- geographical situation: in the southern half of the country, in the southern part
of the Southern Carpathians, in the northern of Oltenia, on both banks of the Olt;
- neighbours: in the north-Sibiu, Alba; in the east-Arges; in the south-east-Olt; in the south-west-Dolj; in the west-Gorj; in the north-west-Hunedoara;
- surface: 5,765 square km (respectively 2,4 % of the country's territory);
- population: 462,000 inhabitants;
- towns: RM. VCEA-capital of the county (with 118,000 inhabitants, at the feet of the Capela, Cetatuia, Petrisor Hills, on a reclined terrace crossed by the Olanesti river); Baile Govora; Baile Olanesti; Brezoi; Calimanesti; Dragasani; Horezu, Ocnele Mari.
- relief: it is structured into levels which decrease from the north (the Fagaras Mountains with Ciortea Peak, 2,426 m, represented by the south-western ridges, the Coziei, imposing massif, with a varied and beautiful structure, the Capat⮩i, of Jurasic limestone, the Lotrului, massive and and monotonous, the Par⮧, the Getic Hills-the Getic Plateau and the Sub-Carpathic depressions) to the south (hills and piedmont hills-Cotmeana, Oltet, the Olt meadow of 130 m in height, portion of the Romanian Plain);
- climate: it is temperate continental, with short summers and long, cold winters. The climate of the region is influenced by the relief. The waterfalls are not uniform, winds blow from north and north-west;
- watercourses: the Olt river crosses the county on a distance of 135 km forming the Turnu Rosu-Cozia narrow path. Its tributaries are: Lotru, Topolog, Muiereasca, Olanesti, Bistrita, Oltetul.
- The Cozia Massif-(Cozia Peak, 1,668 m), it is situated in the south-western part of the Fagaras Mountains, between the rivers Olt (in the west), Baias (in the north), Topolog (in the east), Salatrucul (in the south), near Calimanesti-Caciulata spa. Because of the spectacular relief (vertical walls, ridges, towers) Cozia is a mountain with great touristic potential. The natural treasures of this massif are protected and preserved in the Cozia Complex (it was declared National Park, in 1990). The Cozia Massif is easy to climb for all travellers who can admire many rocks with bizzare forms, beautiful gorges (Bulzului, Rosiei) and waterfalls ("Gardului", with heights of 20 m), the diversity of plant species (edelweiss, multicoloured tulip, white daffodil) and the interesting fauna (wild cat, lynx, chamois, deer, Carpathic scorpion).
GORGES AND NARROW PATHS
- The Narrow Path of Olt-it is hard to describe the greatness of the landscape which delights the tourist along the road from Cozia to Turnu Rosu (Sibiu county). The Olt river managed to cut deep in the massif and high part of the Southern Carpathians. The part of the gorges included in the V⬣ea County is the most spectacular, the narrow river bed of the Olt passing between the high walls of the Cozia Massif (in the east) and the Capat⮩i ridge (in the west). Geo Bogza, fascinated by this "voievode of waters", wrote: "Reckless, remarkable and with impetus, the Olt crosses the world, and his life resembles that of a man living his destiny between strong outbursts and quiet moments";
- The Lotru Valley-the beautiful landscape lures the tourist through high stone walls with the tumultuous symphony of the "rapids", but also the floklore riches of these lands;
- The Bistrita Gorges-near Bistrita Monastery, the most narrow gorges in Romania, they represent a place worth visiting especially because of the many caves on the steep walls of the Bistrita valley and the rare species of flora and fauna.
- Zanoaga-lake of glacial origin from the upper basin of the Lotru;
- Galcescu-lake of glacial origin from the upper basin of the Lotru;
- Vadu-lake of glacial origin from the upper basin of the Lotru;
- Ocnele Mari-salt lake formed after the collapse of some salt mines;
- Ocnita-salt lake formed after the collapse of some salt mines;
- Daiesti, Raureni, Govora, Vidra-dam lakes on the Olt and Lotru.
PRESERVES AND MONUMENTS OF NATURE
- Earth Pyramids-Goranu, geological preserve situated on the valley of the Stancioi rivulet, where torrent waters from rains and snows formed earth pyramids, gigantic towers of 80 m in height. These waters also created torrent beds 10 m deep in the slopes of the valley with formes similar to gigantic organ tubes.
- Calimanesti-Caciulata (18 km from Rm. Valcea, 81 km from Sibiu and 198 km from Bucharest), it is considered as one of the most beautiful spas in the country. Calimanesti-Caciulata is situated where Olt leaves the Southern Carpathians, in a very pictoresque natural background, at an altitude of 260 m. The spa is famous for the healing qualities of the mineral waters, their positive effect is known sice Roman times. Later, Napoleon 3rd himself, Emperor of France, used the water bottled here, taken by special coaches to Paris. The hill climate, deprived of great variations, make the average annual temperature be of approximately 10O C (below 20O C in July and -2O C in January). Its location (in a Sub-Carpathian Depression) protects the spa from strong winds. The treatment facilities include: modern devices for baths, electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, kinetotherapy, facilities for aerosols and inhalations, for internal mineral water treatments, gyms. Caciulata also has a sanatorium treating the secondary effects pf epidemic hepatitis and one for silicosis. Access: by train-Calimanesti station on Piatra Olt-Podu Olt line, by road-E 15A = DN 7 from Bucharest, Pitesti, Rm. Valcea or Sibiu.
- Baile Olanesti-(18 km from Rm. Valcea, at an altitude of 475 m, in the north-east part of Oltenia, at the foot of Capatanii Mountains, on both banks of the Olanesti creek). The hill climate is characterised by mild winters and chilly summers (the average temperature of July is 21O C and of January, 2,5O C). A pleasant mountain breeze continuously refreshes the air of the spa. The first documentary attestation dates from 1579. The first book of Romanian balneology (1837) mentions Olanesti as having the largest number of mineral water springs in the country. In 1837, at the Vienna International Exhibition, the waters from here received the gold medal, being compared (in terms of healing efficiency) with the famous ones from Baden-Baden, Karlsbab and Aix-les-Bains. Of the treatment facilities of the spa, we can mention: devices for hot mineral water baths in tubs, facilities for hydro-thermotherapy, electro-physiotherapy, buvettes for internal cure. Access: by train- Rm.Valcea station on Piatra Olt-Podu Olt line, then by road to the spa, by road-E 15 A from Bucharest or from Sibiu to Rm. Valcea, DN 64 from Caracal to Rm. Valcea, DN 64 B from Rm. Valcea;
- Baile Govora-(12 km from Govora railway station and 20 km south-west of Rm. Valcea), permanent spa situated at an altitude of 360 m, in a Sub-Carpathian Depression, in the north-east part of Oltenia. The spa has hill climate, moderately moist, with long, chilly summers (average temperature in July: 19O C) and mild winters (the average in January: 0OC). The average annual temperature is of 9OC, the spa being protected from strong air currents. The mineral waters from Govora have been first used for therapeutic purposes in 1879, the first spa being built in 1887. The treatment facilities of the spa include: devices for hot mineral water baths, mud treatments, electrotherapy, respiratory therapy, buvettes for internal cure, medical gyms. Baile Govora has an extra charm due to its beautiful park with Mediterranean plant species. Access: by train-Govora or Rm. V⬣ea stations on Piatra Olt-Podu Olt line, then by road to the spa, by road-E 15 A from Bucharest or Sibiu to Rm. V⬣ea, then DN 67 with 3 km deviation, DN 67 from Drobeta Turnu Severin;
- Voineasa-(80 km from Rm. V⬣ea), permanent spa situated on the Lotru Valley, at an altitude of 580-640 m.
- Ruins of the Roman Camp Arutela-Bivolari, near Calimanesti, it is situated in an area with some thermal springs used in the fortress baths. It was an important Roman military centre which defended the fortification system of the Olt basin and the Roman road cut in the rocks of the Olt valley. The rich archaeological material found here certifies the construction of the fortress in the time of Emperor Hadrian;
- Ruins of the Roman Camp Rusidava-Dragasani, it was situated on the ancient road connecting Romula to Apullum;
- Vestiges of the Roman Camp-Radacinesti (138 A.D.);
- Ruins of the Roman baths-Stolniceni (5 km from Rm. Valcea).
- Horezu Monastery-Rom⮩i de Jos (6 km from Horezu), the most important complex of Br⮣ovenesque religious architecture, apex of 17th century, Wallachian art. It was built by Constantin Br⮣oveanu between 1690 and 1697. The big church is decorated on the outside with stone sculptures (with floral motifs), and the internal paintings are very valuable as, along the religious scenes, the painters realised portraits of the Br⮣oveanus, the Basarabs and the Cantacuzinos. Legend says that, for fear of the Turks, the craftsmen built only during the night when the owls were hooting (hence the name of the monastery, owl = huhurez). The cells, the voivodal residence and the belfry have been built around the main church.;
- Cozia Monastery-(2 km away from Calimanesti and 20 km from Rm. Valcea), one of the most valuable architectural monuments of the 14th century and a starting point for the Byzantine style in Wallachia. The main church was built between 1386-1388 by Mircea the Elder and draws attention with the harmony of proportions, rich ornamentation and exceptionally valuable paintings. It hosts the grave of Mircea the Elder, one of the most glorious voivodes in history of the Romanians, as well as the grave of Teofana, Michael the Brave's mother. The smaller church (on the left side of the road), also called "jewel of the 16th century" (due to the proportions and fine execution) was built by Radu Paisie in 1543. The monastery has an valuable museum of religious art, old prints, manuscripts, jewel;
- Govora Monastery-(3 km from Baile Govora and 20 km from Rm. Valcea), it was mentioned in a document from 1488. The monastery was rebuilt by Vlad the Monk and by Radu the Greater, and in the 17th century, Matei Basarab restored it and brought here a printing press which gave us the 1640 "Pravila de la Govora", the oldest law book printed in Wallachia. Under the rule of Constantin Brancoveanu, the monastery expanded and the present church was built, which preserves a valuable wall painting (1711). The monastery has a small museum with objects of feudal art, old manuscripts and prints, religious objects;
- Bistrita Monastery-(6 km north of Costesti), it was built between 1491-1492 by Craiovesti boyards. The monastery was damaged in 1508 by Evil Mihnea as its founders had risen against this ruler. Later, the same boyards repaired the church. The old complex only preserves the small church, built by Ban Barbu Craiovescu between 1520-1521. The present church is a construction dating from 1856, and has interior paintings by Gh. Tattarescu;
- Arnota Monastery-(15 km from Horezu and 54 km from Rm. V⬣ea), it was built by Matei Basarab between 1633-1636, his grave is inside the monastery. The interior wall paintings were made in 1644 by Stroe the Painter and have great artistical and documentary value. The monastery was a centre of Romanian culture; today it hosts a small museum of religious art;
- "Dintr-un lemn" Monastery-Francesti (10 km from Baile Govora and 27 km from Rm. Valcea), it was founded at the end of the 16th century and beginnings of the 17th century. According to the legend, the church was made of only one oak by Preda Brancoveanu between 1634-1635. The church internal walls were painted between 1714-1716; the paintings exist still today;
- Ostrov Hermitage-Calimanesti, it was built on an isle, in the middle of the Olt river (near Calimanesti) by ruler Neagoe Basarab and his wife, Despina. The construction was finished in 1522, after the death of the ruler. An old legend says that Michael the Brave's mother, Teofana, was sheltered here and protected against the Turks after the death of her son ;
- Cetatuia Church-Rm. Valcea (15th century), draws the visitors' attention because it was here that voivode Radu from Afumati and his son, Vlad, were killed in 1529 by rebel boyars angered by ruler's attempt to change the policy of submission to the Ottoman Empire;
- Turnu Hermitage-(3 km from Calimanesti), it was built in 1676, with interesting cells dug by hermits in the very rock of the mountain;
- Iezer Hermitage-Baile Olanesti, the church was erected in 1559 by voivode Mircea Ciobanu and his wife, Lady Chiajna; the present church was built in the 18th century;
- Bishopric of R⭮ic-Rm.V⬣ea, the original 16th century buildings no longer exist. The present main church was built in 1856 and painted by Gh. Tattarescu;
- Wooden Church-Baile Olanesti, it is also called "Horea's Church" and dates from 1746. The church has a tower 21 m in height;
- "Saint Nicolas" Church-C⩮eni (1733-1769), it conserves the valuable original wall paintings, inside as well as the facade;
- "Vovidenia" Church-Dobrusa, Stefanesti village, (15th century);
- "Sf. Paraschiva" Church-Rm.V⬣ea (1557-1587);
- Cornetu Monastery-Racovita (9 km from Brezoi and 58 km from Rm.V⬣ea), it was built in 1666.
- "Nicolae Balcescu" Memorial Museum-Nicolae Balcescu, Milcoiu village, birth place of the great Romanian democrat and revolutionist characterised so by Nicolae Iorga: "this pale and sad face, combining the energy of the patriot and the patience and dedication of the historian...". The museum evokes the main moments of the 1848 revolution and of N. Balcescu's life;
- "Anton Pann" Memorial House- Rm. Valcea, it was arranged in the building inhabited once by the author of the "Word Story" (the house was built at the end of the 18th century in Romanesque style). It exhibits objects which belonged to Anton Pann, "he was smart as an old saying";
- Museum of Wine and Vine-Dragasani;
- Museum of Valcea Villages-Bujoreni, ethnographical museum in open air (6 km north from Rm. Valcea).
- The main ethnographical centre of the county is Horezu (35 km from Rm. Valcea), place known as one of the most representative pottery centre in Romania, hosting a permanent ethnographical exhibition and traditional fairs. The local craftsmen produce pottery of high quality, beautifully adorned. They mainly create pots and plates and use a large range of decorations and colours. Vaideeni (famous for textures and traditional folk costume); Barbatesti (sewing, weaving, sheepskin coats).
Source: Romanian Travel Guide / Publirom