This site is an outcome of the Comenius 2008-2010 multilateral project "European Journey Through Legends".

"Becoming more European does not mean forgetting our national cultural heritage, but sharing it with other European nation".

The legend of Retezat Mountain

Romanian National Park of Retezat is also known as “the charming land of the blue eyes”. In this natural national reservation, there are over 80 lakes, lakes which could be compared with the eyes of the mountain. So, Retezat Mountain can be considered fascinating massif. Since 1935 it houses a National Park, with a scientific reservation. The Park has recently been listed under the biosphere Reserves, a world patrimony therefore, that calls for adequate protection.

The Retezat Mountains (Romanian: Munţii Retezat) are one of the highest massifs in Romania, being part of the Southern Carpathians.  The massif rises up between two major depressions - Petroşani and Haţeg, and two large rivers - Râul Mare and Jiul de Vest. It is skirted by the Ţarcu, Godeanu and Vâlcan Mountains.

Retezat Mountains

Retezat is probably the most prominent mountain area of the Southern Carpathians (also called sometimes "Transylvanian Alps"), covering almost 500 square km. Its average elevation is over 1500 m, with a quarter of its territory rising above 1800 m (and still rising in our days, by about 3.5 mm/year). The region, made up of mostly granite/grandiorite massifs, was formed by glaciers of the Pleistocene era. These glaciers streched over several kilometers (the longest one, in the Bucura Valley, could have surpassed 15 km). As a result of - in geological terms - recent glacial activity, Retezat is rich in beautiful tarns and waterfalls.

View of the Bucura glacial cirque from Bucura saddle
The main part of the massif, Retezatul Mare, consists mostly of crystalline rocks; the southern part, Retezatul Mic, contains important masses of limestone. The highest peak (2, 509 m) is Peleaga. A huge carp overlooks the Haţeg Depression.

There are two main ridges, approximately SW-NE oriented, joined in their central part. The northern ridge starts from the Gura Apelor Lake and has the Peaks Zlata (2, 142 m), Şesele (2, 278), Judele (2, 334), Bucura (2, 433), Peleaga (2, 509), Păpuşa (2, 508), Mare (2, 463), Lănciţa (2, 066), Brădet (1, 861). The southern ridge, Iorgovanu (2, 014 m) - Piule (2, 080) - Drăcşanu (2, 081) is lower and has the Peaks Custura (2, 457), Gruniu (2, 294), Lazăru (2, 282), Tulişa (1, 792). The most characteristic peak in area, named Retezat like the massif itself, reaches 2, 482 m. The two main ridges extend northwards into some elongated, parallel and fairly long ridges, and shorter extensions southwards.

Due to erosion by frost-cracking, the terrain is almost exclusively rocky in the higher regions.

The widely varied and spectacular landforms are the outcome of the glacial and periglacial modeling cycles: huge cirques, simple or complex; valleys indicating the presence of fairly long glaciers; lakes sheltered in the bosom of rocks; big masses of scree; sharp-edged or residual rocks. The largest and also the deepest glacial lakes in Romania are to be found here: Bucura (~10 ha) and Zănoaga (29 m), respectively. Some of the magnificent waterfalls are Lolaia, Ciumfu, Rovine.

A huge rock dummy on the way - others are much smaller.

On the left (just by the rock doll): Vf. Peleaga (2509 m), on the right Vf. Mare (2463 m). In the middle: lakes of Valea Rea.
Especially the abundant blue and turcoise tarns (situated mostly, but not exclusively, between 1900 m and 2200 m above sea level) give this place a special charm. There are 82 lakes in total, including Romania's largest (in terms of surface area) and deepest glacial lakes: Lacul Bucura /Bucura Lake and Lacul Zănoaga /Zanoaga Lake, respectively.

Lakes and tarns in Retezat Mountains

The lowest and highest lakes of Retezat are "Tăul dintre Brazi"  (1740 m) and Tăul Porţii  (2230 m). Tăul Ţapului  is remarkable because of its small island. In wintertime, all lakes get ice and snow cover, blending totally with the surroundings.

Bucura Lake (area: 8.8 ha, depth 15.7 m, elevation 2041 m)

Zănoaga Lake (1997 m) is the deepest lake of Retezat Mountains.(area 6.5 ha, depth 29m, elevation 1997 m )

The creeks of Retezat have several waterfalls, the two most notable ones being Cascada Ciomfu/  Ciomfu Waterfall in the very upper part of Râu Bărbat (more than 150 m in multiple cascades) and Cascada Lăpuşnicu Mare /Great Lapusnicu Waterfall (about 20 m high, but with ample water flow).

Lolaia waterfall

The Wildlife of National Reservation of Retezat

The flora and fauna of Retezat is very rich. Thankfully, protection of this area is strong, it is a National Park and also a UNESCO MAB reserve. Retezat is home to more than 1100 plant species (including Edelweiss, several species of Gentians, Rhododendron kotschyi, Doronicum carpaticum, Dianthus glacialis, etc.), at least 62 of them being endemic (Rubus retezaticus, Trifolium retezaticum, Festuca pacyphylla, Hieracium borzae and nigrilacus, just to name a few).

The forest covered slopes hide a wealth of fossil screes, while the juniper carpet unfolds on the highest ridges. Several plant species are protected: the yellow poppy, the crosswort, the yellow lily etc.

The flora from Retezat Mountain

Higher crests and sharp ridges are usually barren. The chamois, the mountain cock, the bear and the mountain rat represent the animal world. These mountains are also inhabited by wolves, lynx, bears, otters and marmots (re-introduced in the seventies), several species of birds of prey, reptiles like salamanders and vipers (Vipera berus and Cerastes cornutus  - take care on sun-warmed rocks, especially in Little Retezat). Trouts are common in lakes and creeks. Cows are brought up from the villages to graze in the summer.


The legend  of Retezat Mountain

Once upon of time  there was a family of giants. When the father died, his two children inherited each a mountain. But the girl was not happy with her mountain and she craved for her brother’s part. He didn’t want to give his sister his inheritance and thus she threw a big rock towards him. He ducked and the rock crushed the top of his mountain. From then the people call this mountain “Retezat”, the mountain without the top. 

Vf. Retezat (2482 m)

Bucura II (in the middle) and Bucura I (right from it) peaks from Pietrele valley.

The legend of Iorgovan 

Iovan Iorgovan is a character in Romanian mythology, similar in some ways with Hercules (some writers consider him to be the same person).

"It happened in those old times, when multiple-headed, fire-breathing dragons were the lords above the rocks, that Iorgovan, a strong young man was in love with a beautiful sheperd girl. One day, the girl didn't come back from the mountains. Iorgovan went to look for her, but his long and desperate search was in vain. Being saddened by the big loss, he decided not to return to his home in Wallachia, but to live in reclusion at the rock which is named after him today.

Iorgovan had been living like that for a while, when one day a beautiful female voice echoed from the distance. He immediately reckognised the voice of his lost love, who was kidnapped by a dragon. Iorgovan knew that he was thought to be dead at home, so he headed down to the other side of the mountains, to Transylvania, where he acquired a huge, 40-centner maul. Next time when the dragon was enjoying the sun on a nearby rock, Iorgovan took a horse to hop over the other rock and battled him, but the dragon was stronger.

Iorgovan survived, but was very upset about the defeat. So, he went down to Transylvania again, and this time he got an even bigger, 99-centner maul. With this he battled the dragon once again, and won after a long fight. The dragon breathed fire in his anger, turning all the trees and bushes in his way into ash. Iorgovan chased him all the way until the border. Here the dragon turned to him and said: "Well, Iorgovan, until now I was the lord of the mountains and all the animals who live there... from now on, you will be, but I'll send deadly flies to take a revenge on you and your herd".

The dragon left towards the mountains of Mehadia, and bled to death in one of its caves. His fire heated up the springs so much that flies still keep on coming and continuously pestering poor cattle in the mountains since then. And the horseshoe imprint of Iorgovan's horse can still be seen on the top of Iorgovan's rock..." (

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