The Transfagarasan highway is the road that crosses the Fagaras mountain range in the south of the Carpathians. It's a beautiful place, but you have to know what you are going to do a few miles in two or three hours of travel. The beauty of the scenery is spectacular, with the highlight being Balea Lake. Just before the lake, I was amused by the last "public bathroom", actually a hole with three walls, no door, with probably the best view you can have from a bathroom, the whole valley of Fagaras. We went in early summer and there was still snow around the edges. In Curtea de Arges, you can say if you can take or turn around and take the normal road that goes to Sibiu. Above, there are a few hotels and restaurants. It is a favorite route for cyclists to train.
Curtea de Arges is a city that can be found in central Romania, and it's also the head of Arges district. It was built on the shore of Arges River, south of the Carpathians. You can train to Curtea a very pleasant journey from Pitesti and Bucharest. You cross beautiful landscapes. Curtea's experienced a population boom over the past century along with its industrial development, and grew to about 30,000 inhabitants. Its climate cooler than the summer capital also makes find many town houses, occupied only in summer, which belong to the capital. Curtea is one of the oldest cities in the country. It was founded in the 13th century as the capital of Valachia. Its name means "the court", and it refers to the royal court. The town has many beautiful sights to see, such as medieval churches, like its cathedral, and the royal church. Go check it out.
Fagaras Mountains are north of Pitesti, and they are the start of a dramatic landscape which leads to the Balea Lake, which is over 2000 meters high. They are next to the river Olt and its beautiful valley, and there is a city also called Fagaras. This can be your base point for going trekking in the region. You will also come across glacial lakes like Podrague, which is 2140 meters high. It is popular place for skiing during the winter, and in summer, many groups of young people come to spend a few days camping or staying in small guesthouses in villages high. The Fagaras mountains are the largest south of the Carpathians, and the highest mountains are Moldoveanu, with 2544 meters high, and with 2527 meters Negoiu. There are a couple of roads through the mountains but you have to ask before, because they are closed if it rains or snows too.
When you start going up the Transfagarasan mountain road that covers the highest peaks of the Carpathians, that's where you'll find the beginning of veniendo of Arges where they built a castle located to the north of Curtea de Arges, on top of the mountain. It's pretty cool because it's a view that dominates the entire valley, as if it were defending it. The castle isn't directly on the road and have to follow a sign but is easily found. The castle was built by the first Romanian kings in the thirteenth century. He defended the region then known as Valacia. The Emperor Vlad III, known as dracula, renewed it in the fifteenth century and used it as one of its main strengths. The castle was abandoned in the seventeenth century and now only see ruins. To move up, you have to walk 1500 steps. They used the castle to represent the castle of Dracula in some películas.Gare
When you begin the Transfagarasan mountain road that crosses the highest peaks of the Carpathians, you will find at the beginning a castle built in the north of Curtea de Arges. It's awesome because it dominates and defends the entire valley. It is not directly on the road and you have to follow a sign but it's not hard to find. The castle was built by the first Romanian kings in the 13th century. It defended the region then known as Valacia. The Emperor Vlad III, known as dracula, renewed it in the 15th century and used it as one of its main fortresses. The castle was abandoned in the 17th century and now ruins remain. To go up, you have to walk 1500 steps. They used the castle to represent the castle of Dracula in some movies.
Balea Lake covers 46,000 square meters and is the largest lake in the Fagaras Mountains region. It is at the edge of the Transfagarasan road which crosses the mountains. At the lake there are lots of pensions and small hotels where you can spend a couple of days if you like hiking, it is perfect. The road is closed in winter, but they have a cable car for pedestrians and food to upload. The lake is a glacial lake, and winter it is a beautiful place to ski. The people appreciate the place, which also has a weather station and a "Salvamont", the mountain rescue service. The cable car runs from the hotel Balea Waterfall, and lets you enjoy incredible views. Near the lake is the first ice hotel in the region.
When you come from Bucharest, before reaching Campulung, if you take a right at the village of Valea Mare, a few kilometres further you will find the village of Namaesti, whose church is built on the rock. There is a monastery with nuns dressed in black, a veil over their hair, and a small round hat. At the entrance of the tiny church, you can write down a little prayer and leave it in the mailbox, so that the nuns pray for you, for your relative's health or for your dearest wish. For this, you have to leave a donation according to how you want them to focus on you! The legends of the monastery say that there used to be ancient catacombs of the early Christians during the Roman wars in Dacia. You learn that a pastor dreamed of the Virgin, who told him to dig in the mountain to find a holy icon. Finding it, he dug into the stone and built an altar and a church. It is believed that the icon was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist, with St André. It was framed in silver in 1798. It is unknown when the monastery was built, but the year 1547 has been mentioned. The nuns live by their leather products which they manufacture.
The Arges River is a river that you'll probably see if you ever visit southern Romania. This river starts in the Fagaras mountains just south of Carpathians. The largest city is across the river Arges is Pitesti. There's an artificial dam just before you reach the lake Vidraru form. The scenery around the lake Arges really is beautiful, and if you're lucky enough to drive there, you'll stop at a multitude of lakes, waterfalls, villages charm along your route. The river is mentioned in the writings of ancient Greece, as the Ordessus. The capital of Dacia, the Roman Empire was near the river. Throughout the centuries, people developed, communicated by the river, using the waters for trade and passenger transport. The cities of Albestii de Arges and Curtea de Arges. Its cool climate in the summer is what has attracted people to it.
Vidraru Dam at the beginning of the Transfagaras road at the foot of Fagaras mountains was built in 1965 to hold the waters of Lake Arges and create electricity. The dam is shaped like and arc and creates the water reservoir, Lake Vidrau. It measures 305 meters long and 166 meters high and is surrounded by a landscape reminiscent of the Alps. The construction of the dam lasted more than five years, with a network of underground tunnels, excavation of rocks and the destruction of a village. Back then, it was the 5th largest dam in Europe and 9th worldwide. It produces electricity for the region and the cities of Pitesti, Curtea de Arges and Albestii.
Pitesti is a city in Romania on the Arges River. It is an important commercial centre, and also has a university. It is on the main road from Bucharest, and if you're going out to discover Transylvania or going towards Sibiu, Pitesti will be your first stop. It is an hour from Bucharest since they have built a fast highway to connect the two cities. From Pitesti, it is more complicated to drive as there are small roads and lots of traffic. It is a city that has had a turbulent history. It was created in the Middle Ages and has served consecutively as a centre for the national party to express their ideas outside the capital, and during the communist era it had a national prison and was a centre of repression. If you make an abstraction of the modern centre, the city has a certain charm with Romanian Orthodox and Catholic Churches, and there are beautiful homes of important families.
The train station that can be found in Curtea de Arges really is an amazing building. It's big and beautiful. Curtea was founded in the 12th century so that it could be the second capital of the empire of Valachia after Campulung. However, in modern times, its proximity to the beautiful Fagaras mountains and other exceptional natural destinations is what makes it one Romanians' favorite holiday destinations. Bucharest is also favored because it is very hot in the summer, but Curtea stays cool. The train station is a large white building that's very well maintained, and its exterior is really beautiful. The inside is nothing exceptional. And almost no trains arrive and it is a very slow service that comes to Bucharest. But the station stood as a witness to the golden age of the city.
Arefu is a high town, next to the Transfagarasan highway, one of the most beautiful roads in Romania. Going up to the highest peaks of the Fagaras Mountains, this road was built originally for the army to use, and is over 2000 meters high, reaching some glacial lakes. Staying in Arefu is a good idea, because it won't be as cold as further North. The village is below 1500 m above sea level, and has small hotels and several restaurants. To get to the lakes, only a few kilometers away, take a small road that goes round and round. It will take 3 hours to cross to the other side of the mountains. Also near Arefu is the Poenari fortress, built on top of a hill. It was built in the 13th century by the kings of Valachia. Vlad "Dracula" used it for his defence.
Albestii de Arges is a village in Arges, southern Transylvania. The city is located near the Arges River, 37km from the county seat, Curtea de Arges. The city was founded in the time of the Habsburg dynasty, when the country was taken from Austria. It's next in Fagaras mountains, and hiking possibilities and outdoor sports are numerous. Many roads to the smaller town aren't paved, and as it is in the middle of nowhere, if it's rainy I don't recommend it. If you're careful though, there are some amazing places to explore. From the mountains, you can follow the streams, almost all go into the Arges River and take you back down the valley.
Balea Lake is a popular tourist destination for Romanians. First because you get the Transfagarasan, one of the most beautiful roads in the country, crossing the beautiful landscapes of the Fagaras mountains, with incredible views when there is good visibility. And then it is one of the highest points of the country and even in the summer is a great spot for skiing and mountaineering. To take advantage of the tourist stroll, we stopped in a little market. Being in the middle of nowhere, I expected nicer, more authentic things. Instead, I found Barca and Real Madrid shirts! Instead of Romanian crafts, sheepskins, winter jackets ... the choice is very limited, and strangely, people seem more interested in buying plastic stuff made in China that memories of the place ...