Romania Photo of the Day by Dreamstime: Bâlea Lake
The Romania Photo of the Day created in partnership with stock photo provider Dreamstime aims to highlight the best of Romania. From stunning landscapes and popular tourist destinations and landmarks to people, traditions, and food, this series helps you discover Romania one photo at a time. This week, we put the focus on Romanian mountain lakes.
In the heart of the Făgăraș Mountains in the county of Sibiu lies the great glacial lake called Bâlea Lake.
Located at the high altitude of 2034 meters, the lake has an expanse of over 45,000 square meters and is surrounded by the beautiful scenery of mountain crests and terraces. (Photo source - click on the number to get to the photo 43925961 / Balea Lake © Toma Bonciu | Dreamstime.com)
The area was declared a nature reserve in 1932 and is home to protected species of both flora and fauna, such as the Edelweiss and the Dark Vanilla Orchid, or the Eurasian Lynx and the Black Mountain Goat.
Today, Bâlea Lake is one of the region’s most popular attractions. Understandably so, as there are many sights to see here, as descoperalocuri.ro tells us:
Sights to see in the area of Bâlea Lake include the lake itself, the Bâlea Waterfall, the Goat Lake and Waterfall, the Bâlea Lake Cabin, Moldoveanu Peak (which is the tallest mountain peak in Romania), and the Ice Hotel and Ice Church that are built near the lake in winter (the first of their kind in Eastern Europe).
The area can be visited all year round as it offers a wealth of leisure activities, such as hiking, rock climbing, cycling, paragliding, fishing, hunting, or bungee-jumping, during warm weather, and skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating in the winter.
Bâlea Lake is easily reachable by car via the famous Transfăgărășan Road and can be reached just as easily by cable car, which can be taken from the Bâlea Waterfall.
The lake's name has its own origin story, which transilpedia.ro shares:
Legend says that at the foot of the Făgăraș Mountains there once lived a shepherd named Bâlea. He was the youngest of five children and grew up with his widowed mother. His poor mother kept nagging him to get married and seek his fortune, but he kept saying the same thing: that the one destined for him would be waiting.
One day, while he was out watching over the sheep, a bear showed up. Being a brave lad, Bâlea rushed at him and chased him away.
The news of his courageous act spread to the King's court, and the king himself called Bâlea to the palace and suggested that he stay in his service and learn to handle weapons. No sooner said than done, the young man stayed at court, and soon became so good at handling weapons that the king named him captain of his army.
Time went on, and Captain Bâlea began to feel homesick. Well the king didn’t want to lose him, and neither did the king’s five daughters, so they tried to convince him to stay.
The eldest tried first – she came to Bâlea under the guise of an ugly old woman, in need of a place to stay the night. And, being naturally compassionate, he invited her to stay in his home. Before dawn, the old woman suddenly took off her costume, revealing herself to Bâlea as the beautiful princess. The captain fell in love with her on the spot and they agreed to be married.
Not long after the wedding, the couple was taking a walk on a mountain trail. All of a sudden, though it was the middle of spring, an unprecedented blizzard began, bringing winter back with it.
Bâlea, afraid of losing his wife in the snowstorm, hid with her in the mountains. But the blizzard pull them out of their hiding place and threw them into the bitter cold lake at the bottom.
Here the unfortunate lovers found their end.
Moved by their tragic fate, the people of the land named the lake Bâlea and that is still its name today.