From Cârţişoara to Curtea de Argeş lies one of the most marvelous roads that you can drive in Europe. It is called Transfăgărăşan and passes through Făgăraș Mountains at high altitude.
There are 92 kilometers that pass through and incredible landscape, marked by mountains peaks, green meadows and waterfalls. The road is open only 4 months a year, due to high altitude heavy snowing.
Transfăgărăşan it was built in Ceausescu’s regime and its construction lasted more than five years of intense work, from 1969 to 1974.
Although at that time Romania already had more passes of the (Alpine Road Novaci-Sălişte, old Highway Câmpina-Predeal or road Bumbeşti Jiu-Petrosani), the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 by the Soviet troops and the ease with which they could be blocked or attacked crossings between Transylvania and Wallachia (which, with one exception, were the rivers) rise to the initiation of the emergency project ” Transfăgărăşan ” – a strategic road linking garrisons Pitesti and Sibiu. In the substantiation of the project was noted that the reasons were “open forest basins of Făgăraș Mountains, more rational use of alpine pastures and making a mountain tourism center in the Lake Bâlea”.
Also, there are rumors that Transfăgărăşan was built out of a battle of egoes between Sibiu and Brasov counties. Brasov had the world renowned sky resort Poiana Braşov, and Sibiu wanted to have a similar resort, at a higher altitude. The Bâlea lake was the point that was planned to be the heart of the resort. Bâlea lake sits at the middle of Transfăgărăşan, at 2,034 m of altitude in the Făgăraș Mountains.
The road work was finished with considerable financial and material costs and also with the cost of human lives, soldiers and workers who contributed to its construction . The official toll was of 40 dead., but the workers who are now still alive advance today higher figures, which reach up to several hundreds of lives lost (answering an interview, a witness of the time said: “Only the barrage died about 400 boys”).
The official toll was of 40 dead., but the workers who are now still alive advance today higher figures, which reach up to several hundreds of lives lost
The official inauguration was held in the presence of Nicolae Ceausescu, on September 20, 1974 but the additional works have continued for several years, being completed in its current form in 1980.
Touristic objectives from Transfăgărăşan
Sights include Bâlea Lake and Bales Falls and dam Vidraru, Capra Mountain and Lake, Poenari castle. Also, you have access to hiking trails around massive Transfagarasan.
The road starts slowly and then climbes into the mountains, into the fir woods and clear air. After that, you will enter the alpine.
The first stop you will make is at the Bâlea Waterfall Cabin, the point you will go to Bâlea Waterfall. It is situated between Moldoveanu and Negoiu peaks at over 1200 meters altitude, being the largest waterfall in increments of Romania, with a fall of over 60 meters.
At the maximum height of Transfagarasan, lies Bâlea Lake. Bâlea Lake is a glacial lake surrounded by high mountains. Lake is situated at an altitude of 2,040 meters, it has a length of 360 meters, an area of 4.6 hectares and a depth of about 11 meters. Near the lake there are several cabins; first cottage was built in 1904.
If you are willing to take a hike for about three hours from Bâlea Lake, you will arrive at the glacial lakes, situated in the glacial circuses, at an altitude of over 2400 meters. One of the most beautiful is Lake Capra, with a depth of 11 meters and a gorgeous blue color. In the southern part of the lake there is a plateau suitable for camping, offering a wonderful view of the mountains.
After this experience you will go further on the road and pass through the only tunnel of the road, with a length of 887 meters. After this point, the road descends and the forest grow thicker.
Dam and Lake Vidraru
The dam was inaugurated in 1966 after five years as it took to build and which involved numerous human sacrifices. It is the highest dam in Romania, with a height of 166 meters and also the largest dam arch in our country. The inauguration was the 5th arch dam in Europe and ninth in the world. Pride is the engineers who built the dam power station, being situated underground in massive Cetatuia to a depth of 104 meters
Lake Vidraru was created in 1965 to produce electrical energy and presents an impressive view. It has a length of 14 km, a width of 2.2 kilometers (max) and a depth of 155 meters. You will remark the statue of Prometheus that depicts the mythological hero Prometheus by lightning in hand, a symbol of electricity.
Poenari is the only castle that was built by Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) in order to guard the entrance in Ţara Românească and to keep invaders away. Poenari caste is being called “eagles nest of mighty old warriors” and was built in the twelfth century, abandoned and then rebuilt by Vlad the Impaler, when it came to the throne. The strong bond with Vlad the Impaler rocketed this castle to the fifth position as the most haunted places in the world. Read more here
What others say
Transfăgărăşan is one impressive road and driving through it is an unique experience. The producers of Top Gear, the well knows car show in UK came in 2010 to “test” the road with an Aston, a Ferrari and a Lambo.
“The most amazing road I ever seen!” Jeremy Clarkson
Watch here the full episodes.