The Ciucaș Mountains
June 12, 2018

The Piatra Craiului Mountains

It is true that the Piatra Craiului Mountains (The Prince’s/ King’s Rock) can be said to be unmistakable. From a petrographic point of view, this mountainous limestone chain differs geologically and geomorphologically from the surrounding massifs. Its maximum height is reached in the La Om Peak or the Peak of Baci (the Shepherd) – 2237 m, but this does not say much about the greatness of the mountain. Piatra Craiului is unique among our mountains, and this has attracted mountain lovers, often simply called: The Prince or the Mountain Fairy. Definitive of these mountains is the lonely and elegant ridge, 25 km long. This is the longest calcareous crest in the Carpathians and the reason why many were spellbound by Prince.

Due to the geographical position, the Bârsei depression in the north-west, the Rucăr-Bran Corridor in the south and east and the Tămasului Corridor (Rucăr-Zarnesti) to the north and west, the view is also very special.

The Piatra Craiului Mountains can be divided into three distinct subunits, separated by clear natural limits:

  • The Small Piatra Craiului, with a maximum altitude of 1816 m, separated from the rest of the massif by Curmătura Saddle;
  • The Big Piatra Craiului, with a maximum height of 2237 m, between Curmătura Saddle and Funduri Saddle;
  • Pietricica, with an altitude of 1764 m, which is the southern extension of the massif to the Dâmbovicioarei basin.

The eastern slope of the mountain, accessible from the town of Zărneşti, is more forested than the western slope and hosts one of the most famous hut in the Carpathians: Curmătura Chalet (altitude – 1470 m). Whoever gets here can enjoy the atmosphere and the warmth of the place, but also the famous pies. Also in the eastern part we find the most famous cave of the 160 in the massif, the Dâmbovicioarei Cave, which is distinguished by geological formations (Labyrinth, Snake Head, Tiger’s Skin), but especially by the story of the secret exit, which was later closed by the locals . Also on this slope are located the Zărneştiului Gorge, on whose vertical walls were arranged climbing routes of various difficulties (the longest one is 115 meters) and is rightly the cradle of the Romanian mountain climbing. On this side of the mountain, within the boundaries of Piatra Craiului National Park, there are two villages that impress with their simplicity and beauty: Magura (The Hill) and The Cave.

The western ridge of the massif, seen from Plaiul Foii, reveals to the simple viewers a piece of the greatness of the Prince. On this slope we find karst reliefs like La Zăplaz, Cerdacul Stâncii (The rock’s verandah) and Moara Dracului (the Devil’s Mill).

In addition to the variety of limestone walls and cliffs (caves, gorges, mountaineering routes, karst reliefs), The Prince enjoys the right flora and fauna. More than 140 plant species are protected in the perimeter of Piatra Craiului National Park. THe Piatra Craiului Carnation, Flower Blossom, Bulbucii, Ghintura, Mountain Bite, Blood of the Mountain, Mountain Nemesis, Forest Lilies, Yellow Poppy, Mountain Peony are just a few of them. The most valuable of them is the Dianthus callizonus The Piatra Craiului Carnation, which grows only on the peaks of Piatra Craiului. Its Latin name is the perfect description for this delicate flower: “the carnation with too beautiful girdles”.

The park also hosts over 200 species of butterflies, over 21 species of bats and hundreds of black goats. Here we also find two endemic species of spiders: Nesticus Constantinescu and Rhagidia Carpatica. Among the amphibians and reptiles, we mention the viper, the house snakes, the fountain, the red mountain frog and the pond Buhai.

The most important representatives of the birds are Mountain Eagle, Gray Owl, Eagle Owl, Mountain Rooster, Owl, Mountain Peking, Goldcrest (the smallest bird in Europe), the Coal tit and the Common chaffinch.

Of the approximately 100 species of fauna of the whole country, more than 40% live in the Piatra Craiului massif, among which the big or medium size animals are: the bear, the wolf, the fox, the jar, the boar and the lynx.

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