Cozia National Park in Romania: What to See, Do, Routes, and Maps

Cozia National Park is located in Romania, in the northeast of the Vâlcea District, encompassing the localities of Racovita, Perişani, and Olăneşti Băile.

This national park is situated in the south-central part of the Southern Carpathians, between the southeast Lotru mountains and east of the Căpăţânii Mountains, along the Olt river.

With an area of 17,100 hectares, Cozia National Park has been designated as a protected natural area according to Law Number 5, dated March 6, 2000. It represents a mountainous habitat with a diversity of flora and fauna typical of the Southern Carpathians.

Content

Information about Cozia National Park

History of the National Park

The history of the establishment of Cozia National Park dates back to Decision No. 659/1966 of the Argeş Regional Council, which declared the Cozia Massif a natural reserve, intending to declare it a protected area through Law Number 5 of March 6, 2000, addressing the National Territorial Development Plan, specifically in its Section III on protected areas.

Cozia National Park, Romania

Since then, forest management in the areas of Călimăneşti, Brezoi, and Cornet has included special measures to protect the genetic heritage and the forest ecological fund. The Order of the Minister of Water, Forests, and Environment No. 7/1990 recorded the establishment of Cozia National Park, with an initial area of 17,100 hectares. Subsequently, various laws and governmental ordinances, such as Law No. 5/2000 and the Government Emergency Ordinance No. 57/2007, have contributed to its protection and management, highlighting its importance as an integral part of the European ecological network Natura 2000.

In 2003, through Government Decision number 230 of March 4, the boundaries and surface of the park were redefined. This included the Călinești-Brezoi natural reserve, a protected area of 200 hectares noted for its geomorphological, floristic, and landscape significance, especially the Brezoi conglomerates.

Cozia National Park encompasses a mountainous region with a wide geological and geomorphological diversity. Its karstic relief features sharp peaks, towers, spires, limestone ridges, caves, sinkholes, and valleys. There are also a variety of habitats, from alluvial forests to alpine meadows, housing a wide variety of flora and fauna specific to the Southern Carpathians.

Park Administration

The Cozia National Park Administration (APNC) was established based on Governmental Decision No. 230/2003, with legal personality within RNP-ROMSILVA, under the name RNP-ROMSILVA, Cozia National Park Administration RA, according to Governmental Decision No. 229/2009. Its main function is the management of Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites in its area, regulated by the Order of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change No. 1052/2014. The Scientific Council of Cozia National Park provides scientific guidance, while the Administrative Advisory Council ensures the participation of various stakeholders in the protection and sustainable development of the area.

Location

The natural area is located in the eastern part of Vâlcea county, near the border with Argeș county. It extends over the administrative territories of the cities of Brezoi and Călimănești, as well as the communes of Berislăvești, Perișani, Racovița, and Sălătrucel. The national road DN7 crosses this area, connecting the municipality of Râmnicu Vâlcea with the city of Tălmaciu, about 135 km from the Piatra Craiului National Park, another protected area in the country, allowing connection via the DN73C road. A good opportunity to see 2 protected areas in Romania, although it should be done on different days to fully appreciate everything each one offers.

Access Points and Entrances to the Park

The access points to Cozia National Park are easily reachable mainly through the DN 7/E 81, a major route connecting the capital with the rest of Europe. The distance from the main cities near the park is 25 km to Râmnicu Vâlcea and 45 km to Sibiu. Additionally, the distance to Bucharest via DN7/E 81 is 200 km. The nearby towns of Brezoi and Călimăneşti further facilitate access.

The Râmnicu Vâlcea-Sibiu railway line, which passes through the Olt River Gorge, has several stations within the park’s vicinity, including Păuşa, Turnu, Cozia, Gura Lotrului, Călineşti – Beţel, and Cornet, providing an additional access option for visitors.

How to Get to Cozia in Romania

The main access routes to Cozia National Park are via the national road DN7, which connects the cities of Râmnicu Vâlcea and Păușa, passing through localities such as Bujoreni, Malu Vârtop, Gura Văii, and Călimănești.

Best Time to Visit Cozia

The best time to visit Cozia National Park is during the months of May, July, August, and September, when the weather tends to be more favorable and there is less chance of rain. The warmest months are July and August, while January tends to be the coldest. However, it is important to note that May and June are the rainiest months, so it is advisable to plan accordingly.

Recommended Excursions and Activities

Powered by GetYourGuide

What to See and Do in Cozia National Park, Romania

Cozia National Park and its surroundings offer a wide variety of tourist attractions that draw both local and foreign visitors. From its impressive natural landscapes to its valuable historical and cultural resources, the region is a popular destination in Romania. Tourists can enjoy various outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, bird watching, and fishing, as well as exploring ancient monasteries and historical monuments that dot the area. Additionally, the thermal springs and rich flora and fauna provide unique opportunities for relaxation and nature discovery.

Around 100,000 tourists visit the natural area of Cozia annually. The main tourist attractions include hiking, outdoor sports, visits to historical and cultural sites, and exploring unique natural landscapes, such as the Olt and Lotrisor Gorges and the Gardului waterfall. It is also possible to enjoy different activities such as spa baths in the Călimăneşti-Căciulata-Cozia complex.

The types of tourism practiced in the region include mountain tourism, visits to historical monasteries, cultural tourism, sports tourism, agritourism, rural tourism, spa tourism, scientific tourism, and tourism for meetings and congresses. Each of these forms offers a unique and attractive experience for visitors interested in exploring the diversity of the region.

Arutela Castle

Arutela Castle

On the Roman ruins, this site stands on the left bank of the Olt River in Poiana Bivolari, which used to be a royal buffalo farm. Today, you can see the remains of a Roman fort and the baths built by Syrian archers of the Roman army, along with a stretch of the ancient Roman road. Archaeological excavations revealed inscriptions from the times of the Roman emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. Despite the destruction caused by a flood of the Olt River, the site has been reconstructed and preserved. Near the ruins, there are springs and a thermal water well.

Masa lui Traian

Masa lui Traian

This rocky promontory, extending from Muchia lui Teofil to the bed of the Olt River, is now visible only as a small island in the Turnu reservoir. Legend suggests that Emperor Trajan might have dined here during the Dacian conquest campaign. Local tradition also mentions the name "Masa lui Mihai," where it is said that Prince Mihai stopped on his way to Transylvania. The rock inspired the poet Dimitrie Bolintineanu to write the poem "The Last Night of Mihai the Great," along with "The Shadow of Mircea at Cozia."

Pretorium Castle

Located on the left side of the Olt River near the village of Copăceni-Racoviţa, this site consists of two monumental constructions. One is situated on the banks of the Olt River for defensive purposes, while the other is on the upper terrace of the river, representing an authentic fortified Roman settlement.

Network of Roman Camps

Near the Cozia Massif, this network of Roman camps was part of the ancient Roman defense system known as "Limes Alutanus."

Cozia Monastery

Cozia Monastery

Located in the town of Călimăneşti, on the banks of the Olt River, this monastery is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. In the 14th century, Mircea the Elder decided to build this monastery at the place known as Călimăneşti-Cozia in Olt, as recorded in the Codices of Cozia Monastery. The monastery, a building of the great voivode with special architecture, is the final resting place of the great voivode and the mother of Mihai Viteazu.

Hospital of Cozia Monastery

Built in the 16th century, this hospital has been a place of healing for numerous patients, both Romanian and foreign, since its foundation.

Turnu Monastery

Turnu Monastery, Romania

This monastery, located in a place known for the "Entrance of the Mother of God into the Church," features an old church and a new one dedicated to the "Transfiguration," founded in the 18th century.

Ostrov Hermitage

Ostrov Hermitage, Romania

Founded in the 16th century in the town of Călimăneşti, this hermitage is dedicated to the Nativity of the Mother of God.

Stănişoara Monastery

Stănişoara Monastery

This monastery was founded in the 17th century, becoming a sanctuary of profound spiritual and cultural significance. It stands out for its traditional Romanian architecture and serene location in the mountains, offering a refuge of peace and spirituality, surrounded by vegetation and hiking trails, currently serving as a place of pilgrimage.

Frăsinei Monastery

Aerial view of Frăsinei Monastery, Romania

Located in the commune of Muereasca, this monastery was founded in the 18th century and is home to monks dedicated to the "Birth of Saint John the Baptist" in the old church and the "Dormition of the Mother of God" in the new church. It is notable for being a large monastic complex.

Cornet Monastery

This monastery, located in the village of Călineşti, is home to monks dedicated to the "Beheading of Saint John the Baptist."

16th Century Churches

These churches, considered medieval historical monuments, include the Church of Păuşa (17th century), the old Church of Călimăneşti (16th century), the Church of Scaueni, which is a miniature replica of Cozia Monastery (15th century), the Church of Proieni, and the Church of Călineşti.

Historical Sites

The village of Pripoare, in the commune of Perișani, is believed to house the Posada Pass, where the mountain ruler Basarab I defeated the army of Charles Robert of Anjou in 1330, establishing the foundation of the independent state of Wallachia.

Vlad Tepes Fortress

Located in the Băiaşului Valley, this fortress is a fortified point with a notable history. Valea Băiașului is named after the former inhabitants known as "children," who were gold seekers.

Dealul Viilor

In Jiblea Veche, this site is the vineyard of Cozia Monastery and features vineyards on the terraces. It has been a vine cultivation site since the time of the voivodes and is located at the highest altitude in the country.

Lotrisor Waterfall

Lotrisor WaterfallLotrisor Waterfall is located in the valley of the same name in the Căpățănii mountains, approximately 2.4 km upstream from its confluence with the Olt River and about 7.5 km from the Căciulata complex, on the national road DN7 towards Sibiu, through the beautiful Old Gorge. Surrounded by slopes covered with trees and shrubs, and during the growing season, a profusion of flowers, this route showcases some of Romania’s steepest crystalline slopes, with towering gorges of more than 300-400 meters of vertical drop.

The waterfall, located between 480 and 515 meters in altitude, is tall, elegant, and exceptionally beautiful. In spring and autumn, the landscape takes on a special charm with the rust-yellow tones of the vegetation and the water cascading over the rocks. However, the real spectacle is revealed in winter when the waterfall is adorned with a white mantle of ice crystals, creating a magical atmosphere with its silver icicles and aura of bright stars at the top.

Visitors can access the waterfall only on foot, by bicycle, or with strollers, via the forest road that harmoniously integrates with the Lotrisor Valley. The average walking time from the parking lot to the waterfall is 35 to 40 minutes. Along the way, the park administration has installed informational panels about the biodiversity and attractions of the area, as well as tourist tables and benches for visitors to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of nature.

Stănișoara Waterfall

Stănișoara Waterfall, located in the Paradise of Flowers, is formed by the waters of the Stănișoara stream on the southern slope of the Cozia massif. This waterfall, along with its natural surroundings, is surrounded by wildflowers, ancient forests, and diverse wildlife. The stream descends from an altitude of 850 meters, falling from a height of 20 meters and forming a series of jumps, thresholds, and smaller waterfalls along its course. This dynamic landscape of rocks and vegetation creates an impressive view, visible as if on a cinema screen from the opposite slope.

The trail leading from the Stănișoara Monastery to the waterfall is filled with spectacular images, with rocky formations, trees, shrubs, and decorative wildflowers. Stănișoara Waterfall is a prominent tourist attraction of the park due to its beauty and biodiversity.

Dragon’s Caves

The Dragon’s Caves are located in the Călinești-Brezoi Forest, in a rocky area with fascinating geomorphology. These caves, located at an altitude of 600-680 meters, feature rock formations with strange shapes, including hollows and cavities of various sizes. According to ancient legends, these caves used to be the home of dragons, who clashed with the local inhabitants. Local warriors, including Voinea, Breazu, Ciungu, Mălai, and Călin, fought against the dragons to free the kidnapped youths. Over time, the dragons disappeared, leaving only the caves as witnesses to these stories.

Bison Rocks

The Bison Rocks (Pietrele Zimbrilor), located near Brezoi in Cozia National Park, form a spectacular geomorphological landscape. This area, covering approximately 500 hectares, showcases a variety of rock formations carved by erosion over time. Notable are rocks with unique shapes, such as snails, nipples, clays, and towers. These formations reveal the millennia-old geological history of the area and are complemented by valleys featuring rapids and small waterfalls, giving them a picturesque charm. Local legend suggests that a herd of bison once inhabited this area, and the place where the mightiest bison appeared is known as Bison Peak.

Man’s Gate

Man’s Gate (Poarta Omului), in Cozia National Park, is a wonderful natural creation located at 1,250 meters above sea level, in the Muntele Omul area. It is easily accessible from the Vârful Cozia cabin, with a walk of about an hour on marked trails. This granite gate is 10 meters high, 7 meters wide, and has a vault 7 meters thick. It is the only passage through the Omul mountain. The surrounding landscape, with ancient forests, meadows, and towering cliffs, is stunning. In addition to its natural beauty, it hosts a rich biodiversity, including bears, wolves, lynxes, and black goats.

From Man’s Gate, one can enjoy impressive views of the Făgăraș mountains, the Olt Gorge, and vast Romanian plains. According to local legends, this gate, along with seven similar ones in the Cozia massif, was created by Zamolxis, the god of the Dacians, and served as a secret passage through the mountains. These stone gates were known only to shepherds, passing the knowledge from generation to generation.

Stânișoara in Cozia: A Fairy Tale Land

The Stânișoara region in the natural setting of Cozia is truly special, with a beauty that captivates. This mountainous area, located on the southern slope of the Cozia massif, is distinguished by its charming clearing surrounded by lush forests, where shepherds used to stop their flocks during transhumance. Here, centuries ago, hermits established a beautiful monastery, which is considered one of the most sacred places of Romanian Orthodoxy.

Stânișoara Area

Nature has endowed this land with exceptional biodiversity. The varied ecosystems host unique flora and fauna, including endemic species such as the Cozia rose and the Carpathian scorpion. Near the monastery, about 2,000 hectares of forest, composed mainly of virgin and centuries-old beech trees, were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, being a natural treasure shared by all of Europe.

In this area, an oak forest, covering about 300 hectares and reaching an altitude of 1,350 meters above sea level near Vârful Cozia, represents the highest point in the country. The Stânișoara region is a popular destination among hiking enthusiasts, with four tourist routes allowing exploration of its varied and spectacular landscape. Each step reveals a new natural wonder, culminating in stunning panoramas from Cozia Peak.

The Doabres Region in Cozia National Park

In the northwest part of the park, between the waters of the Lotr and the Olt, near the town of Brezoi, lies a fascinating region where nature has preserved a wide collection of vestiges from geological eras.

This area, known as Doabrele Brezoiului, is a natural space with great potential for scientific research, as well as an interesting tourist destination for those looking to relax and have new experiences, regardless of the time of year.

Here, at a glance, one can find evidence of the dynamic changes in the Earth’s crust, which have preserved valuable paleontological records in successive fossiliferous layers.

But one can also appreciate a charming world of wild plants in every corner of this area, from alpine and subalpine to steppe species. Many of these species are native to the Carpathians, but there are also representatives from other regions of Europe, such as the Carpathians, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, central, and northern Europe, making this area a place where relics of the Quaternary era and more recent products of evolution meet. Wildlife is also abundant in Doabrele Brezoiului, from large carnivores like bears, wolves, and lynxes, to the black goat, which frequents rocky habitats between 300 and 400 meters in altitude, and even descends to the banks of the Olt or Lotr.

Above all, it predominates a nearly mysterious landscape, which seems to be the beginning of the world, connected through legends by the inhabitants of the area since time immemorial.

Two streams, Doabra and Zimbrul, have carved deep canyons into the rock, creating a landscape full of unique rock formations, such as towers, spires, chimneys, snails, and more. The Bison Rocks and the Great Shark have a special aura, and everywhere there are corners and passages that give the feeling of entering a labyrinth. However, at the end of the path, one reaches Poiana Suliței, at 1,013 meters above sea level, the highest point in the area, from where one can admire impressive views towards other distant regions, such as the Lotrului Valley, the Cozia, Parângului, Căpățănii, and Făgăraşului mountains.

Doabre Brezoiului

For enthusiasts and those curious to discover the secrets of this region, it is worth mentioning that the area is easily accessible and starts just 10 minutes from the village of Brezoi, following the tourist route marked with a red cross that departs from the Cozia National Park Visitor Center towards the village of Călinești. This hike generally takes between 5 and 6 hours, but most visitors prefer to spend a full day exploring the labyrinth of these places.

Hiking and Trekking Routes

The hiking routes that wind through the spectacular landscapes of Cozia National Park offer a unique experience. Below are the official park routes:

  • Turnu Station (310 m) – Curmătura la Troiță (673 m) – Scorțaru Mountain – Muchia Turneanu – Cozia Cabin (1,573 m).
  • Lotru Station (317 m) – Vărateca – Muchia Urzicii – Stâna din Rotunda – Cozia Peak (1,668 m).
  • Turnu Station (310 m) – Pietrele Roşiei (750 m) – Muchia Turneanu – Vf. Cozia (1,668 m).
  • Stănișoara Monastery (720 m) – Muchia Vlădesei – Durduc (1,568 m) – Cozia Peak (1,668 m).
  • Cozia Peak (1,668 m) – Curmătura Mocirle (1,427 m) – Omul Peak (1,558 m) – Muchia Şirul de Pietre – Pripoare Village (520 m).
  • Brezoi (640 m) – Valea Dăneasa – Poiana Târsa (1,280 m).
  • Gura Lotrisorului (300 m) – Valea Lotrisorului – Poiana Târsa (1,280 m).
  • Roman fort of Arutela (300 m) – La Troiță – Stănișoara Monastery (720 m).
  • Brezoi (640 m) – Ţurţudan Peak – Poiana Suliţa Peak – Călineşti Valley – Călineşti Village (340 m).

Fauna of Cozia

Fauna of Cozia National Park in Romania

Six species of mammals have been recorded, including the brown bear, the wolf, the Eurasian lynx, and several types of bats. Additionally, there are two species of amphibians and three species of fish present in the area. Seven species of invertebrates have also been identified, such as the mullet and the Transylvanian sawfly.

  • Brown bear (Ursus arctos).
  • Wolf (Canis lupus).
  • Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx).
  • Wildcat (Felis silvestris).
  • Common bat (Myotis myotis).
  • Greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum).
  • Barbastelle bat (Barbastella barbastellus).
  • Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus).
  • Red deer (Cervus elaphus).
  • Black goat (Rupicapra rupicapra).

The animals of Cozia National Park in Romania have representation in almost all major animal groups, with large carnivores and herbivores such as the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) standing out among the vertebrates.

Regarding bird species, over 120 bird species have been identified in Cozia, such as the great grey shrike (Glis glis), the dipper (Cinclus cinclus), and the grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), among others.

The Olt Gorge, besides being an impressive landscape, serves as a corridor for bird migration from Central Europe to the Aegean Sea and vice versa. However, the construction of the Turnu and Gura Lotrului reservoirs has altered the environmental conditions. These reservoirs now serve as temporary rest areas and even wintering grounds for water birds.

Aquatic Fauna: The Most Relevant Fish

In terms of aquatic fauna, different species of invertebrates and more than 30 species of fish inhabit the protected area’s mountain rivers. Among them are:

  • Trout (Salmo trutta fario)
  • Gudgeon (Cottus gobio)
  • Dace (Phoxinus phoxinus)
  • Nase (Chondrostoma nasus)
  • Barbel (Barbus barbus)
  • Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
  • Romanian dace (Sabanejewia romanica), which is endemic to Romania.

The presence of the Romanian dace is especially significant, as it is endemic to Romania, and its existence in as many river basins as possible in the country contributes to ensuring its survival.

Invertebrates

Invertebrates in Cozia are less studied compared to vertebrates; however, they maintain a great diversity of species.

During field activities for the inventory, evaluation, and mapping of invertebrates, about 105 species of Coleoptera were identified, belonging to 76 genera and 21 families, as well as approximately 40 species of Orthoptera, distributed across 14 genera and 4 families. Some of these are considered priority species, specifically seven invertebrate species such as Isophya harzi and Pholidoptera transsylvanica (Orthoptera), as well as Carabus variolosus, Cerambyx cerdo, Lucanus cervus, Morimus asper funereus, and Rosalia alpina (Coleoptera). These species are mentioned in the Natura 2000 standard form for the ROSCI0046 Cozia site and are listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive, as well as in Annex 3 of GEO no. 57/2007, modified and supplemented by Law no. 49/2011.

Additionally, other important fauna species were identified, such as Carabus (Chaetocarabus) intricatus, Carabus (Megodontus) violaceus, and Chorthippus acoleucus (Orthoptera), the latter being an endemic species of the massif. In the Cozia peak area, numerous invertebrate species are found, with coleopterans, harvestmen, springtails, and spiders being the most frequent, while other groups such as centipedes, ants, and earthworms appear sporadically and in smaller numbers.

Arachnids

Arachnids deserve special mention, highlighting the pseudoscorpion Neobisium carpathicum, a protected species of Mediterranean origin that is frequent in both the Cozia and Narățu massifs. Research on the invertebrates of the area has highlighted the presence of rich fauna, and through the relationships between the number of individuals and species, it offers a view of structural diversity, reflecting the objective reality at a given moment.

An additional peculiarity is the abundance of species of southern origin and endemisms, especially orthopterans, coleopterans, and lepidopterans. The specific geographical position of the massif, characterized by a mosaic of biotopes, allows the coexistence of many species from the same systematic groups, a situation not found in any other massif of the Southern Carpathians. Besides the Mediterranean elements, the region where the Cozia park is located also hosts species from Central Asia, reaching here the western limit of their distribution area.

Flora of Cozia

Forests cover 93% of the Cozia, Narățu, and Doabra-Călineşti massifs in the national park. Vegetation is stratified according to altitude, from 300 meters to 1,667 meters. The general composition of the forests is dominated by beech (57%), followed by oak (14%), fir (18%), and mixed species such as hornbeam, cherry, lime, ash, among others (11%). Most of the forests are over 80 years old (62%), and there are more than 6,000 hectares of nearly virgin natural stands.

Flora and vegetation species of Cozia National Park, Romania

The scientific value of the protected area in the Romanian region of Cozia lies in the presence of extensive forest ecosystems and natural meadows, minimally modified by human intervention, possessing great originality and variability. The concentration of these diverse ecosystems is due to the predominant geological formation of gneiss, the horst-type relief, and the pronounced slopes with various exposures, factors that have contributed to the creation of highly diverse local microclimates.

Plant Species

In the vegetation and within the flora of Cozia National Park, four grass species listed in the same annex of the European Directive stand out. Among these are the queen’s flower, the mountain bellflower, the neck grass, ligularia, and the wild iris. Additionally, other floristic rarities are present, such as angelica, scentless chamomile, mountain lettuce, arnica, and a variety of bellflower, carnation, and sage species, among others.

  • Red campion (Silene dioica).
  • Queen’s flower (Leontopodium alpinum).
  • Mountain bellflower (Campanula serrata).
  • Neck grass (Tozzia carpathica).
  • Ligularia (Ligularia sibirica).
  • Wild iris (Iris aphylla ssp. hungarica).

Mycological Flora

Over 402 species of fungi have been found to date. Additionally, 630 fungus-substrate combinations have been recorded, and various fungi parasitize a wide variety of plants. Four new taxa for Romania have been discovered in this area: Anthracoidea rupestris, Melampsoridium alni, Peronospora eynoglossi, and Tamularia thesii.

Lichens

A total of 71 lichen taxa have been identified. Mount Cozia is particularly interesting from a lichenological point of view. The lichen communities that grow on tree bark are considered subordinate to the forest formations in which they develop.

Mosses

A total of 199 bryophyte species have been recorded in Cozia National Park. Of these, 41 belong to the Hepaticae class and 158 to the Musci class. The research covered all the mountain’s vegetation formations, with material collection including 35% saxicolous species, 34% terricolous, 20% corticolous, and 11% in polyedaphic and supraligneous environments.

Vascular Flora

Research in Cozia National Park has revealed a list of 932 taxa of vascular plants. Six local endemic species have been identified, and Carpathian or Dacian endemics such as Thlaspi dacicum, Thymus comosus, Genista tinctoria oligosperma, among others, are highlighted. Rare species like Leontopodium alpinum, Daphne blagayana, Gentiana acaulis, Primula halleri, among others, have been observed.

Botanical Research in the National Park

The Cozia National Park area, despite having a very interesting natural heritage with particular ecological processes, has not been sufficiently studied and researched. Most of the work done so far has focused more on the tourist component, aiming to highlight the beauty of the landscapes and promote points of interest. However, several studies and research deserve special attention.

The first studies on plants were conducted by Ulrich Hoffmann in 1862, whose data were published by D. Brândza. The species Gallium baillonii, a taxon now considered locally endemic, was also discovered, and these species were later studied by Erika Schneider-Binder in 1973. Other researchers like I. Dimitrie-Tătăranu and EI Nyarady have also conducted research on Mount Cozia and its vegetation, identifying new taxa.

In 1988, G. Coldea and Adriana Pop published interesting data on the vegetation of these mountains in a work titled "Phytocenological Investigations in Mount Cozia." Studies on lichens and vegetation, in general, were also conducted. The University of Bucharest carried out a Study of the Foundation of Cozia National Park in 1993.

In more recent years, Marilena Onete has published materials related to the vegetation of Mount Cozia, focusing on Mediterranean and Pontic-Mediterranean species. Additionally, a significant number of botanists have studied the flora of the Cozia massif, contributing to the knowledge of its biodiversity.

The APNC has initiated studies and research through various projects, addressing topics such as natural rocky habitats, ecological processes, species distribution, avifauna of the Olt Gorge, among others. In the early years of the Management Plan’s implementation, research is expected to focus on implementing specific actions for the Natura 2000 sites, both in habitats and birds.

Habitats within the Park

Habitat 9410

Habitat 9410 comprises acidophilous forests of Picea abies in the mountainous region, belonging to the Vaccinio – Piceetea class. They are characterized by the presence of specific plant associations, such as Soldanello majoris – Piceetum Coldea and Wagner 1998, Hieracio rotundati – Piceetum Paw and fr. – Bl. 1939 (also known as Luzulo sylvaticae – Piceetum Wraber1953), and Hieracio rotundati – Abietetum (Borhidi 1974) Coldea 1991, among others.

Distribution and conservation status: This habitat covers a significant area in the eastern part of Cozia National Park, although it is also found to a lesser extent in the west and north. The areas are fragmented, with some zones more conserved than others. It is estimated that around 1.5 hectares in the Vârful Cozia area have been affected by anthropogenic factors, such as forest fires that occurred in 2012.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 849 hectares.

Habitat 91V0: Dacian Beech Forests (Symphyto – Fagion)

Habitat description: This habitat comprises forests of Fagus sylvatica, Fagus sylvatica – Abies alba, Fagus sylvatica – Abies alba – Picea abies, and Fagus sylvatica – Carpinus betulus of the Romanian Carpathians and sub-Carpathian hills. These forests belong to the Symphyto cordati – Fagion alliance and are characterized by the presence of typical Fagetalia species. They develop on neutral, basic, and sometimes acidic substrates.

Plant associations: Among the plant associations present in this habitat are Pulmonario rubrae – Haya (Soó 1964) Täuber 1987, Leucanthemo waldsteinii – Haya (Soó 1964) Täuber 1987, Symphyto cordati – Haya Vida 1959, and Phyllitidi – Haya Vida (1959) 1963.

Distribution and conservation status: This habitat has a significant coverage in Cozia National Park, concentrating mostly from southwest to northeast. However, they are also sporadically found in the northwest and southeast. Most of the areas where it is found are highly fragmented, although some non-fragmented or slightly fragmented areas are surrounded by highly fragmented areas.

In some zones where forestry activities have been carried out in the sustainable conservation area of Cozia National Park, the conservation status of this habitat is compromised due to non-compliance with forestry regulations.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 2,326 hectares.

Habitat 91Q0 R215 and R217: Relict Forests of Pinus sylvestris

Habitat description: This habitat is characterized by relict forests of Pinus sylvestris. Two main plant associations have been identified: Seslerio rigidae – Pinetum sylvestris Csûrös et al. 1988 and Daphno blagayanae – Pinetum sylvestris Coldea et Pop 1988.

Distribution and conservation status: Relict forests of Pinus sylvestris are present in various locations within Cozia National Park, with seven larger areas showing significant fragmentation. However, there are also smaller portions with less pronounced fragmentation.

In terms of conservation, the status of this habitat in Cozia National Park is very good.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 255 hectares.

Habitat 91E0*: Alluvial Forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno – Padion, Anion incanae, Salicion albae)

Habitat 91E0* refers to alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior, which grow on heavy soils, generally rich in alluvial deposits, periodically flooded by rising river levels at least once a year. These soils are well-drained and aerated during periods of low water flow. The herbaceous layer consists of numerous large species and may contain several spring geophytes.

These alluvial forests are home to various plant associations, including Telekio speciosae – Alnetum incanae, Stellarium nemorum – Alnetum glutinosa, Carici brizoidis – Alnetum glutinosa, among others. Although this habitat is present in multiple areas of Cozia National Park, most of them are highly fragmented, with only a few areas that are not fragmented or have minimal fragmentation. In some areas, the conservation status is affected by floods and extraordinary rains in recent years.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 1,069 hectares.

Habitat 9180* Tilio-Acerion Forests on Steep Slopes, Screes, and Ravines

Habitat 9180* refers to Tilio-Acerion forests on steep slopes, screes, and ravines. These mixed forests consist of species such as Acer pseudoplatanus, common ash, elm, and small-leaved lime, growing on scree soils, steep rocky slopes, or ravines on slopes, especially on calcareous substrates, but also on siliceous substrates.

Two types of associations can be distinguished within this habitat: one associated with cold and humid stations, generally dominated by Acer pseudoplatanus, and another associated with dry and warm areas, generally dominated by limes such as Tilia cordata and Tilia platyphyllos.

Although this habitat is present in several areas of Cozia National Park, most of them are highly fragmented, with only a few areas that have minimal fragmentation. However, the overall conservation status of this habitat in the park is very good.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 4,325 hectares.

Habitat 9170 Oak-Hornbeam Forests Galio – Carpinetum

Habitat 9170 contains oak-hornbeam forests, known as Carpinetum Galio. These forests are associated with various plants, such as Carici pilosae.

In Cozia National Park, this habitat is primarily found in the north and center. There are heavily fragmented areas, but also zones with minimal or no fragmentation.

The conservation status of this habitat in Cozia National Park is excellent.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 1,148 hectares.

Habitat 9130 Asperulo-Fagetum Beech Forests

Habitat 9130 comprises Asperulo-Fagetum beech forests, consisting of Fagus sylvatica forests and, in higher mountainous regions, Fagus sylvatica – Abies alba or Fagus sylvatica – Abies alba – Picea abies forests. These forests develop on neutral or slightly acidic soils with high-quality humus (mull) and are found in the mid-altitude regions of Western and Central Europe, as well as Northern Europe.

These forests are characterized by the massive presence of species like Anemone nemorosa, Lamiastrum (Lamium) galeobdolon, Galium odoratum, and Melica uniflora in lower altitude areas, while in higher zones, different species of Dentaria form a richer and more abundant herbaceous layer compared to other types of forests.

In Cozia National Park, this habitat covers a large portion of the area, mainly concentrated in the northwest half. However, these habitats are often fragmented.

The conservation status of this habitat in Cozia National Park is good.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 3,579 hectares.

Habitat 9110 Luzulo-Fagetum Beech Forests

Habitat 9110 consists of Luzulo-Fagetum beech forests, characterized by plant associations such as Festuco drymejae – Fagetum and Hieracio rotundati – Fagetum.

These forests occupy a significant part of Cozia National Park, with more fragmented areas compared to those with less fragmentation. In the east of the park territory, there is a zone where this habitat covers a larger extent, followed by the southeast, center, and south.

In terms of conservation, the status of this habitat in Cozia National Park is very good.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 1,077 hectares.

Habitat 8220 Siliceous Rocky Slopes with Chasmophytic Vegetation

Habitat 8220 concerns siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation, characterized by plant associations such as Sileno dinarici, Senecio glaberrimi – Silenetum lerchenfeldianae, and Sileno lerchenfeldianae – Potentilletum haynaldianae.

These rocky slopes are distributed in various locations within Cozia National Park. Although most of these areas are highly fragmented, there are also zones with moderate or even no fragmentation. The more fragmented areas tend to be larger, while the non-fragmented areas are smaller and scattered.

In terms of conservation, the status of this habitat in Cozia National Park is very good.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 203 hectares.

Habitat 8110 Siliceous Scrub from Montane to Alpine Level (Androsacetalia alpinae and Galeopsietalia ladani)

Habitat 8110 refers to siliceous scrub from the montane to alpine level, encompassing from the upper montane soil to the level of permanent snow. These siliceous gravel communities, belonging to the Androsacetalia alpinae order, grow in mobile cryoclastic systems with variable granulometry. Additionally, they include montane soil vegetation of central and western Europe, found on slopes, sometimes of artificial origin.

This habitat is composed of alpine communities, often rich in bryophytes, lichens, and occasionally ferns like Cryptogramma crispa, of the Galeopsietalia order. It is also closely associated with chasmophytic vegetation on the rocky slopes of silicate rocks (Habitat 8220).

In Cozia National Park, this habitat is found in two locations south of Cozia Peak, and shows high levels of fragmentation. Although present in an insular form, the conservation status of this habitat is good, especially considering its location in the integral protection area of the park.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 1 hectare.

Habitat 7220* Petrifying Springs with Tufa Formation (Cratoneurion)

Habitat 7220* includes petrifying springs with tufa formation, which are hard water springs where active deposition of travertine or tufa occurs. These formations can be found in various environments, such as forests or open rural areas, and usually have small surfaces, either in point or line forms. They are dominated by bryophytes of the Cratoneurion commutati order.

These springs can form complexes with other habitats like peat bogs, chasmophytic communities, scrublands, and grasslands on calcareous substrates. The conservation of this habitat, which has a very limited territorial extent, depends on the maintenance of the surrounding habitats and the related hydrological system. The existence of the travertine layer is crucial for this habitat, although some of the associated plant communities can also be found in marshes on calcareous substrates without a visible travertine layer.

Although this habitat is usually present in pinpoint locations or linear structures, the only identified site in Cozia National Park shows a low level of fragmentation, indicating good preservation.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 0.1 hectares.

Habitat 6520 Mountain Hay Meadows

Habitat 6520 comprises mountain hay meadows, which are mesophilic grasslands rich in species typical of montane and subalpine levels. These meadows are usually found at altitudes above 600 meters and are dominated by species like Trisetum flavescens, along with a variety of other plants such as Heracleum sphondylium, Viola cornuta, Astrantia major, among others.

Meadows belonging to the subassociation Festuco rubrae – Agrostietum capillaris nardetosum are not included in this habitat, as they are generally not used for hay production due to their high floral diversity, and are classified as habitat 6230.

These meadows are mainly found in the northern part of Cozia National Park. The larger areas show a greater degree of fragmentation. However, the conservation status of this habitat in Cozia National Park is good.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 476 hectares.

Habitat 6430 Hydrophilous Tall Herb Fringe Communities from Plains to Montane and Alpine Levels

Habitat 6430 consists of hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities that extend from plains to montane and alpine levels. These communities are composed of a variety of plant species, including Acónito tauricum, Adenostylus – Doronicetum austriaci, Cirsio waldsteinii – Heracleetum transsivanici, among others.

Although this habitat is present in many locations in Cozia National Park, it is generally highly fragmented, except in some smaller areas where fragmentation is low, especially in higher altitude zones.

Nonetheless, the conservation status of this habitat in Cozia National Park is very good.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 523 hectares.

Habitat 6230* Species-Rich Nardus Grasslands on Siliceous Substrates

Habitat 6230* refers to species-rich Nardus grasslands found on siliceous substrates. These permanent grasslands, characterized by the presence of the species Nardus, occupy siliceous soils in plains, hills, and mountains. The vegetation is highly varied but continuous, giving these grasslands high value due to their species richness.

The specific richness of these grasslands generally correlates with a Nardus cover of up to 50% of the total vegetation cover. Facies with strict Nardus from other montane grassland associations are included, as long as the substrate is siliceous and the specific richness is relatively high.

This habitat is found in six areas within Cozia National Park. The largest area, located near Cozia Peak, is the most fragmented but also the largest in surface. The other five areas, although smaller, are not fragmented.

Despite the fragmentation, the conservation status of this habitat in Cozia National Park is good.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 76 hectares.

Habitat 6150 Boreal and Alpine Grasslands on Siliceous Substrates

Habitat 6150 describes boreal and alpine grasslands found on siliceous substrates. These grasslands are associated with various plant communities, such as Prímulo – Caricetum curvulae and Oreochloo – Juncetum trifidi, among others.

In Cozia National Park, the conservation status of this habitat is very good. It occupies an area of around 43 hectares in the park and in the Natura 2000 sites.

Habitat 40A0* Subcontinental Peri-Pannonic Scrub

Habitat 40A0* encompasses subcontinental peri-Pannonic scrub, including various cenotaxa such as Prunetum fruticosae and Siringo – Carpinion orientalis, among others.

In Cozia National Park, this habitat shows an excellent conservation status, with significant variation in the degree of fragmentation. Areas with low fragmentation predominate due to their isolation and difficult access.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 517 hectares.

Habitat 4060 Alpine and Boreal Short Shrubs of Romania

Habitat 4060 includes alpine and boreal short shrubs, comprising various plant associations such as Cetrario – Loiseleurietum procumbentis and Junipero – Bruckenthalietum, among others.

In Cozia National Park, this habitat shows variation in the degree of fragmentation, from moderately fragmented zones in the Cozia massif to highly fragmented zones in the southwest, near the Cârligele peak – Olăneştilor peak.

Although the presence of this habitat is atypical due to the lack of alpine zones in Cozia National Park, the alpine and boreal shrubs are in good conservation status in environmentally fragmented areas.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 216 hectares.

Habitat 3240 Woody Vegetation with Salix elaeagnos along Mountain Rivers

Habitat 3240, characterized by woody vegetation with Salix elaeagnos along mountain rivers, comprises tall or dense shrubs formed by species such as Salix spp., Hippophae rhamnoides, Alnus spp., and Betula spp. These species develop on gravel deposits of northern mountain and boreal watercourses with an alpine hydrological regime, with maximum flow during the summer.

The substrate consists of psammitic-pelitic rocks with a succession of marls, clays, sandy clays, sands, and pebbles, while the soils are alluvial and poor in sand, sometimes salinized. The phytocoenosis includes Eurasian, European, and Central European species, as well as cosmopolitan and adventitious species.

Plant associations include Hippophae – Salicetum elaeagni and Salicetum elaeagni-purpureae. However, the conservation of this habitat in Cozia National Park is affected by recent torrential rains and the high degree of fragmentation, especially in tourist areas along the mountain rivers.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 40 hectares.

Habitat 3220 Herbaceous Vegetation along Mountain River Banks

Habitat 3220, consisting of herbaceous vegetation along mountain river banks, presents subtype 24.222 in Cozia National Park.

Plant associations include Calamagrostietum pseudophragmitis, Chrysosplenio alpini – Saxifragetum stellaris, Swertio punctatae – Saxifragetum stellaris, Philonotido – Calthetum laetae, Cardaminetum opizii, Caltho laetae – Ligularietum sibiricae, and Carici remota – Calthaetum laetae.

Overall, the habitat shows good conservation status within Cozia National Park, but it is highly fragmented, with scattered and small-sized areas.

The total area of this habitat in Cozia National Park and the Natura 2000 sites is approximately 90 hectares.

Protected Natural Areas within Cozia National Park

ROSCI 0046 Cozia, ROSPA0025 Cozia-Buila-Vânturarița, and the Călineşti-Brezoi Forest Natural Reserve are protected areas located in Vâlcea County, Romania. Each of these reserves plays a crucial role in conserving the biodiversity and unique ecosystems of the region, offering vital habitats for a variety of plant and animal species.

ROSCI 0046 Cozia

ROSCI 0046 Cozia is located in Vâlcea County, Romania, in the continental alpine biogeographical region. The site coordinates are 45°20’2″ N latitude and 24°18’2″ E longitude. The altitude ranges from 296 meters to 1,659 meters, with an average altitude of 789 meters.

The protected area covers 16,760 hectares and overlaps with the boundaries of Cozia National Park. According to Romanian legislation and the Habitats Directive, the primary management objective for this site is to maintain natural habitats and species in a favorable conservation status. This is achieved through management measures that ensure the stability or increase of natural areas and Natura 2000 habitats, as well as the long-term conservation of the specific structure and functions of these habitats. Special attention is given to maintaining the dynamics of species populations and ensuring that the natural area of the species does not decrease or is not at risk of decreasing in the foreseeable future.

ROSPA0025 Cozia-Buila-Vânturarița

ROSPA0025 Cozia-Buila-Vânturarița is located in Vâlcea County, Romania, in the continental alpine biogeographical region. Its coordinates are 45°17’49″ N latitude and 24°13’26″ E longitude. The altitude ranges from 294 meters to 1,862 meters, with an average altitude of 854 meters.

This protected area covers 21,769 hectares and is entirely within Vâlcea County. According to Romanian legislation and the Birds Directive, the main objective of the administration of this site is the protection, management, and control of bird species, as well as the establishment of conservation rules. This is achieved through management measures that focus on bird species, their eggs, nests, and habitats.

The area included in Cozia National Park is managed by the Cozia National Park Administration, while the rest of the site is under different management. The management measures ensure that the dynamics of species populations indicate that they are maintained and have the potential to be sustained long-term as a viable component of the natural habitat, and that the natural area of the species does not decrease or is not at risk of decreasing in the foreseeable future.

Călinești-Brezoi Forest Natural Reserve (Rezervaţia naturală Pădurea Călineşti-Brezoi)

The Călinești-Brezoi Forest Natural Reserve is a protected area of national interest located in Vâlcea County, Romania. Covering an area of 400 hectares, it corresponds to category IV of the IUCN, being a mixed natural reserve.

Geomorphologically, the area features peculiar relief characterized by ruiniform formations, modeled in Brezoi conglomerates, with various characteristics such as needles, towers, chimneys, pyramids, clays, cliffs, ledges, and caves. This area hosts a rich floristic diversity, including southern thermophilic, endemic, and rare species such as Cotinus coggygria, Dianthus henteri, Galium valantoides var. bailloni, Thymus comosus, Pulsatilla montana, Daphne cneorum, and Daphne mezereum. From a landscape point of view, it stands out for its varied relief with forests, groves, valleys, and small secondary meadows.

The reserve’s fauna is equally diverse, with species such as the lynx (Lynx lynx), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), stone marten (Martes foina), pine marten (Martes martes), and horned viper (Vipera ammodytes). Additionally, the reserve is a habitat for a wide variety of birds adapted to different rocky, forest, and meadow environments.

The management of this reserve focuses on the conservation of species and habitats, as well as the preservation of specific landscapes and geological formations. Notable species include the great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) and the queen’s flower (Leontopodium alpinum). Regarding habitats, the presence of the Natura 2000 habitat 6150, corresponding to boreal and alpine grasslands on siliceous substrates, is highlighted.

Geology of the Cozia Region

From a geological perspective, Cozia exhibits a diversity of formations mainly comprising crystalline rocks in its central and northern parts, with some sedimentary formations to the south, arranged in a west-east oriented strip on both sides of the Olt River.

The gneiss mountains of Cozia dominate most of the park, characterized by steep slopes and rugged terrain. Sedimentary formations, such as the Brezoi breccias, are also found in the area. Additionally, the Cozia massif presents as an anticlinal fold with secondary folds on its southern flank, and it is marked by the presence of the Cozia fault, which delineates the crystalline and sedimentary zones.

The Cozia gneiss, with large microcline meshes, constitutes a significant part of the central region of the massif, characterized by its steep slopes. The morphology and vegetation vary between the western and eastern slopes, the latter exhibiting rocky towers and bare walls above the Stânişoara Monastery.

Accommodations in Cozia National Park, Romania

Cozia Cabin

Cozia Cabin in Cozia National Park, Romania

Cozia Cabin offers comfortable accommodation with two buildings that have a total of 50 beds distributed in 12 rooms, ranging from 2-3 to 7-8 beds, some equipped with terracotta stoves for added comfort. Additionally, it has a restaurant offering traditional Romanian dishes, a cozy bar, and bathrooms with hot and cold water showers. Electricity is supplied from the public grid, and spring water and hot water are provided at the bar. Guests can also enjoy DIGI TV reception with a variety of programs. Located near the Călimanești – Căciulata complex, the cabin is accessible via a scenic route that takes approximately 5-6 hours, offering a memorable experience at an altitude of 1,573 meters.

Turneanu Shelter

Turneanu Shelter in Cozia, Romania

Turneanu Shelter is a cozy, newly constructed wooden shelter designed with good insulation to ensure comfort. It has a capacity for 3 places on mattresses, plus a table, offering a quiet place to rest and enjoy nature. Strategically located at the edge of Turneanu, along the TR/BR trail, it is about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes from Vârful Cozia, providing a convenient refuge for hikers and mountain lovers.

Lui Nae cabin shelter

Cabin refuge lui Nae Shelter in Cozia National Park, Romania

The cabin shelter Lui Nae is located in the picturesque Căpățănii Mountains, in the serene Puturoasă Valley. This shelter offers a cozy and peaceful refuge for hikers, situated two hours of walking from the mouth of the Lotrisor River. With its impressive natural surroundings and tranquil atmosphere, it is the perfect place to rest and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Armăsaru Shelter

Armăsaru Shelter in Cozia National Park, Romania

Armăsaru Shelter is strategically located on Muchia Armăsarului, just 10 minutes away from the Rotunda barn. This privileged position makes it a convenient resting point for hikers exploring the area. With its mountainous and accessible environment, the shelter offers a cozy respite for those seeking refuge in the heart of nature.

To better explore Romania, a visit to Piatra Craiului National Park is also recommended for its cultural significance.