Ceahlau Mountain: Legends from the Romanian Olympus

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer. You can find Diana on LinkedIn

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Ceahlau Massif is the oldest and perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in Eastern Romania. Bordered by large valleys, Ceahlau is easy to spot from the neighboring Bicaz Lake and the scenic Bicaz Gorges.

Its impressive panoramas and moderate difficulty turn it into a great hiking destination even for kids.

Read also Family Hikes in the Carpathians: 10 Easy Routes

Ceahlau National Park

Hiking towards Toaca Peak

Iconic wildlife and rare plants in Ceahlau National Park

Included in Ceahlau National Park, the mountain has the highest altitudes at Ocolosul Mare Peak (1,907 meters) and Toaca (1,904 meters). It’s almost like an open-air exhibition of bizarre and interesting rock formations —  Panaghia, Dochia, Cusma Dorobantului — shaped over thousands of years by strong winds and precipitations.

The mountain has several protected areas: the Scientific Area Ocolasul Mare, the Natural Botany Reservation Polita cu Crini, Duruitoarea Waterfall (25 meters), and Avenul Mare. Over 1,100 species of flowers and 90 protected species of birds and animals exist in these areas.

Many are rare or endangered, plants such as the Lady’s Slipper and the Edelweiss, mammal species like the chamois, and the top of the chain big carnivores.

chamois

Photo credits: Visit Neamt

Easy and scenic hikes to the top of Ceahlau Mountain

Ceahlau is the best choice if you like to take your time and plenty of photos during hikes. You can choose from seven well-marked routes departing from Durau, Izvorul Muntelui, Bicazul Ardelean, and Neagra. The trails vary in length and difficulty, but you can be sure you’ll find one fit even for beginners.

Ceahlau-National-Park

Dochia Chalet

Check the hiking routes on Muntii Nostri

The mountain huts Fantanele (1,200 meters) and Dochia (1,790 meters) are the only accommodation options, but camping, especially at Dochia, is also a great choice. Be sure to book your room well in advance at Dochia as Ceahlau is a very popular destination.

Legends and religion at high altitude

Don’t be surprised if you’ll hear a legend for every bizarre rock formation, waterfall, or peak you’ll see. This is why the Ceahlau Massif is ‘the Romanian Olympus’. Its fame made it, in fact, the first mountain mentioned in a Romanian novel and the first official mountain tourist destination since 1809.

Ceahlau Mountain

Sunrise view from Ceahlau Mountain

Even more, Ceahlau is considered the second holy mountain of the Orthodoxy after Athos because of its religious edifices built right on the top plateau. Plus, it’s the only mountain in Romania that has its own religious holiday.

ceahlau-national-park

Photo credits: Visit Neamt

The perfect destination for an active weekend in the Eastern Carpathians, this mountain has it all, from easy hikes to longer and more difficult trails, a diversity of landscapes, and some of the best views in the entire Carpathian chain.

Travel tips

If you’re not a big fan of crowds, avoid summer weekends.

Bicaz Gorges and Bicaz Lake are a short drive away on two of the most beautiful roads in Romania.

Read more about the park on www.ceahlaupark.ro.

Discover the hiking routes from the Carpathians with this great guidebook The Mountains of Romania


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