As you drive through the first bends of the Jiu Defile in Romania, the landscape changes completely, entering a new world filled with adventure and emotions. The raging river on one side, the steep rocky slopes on the other…with nothing but a narrow stretch of road between them.
The endless turns seem to continue forever as the journey continues gracefully or sharply embracing the stony fingers of the mountains on each side. After a millennial battle with the rocks of the Carpathians, Jiu river has managed to make its way through the mountains, storming between the ridges and creating a wild natural area that has been declared a national park for its almost surreal beauty and rich biodiversity. If this was an impossible passage centuries ago, the road and the railway created along the Jiu Defile in Romania has revealed a fascinating land where the wilderness offers an ever-changing spectacle.
The Jiu Defile is located between the mountains of Parang and Valcan, along a stretch of about 30 km between the towns of Bumbesti-Jiu and Petrosani. There is an important road passing through the valley (E79 / DN66), as well as an impressive railway, with 39 tunnels and countless high bridges. Traveling along any of these is a unique experience, discovering one of the wildest valleys in the Romanian Carpathians. The road follows the meanders of the river like a giant snake that slithers around the rocky slopes in a series of endless bends and turns. The ridges are heavily wooded all the way to banks of the river, giving the valley a charming atmosphere in all seasons. True marvels of engineering, the road and the railway were created during the communist period with painful human sacrifices. Today, they link the historical regions of Oltenia and Transylvania. While the road is an exciting adventure to undertake for its winding route, the railway is perched higher above, often passing through the heart of the mountain and offering stunning views of the wild landscape. It is considered one of the most beautiful train rides in Romania and even Europe.
The Jiu Defile National Park was created in 2015 to protect the wild natural environment along the valley of Jiu and the neighboring mountain ridges. Inside the park, there are ten natural habitats, with over 1100 species, of which 203 are protected, 28 rare and 11 endemics to this area, resulting an exceptional biodiversity. Besides the great number of vegetal species, the Jiu Defile in Romania is also home to large mammals like brown bears, Carpathian stags, chamois, wolves, lynxes, otters and more, as well as many species of birds. The park also features several protected natural areas, forest areas and unique rock formations. The most interesting is the Lainici Sphinx, a rock with a human shape located just north of the Lainici Monastery. There is a tourist hiking path going up on this rock, climbing for about 1 hour to offer astonishing panoramas of the valley and road beneath. The most important tourist attraction along the Jiu Defile or Romania is the monastery of Lainici, located about 7 km north of Bumbesti-Jiu, just next to the road.
In the middle of the wild valley of Jiu and on the bank of the raging river rises one of the most beautiful monasteries in Romania. A place of peaceful rest and deep spirituality, the monastery watches over the Carpathian passage for centuries. It has passed through flourishing times, but also difficult ones, today being one of the most popular destinations in this area. It was deserted and revived several times along its history, being completely destroyed during World War II by German troops who profaned the church by entering with their horses inside. There are two churches inside the monastery walls, with the older one dating from 1810-1817 and the larger one being started in 1990. The new church is built on two levels, with the history of Christianity being painted on the walls of the two overlapping spaces. The monastery houses many religious treasures, including unique and old icons and books.
Travelers who visit the monastery can also start a tourist path that ascends up the mountain ridge over the road, passing along the small monastery of Locurele, located in the middle of an enchanting mountain meadow at 800 meters altitude. The path continues towards a vantage point on the ridge that offers a breathtaking panorama of the whole valley. Another educational path can be reached near the entrance of the defile from the south at a small train station. The Jiu Defile of Romania is one of the last wild areas of Romania, including large surfaces of virgin forests. These have almost disappeared from the rest of Europe and the landscapes they create together with the majestic ridges, charming meadows, narrow gorges and the bends of the river make this national park a fascinating travel destination in Romania.
Accommodation near Jiu Defile in Romania
9.5 Rating from 321 Reviews!
Located in teh city of Petrosani, just a few kilometers north of the Jiu Defile, this prestigious hotel features excellent rooms with all amenities, restaurant, bar, room service and free parking!
9.6 Rating from 104 Reviews!
The apartment is located in the city of Petrosani and features accommodation in 1 bedroom with tv, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom, also having free wireless internet!
8.5 Rating from 344 Reviews!
Located in the town of Aninoasa, just a few km from the Jiu Defile in Romania, this extravagant hotel offers comfortable rooms, restaurant, bar, swimming pool and activities!