Is Ceahlau Massif Dacia’s sacred mountain, Kogaionon?


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Ceahlau Mountains are located in the Eastern Carpathians, on Neamt County territory, and its highest peaks reach altitudes between 1,907 meters, Ocolasul Mare and 1,904 meters, Toaca. Ceahlau Massif is part of The National Ceahlau Park, the youngest natural reserve in Romania, which stretches on 7,742 hectares, with 5,200 ha representing the woodland.

Ceahlau has been considered a holy mountain in several writings and folk legends. Although it is not the highest mountain in the Carpathians, many myths and strange phenomena were observed in the surrounded area. The first narration that speaks of a Moldavian mountain which would be similar to the Greeks’ Olympus was Dimitrie Cantemir’ Descriptio Moldaviae. One hundred years later, in 1813, the French writer Fabre d’Olivet considered Orpheus ‘a pastor, priest and prophet who lived in the mountains that ‘separate Moldavia and Transylvania’, as literary critic Edgar Papu stated. Kogaionon existence as the Dacians’ sacred mountain is confirmed by the Roman poet Statius Papinius that placed it close to Tapae. The location of Geto-Dacians’ Holy Mountain is still under debate, either on Gradistea Muncelului, Bucegi Massif or Ceahlau. The location on Ceahlau was assigned due to the shadow of the mountain that forms a pyramid which is thought to have been made by the Dacians.

‘The pyramidal shadow that can be seen at maximum intensity on top of Toaca Peak each year in early August is another argument to consider Ceahlau the Kogaionon or the true Romanians’ Olympus. At sunrise, on the first decade of August, Toaca Peak’ pyramidal shadow combined with the Shepherd’s Peak shadow, is forming a natural gigantic, incredible and terrifying hologram for more than 80 minutes, a perfect-like pyramid, which is why I called it the shadow pyramid,’ geologist N. Ticleanu told Adevarul.

Ceahlau Mountain and its iconic landforms, Dochia, Panaghia, Toaca, shaped many legends and folk tales. Some say the formation of the massif happened under the command of  Emperor Trajan who wanted to defend the inhabitants from the barbarian hordes coming from the East. However, the origin of the mountain’s name is not very clear. The most common theory derives from the Hungarian name ‘csahlo’, which denoted a species of eagle (or bearded vulture) that used to populate the mountain peaks.

The mount offers a rich fauna: the Carpathian bear, wolf, blackcock, chamois or the adder, and also an extraordinary flora where the edelweiss (floare de colt) is the uncrowned queen.

In Durau Resort, a modern ski slope, equipped with ski lifts, snow cannons and night air has been recently revamped.

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