Mountains & Roads

About Romanian Mountain Roads

The Transfagarasan (trans (over, across) + Fagaras mountains) is the in Romania after Transalpina. It starts near the village of Bascov, located near the city of Pitesti, ending on the crossroad between DN1 and Sibiu. Also known as Ceaușescu's Folly, it was built as a strategic military route that stretches 90 km with twists and turns that run north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians, between the highest peaks in the country, Moldoveanu, and the second highest, Negoiu. The road connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, and the cities of Sibiu and Pitești.

Source: Wikipedia

The Transfagarasan was constructed between 1970 and 1974, during the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu, as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Ceausescu wanted to ensure quick military access across the mountains in case the Soviets attempted a similar move to a previous one during 1921. Therefore, Ceausescu ordered the construction of a road across the Fagaras Mountains, which divided Northwestern from South Romania.

Built mainly by military forces, the road had both a high financial and human cost. Work was carried out in an alpine climate, at an elevation of 2000 meters, using junior military personnel who were untrained in blasting techniques. Many non-commissioned officers (NCOs), foremen, and soldiers died due to hazardous working conditions. Roughly six million kilograms of dynamite were used on the northern face, and official records state that about 40 soldiers lost their lives in building accidents. These numbers are likely to be under–estimations due to Communist propaganda touting "greatest care for men. The government could not admit the loss of so many lives caused by the disregard for labor protection rules. To this day, the exact number of lives lost is not known, yet survivors estimate the number to be in the hundreds

Lower section of the road

Initial drafts envisaged a road tunnel from the area of Balea-Cabana beneath the glacial cauldron of Balea and Fagaras ridge, all the way to Piscul Negru mountain refuge, which avoided the alpine desert area prone to avalanches and rockfalls. That proposal was ultimately rejected due to very high costs and the difficulties entailed with such a digging endeavour. The approved project provided a road narrower than the two-lane roads of today and also a continuation on the South side, towardsCurtea de Argeş, on the Western shore of Vidraru Lake. The decision to widen the road and move it to the Eastern shore of Vidraru was taken by Ceausescu, in a typical manner for him to micro-manage projects after the work had begun. The Western shore, although 10 kilometers shorter than the Eastern one, was supposed to link Transfagarasan to Cumpana Chalet, but proved to be an impractical route due to the much greater accumulation of snow during the winter.

The road was officially opened on 20 September 1974, although work continued unofficially until 1980, in particular the asphalting of the roadbed.

Transalpina

The Transalpina or DN67C located in the Parâng Mountains group, in the Southern Carpathians of Romania, is one of thehighest roads of the Carpathian Mountains. It connects Novaci, south of Parang Mountains, to Sebeş in the north.

It is said that the road was built under King Carol II and rebuilt during World War II by German troops and it is calledThe King's Road by the locals. Also a story has it that Nicolae Ceauşescu had the Transfagarasan Road (DN7C) built during the communist regime just to surpass the Transalpina.

The road has its highest point at the Urdele Pass, where the elevation is 2,145m above sea level. Given the high altitude, the road is closed during the cold months of the year. Works began in 2007 in order to transform this spectacular road into a modern highway (148 km), allowing a rapid transit between Oltenia and Transylvania.

Ranca, a newly developed resort, is located towards the south end of the Transalpina road.

Source: Wikipedia

Our proposal for you is to join us in a fantastic tour over the Romanian Mountains and trough wonderful valleys.

You will have the opportunity to see the real life of shepherds, handicraftsmen, taste traditional foods and drinks and participate to traditional festivals in rural areas.

Starting from Sibiu, the route will lead us over some of the highest mountain roads in Europe.



Package includes
  • Transportation from/to airport
  • Accommodation for 4 nights
  • 5 breakfasts
  • 5 dinners
  • Specialized guide
  • Tickets for natural salted lakes Ocna Sibiului
  • Tickets for visiting Curtea de Arges Monastery
  • Tickets for visiting Horezu Monastery
Package doesn't include
  • transport from/to destination (landing city)
  • travel and heath inssurance

Day 1: Arrival Sibiu

Meeting with the Romanian guide.
Transfer from airport to hotel.
Check-in at the hotel.
Dinner and get to know the guests.
Overnight in Sibiu.

Sibiu (Hermannstadt in German) was the largest and wealthiest of the seven walled citadels* built in the 12th century by German settlers known as Transylvanian Saxons. Sibiu’s Old Town retains the grandeur of its earlier days when rich and powerful guilds dominated regional trade. Like Sighisoara and Brasov, it has a distinctly Germanic feeling. Sections of the medieval wall still guard the historic area, where narrow streets pass steep-roofed 17th century buildings with gable overhangs before opening into vast, church-dominated squares such as Great Square and Little Square.

Day 2 – Sibiu - Ocna Sibiului - Transfagarasan - Cota 1200

After breakfast, we will travel to Ocna Sibiului to have a refreshing morning at the natural salted lakes. It will be a good opportunity for all of us to take a break and experience free floating into one of the most salted water in the world with therapeutic benefits on health.

At noon, we will be heading to Fagaras Mountains passing through Cartisoara a typical Transylvanian village and stop for see sights along the road on deep valley and high mountains picks. We will see Balea Waterfall and Balea Lake natural preservation.

In the evening we will reach the destination point of the day, Piscu Negru (Black Pick) touristic area after passing a tunnel on the south part of Fagaras Mountains.

Before dinner, we will visit Piscu Negru Monastery.

The day will end with a traditional dinner and spending a few hours around a fire place.

Day 3 - Piscu Negru - Poienari – Curtea de Arges – Horezu - Ranca 

After breakfast, we’ll drive along Transfagarasan and pass the banks of Vidraru Lake and stop for see sight on the Vidraru Dam.

This is the road that fascinated Top Gear members when they visited Romania. Have a look on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwMEX0jgPxE and/or https://vimeo.com/8010978

On the road we will visit the Poienari Fortress. The ruins of Poienari Fortress stand high on a cliff overlooking the Arges River, at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Built at the beginning of the 13th century by the first Walachian rulers, the castle changed names and residents a few times over the decades; eventually, it was abandoned and left in ruins. Vlad Tepes recognized the potential of the location and upon taking over the throne, he ordered that the structure be repaired and consolidated, turning it into one of his main fortresses.

The castle ruins can be reached after climbing the 1,462 steps.

On our way to Ranca we’ll make a short stop to Curtea de Arges city, where we’ll visit Curtea de Arges Monastery. The legend of master Manole”, which is directly connected to the name of the monastery, says that the ruler hired the greatest masters to build the place of worship. But all that they had built during the day fell apart during the night. So one night Manole had a dream, showing him that the construction would resist only if he built his wife in one of the walls. The next day, when his wife Ana came to bring him the food, Manole built her in the South wall. Now, the Curtea de Arges Monastery stands up due to this sacrifice.

Our road continues to Ramnicu Valcea and stops for a short time for a visit of Horezu Monastery. The Horezu Monastery or Hurezi Monastery was founded in 1690 by Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu in the town of Horezu, Wallachia, Romania. It is considered to be a masterpiece of "Brâncovenesc style", known for its architectural purity and balance, the richness of its sculpted detail, its treatment of religious compositions, its votive portraits, and its painted decorative works.

This area is well known for ceramic pots.

Horezu ceramics are a unique traditional craft. Handmade in the northern part of Vâlcea County, Romania, they reflect generations of knowledge and craftsmanship.

Men and women generally divide the fabrication processes. Men select and extract the earth, which is then cleaned, cut, watered, kneaded, trampled and mixed – transforming it into a clay body from which the potters of Horezu produce a red pottery. The potters then shape each object with a special finger technique requiring concentration, strength and agility. Each person has his own method of shaping, but everyone respects the sequence of operations. The women decorate the objects using specific techniques and tools to draw traditional motifs. Their skill in combining decoration and color defines the personality and uniqueness of these ceramics. The colors are vivid shades of dark brown, red, green, blue and ‘Horezu ivory’. The object is then fired. The potters use traditional tools: a mixer for cleaning the earth, a potter’s wheel and comb for shaping, a hollowed-out bull’s horn and a fine wire-tipped stick for decoration, and a wood-burning stove for firing. The craft is transmitted through families, in workshops from master to apprentice, and at fairs and exhibitions. The element gives the community a sense of identity, while maintaining a social function in everyday existence.

The next stop will be in Ranca, a touristic resort located at the base of the Transalpina, the highest road in Romania.

Dinner and overnight in a 3 stars guesthouse.

Day 4 - Ranca - Transalpina - Vidra Lake - Oasa Lake - Jina - Sibiu

After breakfast, our roads flows between high mountains picks. The view is fantastic on both sides of the road.

In approximately one hour the road reaches in the Lotru Valley.

An artificial lake (Vidra Lake) has been built in '70 for electricity production but it became a touristic area as well.

We will spend a short time to take a breath of clean and could mountain air a look around to a wonderful nature.

On the road again, we will pass in the Sebes river watershed and meet Oasa Lake.

We will continue downstream and in a few hours will reach in one of the most beautiful rural settlement in Transylvania, Jina Village located in a remote area of Cibin Mountains.

Here, the traditions are kept rigorously despite of modern look of the houses. The main occupation of the inhabitants is farming.

In different periods of the year, a few festivals are taking place here, most of them dedicated to their activities as farming and traditional handmade objects.

The village is well known for products resulting from farming: milk, meat and several types of cheese.

We’ll have dinner within a ship farm in Jina.

After dinner, we will return in Sibiu for overnighting.

Day 5: Departure

Breakfast at hotel. End of tour . Transfer to the airport.