Jiu Defile National Park – Endless Struggle of a River

Although partially tamed once the road and railway were built almost a century ago, the Jiu Defile still preserves its spectacular wild scenery, with the ancient forests covering the steep ridges of the mountains on both sides of the raging river!

Jiu Defile in Romania Aerial View

One of the most beautiful and wild areas of Romania was created through the eternal battle between the Carpathians and Jiu River. Once an impassable valley, the winding course river can now be followed for over 30 km, discovering incredibly beautiful landscapes and other marvels. The Jiu Defile is located between the mountains of Parâng and Vâlcan, along a stretch of about 30 km between the towns of Bumbești-Jiu and Petroșani.

There is an important road passing through the valley (E79 / DN66), as well as an impressive railway, with 39 tunnels and countless high bridges. In the heart of the wild Jiu Defile National Park, on the banks of the thumbling river rises one of the most beautiful monasteries in Romania. The monastery of Lainici watches over the mountain pass for centuries, welcoming those in search of peace and serenity.

Jiu Defile National Park Romania 2

Traveling along the road or the railway is a unique experience, as we get to discover 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 an endless series of bends and turns. The ridges are heavily wooded all the way to the banks of the river, giving the valley a magical atmosphere in all seasons.

Jiu Defile in Romania Road

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.

Jiu Defile

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 endemic to this area, creating an exceptional biodiversity. Besides the great number of vegetal species, the Jiu Defile is also home to large mammals like brown bears, Carpathian stags, chamois, wolves, lynxes, otters and more, as well as many species of birds.

Jiu Defile Road Romania
Jiu Defile of Romania 2

The park also features several protected natural areas, forest areas and unique rock formations. The most interesting is the Lainici Sphinx, a rock with an anthropomorphic 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 Bumbești-Jiu, just next to the road. A place of peaceful rest and deep spirituality, Lainici 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 built starting with 1990. The new church features two levels, with the history of Christianity being painted on the walls of the two overlapping spaces. The monastery houses many religious treasures, including old and unique icons and books. 

Lainici Monastery Romania

From the monastery, we can also explore a hiking trail that ascends up the western mountain ridge, 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 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.

Jiu Defile National Park Romania 4


La Belle Epoque Hotel 4*

9.3 Rating from 727 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!

Dream Apartment 3*

9.7 Rating from 59 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!

Sonya House

9.8 Rating from 62 Reviews!

Located in the town of Aninoasa, just a few km from the Jiu Defile in Romania, this elegant guesthouse offers comfortable rooms with tv and wifi, a garden and terrace!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top