duminică, 21 iunie 2015

Transfagarasan. The best road in the world

The Transfăgărășan (trans (over, across) + Făgăraș) or DN7C is the second-highest paved road 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,[1] 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.

Transfăgărășan was constructed between 1970 and 1974, during the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Ceaușescu wanted to ensure quick military access across the mountains in case the Soviets attempted a similar move to a previous one during 1921. At that time, Romania already had several strategic mountain passes through the Southern Carpathians, mainly inherited from the pre-communist era (Şoseaua Câmpina-Predeal, and the high-pass DN67C) built during the initial years of the Communist regime (DN66 Bumbeşti Jiu-Petroşani). These passes, however, were mainly through river valleys, and therefore easy to block and attack in the event of a military invasion. Therefore, Ceauşescu ordered the construction of a road across the Făgăraş Mountains, which divided Northwestern from South Romania.

 The road climbs to 2,034 meters altitude, making it the 2nd highest mountain pass in Romania after Transalpina. The most spectacular route is from the North to South. It is a winding road, dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents. The Transfăgărășan is both an attraction and a challenge for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. Due to the topography, the average speed is around 40 km/h (24.8548 mph). The road also provides access to Bâlea Lake and Bâlea Waterfall.

 The road is usually closed from late October until late June because of snow. Depending on the weather, it may remain open until as late as November. It may also be closed at other times, because of weather conditions (it occasionally snows even in August). There are signs at the town of Curtea de Argeș and the village of Cartisoara that provide information on the passage. Travellers can find food and lodging at several hotels or chalets (cabane) along the way. It has more tunnels (a total of 5)[3] and viaducts than any other road in Romania. Near the highest point, at Bâlea Lake, the road passes through Bâlea Tunnel, the longest road tunnel in Romania (884 m).

 Among the attractions along the southern section of the road, near the village of Arefu, is the Poienari fortress. The castle served as the residence of Vlad III the Impaler, the prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character. There is a parking area and a path to the ruins. The northern section is used for annual cycling competitions including the Tour of Romania (Romanian: Turul României). The difficulty of this section is considered to be very similar to Hors Categorie climbs (literally beyond categorization) in the Tour de France.

*source and documentation: Wikipedia

sâmbătă, 18 decembrie 2010


Sarmizegetusa (also Sarmisegetusa, Sarmisegethusa, Sarmisegethuza, Ζαρμιζεγεθούσα (Zarmizegethousa), Ζερμιζεγεθούση (Zermizegethouse)) was the most important Dacian military, religious and political centre. Erected on top of a 1,200 meters high mountain , the fortress was the core of the strategic defensive system in the Orăştie Mountains (in present-day Romania), comprising six citadels.

The fortress, a quadrilateral formed by massive stone blocks (murus dacicus), was constructed on five terraces, on an area of almost 30,000 m². Sarmizegetusa also had a sacred precinct—among the most important and largest circular and rectangular Dacian sanctuaries the famous Circular Calendar Sanctuary is included.

The civilians lived around the fortress, down the mountain on man-made terraces. Dacian nobility had flowing water, brought through ceramic pipes, in their residences. The archaeological inventory found at the site shows that Dacian society had a high standard of living.

The Dacian capital reached its acme under King Decebal who fought two wars against the Emperor Trajan of the Roman Empire in 101-102, the first successfully repelling the Roman invaders, and again in 105-106, the second culminating in the Battle of Sarmisegetusa, and the defeat of the Dacians. The Roman conquerors established a military garrison there. Later, the capital of Roman Dacia was named after the Dacian capital - Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa, established 40 km from the ruined Dacian capital.

marți, 14 decembrie 2010

Brown bear

Ursus arctos, although Holarctic species spread throughout the region, the Romanian brown bear is an animal by Romanian excellence.
Present in folklore since ancient times, Mircea Eliade noted that totem of some of the Dacian warrior monks, the bear became a legendary figure, regarded with awe and admiration even from townspeople.
Animal very strong, family owned Urside, Romanian brown bear - regarded by many biologists as a sub-species, not shown - has a body length of up to 2.5 m, height at withers of up to 1.5 m and a weight maximum of 600 kg. Brown bears can live to 30 years in the wild and up to 50 years in captivity [1]. It is a plantigrade animal, and the claws are not retractile, prints walking with the foot and toes.
The scientific name has seen many changes. The currently in use is Ursus arctos arctos, Linnaeus, 1785.
Brown bears have thick fur, much appreciated, with two rows of hairs, ears and fluff. Although base color is brown-brown, large variations are dosebit from red to almost black bears. Some specimens have white spots on the neck, sometimes forming a real collar, similar to that of collared bears the Himalayas.
Dentition is typical of omnivorous, with strong canines and molars round.
The brown bear is also widespread in North America (Alaska, Canada) and in Russia, where there is the largest population (120,000 [citation needed]). Outside Romania, in [[Europe] are also found effective in Scandinavia, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as in France or Spain (the Pyrenees). Here the number of brown bears is very low - only a few dozen copies.
In Romania, the brown bear is found in ancient times. Until the first half of the century. XIX is found throughout the country, from the Carpathians to the Danube Delta. Unfortunately, it was wiped from the plains, not to prevent extensive growth of agriculture and extensive cattle, fishing and other similar practices extensively in the nineteenth century.
Although it is withdrawn in the Carpathians, the bear finds shelter in Romania the most favorable in Europe [1]. The brown bear lives along the Carpathian Mountains, especially among rocks, where it can create den [1]. Animal powerful, can travel even 150 miles in one day and rely on hearing and smell [1].
In December 2010, in Romania there were 6,000 brown bears, or 40% of those in the European Union [1]. In 2008, in Romania there were 7,500 brown bears

Sphinx of Bucegi Mountains

Sphinx of Bucegi Mountains is a megalith at 2216 m altitude.

"Sphinx", as it is called because of its resemblance to a human head (ie the Egyptian Sphinx), formed by wind erosion (due to wind) over a long period of time. Resemblance to a Sphinx (if viewed from certain angles, marked around it), and relatively easy access to the area, have made this geological formation to become a major tourist attraction.

In Romania there are other mountains that are known megaliths sphinx: sphinx at TOPLET, the Sphinx Stanisoara Sphinx at Piatra Arsa, Bratocei Sphinx, Sphinx of Solomon's Stones, etc..
[edit] Origin of name

The oldest photograph of this megalith dates from around 1900 and has seen the Sphinx front, with explanatory title of Caraiman Babe.

The first name of the Sphinx dates from 1935 in an article in the Bulletin of the Alpine. A year later, in "Romania" Bada Professor Alexander (1901-1983), novelist, memoirist and essayist and one of the founders of National Tourist Office (1936), described for the first time this megalith and called "Sphynx Romanian

vineri, 10 decembrie 2010

The Muddy Volcanoes in Buzau

The Muddy Volcanoes in Buzau county are not the volcanoes you would expect. They’re not the big, real volcanoes that scare off people and clog the European airspace with volcanic ash. Not by far. But they’re a pretty amazing place, hidden somewhere in the Buzau mountains. The Muddy Volcanoes were formed from the gas which comes from 30,000 meters underground. The gas goes through a clay sector, then through the underground water. So the gas pushes the water and the clay to the surface (which by that time become mud), creating small cones which resemble the shape of a volcano.

There are around 1,100 such muddy volcanoes in the world, and very few of them in Europe. The ones in Buzau are one of these, and actually not the only ones in Romania, but among the biggest in the country. You could find smaller scale ones in Moldova and Transylvania.
There are similar muddy formations in Azerbaijan. Most of the ones in Europe are underneath the sea – in the North Sea, Caspian and Barents Seas. Outside Europe, similar phenomena can be seen in Siberia, Australia, and the Trinidad Island in the Carribeans. Which makes the Muddy Volcanoes in Buzau pretty unique.  These so-called volcanoes are active all the time, which means gas is pushing mud to the surface in a continuous way, but at low speeds. The coming out of mud is usually signaled through a certain sound before the mud bubble bursts. There have been recent mud volcanoes ‘eruptions’. In 2006, in Indonesia, during several months, such a volcano sent out 125,000 cubical feet of mud a day.
The Muddy Volcanoes area in Buzau is however a natural reservation. It is located near Berca and Scortoasa localities in Buzau county. To get there from Bucharest, take the E85 road to Buzau (one hour and 20 minutes from Bucharest; take the Bucharest exit from Obor marker, then through

Voluntari and Afumati). When you reach Buzau, bypass the city and then take the road to Brasov. 20 kilometers down that road, turn right in Satuc village to Berca, crossing the Buzau river. Tturn left and again right after only after a couple of metres following a panel towards Chiliile. Drive 10 more km and take right from there until the next crossroad, where you will see a billboard pointing to Vulcanii Noroiosi (The Muddy Volcanoes). Take the turn right where the board shows 5,5 kilometers to muddy volcanoes. In that area there are two groups of such muddy formations – the Large and the Small Glooms (Paclele Mari and Paclele Mici). There’s another similar one in Beciu locality.
The entire area lays over several hectares of gray,dray and rifty land, with little plants and herbs. It’s almost the size of a football court and it pretty much resembles a lunar area. Large crevasses have been created in time by the water.

Mud volcanoes were first noticed at Berca by French H. Cognand, who was searching for oil in the area in 1867. Torrential rains, extensive deforestation, landslides give the entire area a lunar appearance.
Don’t expect very well developed tourist facilities. Just go there to see the area, take some pictures, enjoy the wilderness. There’s a small entry fee – RON 4 for adults and RON 2 for kids. If you want to take pictures for special events – weddings, or shoot a video there (several Romanian artists have done so), the fee is RON 900. There’s even a guest house there, if you want to stay the night.
Any sort of camera you will take with you, it will take great looking pictures. Actually, the area is one of the most photographed zones in Romania.