Transfagarasan, closed down. Access to Balea Lake only by cable car

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Transfagarasan alpine road was closed down on Tuesday, November 1st, from Balea Waterfall in Sibiu county up to Piscu Negru in Arges county. The only access road up to Balea Lake and the ice hotel is the cable car, which has been refit.

The second highest alpine road in Romania, Transfagarasan, is closing down every year since November 1 until spring due to the bad weather, snowfalls, glaze and landslides.

However, tourists practicing winter sports can go up to Balea Lake, where an ice hotel and church are built every year, at over 2,000-m altitude, by cable car.

“There are thousands of tourists going up to Balea Lake by cable car. We’ve done all checking. The cable car is working and everything is OK,” the cable car manager Leo Klingeis told Mediafax.

A ride by the cable car is RON 30.

Ceausescu’s Folly

Transfagarasan or DN7C, also known as Ceaușescu’s Folly, is a paved mountain road crossing the southern section of the Carpathians Mountians of Romania. It is the second-highest paved road in the country after the Transalpina. It starts near the village of Bascov, near Pitesti, and stretches 90 kilometres (56 miles) to the crossroad between the DN1 and Sibiu, between the highest peaks in the country, Moldoveanu and Negoiu. The alpine road, built in the early 1970s as a strategic military route, connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Muntenia.

The Transfăgărășan was built during 1970 and 1974 under the communist regime of ex-dictator Nicolae Ceausescu as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Ceaușescu wanted to ensure quick military access across the mountains in case of a Soviet invasion. At the time, Romania already had several strategic mountain passes through the Southern Carpathians, whether inherited from the pre-communist era (the DN1 and the high-pass DN67C) or built during the initial years of the Communist regime (the DN66). These passes, however, were mainly through river valleys, and would be easy for the Soviets to block and attack. Ceauşescu therefore ordered the construction of a road across the Fagaras Mountains, which divide northwestern and southern Romania.

Built mainly by military forces, the road had a high financial and human cost. Work was carried out in an alpine climate, at an elevation of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), using roughly six million kilograms (5,900 long tons; 6,600 short tons) of dynamite, and employing junior military personnel who were untrained in blasting techniques. Many workers died; official records state that only 40 soldiers lost their lives, but unofficial records said there were hundreds.

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