Best Road in the World
Twists & Turns, Thrill and Excitement
The most sinuous and challenging of Europe’s roads for motorcyclists is called Transfaragasan. The road was built between 1970 and 1974 as a military route, by communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Welcome to Făgăraș County – the land of fortresses and alpine roads.
Cistercian Abbey Cârța
Ora et labora! – Pray and work! This was the motto of the Cistercian monks. They pledged to live a life of chastity, obedience, and poverty.
The monks were compelled to consume only on the fruits of their labour and to wear only clothes they produced.
Catholic monks of French origin, the Cistercians built their abbey in swampy areas covered with reeds (cistercicum). Hence the name Cistercians – in translation, those from reeds. The abbey of Cârța was established at the beginning of the 13th century by Cistercian monks from the Burgundy area of France.
The church here combined the Romanesque style with the early Gothic for the first time. You walk into the monastery through a Gothic-style portal built by stonemasons after the Mongol destruction of 1241. The polylobed window – the rosette typical of Cistercian constructions, is a gateway to the sky.
Its image through which the azure sky can be observed impresses. The tower and the old facade are the most photographed attractions by travellers. The courtyard of the abbey preserves the graves of German soldiers who fell during the First World War in Porumbacu. To protect them, the graves were moved to the monastery in 1928.
Open the massive wooden doors and step into the church. The temperature inside the church refreshes you. The baroque organ dating from 1777 catches your eye instantly. The baroque style altar embodies Saint Peter and Paul who sacredly guard the Icon of the Crucifixion. The Virgin Mary was the protector of the Cistercians, and her face can be seen on the keystone of the building – the supporting element of the entire structure.
A walk through the courtyard of the Monastery reveals the ruins of the former library, the bedrooms, and the parish house.
Clay Castle Valley of the Fairies
At the foot of Făgăraș Mountains on the bank of the Porumbacu river, lies a fascinating place, as if taken from Petre Ispirescu’s fairy tales.
Even if it is not on your way, make a detour to the Fairy Valley. From Cârța to the Clay Castle there are about 22 km. The Valley of the Fairies is a place to relax. The legend says that the land on which the unique construction is situated was once inhabited by fantastic creatures – fairies. The Clay Castle was built in March 2014 under the concept of – Fairy-tale Natural House.
Completely relaxed, you are now ready for adventure. Transylvania reveals another face: of high alpine roads, of crystal-clear waterfalls and breath-taking landscapes.
You begin the adventure on Transfăgărășan – one of the most spectacular mountain roads in the world.
Transfăgărășan – magnificent and challenging
The road winds up to the highest peaks of the Carpathians and connects Transylvania with Wallachia, crossing the Făgăraș Mountains. Due to the high altitude, the road is open only 3-4 months a year. Snow walls can be found on the side of the road even in June.
90 km of road, riding up to 2042 m in altitude, over 5 km serpentines, over 80 hairpin curves, 5 tunnels and over 500 small bridges. Now that’s a road you need to ride!
The road starts on a forested area with wider and narrower turning sections. Riding up on Transfagarasan you catch a glimpse of a waterfall rushing down from the rocks. Bâlea Waterfall is located between Moldoveanu and Negoiu Peaks in Făgăraș Mountains. Located at an altitude of over 1200m with a fall of about 60m, Urlătoarea Bâlei is the highest stepped waterfall in Romania.
The journey takes you above the tree line uncovering a highway with multiple turns and hairpin curves. The lack of vegetation gives you visibility on the entire sector of tight turns. Seeing the multiple twists and turns in front of you makes you feel like you are a pilot riding on a Moto GP racetrack.
The road challenges and treats you turn after turn. Satisfaction is guaranteed. Designed in the smallest detail, the road is a ribbon of twists & turns, thrill and excitement.
Before crossing the Tunnel, next to a parking lot, on the left you find Bâlea Lake. The glacial lake is located deep in the heart of the Făgăraș Mountains at 2040 m altitude.
Capra-Balea Lake Tunnel marks the highest altitude of Transfăgărășan. Crossing the 887m of lighted tunnel you begin the descent of Făgăraș Mountains, on a section of bends, tunnels, and forested areas.
In the southern part of Transfăgărășan, the road challenges and tests your swerving abilities on a section of potholes or uneven surfaces. You now ride along Vidraru Lake. The abundant vegetation does not allow you to admire the view, but the scent of nature accompanies you every mile.
Arriving at Vidraru Dam, you are amazed by the azure colour of the lake and the wonderful image painted by nature.
Make a stop at the Dam. Climb up the steps leading to the viewpoint and enjoy the magnificent panorama and the tireless guard of the Iron Man.
10m tall, the statue is in fact The Electricity Monument at Vidraru Dam, reminding of one of the biggest hydro energetic projects from the Communist Block. The Iron Man is in fact representing Prometheus – the one that stole the fire from the Greek Gods.
The ruins of Poienari Medieval Fortress: the loyal citadel of Vlad the Impaller, aka Dracula. Built in 14th century, the fortress is situated in Capatanenii Pamanteni, 400m high from the Valley below.
To reach the medieval citadel about 1480 steps must be climbed. You will find information on the citadel all the way climbing up to the entrance. Benches are set on the alley so the visitors can catch their breath. Your efforts are rewarded with enchanting views over the Argeș Valley.
When to go
The road has become a Mecca for motorbike riders all over the World. It tends to be crowded especially during summer season and on Weekends. To beat the crowds ride Transfagarasan Road on weekdays. If you find yourself here on weekends, start the ride in the morning (about 08:00 AM). This way you will avoid the crowd.
Bears can be met on Transfagarasan Road. Caution signs are placed on trees on the side of the road. Should you have an encounter with a bear or bear cubs, please do not feed the animals and be vigilant. Remember they are wild animals and belong into the wild.
Distance: depending on the attraction you wish to visit. Strictly riding on Transfagarasan Road – 90 km, about 2hrs riding
Road quality: good, 100% tarmac
Road type: scenic
Motorcycle model: all models can ride Transfagarasan Road.
Photo credit: Alex Palfi