Cover picture © istock/ xalanx
Cover picture © istock/ xalanx

Get a rush on the high-altitude Transalpina Road

3 minutes to read

Traveling by airplane gives some people, including me, such a rush. Spotting entire cities which look minuscule underneath the fluffy-white clouds will never get old. It seems as though these cities are ant colonies, filled with spry workers.  If I don’t get a chance to fly somewhere to feel like I’m on top of the world, then I pick the next best thing, driving on the Transalpina Road in the western part of my country. It is easy to get a rush on this high-altitude path, the highest in Romania. The roadway oscillates above the clouds, and the views are astonishing. 

Romania’s highest altitude road

One of Romania’s treasures are the high mountain ranges, like the Ceahlau Mountains, where one can climb the staircase to paradise. Visitors can also travel from Transylvania to Muntenia in one day, by choosing the famous Transfăgărăşan Road, which reaches an altitude of 2,042 m. The curves of this path twist and turn until they finally stop at the Bâlea Lake. The Transfăgărăşan is maybe Romania’s most photographed road, but Transalpina is its lesser-known match

© Liviu Nicolae
© Liviu Nicolae

Passing through the Carpathian Mountains, Transalpina has its most breathtaking view in Urdele Pass, where the altitude is no less than 2,145 m above sea level. Its elevation combined with its length,146 km long, make this Romania’s highest and most spectacular road.

Urdele Pass, Transalpina Road
Urdele Pass, Transalpina Road
Pasul Urdele, România

The King’s Road

When it comes to Transalpina’s history, it is long and fascinating. Initially, the road was a mere shepherd’s trail, and its name back then kept the curious folk away. Called the Devil’s Path because of its treacherous regions, the road came a long way since then. Later on, the Romans made it into a more secure roadway, as they needed a way to get to Sarmizegetuza. The Romanian King Carol II paved Transalpina after the 1930s. In Romania, the highest altitude path has the name “The King’s Road,” thanks to the king’s involvement in Transalpina’s development. Carol II saw the path’s military importance and turned it into a vital point on his strategic agenda in 1939, after its completion.

© istock/MIHAI ANDRITOIU
© istock/MIHAI ANDRITOIU

Transalpina today

In our day and age, Transalpina has lost its strategic importance. It remains an alpine road which gets people from point A to point B. In this case, point A is the city of Novaci in the Gorj county; and point B, the town of Sebeş, in the Alba county. Due to it being an alpine road, travelers can’t frequent Transalpina in the wintertime. Usually, the snow needs to be removed by machinery, to make the crossing of the roadway possible in June. One needs to take into account that at an altitude of 2,145 m, the beginning of October is the latest that the access of travelers can be permitted, as a result of heavy snowfall

© Liviu Nicolae
© Liviu Nicolae

Just because people use Transalpina for travel purposes, this doesn’t mean that we can’t stop, exit our vehicles and stare at the fog-covered mountains that lay before us. The knowledge of this high-altitude path is beginning to spread more and more. Join those who wish to see Romania from its highest road and get a rush as you watch the horizon unfolding.

© istock/porojnicu
© istock/porojnicu

The author

Iulia Condrea

Iulia Condrea

Hi! My name is Iulia and I'm from Romania. Being a teacher, I try to explore a new country in a way that will enable me to share its beauty with others, once I am back. I consider myself a storyteller, and I wish to take you on a virtual journey through Romania, so that you may discover its hidden treasures.

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