niedziela, 22 sierpnia 2010
Going from the southern side, we get to a gigantic, 160-metre high (sic!) dam on the Arges River (Romanian: Argeş). The construction of the dam lasted for four and a half years and it was finished in 1965. The consequence of the construction was the artificial Vidraru Lake, with an area of less than 9 km², 839 m above sea level. The road leads alongside the edge of the dam; it is worth pulling over here to glance down the precipice from one side, and to look at the beautiful lake from the other. I saw small ships on the lake, and not far from the dam something in the shape of a small marina, so probably one can treat themselves to a short cruise around the lake, too.
Near the dam there is the Poienari Stronghold, in which the gospodar Vlad the Impaler, renown for his cruelty – the prototype of Count Dracula – lived in the 15th century. Right behind the dam the famous Transfagarasan road begins.
The Transfagarasan (Romanian: Transfăgărăşan) is a road running across the highest mountain range of the Romanian Carpathians – the Fagaras Mountains. The road, breaking through onto the other side with the longest tunnel in Romania (884 m), is 151 km long and reaches a height of 2034 m above sea level. (Attention, the tunnel is closed more or less from October/November until April/ May because of the winter!)
The Transfagarasan road connects Transylvania (Siebenbürgen) in the north and Wallachia in the south, running between the highest peaks of the mountain range: Moldoveanu (2544 m) and Negoiu (2535 m). The views on the way are breathtaking, and the serpentines seem to twist endlessly. A must-see point.
Because of these road squiggles, the mandatory speed limit is 40 km/h on the entire Transfagarasan road, but the surface is good or very good, so one drives a car with real pleasure, and many drivers ignore the limit. On the other hand, the views are fabulous and it would really be a pity to cover the route too fast.
Passengers can freely feast their eyes on the beauty of surroundings. Unfortunately, drivers are in a bit worse situation, and because I wasn't able to deny myself this pleasure, then we pulled over maybe tens of times on the way!
The road was built by order of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu in the years 1970-74. During its construction 40 people lost their lives, and 6 million kilograms of dynamite were used! Unthinkable.
Along the road here and there we saw small groups of parked cars, and nearby entire families or groups of friends, picnic blankets, lit campfires, barbecues, sometimes tents...
The longest tunnel in Romania seemed to have no end. It was the weekend and it looked as if all Romanians just on that day decided to ride down this route! The tunnel was entirely jammed, and it took us around half an hour to drive through it (I'm not exaggerating)! Unfortunately, on the other side a fog, which reduced visibility considerably, greeted us.
Historically, Transylvania/Siebenbürgen is an area between the arch of the Carpathians in the east and in the south, the Bihor Mountains in the west, and the Rodna Mountains in the north.
Hungarians think that the name of Transylvania is derived from the Hungarian name Erdő-elve meaning „behind the forest”, translated into the Latin ultra silvam, which was finally changed into the modern form – Transylvania. The Polish name – Siedmiogród – comes from the German name - Siebenbürgen – which, according to the most popular interpretation, was to mean seven main cities established in this area by the German colonists: Kronstadt, Schäßburg, Mediasch, Hermannstadt, Mühlbach, Bistritz and Klausenburg.
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