Fagaras Mountains

The most spectacular area of the Carpathians in Romania is represented by the Southern Carpathians. They are also called “the Romanian Alps“, because they reach high altitudes in the Fagaras Mountains (Moldoveanu Peak – 2544 meters), offering astonishing views and trips in the gorgeous landscapes of a carved glaciers and endless pine forests. The Fagaras Mountains makes the highest section of the Transylvanian Alps (Southern Carpathian Mountains), in south-central Romania, whose steep northern face rises above 2,450 meters and overlooks the Făgăraş Depression, through which flows the Olt River over a gentler gradient south to the Carpathian foothills. The 48-kilometre-long Fagaras Mountain range is relatively isolated and inaccessible in comparison with the rest of the Transylvanian Alps. The Pleistocene glaciation shaped jagged ridges and steep rocky slopes of the Fagaras Mountains, and valleys with a series of glacial lakes from this period.

The Transfagarasan Road is the most spectacular road in Romania and crosses the Fagaras Mountains, binding Transylvania and Muntenia, by two traffic lanes of 92 km countless curves. The Transfagaras Road runs north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians, between the highest peak in Romania, Moldoveanu and the second highest peak of Negoiu. The Transfagarasan road connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, and the cities of Sibiu and Pitesti. Along the Transfagarasan route there are 27 viaducts and bridges, and the longest road-tunnel in Romania – 887 meters long, which passes through the Paltin Mountains, from Lake Capra to Lake Balea. The Fagaras Mountains crossed by Transfagarasan road is open generally between July and September (closed in winter for large show and traffic depends on weather conditions), offering astonishing views to travelers and lots of attractions to visit. The most important tourist attractions of the Fagaras Massive are Vidraru Lake and the Vidraru Dam which is one of the greatest in Europe, then Poienari Fortress-Castle (built in the time of Vlad Tepes), Balea Glacial Lake and the Balea Waterfall. The amazing Balea lake is located next to the significant tourist cities of Romania, Sibiu and Curtea de Arges. If you are on vacation in Romania in summer time – between June and September, the Transfagarasan road is an amazing and unforgettable driving experience for both drivers and bikers.

The Făgăraş Mountains belong to the South Carpathian Mountains and make one of the most impressive mountain ranges in Romania. Fagaras Mountains are the highest and the largest mountains in Romania, covering an area of 3,000 sq km. The main ridge of the Făgăraş Mountains forms a massive spine which extends west to east in a fairly straight line for more than 70 km – from the valley of the Olt River to the Puatra Craiului Mountains and the Iezer Mountains being 40 km wide. Eight of the fourteen peaks above 2500 meters in Romania dominate among its peaks and crests: Moldoveanu (2544m), Negoiu (2535m), Viştea Mare (2527m), Lespezi (2522m), Cornu Călţunului (2510m), Vânătoarea lui Buteanu (2507m), Hârtopu (2506m) and Dara (2500m.) There are another 42 peaks of the Fagaras Mountains between the heights of 2400 and 2500 meters. “Fagaras Country”, as it is known is located in central Romania. Bordering it to the north is the Tarnave Plateau, while to the south it is bordered by Romania’s highest mountains, the Fagaras Mountains. Fagaras Country is an interesting confluence between the historical principalities of Wallachia and Transylvania.  Sometimes known as the Olt Country, due to the fact that River Olt crosses it, the region is famous for its breathtaking scenery, but also for a string of historic monuments, such as the Upper Saturday Monastery, located right at the foot of the mountains, or the Fagaras fortress, located in the heart of the town of modern Fagaras itself, surrounded by a defensive moat. Built in 1310 on the site of a former 12th century wooden fortress, burned by the Tartars in 1241, the Fagaras fortress was enlarged between the 15th and 17th centuries and was considered one of the strongest fortifications in Transylvania. The Fagaras fortress was surrounded by a deep moat which, in times of war or social unrest, could easily be filled with water from a nearby mountain brook. A bridge over the moat provided the only access point. The Fagaras fortress boasts three floors and five towers. source Visit Romania

At the foot of Moldoveanu, Romania’s highest mountain, stood the Roman fortress of Jidava. Jidava was probably built in the early 3rd century A.D. under the imperatorship of Septimius Severus. It was designed to guard the approaches to the Cumidava Pass. Built with typical Roman precision, the walls measured 100 meters by 132 meters. They were nearly two meters thick. The praetorium occupied the center of the compound. A horreum and a thermae have also been identified. The ruins were discovered in 1876. Excavations began in 1962.  www.chi-rhogroup.com

Fagaras Mountains feature the most dense water network in Romania. The most popular waterfall of the Fagaras Mountains is called the Cascada Bâlea. Trans Fagarasan Road is the most famous road in Romania featuring differences of altitude and many curves that climbs to the highest altitude in Romania, 2042 meters. Mountain lakes, or tarns, are truly jewels of nature and they are said to be the pearls of mountains. To some they resemble big or small mirrors scattered in the mountain valleys – emerald green, dark blue or black in color – enhance the mountain landscapes greatly. They are precious relics of the past epoch when the valleys were filled with glaciers which gouged the rock under their cold bodies. The tarns of the Făgăraş are full of splendor and magnificence but they are also sources of crystal-clear water which, however, must be boiled before drinking, exceeding the values of 0.8km/sq m. The highest lake is situated in the Hărtopul Leaotei glacial Valley. Mioarelor Lake lies at 2282 meters. The largest lake is Bâlea, encompassing 4.65 hectares. The deepest glacial lake is Podragu, 15.5 meters deep.

The climate of Fagaras Mountains is severe with sub polar traits and harsher than the climate of most of the mountain ranges the Carpathians are made up of. The average yearly temperature in the alpine Fagaras regions (above 2000m above sea level) is -2°C and ranges between +20 and -38 °C. A clear blue sky in the Fagaras Mountains is a rare sight. The average temperature, the intensity of the winds and the level of precipitation in the Fagaras Mountains depend on the altitude and the orientation of the mountain faces. The Făgăraş Mountains are characterized by the highest amount of rainfall, which reaches an annual 1400 mm/year. Encountering patches of snow in mid-June is not a rare thing in the Fagaras Mountains. Across the Carpathian Mountains, the most frequent avalanches occur in the Făgăraş Mountains. Also, unfortunately the most deadly accidents have been registered here. The Făgăraş climate has peculiarities determined by the size of this massif and the west-east orientation of the ridge. The north Fagaras Mountains slope blocks the cool, wet air coming from the Atlantic and from the north of Europe, and the south slope blocks the Mediterranean and tropical air, which leads to the natural timberline (bear in mind that centuries of grazing have lowered it considerably) running higher on the southern flank. This is the only place where we can watch the enchanting cascades of surging fog, which make the heights seem endless, envelop the rocks in a mysterious shawl, and then unexpectedly open a window on the world below, where the green meadows are bathed in sunshine. In contrast to the rockier northern valleys, the southern slopes of the Fagaras Mountains – grassy, descending more gently – are the territory of an intensive pastoral life.