Vidraru Dam in the Carpathians

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

This lake is man made and less than 50 years old, but it offers such impressive pictures, that it is considered a natural marvel. Vidraru Lake, created on the flow of river Argeș, is part of a tourist route that should not be missed, in which the gifts of nature entangle with human achievements. The road starts with Curtea de Argeș, the formar capital of Wallachia, famous for the Monastery of Curtea de Argeș, the necropolis of Romanian monarchs. Than a fantastic road starts climbing the Făgăraș Mountains, in a wild landscape with stone peaks like in the Alps. The ruins of the fortress of Vlad the Impaler at Poenari may not be so impressive, but they offer a good opportunity for hiking and an above view. The Vidrarul Lake is the first encountered, very soon, after the longest tunnel in the country, reaching a natural lake – Bâlea – a major tourist attraction. Bâlea is a glacial lake and has near a chalet and access to the most daring hiking routes, that climb all the way to Moldoveanu Peak, the highest point in Romania (2,544 m) as well as other peaks. The road is known as Transfăgărășan, a challenging but rewarding road for every driver or nature lover.

The artificial lake Vidraru is a little of 8 square kilometers. The project was started in 1960 and was ready in just five years and a half. At that time the spectacular Transfăgărășan road was not built yet. 930 thousands of cubic meters of concrete were pored in for the dam that is 166 m high and 307 meters long. The dam is also used as a bridge for car traffic. The dam is 25 meters thick at the bottom and 6 meters at the top.
Under the water there is a hydroelectric plant with vertical turbines of 55 MW. The building of this plant has a staircase and platforms that climb to the mountain where a large iron statue of the mythical Prometheus is holding a thunder.
Downstream, there are other 20 hydroelectric plants that also depend on the flow of water regulated by this dam, the largest in the country. When it was inaugurated it was the 5th largest dam of this type in Europe, now it is on the 15 place. At that time it was also used as a piece of propaganda, bearing the name of communist leader Gheorghiu Dej, the predecessor of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Most of the equipment is still functional today, but computer surveillance was added for different parameters.

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