UFOs, and Supernatural Encounters
Deep in the forest lies a mysterious circular clearing where nothing grows. Known as the ‘Clearing,’ this patch of barren ground is associated with multiple instances of unexplained phenomena. Surrounded by thick vegetation, the Clearing induces immediate feelings of intense anxiety and trepidation to all those who enter. It has been reported that electronic equipment fails or malfunctions when visitors enter the area. Even after extensive scientific tests, no explanation is present for this type of disturbance.
Some say the area is a portal to another dimension; one controlled by aliens. This theory is supported by the numerous UFO sightings made over the forest, with one in particular being the focal point. In 1968, a soldier named Emil Barnea, photographed a disc-shaped UFO hovering over the Clearing. Many paranormal researchers cite this as irrefutable evidence to the claim. At the time of the photograph, the area was under Communist rule. Barnea was discharged and the report discredited as propaganda.
In 2009, a film crew from the Syfy Channel program, Destination Truth made two separate visits to Hoia Baciu. During the first visit, cameraman Evan Stone was in the forest alone doing an EVP session, when a supernatural force threw him backwards and dragged him away. One of his team found him disoriented, with deep bloody scratches on his arms and hands, even though he was wearing heavy gloves and wearing a long sleeve shirt. He recounted hearing strange female voices right behind him, just before the violent encounter. The Destination Truth team returned a second time and experienced multiple sightings of strange lights, cold spots, unexplained sounds including a haunting whispering voice.
Dozens of other credible UFO sightings have been reported, with the earliest known dating back to the early 1960s. In 2002, a couple in the nearby city of Cluj, took thirty seconds of video of a cigar-shaped object flying over the forest. They reported that it glowed brightly, but made no sound before disappearing into the thick clouds. In 2007, a photographer taking daytime photos during the winter, captured a strange dark shape in the sky.
Ghosts, UFOs, vanishing people, mysterious lights, and the intense feeling of being watched, definitely solidify the reputation of Hoia Baciu as one of the most haunted forests in the world. It draws both the curious observer and members of the scientific community, both in search of a greater understanding. Yet, to this day, the unexplained remains exactly that, unexplained. The truth might be hidden somewhere out there, waiting for someone brave enough to find it.