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Often compared to a dinosaur’s back, the imposing crest of Piatra Craiului is a fairytale-like apparition, more of a creation belonging to the mists of the heights than to the earth. With its vertical, shining-white walls, with its lofty peaks piercing the clouds and dramatic pits, the massif invites you to discover its fascinating wild world and the spectacular alpine landscapes. Considered the pearl of the Romanian Carpathians, Piatra Craiului Mountains are overwhelming from the first sight, charming you with their stillness and mystery, the delicate flowers coloring their pastures or with the jauntiness of their black goats. You just have to walk on the footpaths to discover its splendor!

The legend says that in the past, these places were ruled by a king most loved by his subjects, called The Mighty. Because he had no sons to take up the throne, he decided to choose an heir from among the lads of the country. BrăduÅ£ the Shepherd decided to try his luck in the contest and proved to be pretty skillful. He was the fastest on the winding foot paths of the mountain and the most reasonable in resolving the conflicts of the people, thus becoming the new ruler of the land. Ever since, the mountainous foot paths trampled on by the young man have kept the name of Piatra Craiului (Prince’s Stone), in honor of the young man who proved his might and wisdom.

At the foot of the rocky giant, the ready-for-the-road traveler is charmed by the villages with their houses dotted about and their welcoming locals, unseen landscapes with sawlike crests and amazing cavities, the greatness revealed by the mountain only at altitude. In the quietness and the fresh air of the heights, Piatra Craiului offers the perfect setting for unique, unforgettable hikes.

Apples Meadow


Piatra Craiului

Piatra Craiului National Park

An incursion into the Piatra Craiului massif will take you into the quiet and harmonious world of the rocks, on bright and grassing alpine meadows, to an explosion of warm colors catching your eye. One of the wildest mountains in Romania, it attracts thousands of tourists eager to find the quietness and calmness of the heights.

Spectacular in scenery, Piatra Craiului has an extraordinary value due to the species of plants and animal it hosts. The National Park is home to rare floral specimens and natural monuments, the most representative being Piatra Craiului pink, the only plant growing exclusively in Romania. This unique endemism, a survivor of the past glaciations, has remotely evolved on the crests of our mountains. One can also notice the Nigritella rubra orchid, the mountain peony, the yellow poppy, Venus' slipper and 41 other species of orchids. Regarding the fauna, it is characterized by richness and diversity. You will be able to see the agile black goats, Carpathian bears, martens, the blackcock or the common rock thrush, true eagles, peregrine falcons and a series of bat species populating the caves and the tree hollows.

The grandeur and beauty of nature unveils itself in the most unexpected ways. Extremely generous with its picturesque landscapes, the mountain invites you to discover its karst areas, all of amazing greatness – the Dambovicioarei or Brusturetului Gorges, ZărneÅŸtilor Steeps, VlăduÅŸca Avene, The Indented Crest, Dambovitei Gorges. Here you can also find an area which was declared a natural monument and scientific reservation, called The Bats’ Cave.

The Dambovicioarei Gorges are truly monumental, combining the narrowness on certain portions with the verticality of the walls which sometimes bend over riverbeds and with the sound of the tumultuous waterfalls, swiftly pouring downwards. Accompanied by the permanent murmur of the brooks and by the shy sunrays barely piercing the rocks, you will get to the Dambovicioara Cave. Used in the past as a place of refuge for the locals and as a hiding place for outlaws, the grotto is moderately humid, with a temperature of 10-12°C, a pleasant to visit tourist objective. Inside the gallery, you will discover formations resembling a bear’s paw, an eagle’s wing, a tiger skin or a snake’s head. Uphill, beyond the string of waterfalls at La Galgoaie, Brusturetului Gorges start, smaller in size, but equally charming.

Furthermore, born from the interlacing of gushes narrowing and widening from place to place, Dambovitei Gorges amaze the onlooker with the hardness of their rocks and the crystal stream of the river slowly following its course. Dambovita carelessly twists and turns among the meadows and the locals' households, sometimes running across sand islands shaded by burdocks. 

Dambovicioarei Gorges


Piatra Craiului



Explore the Piatra Craiului Mountains

The massif’s rock citadel, guarded by the green girdle of the rich forests allows a relatively easy access to the main objectives. On Piatra Craiului’s dented crest one can find the highest peaks, namely La Om (2238 meters), Sbirii (2220 meters), Ascutit (2150 meters), Padina Popii (2025 meters), though some  of them are reachable only by untracked paths.  At these heights, you have a view over the steeps of the western slope and the mild hills at the east, or if the weather is fine, you can even see the Fagaras or Bucegi Mountains.

The mountain routes in Piatra Craiului are remarkable, offering wide perspectives over the surroundings and the allure of the rakish crest, triumphing solitarily over the landscape. For the inexperienced though, the mountain can be a real danger; there is no way you can adventure on footpaths if you are not physically fit, well-informed, or if you lack special equipment. The massif is equally charming and challenging. Beginners can choose tracks at the mountain feet, where they can discover coniferous forests, meadows and mountain villages crossed by racing brooks. Those who love heights and adrenaline will venture on the two slopes, seeking Piatra Craiului’s authentic beauties.

Piatra Craiului


Curmatura chalet

To conquest the altitudes, you only have to decide what slope you want to explore: in the center of Zarnesti city there is an intersection, from which two roads separate. The route to the eastern sector of the massif goes through Magura village, a true peace and greenery oasis, then near Botorog’s Fountain (Fantana lui Botorog), where you can make water supplies, and finally reaches the trail leading to Curmatura Chalet. From this point, the path goes forward to Zarnestilor Steeps, gorges accessible to anyone, no matter the weather, where one can visit The Big Cave and The Small Cave. The landscape is impressive, with nature murmuring freely while the tourist undisturbedly travels his way.

The western slope presents itself as an abrupt chain of rocks. Starting with a non-asphalt road going through a valley filled with board and lodgings, the route climbs up the forest, reaching a church carved in stone. On Easter night, the religious celebration is held here in an intimate atmosphere; at the end of the service the spark of the candles lights the night, like in a tale. Once you get to Plaiul Foii Chalet, you can relax enjoying the splendor of the sights. The wonders of the western slope are The Big Scree Slope (Marele Grohotis), an immense pile up of rocks formed from the erosion of the stones above and The Devil’s Mill, a grotto from which red gravel runs down. The phenomena haven’t yet been studied because of the instability of the brittle limestone. Be sure not to miss Stanciului Cave either, whose ceiling collapsed a long time ago, leaving behind a hole in the wall, where rings and arcades have formed.  

Piatra CraiuluiZarnestilor Steeps

If you pursue them responsibly, the abrupt folds of Piatra Craiului will unveil their secrets and reveal their mysteries to you. Here are a few routes we recommend, which cover the most important attractions of the massif:

Zarnesti - Gura Raului Chalet - Fantana lui Botorog (Botorog’s Fountain) - Zanoaga Glade - Curmatura Cabin Route (2½-3 hrs). 

Padina Åžindrileriei - Turnul Peak Route (3-3½ hrs, forbidden during wintertime).

Curmatura Chalet - Saua Crapaturii - Piatra Mica Peak - Zanoaga Glade Route (3-3½ hrs).

Åžirnea - Curmatura Groapelor - La Table Route (3-3½ hrs).  

Dambovicioara - Ciocanu - Curmatura Groapelor - Grind Glade - La Table Route (5-6 hrs).

Zarnesti - Diana Refuge - Brâna Caprelor - Saua Padinii Inchise - Curmatura Chalet - Prapastiile Zarnestilor (Zarnestilor Steeps) - Zarnesti Route (9-10 hrs).

Plaiul Foii - Åžpirla Refuge - La Zaplaz - La LanÅ£uri - Saua Grind - La Om Peak - Coltii Gainii -  Grind Refuge - La Table - Saua Joaca - Fantana lui Botorog (Botorog’s Fountain) - Zarnesti Route (10-12 hrs, forbidden during wintertime).

Plaiul Foii - Curmatura Foii - Tămăşel Glade - Tămăşel Peak - Saua Tămăşel - Umerii Pietrei Craiului - Marele Grohotis (The Big Scree Slope) - Cerdacul Stanciului - La Prepeleag - Valea Urzicii (The Nettle’s Valley) - Saua Funduri - Grind Glade - La Table Route  (11-12 hrs, forbidden during wintertime).

Piatra Craiului


La Zaplaz

Adrenaline in Piatra Craiului Mountains

Piatra Craiului is a massif which has a lot to offer in terms of recreation options. Tourists especially take pleasure in mountain hikes, starting from Zarnesti, Moeciu de Jos commune, or from one of the two villages Podul Dambovitei and Pestera. You shouldn’t worry about accommodation either: you can find housing at the rustic board and lodgings at the foot of the mountain, at refuges or chalets. There are also camping areas where you can put up your tent and start a camp fire around which you can party with friends.

The footpaths and forest roads going through the villages at the foot of the mountain or the imposing crest are often filled with mountain biking lovers, who come here for a shot of adrenaline. If an active vacation is what you are looking for, you either have some easier routes available, or difficult ones, on rough terrain, with differences in the ground level and rough descents. Moreover, during wintertime, when many mountain routes are closed, mountain lovers cross over the crest and go climbing on the Crapaturii Valley, at Padina Sindrileriei, Padina Inchisa, Padina Popii, The Big Scree Slope and at La Lanturi. Before starting your trip, make sure you are ready to face the powerful wind and changing weather at the altitudes. Don’t hesitate to make water supplies when possible, because permanent water sources are very few.

Piatra Craiului


Piatra Craiului

Piatra Craiului is definitely an authentic mountain. The wild sceneries seen along the paths, the deep, menacing steeps, spectacular in their endlessness, the dented shining mountain crest, the imposing vertical walls, all prove its greatness and uniqueness. The suspended garden on the mountaintop will irremediably charm you with its delicate pinks, the bright green color of the juniper, with the rhododendron that colors the fields in pink.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]