Mogosoaia Palace Lake Cernica (341 hectares), situated fourteen kilometres from Bucharest, is covered in reed beds to the south and has been declared a nature reserve. In 1608, Cernica Stirbei, the Dvornik of Mihai the Brave, founded Cernica Monastery on the shores of the lake.
Forty-five kilometres from Bucharest, the six-kilometre-long Lake Caldarusani, is surrounded by the forest of the same name, where rabbit and pheasant are hunted. Caldarusani Monastery was founded by Matei Basarab in 1637-38, according to the same plan as the Curtea de Arges and Dealu monasteries.
The Prahova Valley, at present the area with the greatest volume of road and rail traffic between Muntenia and Transylvania, is the gateway to the mountains.
Along a stretch of just twenty-five kilometres, there is a string of attractive tourist resorts (Predeal, Azuga, Busteni, Poiana Tapului, Sinaia), from where one can set off on unforgettable hikes into the surrounding mountains. These resorts began to develop after King Carol I established his summer residence at Sinaia in 1866 and an international railway was constructed in the area.
The Predeal resort is situated on the rise that separates the Prahova from the Timis Valley, twenty-seven kilometres south of Brashov and one hundred and forty-seven kilometres north of Bucharest, and is flanked by the summits of the Bucegi Mountains: Piatra Mare, Postavarul and Clabucetul.The town, which at 1,020-1,160 metres is the highest in Romania, is equipped with numerous ski slopes, of varying degrees of difficulty (10 km) and served by two ski lifts and three cable cars. Predeal is an ideal place for winter sports: there is a layer of snow, which can reach a depth of a few metres, for more than one hundred days a year.
Situated in the foothills of the Bucegi Mountains, at an altitude of 895-950 metres, Azuga is 135 km from Bucharest and 36 km from Brashov. It is known as “skiers’ paradise”. The Azuga winter sports complex comprises the Cazacu slope (3,050 m in length and a difference in level of 758 m), the only slope endorsed by the International Skiing Federation, equipped with a cable car and snow maintenance vehicles, the Sorica slope (2,100 m in length, with a gradient of 29 in 1000), slopes for on- and off-piste skiing, with a total length of around eighteen kilometres, a snowboarding slope and ski lifts.
Above the resort of Busteni, at an altitude of 880-940m, loom the steep crags of the Bucegi Mountains, where climbers can explore around 250 routes of varying difficulty. It is not by chance that the Bucegi Mountains have been called the “Eastern Alps”.
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Busteni is known as the “gateway to the Bucegi Mountains”. Here, the breathtaking summits of the Bucegi Massif tower before our eyes. 35,700 hectares in area, the Massif was declared a National Park in 1990. The Bucegi Massif is like an amphitheatre in form, girdled by steep slopes, some of which are more than two thousand metres in altitude. The peaks are progressively lower from north to south: Omu (2,505m), Costila (2,498m), Caraiman (2,284m), Jepii Mici (2,184m), Jepii Mari (2,071m), Furnica (2,103m), Varfu cu Dor (2,030m). On the mountain, at an altitude of 1,800-2,000m, a platform of erosion has developed (the Bucegi Plateau), stretching for approximately ten kilometres and covered in alpine meadows. Due to climactic factors (wind, freezing and thawing), strange, megalith-like rock formations have been created: The Old
Women, The Sphinx, The Mushrooms, Hermes, Zalmoxis.
In 1978, Busteni was linked up to the Bucegi Plateau by a funicular.The Busteni-Babele cable car, running for a distance of 4,350m, is the longest in Romania and the third longest in Europe. The Babele chalet is connected to the Pestera Hotel near the lalomita Cave by a cable car, running for 2,611m. The Kalinderu Ski Slope (1,500m long), on a face of the Caraiman Massif one kilometre from Busteni, is equipped with flood lighting, a ski lift, and snow making machines.
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