Visit the Bucegi Mountains and the Heroes’ Cross

The Bucegi Mountains are part of the southern Carpathians in Romania. They are where you can find the Old Ladies and the Sphinx. And they are also home of a Guinness World Record: the tallest summit cross at such a high altitude. And that altitude? 2,291 meters or 7,516 feet! The size of the cross? 39.5 meters or 129feet 7inches, including the base. And the cross? Well, it’s the Heroes’ or Caraiman Cross on the Caraiman Peak. Visible day and night – when it’s all lit up,  it has been standing guard over the Prahova valley for almost 100 years.

This massive structure was build between 1926 and 1928 to commemorate the Fallen Romanian Heroes of World War I. It was built at the initiative of Queen Marie and King Ferdinand,who were also responsible for building one of the impressive things to see in Romania, the Peles Castle. Wood, metal, and concrete building materials were carried to great heights either by oxen-drawn carts or by cable car, and this record-breaking cross was built.

Aside from witnessing this impressive, commemorative construction, a visit to the Heroes’ Cross offers a stunning view of the Prahova Valley, with the town of Busteni being directly below. It’s not for the faint of heart, but rather one of the many adventures in Romania. You will be standing on top of a cliff face, looking straight down to a drop of more than 1,000 meters.

It is not often than one can see such beautiful views in Romania without first hiking for hours up a mountain. The Heroes’ Cross is only an hour and a half from either the Busteni – Babele Cable Car or from the Piatra Arsa Cabin which can be reached by car. If you are an experienced hiker and are looking for an active day, you can hike up from the town of Busteni for about 5 hours, and see both the Heroes’ Cross and the Old Ladies and Sphinx rock formations before descending. But make sure to start early and go prepared, because it’s going to be a full day.

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Best Things to See in the Bucegi Mountains – the Old Ladies and the Sphinx

Yes, you read correctly. The Old Ladies and the Sphinx! Yes, in Romania. At  2292 meters altitude, in fact.

Legends abound regarding how these rock formations came to be. They look like they just sprouted from the otherwise flat plateau. They are natural monuments, a witness to erosion, and maybe to human intervention. Yet, no one knows for sure. They have stood tall just as they do today for as far as anyone can remember.

Babele or the Old Ladies is the name given to a group of these rocks. Perhaps from a certain angle they look like old ladies hunched over. Or perhaps their name is a testament to the fact that they are ancient. And timeless. Then there’s the so-called Sphinx. Not identical to the Egyptian monument, but it’s not difficult to see why it has received this imposing title.

You can find these fascinating rock formations at the top of the Bucegi Mountains – part of the famous Carpathian Range which offers many attractions, such as the famous Transfagarasan Highway. The Bucegi are the closest mountains to Bucharest and they make for a great day trip if you are looking for things to do around Bucharest. You can reach the plateau by foot, by car or by cable car, most easily from Busteni Town, but also from Sinaia where you might be visiting the Peles Castle. Nearby there is also the Babele Cabin for overnight stays. And the view of the Prahova Valley from the Heroes’ Cross – stunning!

Experience Tradition in Romania – A Moldovan House

Today, let’s visit a village house in Moldova, one of the main regions of Romania, located in the north-eastern part of the country. It’s an important area where you can visit the painted monasteries, world-renowned vineyards, and try many types of traditional Romanian food cooked by its warm-hearted people. There’s a lot to tell you about this part of my country, but for now I’d like to give you a tour of one of my favorite places in Moldova – a traditional village house – built of clay and wood, looking cheerful even on a dreary winter day.

Maramures Romania – A Collection of Flowers

Monasteries in Romania are usually well kept, inside and out. And the outside consists of meticulously and tenderly groomed gardens, like at the Transylvanian Monastery – Sambata. In the spring they are brimming with flowers, every color and type imaginable, in harmony with the architecture around them.

Here is a collection of flowers from the Barsana Monastery in Maramures, Romania – just in time to wish everyone a Happy International Women’s Day!

Winter Adventures – Brasov

Brasov, Romania is one of the seven original Saxon fortresses of Transylvania. Now, it’s one of the country’s largest and most vibrant cities. The center has kept its old charm with restored traditional buildings hosting refined boutiques and classy restaurants. A University city, located at the foot of the Postavaru mountains and in the recent years booming with business, it’s the best of both (or rather many) worlds.

There’s so much more to say and show you about Brasov. And I will soon enough. But for now, a glimpse of the city on a cold winter evening.

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Winter Adventures -the Rasnov Fortress

I have been writing bout my snowboarding trip to Poiana Brasov, Romania, which was so much more than just hitting the slopes. Having stayed at a quaint little pension in Rasnov, only ten kilometers from the resort, we were tempted by other attractions in the region. This town is probably most famous for its fortress – Cetatea Rasnov which towers over the entire region.

The first fortification on this steep cliff seems to have been during the Bronze Age. The medieval structure was then built between 1211 and 1225. In the 15th century Ottoman armies were unsuccessful in overtaking the fortress despite numerous attempts. Having to surrender the citadel to Saxon armies in 1612 because their route to the water spring was blocked off, the Rasnov people decided to build a well within the walls of the fortification. The 146 meter well was dug straight down into the rock cliff over a period of 17 years. The well was then used from 1640 to 1850.

After hundreds of years this structure is still standing tall, no longer defending against enemy armies, but welcoming inquisitive tourists from all over the world.

Winter Adventures – Rasnov and around

On our day off from snowboarding in Poiana Brasov, Romania’s famous ski resort just outside of the beautiful city of Brasov, we visited the area around the town of Rasnov. Rasnov is a great place to stay overnight while skiing in Poiana Brasov (which literally means the Brasov Meadow). It’s only ten kilometers away and offers very affordable accommodation.

And those ten short kilometers offer three worthwhile attractions. On the drive to the slopes you’ll pass the entrance to the imposing and recently renovated hill-top fortress – Cetatea Rasnov, the newly opened dinosaur museum meets adventure park – Dino Parc, and the Valea Cetatii cave which offers an exciting guided tour.

On the other side of Rasnov, you might be interested in a detour through Cheile Rasnoavei (the Rasnov Gorge) for a quiet walk surrounded by nature. The only other human you see might just be the shepherd and his flock.