Transfagarasan: “The best road in the world” according to BBC’s Top Gear

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

When BBC filmed one of its Top Gear editions, the crew couldn’t miss Transfagarasan, a spectacular winding road that climbs the Fagaras Mountain, breaks the mountain through a tunnel and ends near a massive dam. While driving an expensive sports car on the road that resembles a Formula 1 race track in a wild landscape, Jeremy Clarkson ecstatically shouted: “This is the best road in the world!”.
But what for a car maniac might seem as fun time is certainly a challenge for most drivers, who find themselves surrounded by cliffs from three sides with tight curves at very high altitude to finally arrive near a natural glacier lake where snow can be seen even during the summer. Of course, for a tourist this panorama is nevertheless fabulous.
Transfagarasan was built during the 1970s at the orders of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, using the army. Rumors speculated that Ceausescu, who broke apart from Soviet Union, his former ideological master, wanted a quick route to evacuate the army across Carpathians in case of a Soviet invasion. But this is only a speculation.
Just as mysterious is the number of forces used to finish this ambitious project, and more important, the number of victims . Those involved speak of tens to hundreds of men who lost their life digging and blowing up the mountain. Over 6500 tons of dynamite were used to break through the rock.

A tunnel of almost a kilometer penetrates the Fagaras Mountain at the highest point of the road. Very close to the tunnel can be seen Balea Lake (2040 m altitude) produced by the natural melt of glaciers, which has a cabin. An ice hotel is also built here during the winter. Tourist can also get to Balea Lake with a sky-lift and admire the panorama.
Balea Lake can also be used as a starting point for climbing one of the highest mountain peak in Romania, Moldoveanu Peak (2544 m).
Over the tunnel can be seen the impressive Vidraru Dam, a concrete wall 166 m high that stops the river Arges.

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