From: Arges County, Muntenia, Mountains
The Fagaras massif prides itself with the Moldoveanu Peak, which is the highest mountain peak in Romania. The Moldoveanu Peak is 2544 m high and it is barely visible from the surrounding areas, due to the peaks surrounding it, which are also around 2400 m high. The Fagaras ridge is the only place offering a global view, and more to the point views are only possible from the air.
ABOUT THE FAGARAS MOUNTAINS
From east to west, the Fagaras Mountains are 70 km long and from north-to-south approximately 45. From the air, the Fagaras mountain group looks like a person’s spinal column, with the ribs represented by the peaks breaking off here and there, to the north and the south. The northern slopes are shorter but much steeper compared to the southern ones, which are longer and less steep. The surface area of the Fagaras Mountains is 2400 sqm, 7.5 times wider than the Bucegi Mountains.
The relief features surrounding the Fagaras Mountains are:
- To the west – the Olt valley
- To the east – Barsa Grosetului and Dambobita rivers
- To the north – a tectonic precipice separating the Fagaras Mountains and the Fagaras Depression (Olt Country)
- To the south – Campulung, Bradetu, Arefu and Jublea depressions, separating the mountains and the Olanul, Robita, Scarisoara, Nisipuri, Zarna and other peaks
Apart from the Moldoveanu Peak, 2544 m high, there are other 8 peaks which are over 2500 m high: Negoiu Peak (2535 m high), Vistea Mare (2527 m high), Catun Lespezi Peak (2533 m high), Vanatarea lui Buteanu (2507 m high), Cornu Caltunului Peak (2510 m high), Hartopu, (2506 m high) and Dara Peak (2501 m high). There are 42 peaks that are over 2400 m high and over 150 peaks with an altitude of over 2300 m. Each mountain peak is separated from the neighboring ones by very deep saddles, some of them descending under 2000 m. This entire mountain peak group, with its deep saddles and impressive altitudes, brought the Fagarasi mountain range the nickname Transylvanian Alps. This nickname was used by the French scientist Emmanuel de Martonne. Stone buttresses of different lengths, perpendicular to the mountain, break off from both sides of the mountain ridge. On the northern side, the ramifications are steeper, and they become softer as they plunge into the coniferous woods, below 1700 m. Every now and then, these edges are jagged – such as the Albota Edge. The southern ramifications are long and soft, covered with large pastures. An important characteristic is the numerous high-altitude glacial basins and alpine lakes. The lakes are sometimes fed by underground springs.
The Fagaras Mountains are crossed by the Transfagarasan, the most spectacular highway in Romania, and the second highest highway in Romania, after the Transalpina. There are few declared natural reserves here, compared with the number of endemic plants and the typical mountain landscapes.
- Golul Alpin and Balea Lake – with a surface area of 120.54 acres, the reserve includes a territory flanked by the Vanatarea lui Buteanu, Capra, Paltinu Mare and Muchia Balea peaks; the Balea glacial basin and the Balea Lake (the largest glacial lake in the Fagaras Mountains) are also part of the reserve
- The Arpasel reserve – located on the northern slope, it stretches over 736 acres and includes an alpine, a subalpine and an upper mountain level, covering the mountain between 1000 m and 2500 m.
- The Turnu Rosu Limestones – the reserve is near the Turnu Rosu town and consists of a limestone strip overlapping crystalline schist
CLIMATE IN THE FAGARAS MOUNTAINS
The climate here is harsh, with important subpolar characteristics: the temperature drops as the altitude increases, the average temperature throughout the year is -2 degrees Celsius, and it varies between 20 and -38 degrees Celsius. It is rare to see the peaks bathed in sunlight, because clouds are omnipresent here, the massif creating its own clouds as well. The annual precipitation is 1400 mm.
Similar to the entire Southern Carpathian range, the Fagaras Mountains were formed in 3 successive stages, beginning in the Eocene, continuing in the Miocene and ending in the Pliocene. The foundation of the Fagaras Mountains is made up of schist, distributed in strips with an east-to-west orientation. These mountains are also constituted of strongly schistose rocks, such as garnet, amphibolite, silver or green schist and white crystalline limestone. However, this multitude of rocks is only visible during the day in very rare areas, where they are not covered with vegetation.
The flora here is widely diverse, with compact forests up to 1700 m of altitude.
After the grasslands, there is an area of beech forests, with clearings that hide species such as goat willow, birch, European aspen, alder and also raspberry and blackberry bushes. Climbing towards the upper area of the beech forests, they begin to mix with sparse fir trees. Apart from firs, there is also a large number of spruce trees between 1100 and 1700 m of altitude; other conifer species in the area are: European larch (protected by law), pine, yew (protected by law), Swiss pine and mountain pine. After the spruce forests starts the Golul Alpin area, covered with pastures which are often grazed by herds of sheep crossing the area.
There are numerous species of flowers here: Rhododendron myrtifolium, bellflowers – fairy’s thimble, gentian, forget-me-not, wild pansy, fox-and-cubs, dianthus tenuifolius, wolfsbane. There are also species protected by law: edelweiss, nigritella rubra, Daphne blagayana. Somewhere in mid-June, the rhododendron blooms here, a bright-red flower, visible on the entire mountain from far away. In its honor, the locals climb here each year on the last Saturday in June for the Rhododendron celebration.
FAUNA IN THE FAGARAS MOUNTAIN
The Fagaras Mountains are home to many species of animals, in each of their ecosystems.
Among the animals living here there is the brown bear (protected by law), which lives in the upper conifer forests. Lower on the mountain you can find boars, which are often hunted; the marten and the lynx are rare species in this area. Foxes, stags and deer also populate this area, and on the peaks, you can find the chamois.
Among the species of birds found here there are: the chaffinch, the woodpecker, the blackbird, the red crossbill, the Western capercaillie and the hazel grouse. The raptors are also represented: sparrowhawks, falcons, golden eagles, red-footed falcons.
Among the species of reptiles, there are viviparous lizards, salamanders and vipers.