The Transfagarasan Highway is Romania’s most spectacular and best-known road, it starts in Bascov, Arges county near the city of Pitesti, in the direction of Curtea de Arges city and ends at the intersection with DN1 road between Sibiu and Brasov, near the Cartisoara village. Along this route of over 150 kilometers, the road presents a series of spectacular tunnels and coils, and the landscape that opens on both sides of the road is absolutely amazing. Therefore, Transfagarasan has been included in numerous tour guides and international tops of the most beautiful roads in the world and has been labeled from the “Road to the Sky”, the “Road to the Clouds” to the “Best Driving Road in the World”.
Transfagarasan Highway connects Muntenia with Transylvania, crossing the Fagaras Mountains, the highest mountains in Romania, which are part of the Southern Carpathians. The Transfagarasan was built between 1970 and 1974 at the personal orders of Nicolae Ceausescu and had, in reality, a strategic purpose, preparing for a possible invasion by the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), which fortunately, had never taken place. Following the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops, in 1968, Romania was a target of the Red Army. Until its construction, the Fagaras Mountains could not be crossed, in that area, not even on horse.
Hundreds of people, civilians and military have worked and died in the process of digging in the mountains and creating the existing road today. They worked continuously for 4 years, regardless of season and time of day or night. After the work was done, the paving of the road started, and the route today as we know it was completed only in 1980. In memory of those who gave their lives for the construction of Transfagarasan and those who participated in construction of the route were built two monuments: the Gate of the Genists and the Meeting Gate.
The first part of the Transfagarasan passes through the Vidraru hydroelectric plant located underground in the Cetatea Valley massif, and from here, near the Poenari Fortress, the road climbs up to coils and viaducts, passing through 3 shorter tunnels and reaching the Vidraru Dam. When it was finished, measured at height, the dam ranked 8th in Europe and 20th in the world. Thousands of people drilled 42 km long underground galleries, excavated one million cubic meters of underground rock, poured nearly one million cubic meters of concrete, and human sacrifices cost over 80 lives.
The road continues to the right along Vidraru Lake and begins to climb the streams, passing on Capra Waterfall, up to the Capra tunnel, which is 887 m long. The Balea tunnel, the longest in Romania, with a height of 4.4 m, 6 m wide and a sidewalk with a width of 1 m, illuminated, but not ventilated, connects with the northern part of Transfagarasan.
After the Balea Tunnel, the Transfagarasan passes through the Alpine Gul and Balea Lake nature reserves, on the Balea glacier lake followed by a steep descent into serpentines, near the Balea waterfall.
The road is open only between July 1st and October 31st, every year. The recommended speed to drive by car on Transfagarasan is 40 km per hour, this speed is imposed due to the numerous coils.
In winter, the road is officially open on the southern slope up to the Piscul Negru complex, km 104 – Arges county, and on the northern slope to the Balea-Cascada chalet, km 131, Sibiu county. Very important to know is that during the winter many stone falls occur in the area of the Meeting Gate, right before entering the Balea Glacier. The gates of the Balea-Capra tunnel are closed in winter. During the summer, restrictions on the dark period are imposed (22:00 – 6:00).
Curtea de Arges is the only city on the Transfagarasan route, and one of the most popular tourist sights in Romania is Curtea de Arges Monastery. It dates from the beginning of the 16th century and the most famous legend of the place of worship is that of Master Manole and his wife, Ana.
A historical monument located on a mountain peak overlooking the Cheile Argesului, Poenari Fortress has 5 defense towers and thick walls that measure 2 to 3 meters.
The track arranged with stairs and cables considered to be the most beautiful canyon in Romania, Valea lui Stan can be taken as a round trip and lasts about 4 hours. The entrance, as well as the exit of the track is on the edge of Transfagarasan road.
Vidraru Dam is one of the most famous tourist attractions on the Transfagarasan, built in 1965, with a height of over 160 meters. Vidraru Dam is one of the most imposing man-made structures, with impressive sightseeings that cannot be missed.
Also known as Iezer Waterfall, Capra Waterfall is located on the southern slope of Fagaras, at an altitude of 1960 meters. The waterfall is supplied from the glacier lake and it has over 40 meters.
The most popular tourist destination on the Transfagarasan, Balea Lac is a glacier lake, and the surrounding area has been declared a nature reserve for scientific research. During winter, near the lake, the Ice Hotel is set up with a bar area and a church, all built from huge blocks of ice removed from the lake.