Transalpina is the highest road in Romania and connects Oltenia with Transilvania. Firstly used by shepherds, for the exchange of products, the construction of the actual road takes place between 1934 and 1939, at the request of King Carol the 2nd. Inaugurated by the king himself, the road takes the name of King’s Road. Renamed later in Transalpina, the asphalt comes only in 2009, taking the road to the stage it is today.
From geographic point, Transalpina crosses 4 counties(Gorj, Valcea, Sibiu and Alba) on its way through Parang Mountains, part of Meridional Carpathians; the highest point is at Step Urdele, at 2145m altitude.
What you should know, from the start, is that Transalpina is more about the travel than the destionation. The road itself is your destination. We made some stops on the road, but the true experience is Transalpina itself. The start of the trip was on the side of Oltenia, which is known to be the “good side” of Transalpina(girls will understand what I’m saying :)), therefore you are on the perfect side for all the photos you’ll take.
First stop: Olt Defile, where you can admire river Olt, Capatanii Mountains and Olt Valley
Our second stop was Polovragi, a nice old village that hosts both a monastery with a 500 years history and a great cave
- is located at the base of the mountains Rock of Polovragi, near Oltetului Keys; an amazing view of both of them greats you right from the entrance. Once here, make sure you observe the iconographic representation from the veranda; they are unique representations of the Romanian monasteries from the Athos mountain. Byzantine style made in fresco is what dominates the paintings and dates from around 1700.
- Another great surprise lies after the stone fence. If in the summer, it will be all dressed up in green and prepare you for the heavenly view.
- Is at little steps further in Capatana mountains, in the area of Oltetului keys; you can go there by car but you should take the road by foot and enjoy the landscapes. The cave is a true treasure of life inside the mountain and you can admire, aside from classical stalactites and stalagmites, some legend formations like Zamolxes chair ( Zamolxe was the spiritual leader of the geto-dacs). From the 10km of cave, that are documented, only 800m are opened for public visitation; the first 400m were the most used as protection and hide over the time and this is why you will be able to find distinct symbols of each one of them ( Dacian people, quacks or monks).
Ranca was our next destination in exploring the highest road in Romania
- Close to the highest point of the road, this resort is surrounded by mountains and forest and is a true recharge of fresh air. You can enjoy a long walk/run or a bike trip, everything will be amazing. Make sure you have good warming clothes in your bag, since the average max temperature is 14°C, in Ranca;
- We checked in at Ciobanasului Pension – they made the fire, with wood, so it was warm and cozy and we slept like babies;
- Getting back to our arrival, we had dinner in the most wonderful restaurant with the greatest view. It’s called Taverna Olteanului and the entire experience was at the top. The service was great, the sheep pastry was the best my boyfriend had, in the entire country ( he still speaks about it) and the spicy frying pan, delicious. About dumplings, there is nothing left to say, they just knocked us out. I will leave you here a picture so you understand exactly what I’m saying about the view; oh yes, maybe I forgot telling you, but it would have been a pity not to sit outside
- Next morning, we got up very hungry ( a bit food obsessed but wait until you get there and we’ll talk after); breakfast was a bit of challenge because some restaurants were close and some were serving breakfast only for their guest. Eventually, we found Tara Pension and the food was like our entire experience in Ranca, simply amazing
With our bodies happy, we continued our Kings Road’s ascension, until the highest point.
- You are with your had up in the sky all the time. You have parties with clouds, the sun warming the mountains and an infinite landscape.Some wake up calls will come from the wind direction; he will tell you to put more clothes on you. We were lucky enough to cross paths with the shepherd, to see the mountain peony and mostly just to be there;
- We stopped often and at every point that we loved. Some small waterfall, some great mountain formations, the road seen under the clouds, everything seemed mysteriously held by highest powers.