The history of the place that today is Defileul Jiului National Park

“Turbulent waters, paths to cross, glimpses to admire, sunrises and sunsets, spiritual stops, welcoming people. All are waiting for you to come with love.”

The Surduc Pass, today known mostly as the Jiului Pass, is a pass dug through the Retezat, Vâlcan, Parâng and Șureanu mountains that connects Transylvania and Oltenia.

Some writings attest to the fact that the Geto-Dacians managed to cut a footpath in the sides of the rocks along which, in 102 AD, the horsemen of Lucinus Quintus would have crept in to strike the back of Decebalus’ army that was fighting at Tapae. Despite their road-building experience, the Romans abandoned the project, realizing that digging and maintaining a road through such a wild valley as the Jiu would have required far too much work. The 4th Roman Cypria cohort, after settling in the Bumbești camp, instead of going up the river, cut a road just over the summit of Vâlcan.

Later, in the middle of the 19th century, Societatea de Mine si Furnale Brașov as well as other investors interested in capitalizing on the large coal deposits discovered at the bottom of the valleys, concessioned large areas of land to turn them into mining fields, a fact that marks the beginning of industrial exploitation of coal from Valea Jiului and the start of the industrial revolution.

A Belgian company, interested in capitalizing on the great wealth of the underground, requests the opening of the wild gorge by building a road and railway to ensure the commercial connection between Transylvania and the Romanian country, a proposal rejected by the Hungarian government, however, due to lack of money. However, the works begin in 1870, the Brașov Mining and Furnace Society hoping that the Romanian side will also support this project. 

In 1879, the commune of Petroșani obtained a loan from the Austro-Hungarian state for the widening and development of the road started by the Brașov Society.

In 1880, a Hungarian commission definitively establishes the route of the future road, the construction of which both states have officially committed.

The works were finished in 1890, but the inauguration festivities took place on September 4, 1894, when a marble plaque was placed at the Polatiste border crossing to mark the event. Improvements were made to the road year after year, taking more than 100 years to eventually become the DN 66 national road we know today. The checkpoint at the old Romanian-Hungarian border has today become the border between Gorj and Hunedoara counties.

Then followed the years of the First World War. In the picture below, you can still see the traces of the fighting in the Surduc Pass from the beginning of September 1916, and in the years that followed. The construction of the Târgu-Jiu-Petroșani railway began in 1924, but the works were interrupted several times. Until September 1940, only about 40% of the total volume of works provided for in the project had been executed.

After war, the road was repaired and modernized. Some of the parapets installed then are still preserved today…

In 1935, M.S. King Mihai visits the Jiului Valley. On this occasion, together with his companions, he takes a walk through the Surduc Pass, to the border of the Bumbești commune, and stops to dine at the Gambrinus Summer Restaurant.

Defileul Jiului National Park – protected natural area is today a mountain area with cliffs, calcareous steeps, peaks, grottoes, gorges, waterfalls, waterfalls, mountain meadows and forests, where the diversity of habitats, species and the presence of endemic elements of fauna and flora offer a special touch of uniqueness to the biodiversity of the park.

The visitor who is prepared and eager for a hike can venture across the paths in the area, which cross part of the 22 habitats of national and European interest.    Researching these places, specialists in the field claim that Defileul Jiului National Park houses 25% of the species found in Romania’s flora. The themed trails in Defileul Jiului National Park offer views worthy of photography: wooded areas, clearings, sunny pastures, steeper peaks and gentler peaks. At the same time, the visitor can recall the history of the local settlements by accessing the plains area, where he can still find traditional peasant households, the authentic “mansions”, those houses specific to the place.

Visiting and related services are subject to charges. Please see the RATES section.