Sinaia

Located in a beautiful mountainous region, at the foothills of the Bucegi Mountains , about 120km from Bucharest and 44km from Brasov, in the Prahova Valley, Sinaia is one of the oldest and most famous mountain resorts, often referred to as “The Pearl of the Carpathians”. Located at an altitude of 767 m and 860 m, Sinaia boasts ski slopes at an altitude of 2,000 m, on the plateau of the Bucegi mountains.

History

Sinaia takes its name from the 17th-century monastery built here by a Romanian nobleman after undertaking a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai, Egypt.

Sinaia was first mentioned in documents, as a mountain resort, in 1869, when the locals saw the construction of the town’s first hotel. The beautiful region drew the attention of the Hohenzollern Royal House (Carol I – King of Romania) who built Peles Castle, starting 1873. It became the summer royal residence. Prior to World War II and the abdication of the royal family, Sinaia was a summer retreat for Romania’s aristocracy. A walk up the mountainside reveals many grand summer homes from this period.

Climate

Sinaia has a sub-Alpine climate. The summers are bracing, and, in the first part of the season, very rainy. Winters are relatively mild, with heavy snow. Average annual rainfall is 900 mm. The maximum registered rainfall was in June (173 mm). The minimum rainfall and nebulosity was recorded in September (55 mm) and February (40mm). The snow layer installs itself homogeneously starting usually from November and it melts in a period of time from March-April, sometimes at the beginning of May. The thickness of the snow layer varies between 20 centimeters and 3 meters in higher elevations. The average temperature in summer is 15 degrees C, in winter -4 degrees C, while the annual average temperature is 7 degrees.

Natural cure factors

Sinaia has a tonic and stimulating bio-climate that is beneficial for the human body, with very clean air that is rich in oxygen, ultraviolet radiations and negative ionization. There are also some mineral springs in Cainelui Valley that have sulphur-ferric mineral water and contain other soluble minerals.

Nature preservation

In Sinaia town territory and its surroundings there are restrictions established regarding cutting down or picking up flora. The felling of trees is not allowed. It is forbidden to pick up any alpine plants, which brings severe punishment for the gathering of these plants: Mountain Peony (Rhododendron Kotsky), The Edelweiss (Leontopodium Alpinum), and the Yellow Gentiana (Gentiana Lutea). The mountainous area of Sinaia town is in the Bucegi Natural Park region. Bucegi Natural Park covers a total surface area of 326.63 square kilometers, out of which 58.05 square kilometers are under strict protection, sheltering natural monuments. Bucegi Natural Preserve area includes all the abrupt areas of the next mountains: Varful cu Dor, Furnica, and Piatra Arsa.

At the entrance in Cumpatu district, one can find the botanical reservation “Sinaia alder-tree grove” placed under the Romanian Academy – the Bucharest Biology Institute protection. In the same district, there is also another research station for the ecology under the high patronage of UNESCO – J.Y. Cousteau, belonging to Bucharest University, which includes also a museum of Bucegi Mountains fauna.

Sightseeing

The Sinaia Monastery, built in 1695 in a Brancoveanu style by Mihail Cantacuzino the Spatharus, houses religious objects, icons, rare books, pottery and porcelain ware from 16th-19th century. This is still a working monastery. Many of the monks living here are quite old, wear traditional garb, and are quite happy to show you around and answer any questions you might have.

Peles Castle built by King Carol I as a summer royal residence, on Peles Valley, in 1883. The castle is considered by many one of the most beautiful castles in all Europe. It is built in German Renaissance style, with rococo, baroque and Moorish-Hyspanic elements. From 1914, the castle became a museum. In the communist regime, President Ceausescu closed Peles Castle for visitors. It is again open to the public and it is definitely a must-see.

Sinaia was also the summer residence of the great Romanian composer George Enescu. Villa Luminis is today the George Enescu Museum. Here young Yehudi Menuhin improved his talent of playing the violin, together with his teacher, in 1927.

Sinaia Casino was built after the model of Monte Carlo Casino, in 1921.

Bucegi Museum offers a complete image of all the flora and fauna from Bucegi Mountains

From Sinaia, the winding road takes you through Poiana Tapului to Busteni, another Prahova Valley resort. Here you can take the Busteni-Babele cable car to reach a plateau on the Bucegi Mountains. A huge block of stone, shaped like a human skull, with deep orbits and mysterious smile, called “Sphinxul” and a cluster of gigantic stone “mushrooms”, nicknamed “Babele”- The Old Ladies, can be seen here.

Festivals

Classic guitar contest, every year – www.chitara.ro
The Autumn Festival – “Sinaia Forever”, every September
The Winter Festival, every January
International Violin Competition – www.geocities.com/rememberenescu

Winter

To winter sports fans, Sinaia offers a bobsledding run (1,500 m long with 13 turns, and a 132 m elevation difference), ski runs of various difficulty degrees, ropeways (cab, ski lift, baby lift, rope chair).

Sinaia’s ski slopes are situated at 2000m altitude. Here you can experience the best high altitude ski in Romania. The access to the slopes is possible from the city center, by taking the first cable car to Cota 1400 and then a second cable car to Cota 2000. To Cota 1400 one can also go by car. The ski slopes are divided on the two sides of the mountain. To the eastern side, towards the city, the skier can experience the most spectacular slopes, the black ones. The slopes follow the cable car line and there is a great variety of off-piste possibilities. All the slopes end in the same point, which is the cable car station at Cota 1400.

On the western side of the mountain there is the great Sun Valley. Here there is situated the Dorului Hut, at the end of the chairlift line. The Sun Valley has a milder aspect and here you can experience some intermediate and beginner slopes. It is a great place for snow borders too. When you are eager for a break, Dorului Hut is a great place to spend some time. The high altitude and the white surroundings makes the place perfect for a sun bath during winter.

Dorului Hut is a good starting point for cross country and ski touring. The experienced skiers can explore the Dorului Peak and its surroundings. Touring routes can be made towards Vanturis area (in the South), Bolboci area (in the West) and Blana-Laptici areas (in the North).

Sinaia also has a bobsledding run (1,500 m long with 13 turns, and a 132 m elevation difference).

Ski slopes:

Carp – difficult, 2500 m
Valea Dorului – medium, 600 m
Vanturis – medium, 2900 m
Turistica – medium, 2800 m
Drumul Vechi – easy, 5000 m
Poiana Stanii Regale – easy, 250 m

Summer

For those loving active relaxation in the middle of nature and mountain trips, Sinaia is the main entrance in the Bucegi massif with its large crest of grassy stone in an ascending line from Varful cu Dor (1885 m) to Piatr Arsa (2075m), Babele (2290m), Caraiman (2385m), Costila (2490m) and Omu (2507m). The mountain beauty can be explored in the summer and Sinaia is the best place to start your journey into the deep forest hiking trails. Bucegi mountains hiking routes are well marked and signs are in good conditions. The hiking routes can be chosen for every taste, ranking from very easy to very difficult ones.

Several huts on the plateau of the mountain, and also along the marked trails offer refreshments or a warm meal to the traveler. The Bucegi mountains have a relatively long plateau at an altitude of about 2000m and ideal for mountain biking in the summer. The cable car in Sinaia is open all the summer providing the transportation of the bikes.

The great panoramas that you can get from many of the laterally emerging peaks of the plateau are one reason for exploring. But the curious and powerful forces of the nature can be seen in many of natural monuments present in the place called Babele (The old ladies). Here, from immemorial times, a naturally modeled group of rocks gave other mystical legends. The Sfinx and Babele are guarding for decades the mountain. Sinaia has a good position and both short (couple of hours) or one day hiking routes can be made.

In Romania, all the mountain trails are marked with colored signs. The idea is that when standing near a sign, one has to see the next sign, hence it is very difficult to get lost. Bucegi Mountains have very good marked trails and the signs are in very good condition. All the areas are patrolled by the mountain rescue teams. There are also many mountain huts. These offer food and accommodation, so they can be used if one is planning a longer journey.

The mountain trails are also of many difficulties. There are very easy ones and breath-taking ones, offering also great panoramas.

Oportunities for trips to the chalets in the Bucegi Mountains (Cota 1500, Virful cu Dor – elevation 2,000 m, Cuibul Dorului – 1,200 m, Babele – 2,206 m, Omu – 2,505 m, Padina – 1,525 m, Piatra Arsa – 1,950 m, Pestera – 1,600 m, Piscul Ciinelui – 950 m, etc).

Bucegi Mountains offer also great MTB possibilities. The high altitude marked tracks are very good for biking, and one can reach by bike also the Omu Peak (2505m), the highest Peak in Bucegi. MTB’s are available for rent in Sinaia.
Rock Climbing

For rock climbers there are plenty of “walls” that wait to be explored. Some easy ones are available in Sinaia. The access to Costila region is easy, only 30 minute hiking from the town of Busteni which is at 10 min distance, by car, from Sinaia. Some other climbing possibilities are in Padina.

How to get there

Getting to Sinaia is made easy by train, since it is on the main line between Bucharest and Brasov. All trains that go to Hungary pass Sinaia, as to those that service Oradea, Brasov and Cluj-Napoca. There are also many trains to and from Sighisoara, Timisoara, Iasi and Arad. European Road 60

The closest airport to Sinaia is Bucharest.

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