Great Mountain Roads: Dambovicioara & Bicaz Canyons


There are things that only can be done in the summer time. And others which are at their best in the hottest season. Like the narrowest canyons for example. Among the not just few Romania has, two seems to definitively detach from the rest.
Exploring the outstanding part of the largest gorges complex of the country – Dambovicioara Canyon, within Piatra Craiului National Park – you will be astonished by its monumentality: vertical calcareous walls or even leaning over the 1 to 2 m wide bed of Dambovicioara gill (sometimes with heights exceeding 200 m), imposing towers and sharp cliffs… About 50 caves lies underground Dambovicioara hydrographic pond but happily the most attractive and important, known by locals before 1579, is right nearby the canyon with the same name. The climax is when, following the road, a straight domineering mountain suddenly arise in front of you like an impetuous wall as if the world ends here. You shyly approach and at the turn, amid two edgy cliffs, the deep and narrow entrance inside the mountain opens. It’s chill. You have the sensation that you feel the breath of the mountain and even hear it. Daring to look up you are shivery by the bouncers of cliffs hung by the canyon walls like wild beasts which lie in ambush to hurtle on you.
One of the Romanian destinations which won in 2013 the EDEN (European Destinations of Excellence) emblem for durable tourism development, Gheorgheni Lacul Rosu has a really intriguing gem: the mysterious Red Lake. The legend says that a beautiful girl kidnapped by an outlaw cried so much that the mountain limbered and swooped upon the outlaw but also upon the girl and a shepherd with a sheep herd, the lake turning red fro their blood. The less fascinating truth is that during the summer in 1837 a piece of Ghilcos Mountain fell through clogging up three rivers (among which also Paraul Rosu / Red Creek). It bears witness the forest of tree trunks coming out of the water colored by the silts brought by the mountain collapsing.
It is here where the Bicaz Canyon begins (also protected area, within the Bicaz Canyon – Hasmas National Park). And once again you will realize how small and insignificant you can be compared with what nature created. Linking Transylvania to Moldavia the road along 8 km of ravines has serpentines of overwhelming beauty with splendid rocky massifs, being one of the most spectacular drives in the country. The cherry on top is to be lucky enough so that while stopping in the canyon for souvenirs shopping to hear a flute song. It is really magical and the sound reverberating by the stone walls makes your ears unable to locate its source.
The canyon ends few kilometers away from Bicaz Dam, built on Bistrita River between 1951 and 1960 by communism opposers (kulaks) and militaries, after the design of the engineer Dimitrie Leonida (meant to be done earlier, the construction was delayed by the Second World War). Both the city of Bicaz and the cement plant appeared due to the dam. Twenty villages were moved in order to create the Bicaz (Izvorul Muntelui) accumulation lake, which has 33 sq km and 97 m maximum depth at the dam, on which now there is the largest floating hotel on a mountain lake from Romania. As regards the Stejarul hydroelectric power plant – built to assure the electric energy in Moldavia – it has one of the biggest hydroelectric tunnels in the world.
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