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The Jiu Defile is the wild and spectacular valley separating the Parâng and Vâlcan massifs. Part of a national park with large wooded areas, it can be crossed by car or train between Bumbesti-Jiu (Gorj County) and Livezeni (Hunedoara County). A trip through the defile which is always accompanied by the impetuous Jiu River reveals exceptional natural sceneries, dominated by tall crests, well kept monasteries and Roman castra. The route winds along bridges and tunnels, combining the adrenaline produced by the numerous serpentines with the beauty of the picturesque places.

Jiu Defile

Tourist Layovers between Bumbesti and Livezeni

Dug by the Jiu River in the rocky walls of the Parang and Valcan Mountains, the defile has a length of 33 kilometers and it is surrounded by steep slopes and the spumous waves of the river. The bright green of the forests, the shining rocks and the cascades formed on the river are a real delight for the tourists eager to discover the greatness of nature. Starting from Targu-Jiu, those who are passionate about archeological sites can have a layover in Bumbesti-Jiu, close to which there are three Roman castra and several civilian areas. They date back to the 2nd century, a period marked by the two Dacian-Roman wars, and they were meant to defend the entrance to the Jiu Defile. During the diggings, several thermal baths and workshops were found inside the fortifications, along with weapons and an imperial treasury consisting of 92 silver coins, nowadays displayed at the Gorj County Museum. Fragments of history wait to be discovered at Bumbesti once the archeological site is restored.

At the embouchure of the defile you can see one of the oldest halidoms in the country. ViÅŸina Monastery, founded by Mircea the Elder at the end of the 14th century was gradually destroyed by the waters of the Jiu. Legends say that under the growing pressure of the taxes, the villagers stole the church bell, in order to make money. They couldn’t get it across the river however, because of the latter’s powerful discharge. It is said that in the place where the bell fall, the waves of the Jiu are menacing and send out a noisy hoot. Somewhere in the middle of the route, in a wonderful natural setting, Lainici Monastery continues to tell its story. Situated on the shore of the Jiu, at the shade of the lofty fir trees on the slopes, the halidom is a source of quietness and harmony. At times devastated and plundered by invaders, the monastery impresses with its two superposed churches, where fragments of frescoes and byzantine icons are kept. As soon as you go through the imposing gate and you discover the halidom from behind the thick walls, the place charms you with its simplicity and calm atmosphere. From here, the valley gradually narrows, allowing the traveler to admire the mountain crests and to discover their pure beauty.

Jiu Defile


Jiu Defile


Lainici Monastery

The Wild Nature Spectacle: The Jiu Defile National Park

One of the recent protected territories in Romania, the Jiu Defile National Park is an area predominantly covered by woods, especially durmast, beech, hornbeam and ash forests. At the altitude, they are replaced by alpine meadows. Reaching the maximum height in the Vâlcan Pass (1621 meters), the area is favorable for hundreds of plant and animal species, mostly protected by law. Along the park’s tourist paths you can see lynxes, otters, black goats, rare scorpion species, and endangered bats. From among the birds, one can notice the golden eagle, the peregrine falcon, the red kite, the white-throated dipper. Mostly virgin, the woods hide natural wells, karst formations and swallow-holes, most of them included in natural reservations like Piatra Sfinxul Lainicilor, Chitu-Bratcu Forest, and Răfăilă Rocks.

The natural park and its fairytale like sceneries can be crossed on foot, but also by ATV. The belvedere points open over unique panoramas of the entire valley, but also over the majestic crests. The wilderness of the crests rising above the insurgent Jiu, the  richness and the variety of the flora and fauna, the fresh air and the quietness of the altitudes turn this corner of nature into a fascinating, enigmatic place.

Jiu Defile National Park


Jiu Defile National Park

The Jiu Defile: A Misterious Railway and a Mountain River

The Jiu Defile is a route you shouldn’t miss out on. Whether you decide to traverse it by car, testing your driving skills on the narrow serpentines, or you admire it from the train, along the historical railway, through tunnels and bridges, it enchants you with its fairytale-like sceneries.

Dressed in a thick layer of snow, under which the trees heavily bend down to the ground, shining with greenness or wearing autumn’s reddish coat, the crests surrounding the defile are always splendid and amazing.

But the valley from between the mountains is not only a source of unique sceneries, but also an occasion to practice fun and challenging sports. The Jiu Valley is the most popular and appreciated area by rafting lovers, who take advantage of the sweeping waves from March to October. If you are not a thrill-seeking amateur on the sweeping waters, you can opt for escalade, zip lining, bungee jumping or paragliding.

Bumbesti Livezeni


Bumbesti Livezeni

Between the Parâng and Vâlcan Mountains, the Jiu has dug one of the most fascinating defiles in our country. Almost always insurgent, the river seems to tell the visitor the story of this marvelous work. Making its way among the rocks, it reveals a place full of color, quietness and picturesque views.

[An article written by Andreea Bertea]