Transfăgărășan highway, aka 7C, is one of the most spectacular roads in the world that you should give a try once in a life time. As Guardian`s Andy Markowitz call it `Ceausescu`s Folly`, the road itself proves all the dynamites blowed on 1970s.
As mentioned in Wikipedia, `The 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.`
In order to benefit from most of Transfagarasan, we made our weekend route as following.
Pipera, Bucharest – Pitesti (highway) – Curtea de Arges – Cetatea Poenari – Barajul Vidraru – Lacul Bâlea – Sibiu – Brasov – Bran – Moieciu de Sus – Fundata – Câmpulung – Pitesti (highway) – Pipera, Bucharest
If you intend to climb up to Transfagarasan, please first check your car`s breaks. It can be slippery especially on rainy days. By the way, there are daily bus trips organised from Bucharest or Sibiu. But most enjoyable is to drive yourself and stop anywhere you would like to. Second, take some snacks with you as there might be traffic jam in some parts of the road. Third, check if the road is open. Transfagarasan is usually open from June/July until October/November only. Otherwise it`s closed to traffic because of heavy snow. You can check the road status here.
When you pass the town Curtea de Arges, you start climbing Transfagarasan road. At first it feels like driving in one of Transylvania roads, but then you get surrounded by sharp mountains, going up and down on valleys. On your left, you will find Cetatea Poenari (Poienari Castle) on 27 km. This is the castle which Vlad Tepes (aka Dracula) used as one of his fortresses to hide from enemy troops. Since 2009, it`s been used as a museum, but you need to climb 1480 stairs to the top. No elevators, no water upstairs. But a great view welcomes you that makes it worth visiting.
We had our friend who could make it up to the fortress.
If you are lazy to climb up, here is for you to get a piece of its history.
After 3 km.s, you see on your right the famous Prometheus statue. He holds a lightning in his hand, a symbol of electricity, on the top of Mount Plesa.
On your right, you can take a break and get lost in the Vidraru lake and dam that can produce 400GWh of electricity. It was first time for us to hear `the production of electricity` – you hear it, it was incredible.
After 60 km.s you reach to the top of Transfagarasan, lake Balea at 2,000 metres high. On winter, you have the chance to stay in an ice hotel on Lake Balea. That should be an extraordinary experience.
Now you are at the very top of Fagaras Mountains. It`s time to go down on SS roads, get ready to make frequent breaks in every curve.
Then you reach to Sibiu, one of my favourites in Romania. It`s always same beautiful, clean, refreshing Sibiu.
On Sibiu, I have one constant recommendation to everyone. Whatever you do, eat your dinner at Max
It`s time to go back to Bucharest. But because of beer festival in Sinaia, we don`t take the usual way over Predeal. But it`s always a must to visit our famous Brasov.
From Brasov, we take way to Bran, Moieciu de Jos, Moieciu de Sus and Fundata. Otherwise we would never experience such beautiful view at Moieciu and such original village festival at Fundata.
Transfagarasan is breathtaking. For a better review, you should definitely read this motorcycle blog post : Mission Red Planet
And of course do not miss Top Gear episode that introduced Transfagarasan to the world : Greatest driving road in the world by TOP GEAR.