Scenic Roads of Romania
Many times each traveler has its own reasons for traveling, its own goals to achieve when visiting a foreigner country or an area within his/her own country. In order to reach one or more tourist attractions you need to take a road and may times, a traveler may take not the shortest distance between two points but the most scenic roads.
Well, should you be interested in one of our tours then you might discover some amazing roads, real tourist destinations by themselves. These roads will remain in you memory either because they pass thorough amazing gorges, high mountains, windy valleys or because they will take you to remote rural areas.
Probably the most famous and scenic road of Romania, especially after the guys from Top Gear made an episode here, is the Transfagarasan Road or in a better translation the Road of the Transylvanian Alps. As the second highest road of Romania, Transfagarasan offers a travel to the alpine are of the Carpathian Mountains. The road is 100km (62mi), from the town of Arefu (Arges County) to Carta (Sibiu County). The highest point – 1042m (3419ft) is reached at the Balea Lake.
It was built in just 4 years, between 1970 and 1974, at the request of Nicolae Ceausescu, the last communist dictator of Romania.
Beside the breathtaking views, the road is flanked by several famous tourist destinations of Romania. The fortress of Poienari is the first one. You might have a problem to reach it because there are 1480 to be climb all the way to the top. Built in the 13-14th centuries, the fortress of Poienari was extended later by Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula. The Vidraru Dam is the next landmark of the Transfagarasan Road. Built in the 60s, the dam was for a short period of time in top 5 largest dams in the world. Then the windy road continues along the lake reaching in the end the alpine area of the Transylvanian Alps (Muntii Fagaras). The road pierces the mountains into Transylvania. Here one can see the glacial lake of Balea, about 11m deep. During the cold season a church and a hotel made of ice are built each year.
A cable car is operating on the northern side of the mountain, during the winter being the only way of reaching the top the mountain. The road is open to traffic from July till October when it is blocked by the first major snow.
The Trans-alpine road (Transalpina) is shrouded more or less in mystery. The story has it that it was built in ancient times when the Romans wanted to have another access into Transylvania. Another story says that the road was built by the German army during the Great War. For sure, the road was inaugurated in 1938 by the Romanian king Carol II, hence its second name: the Road of the King. It was repaired by the Germans in the Second World War and then forgotten by the communists. In 2009 was coated with asphalt for the first time in its history.
The Trans-alpine Road is not just the highest road from Romania, reaching 2145m (7037ft) in the highest point, but also the highest road in the whole Carpathian chain. From Novaci (Gorj County) to Sebes (Alba County) the road measures 135km. The road is nicknamed as “The Path of the Devil”.
The Danube Defile Road
This road goes along the Danube river for 132km (82mi) from Moldova Veche to Drobeta Turnu-Severin. Located right next to the Serbian border, the Danube Defile Road can be done either in Romania or Serbia. There are several small mountains along the road and several tourist attractions such as the fortress of Tricule, most of it flooded, or the Golubac Fortress (Serbia). But by far the most impressive landmark are the Iron Gates, two narrow and tall gorges formed by the river of Danube. Once you have reached the golf of Marconia you’ll be amazed by the massive stone monument of the Dacian king Decebalus.
The Road of the Prahova Valley
As it is quite close to Bucharest, and event closer to Brasov, the road of the Prahova Valley became a major tourist attraction for many inhabitants of these cities. It was not always like that. In fact this area developed quite late when compared with other areas of Romania. It was certified for the first time in the 16th century. Probably a major turning point in the history of this road was recorded in 1695 when Mihail Cantacuzino built the Monastery of Sinaia. Because of the repeted Turkish invasions more and more people settled down in this narrow valley. The Austrians who controlled Transylvania and Brasov cut the first road towards Sinaia in the 19th century. Later on the first king of Romania, Carol I, decided to build his summer residence at Sinaia which was another turning point in the history of the Prahova Valley. From this moment the road became a major tourist destination, a place of the famous landlords or important businessmen of the time, many of them building here expensive estates or real castles such as the Cantacuzino Castle from Busteni.
The communists are the one who built the first large hotels along the valley, especially in Sinaia. Also the first ski slopes were open in Sinaia, Azuga and Predeal. The most impressive part of the road is to be found between Sinaia and Azuga as the Bucegi Mountains reveal their tall craggy cliffs.
At the present the road of the Prahova Valley is a Mecca of the Romanian tourism. Beside the Peles Castle, the Sinaia Monastery, the Prahova Valley boasts the longest cable car in Romania, hundreds of hiking trails, camping places, the Cantacuzino Castle, the Azuga Winery, sky slopes and many others.
The Road of the Painted Monasteries
The painted monasteries, along the Bran (Dracula) Castle, Peles Castle and Maramures, are by far the most famous landmarks of Romania. In order to reach the most famous painted monasteries the traveler must take a scenic road that passes through beautiful villages scattered among the hillsides of the Carpathian Mountains, quite small in these parts. Beside the monasteries of Voronet, Arbore, Sucevita and Moldovita, the road passes through the village of Marginea famous for its black pottery. Also, this road passes among the hills of the Bucovina Mountains where the rural life is preserved like many years ago.
The roads above are just a few of the many beautiful roads of Romania such as the Cerna Valley, the Rucar-Bran Corridor, the Olt Valley or the road of the Bicaz Gorges. Should you be interested in seeing some of these roads then please don’t hesitate in contacting us. Some of our tours include more or less of these roads.
text and pictures by Daniel Gheorghita