Transfagarasan – “the best road… in the world”

Facts:

Location: Romania, Europe

Length: aprox 85 km

Built: 1970-1974

Wide: 5 m standard 2 lines

Surface: asphalt

Surface quality (out of 5): south side till the top  2-3, North side 5

Highest point: 2042 m

Operating times: June- October

Romanian national road no 7C

Route: From Pitesti to Sibiu, thru Curtea de Arges
Description:

Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear host, had said about Transfagarasan that “this is the best road… in the world” – a title the program’s presenters had previously given to the Stelvio Pass in Italy.In September 2009 the cast and crew of the British television show Top Gear were seen filming along the road. The segment appeared in first episode of Series 14 which first aired November 15, 2009. They were in the country on a grand tour with an Aston Martin DBS V12 Volante, Ferrari California and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder.

Transfagarasan was constructed during the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. He 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 most spectacular route of Transfagarasan is from the North. It is a winding road, dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents. It has more tunnels (a total of 5) and viaducts than any other road in Romania. Near the highest point, at Balea Lake, the road passes through Balea Tunnel, the longest road tunnel in Romania (884 m).

Travellers can find food and lodging at several hotels or chalets (cabane) along the way.


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 (literally beyond categorization) in the Tour de France.


Among the attractions along the southern section of Transfagarasan there is the Vidraru Dam (166m high, arch length 305m, lake perimeter 28 km, 220 MW power plant) and near the village of Arefu, is the Poienari fortress (served as residence for Vlad III The Impaler – aka Dracula) (it’s not Dracula’s castle, just another fortress).

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Transfagarasan – “the best road… in the world”

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