Carpathian Mountains

The Carpathian Mountains form an acr around Transylvania

The Carpathians: mystery and legends

The Carpathian Mountains, surrounded by their mysterious atmosphere and fairy-tale aura, shelter the largest free European wolf and bear populations as well as the highest number of European virgin forests. They were inspiration for authors such as Jules Verne or Bram Stoker.

Carpathian Mountains | Definition

The Carpathian mountain range system extends in Southern Europe, renowned for its virgin forests (800.000 ac), flora and fauna, and sheltering the largest free-living European wolf population on Romania’s territory. The Dacian mythology was born in the heart of these mountains, the etymology of the word „Carpati” coming from the Dacian term „karpate”, which means „rocky cliffs”.

Their mysterious atmosphere and dream-like scenery, alongside Transylvanian legends and traditions, mark the Carpathian Mountains as a cradle of European mysticism, promoted by public personalities and generating tourism.

Carpathian mountains between legends and reality

The Carpathian Mountains are a mountain range system located in Eastern Europe, crossing eight countries, the Romanian Carpathians representing half of their entire extent. The Carpathians were formed the same way as the Alps, but are more accessible due to their large intermontane valleys and alpine peaks, which offer unique dream-like mountain scenery.[1]

The etymology of the name „Carpați” has its origins in the Dacian word „karpate”, which means „rocky cliffs”. After being taken over by the Romans, the Dacians (Romanians’ ancestors) replaced the word „karpate” with „mountains”, the full name ultimately becoming „Carpathian Mountains”.[2] [3] [4]

The Carpathian Mountains form an arc around Central Transylvania and are crossed by two of the most impressive Romanian mountain roads, both situated at heights over 6500 feet. Translpina is the tallest Transylvanian road, with its highest point at 7037 feet, while Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear) stated that Transfagarasan is the best road in the world.[5] [6] [7]

The Carpathian Mountains’ magical atmosphere inspired famous writers in creating adventure, science-fiction and gothic-horror masterpieces. For example, inspired by Borgo Pass, Bram Stoker chose the Carpathian Mountains for the location of the imaginary castle of the vampire Count Dracula, and Jules Verne also found inspiration in these mountains when writing his famous novel The Carpathian Castle.[8] [9] [10]

The Carpathian Mountains with their mystic location and atmosphere were also the starting point and the perfect setting for a large number of highly successful movies. A famous high budget screening which filmed all of its mountain scenes in the Carpathians is “Cold Mountain”, nominated for seven Oscars.[11]

The Carpathian Mountains are a cradle of European mysticism, their virgin forests, lofty peaks and specific weather conditions representing dreamlike settings, ideal especially for epic-fantasy movies. In this regard, the panoramas offered by the Carpathians can easily be, at any given time, magical scenes for top cinematic productions akin to Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.

The mysticism is also represented by the association with the Cucuteni Culture, the oldest confirmed European civilization, which inhabited North-Eastern Romania and forewent the civilizations from Ancient Egypt and Ancient Summer.

The Dacians also lived in close connection to the Carpathians. Their fortifications were located on the highest mountain tops and Sarmizegetusa Regia (Dacia’s capital city) with its Stonehenge like mysterious structures is well-kept up to this day, located in the heart of the virgin Transylvanian forests.[12]

The Dacians followed today’s Transalpina road, which was subsequently paved by the Roman legions and mentioned for the first time in the 2’nd century AD by the Greek scientist Ptolemy. Transhumance, the seasonal movement of sheepherders with their sheep, was happening on this road (a tradition maintained up to this day). Transhumance was one of the factors which led to the spreading of traditional influences in Transylvania.[13] [14] [15] [16] 

Nowadays, the Romanian Carpathians offer shelter to Europe’s largest wolf population, an impressive number of 2500 animals roaming in freedom Transylvania’s forests. In time, numerous mountains, peaks, valleys or forests took names related to the word „wolf”, symbolizing the Dacians’ and later the Romanians’ connection to this majestic animal. After taking into account the above statements, the fact that the werewolf myth spawned from Transylvania should surprise nobody. The virgin forests of the Carpathians also provide shelter for over 6500 bears, the largest European bear population.[17] [18] [19] [20]

The Carpathian flora offers ferric scenery due to the amazing diversity of encountered plants. The cliffs, the mountain-sides and the Carpathian peaks are lavished with unique flowers, such as „Garofița Pietrei Craiului”, and also with medicinal plants which grow in their specific pollution-free environment.  Mountain remedies are used up to this day in the Transylvanian traditional village - which remains virtually unchanged even in the present day.

The Carpathian legends mention “polovraga”, an ancient medicinal plant dating back to the Dacians, which is said to heal any sickness. The search for “polovraga” is still ongoing, attracting visitors from all over the world.[21] [22] [23] [24]

The beauty and mysticism of the Charpatians, alongside their accessibility, is ideal for strong touristic development, especially adventure, leisure, traditional culinary, spiritual and medical tourism.

The natural beauty and the area’s characteristics led to the involvement of several public personalities in conservation campaigns for the virgin Carpathian forests. Charles Prince of Wales repeatedly stated to be a fan of Transylvania, spending several days per year in the heart of this magical place, further proving (if needed) the importance of this unique area.[25] [26][27]


Note: The Transylvania World concepts are an essential part of the association brand and their usage has to quote the source and reference this website.

Research sources:

1. Scribd, The Origin of Carpathian Mountains (source)
2. Paliga S. Etymological Lexiconof the Indigenous (Thracian) Elements in Romanian, Editura Evenimentul,Bucharest, 2006
3. Romanian Encyclopedia, Etymology of the word „Carpați” (source)
4. Wikipedia, Etymology of the word „Carpați” (source)
5. Wikipedia, Transalpina (source)
6. Transalpina (source)
7. Vimeo, Top Gear, Transfăgărășan (source)
8. Bram Stoker, Dracula, Archibald Constable and Company, UK, 1897 (source)
9. Wikipedia, Pasul Tihuța (Borgo Pass) (source)
10. Wikipedia, The Carpahian Castle (source)
11. IMDB, Cold Mountain (source)
12. Wikipedia, Sarmizegetusa Regia (source)
13. Wikipedia, Dacia Map by Ptolemy (source)
14. Sebastian Munster, Nova Tabula XX, 1552 (source)
15. Google Books, Coman M., Putere și Teritoriu, Țara Românească medievală (sec. XIV-XVI), Polirom Publishing House, 2013 (source)
16. Ionescu D., Rovithis-Livaniou E., The Map of Dacia by Abraham Ortelius, 2011 (source)
17. Google Sites, Wolves in the Carpahian Mountains (source)
18. AVGPS, Charts and maps for wolves situation in Romania (source)
19. Wikipedia, The brown bear in Romania (source)
20. Vulcănescu R., Mitologie Română, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România, 1987
21. Wikipedia, Dianthus callizonus (source)
22. Wikipedia, Carpathian Mountains, Plants (source)
23. Medicinal plants from the Carpathians (source)
24. Polovraga (source)
25. Greenpeace, Virgin forests from Romania, Map (source)
26. WWF,Virgin forests from Romania (source)
27. Prince Charles of Wales, Wild Carpathia (source)

Other concepts


  • Overview of the definitions and concepts developed by Transylvania World Association and the key points of our research.
  • Official concepts

  • Transylvania (Definition, etymology, geography, history and its present state)
  • Transylvania classification into three geographical areas: Central, Political and Transylvania World with its influences
  • Cucuteni Civilization (Definition, geography, facts about the oldest civilization of Europe)
  • Ancient Dacians (About the ancient Dacian people, predecessors of the Romanians)
  • Vlad the Impaler (Also known as "Vlad Draculea" or "Vlad Dracula", one of the most important European leaders who stopped the islamic takeover of Europe in the Middle Ages)
  • The traditional Transylvanian village (definition and overview)
  • Household in Transylvania (About the traditional transylvanian households)
  • Mithological concepts

  • Dacian mythology (Mythology spawned on today's territory of Transylvania, where the Dacians lived, the ancestors of today's Romanians)
  • Werewolf (Incorrectly promoted as a negative character, the concept has generated from the Dacian mithology)
  • Vampire (Definition and concept; global promotion because of the Transylvanian traditions)
  • Dracula (The fantastic character also known as "Count Dracula" or "The vampire Dracula", inspired by the transylvanian traditions and the real historical character Vlad the Impaler)

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