The Transfăgărăşan (over, across) + Făgăraş or DN7C is the most dramatic and second-highest paved road in Romania. Built as a strategic military route, the 90 km of twists and turns run north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians, between the highest peak in the country, Moldoveanu, and the second highest, Negoiu. The road connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, and the cities of Sibiu and Piteşti.
The road was constructed between 1970 and 1974, during the rule of Nicolae Ceauşescu. It came as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Ceauşescu wanted to ensure quick military access across the mountains in the event the Soviets attempted a similar move into Romania. Consequently, the road was built mainly with military forces, at a high cost both financially and from a human standpoint—roughly 6 million kilograms of dynamite were used on the northern face, and the official records mention that about 40 soldiers lost their lives in building accidents.
The road climbs to 2,034 metres altitude. The most spectacular route is from the North. It is a winding road, dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents. The Transfăgărăşan is both an attraction and a challenge for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. Due to the topography, the average speed is around 40 km/h. The road also provides access to Bâlea Lake and Bâlea Waterfall.
The road is usually closed from late October until late June because of snow. Depending on the weather, it may remain open until as late as November. It may also be closed, at times, because of weather conditions (it occasionally snows even in August). There are signs at the town of Curtea de Argeş and the village of Cartisoara that provide information on the passage. Travellers can find food and lodging at several hotels or chalets along the way.
It has more tunnels (a total of 5) and viaducts than any other road in Romania. Near the highest point, at Bâlea Lake, the road passes through the longest road tunnel in Romania which is not lighted (884 m).
Among the attractions along the southern section of the road, near the village of Arefu, is the Poienari fortress. The castle served as the residence of Vlad III the Impaler, the prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character. There is a parking area and a path to the ruins.
The northern section is used as a part of yearly cyclist competitions Tour of Romania (Romanian: Turul României). The difficulty of this section is considered to be very similar to Hors Categorie climbs in the Tour de France.
The Transfagarasan road
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