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Călimani Mountains

Călimani Mountains

Călimani Mountains

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: Romania, Europe

Lat/Lon: 47.12218°N / 25.18938°E

Object Title: Călimani Mountains

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 6900 ft / 2103 m


Page By: LukZem

Created/Edited: Oct 16, 2011 / Jun 18, 2017

Object ID: 754337

Hits: 4877 

Page Score: 84.27%  - 18 Votes 

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Munţii Călimani Kelemen-havasok (HU)

The Călimani Mountains are situated in the Eastern Carpathians and cover an area of about 2000 square km, running east-west for about 50 km. It is the youngest mountain range in Romania and the highest volcanic massif in the Carpathians. The main ridge of the Călimani Mountains forms the largest inactive crater of all in Europe, about 10 km in diameter.

Near the heart of former volcano
The heart of the former volcano

For most of the second Millennium A.D., the Călimani Mountains were part of a broad, mountainous borderland between the Hungarian Kingdom/Principality of Transylvania (an ethnically mixed country) and the predominantly Romanian-speaking lands of Moldavia (ruled by Romanian princes) and Bucovina. It is no wonder that among the peaks of the Căliman/Kelemen one can find both Negoiul Unguresc/Magyar-Negoj and Negoiul Românesc/Román Negoj (the italicized words translate as Hungarian and Romanian, respectively). On the south the Călimani Mountains are bounded by the Mureş River, which separates them from the Gurghiu Mountains; and on the southeast by the Sec and Topliţa streams, beyond which the Giurgeu Mountains lie. The northern limits are drawn by the valley of the Transylvanian Bistriţa, which sets the massif apart from the Bârgau Mountains, and the Dorna valley, which separates it from the Suhard Mountains. Towards the west the Călimani Mountains slope gently into the Transylvanian Basin while their eastern limits make a transition towards the Bistriţei Mountains, which sit beyond the pass of Păltiniş and the basin of Bilbor.

Mount Pietrosul
Pietrosul at 2103 m seen from the north - photo by Tomek Lodowy

The Călimani Mountains are a stratovolcano or a "composite volcano", which means that they formed as a result of successive eruptions during an extended period of time, through alternating layers of solidified lava and volcanic ash. It is the most developed unit of the Eastern Carpathians' "andesitic belt". Talking of the geologic evolution, the volcanic activity began in the late Tertiary period (7 million years ago) and reached its climax in the Neocene (5 million years ago). This first phase of the active volcano was followed by a period of volcanic standstill, increased erosion and deposition. The second phase took place in the Upper Pliocene (2 million years ago). An inactive volcano with its partially emptied magma chamber was no longer able to hold the weight of the entire cone. Great tensions caused by differencies in pressure and weight created ring fractures. The whole volcanic surface with cold and solidified lava was colonized by vegetation. The third phase took place in the Quaternary period (Pleistocene) and produced andesites and basalts as well. A large part of the volcanic cone collapsed following the ring of fractures. The result was a caldera. The remains of the collapsed cone filled the emptied space of the former magma chamber. Rivers, rains, wind and temperature variations have modified the landscape ever since. The summits and valleys are the results of erosion of the cone's remains.

VIDEO by LukZem

The volcanic karst found here is a unique phenomenon which can hardly be seen elsewhere in Europe. However, the cave system of Negoiul Românesc (which used to feature a hall called "Chocolate Palace") was destroyed by the sulphur quarry opened in the 1970's. Inside the main crater there are several secondary craters: Pietricelul, Haitei Peak and Negoiul Românesc. Erosion has led to the formation of picturesque rock formations that have been designated geological reserves: Pietrele Roşii, Tihu, Rusca, Tămaulău.

Twelve Apostles
Twelve Apostles basking in morning sunshine

The most beautiful section of the Călimani's rim is a group of bizarre, mysterious rocks called the Twelve Apostles. These fascinating rock formations include The Marshall, Lizard, Dragons, each of them meticulously chiseled from stone by natural processes. They make up an impressive gallery of figures, made of volcanic rocks 8-12 m tall. This place does have some special, almost magical charm.

The Marshal The Marshal
Mysterious sunset Mysterious sunset
Vista Vista

The most interesting part of the Călimani Mountains, adorned with the highest summits, is the rim of the huge, shaped like a horseshoe, caldera. This is the only spot within the Carpathian volcanic belt which bears traces of glaciation. The highest peak called Pietrosul, reaching an elevation of 2103 m, is the most spectacular bit of the main crater. Pietrosul and the second highest summit, Negoiul Unguresc (2081m), form a massive crest with a length of 4 km, which with its distinct alpine zone stands out from the forested background of the rest of the volcanic range. A very popular place, although away from the main crest, is the "God's Seat" ("Scaunul Domnului" in Romanian, "Istenszéke" in Hungarian), which offers fine panorama on the main ridge in good weather conditions.

Morning dream
Morning dream

The table below lists the highest as well as some other conspicuous summits.
Elevation in Meters
A few words about
The highest summit in the Călimani Mountains, in their central part, inside the ridge oriented NW-SE, the most spectacular peak of the Călimani's crater. Red stripes from the Transcăliman road.
Negoiul Unguresc
Just 2 km SE of Pietrosul. Distinct alpine tundra zone and bold relief - in stark contrast with the rest of the area. Red stripe trail.
Iezerul Călimanului
In the eastern part of the caldera, about 2 km south of the summit of Călimanu Cerbului. Red dot trail from the village of Neagra Sarului.
In the east-central part, with a weather station on its top. N face shelters a natural forest of Spruce Arolla while the gently inclined S face presents diverse scenery of stone seas and dwarf conifers with Iezer Lake. Transcăliman road, red stripes/dots.
Călimanu Cerbului
In the eastern part of the crater, 2 km north of Iezerul Călimanului. Blue dot trail from Gura Haitii village.
Inside the main crater,1 km west of Răţitiş, covered with dwarf mountain pine. Red stripe/dot traverse.
In the Bistricioru Group, about 10 km west of the summit of Pietrosul. Red stripe from Dornisoara.

As for the faunistic interest, these mountains used to be a refuge for free-ranging herds of European bison. The last one was reported to be shot in 1780. A new reintroduction project assumes that the Călimani NP will be one out of five national parks in the Eastern Carpathians where the free-ranging wisent can find its lost homeland.

Cascada Lomasita
Lomasita waterfall - photo by Tomek Lodowy

Getting There

By plane
The nearest Airports: 
Transcăliman road Transcăliman road
Carpathian blue slug Slow

Volcanic rocks
Ruszka (1913m)

By train

  • From the West: Cluj-Napoca - Beclean pe Someş - Salva - Vatra Dornei
    Railway 406: Bistriţa - Bistriţa Bârgăului

  • From the South: Miercurea-Ciuc - Topliţa - Deda - Sărăţel
    The nearest stations: Ciobotani (blue dot), Stânceni (blue dot, red triangle), Lunca Bradului (yellow cross), Răstoliţa (blue cross), Borzia (blue dot)

  • From the SouthWest: Târgu Mureş - Reghin - Deda

  • From the North: Vatra Dornei - Dorna Candrenilor - Poiana Stampei - Dornişoara

  • From the East: Suceava - Câmpulung Moldovenesc - Vatra Dornei

Romanian train timetable

German Railways - all Europe covered

National roads

  • From Transylvania DN 15: Târgu Mureş - Deda - Topliţa (98 km)
    DN 12: Miercurea-Ciuc - Gheorgheni - Topliţa(97 km) DN 17: Bistriţa - Prundu Bârgăului

  • From Bucovina DN 17: Suceava - Vatra Dornei (105 km)

  • From Moldova DN 17B:Piatra Neamţ - Broşteni - Vatra Dornei (165 km)

Romanian roads


Red Stones
Red Stones
Iezer lake
Iezer lake

Online maps

Paper map


Red Tape

Since the central part of the Căliman Mountains has been declared a National Park, there are some regulations:
Campsite near Iezer lake

  • Camping is permitted at these designated sites:
    Lacul Iezer, Şaua Negoiului, Poiana Izvoare, Poiana Frumuşica, Pietrele Roşii, Poiana Arsurii

  • Portable gas camping stoves only

  • Gathering wood and making a fire is strictly prohibited


Meteorological Station
Weather station
Salvamont refuge
The Iezer shelter

  • Weather Station lodge on the top of Raţitiş summit can put up 10 - 20 hikers only with previous approval. The station's telephone numbers:


  • The Iezer shelter for 6-10 hikers is open only in the presence of the rescue crew (no regular duty - closed during my August visit)

  • Clearly marked camping sites within the Călimani National Park - see Red tape.

  • The Poarta Calimanului pension for 20 people in Gura Haitii (megaliths)

Weather & Rescue Service

To The Top
The Mountain rescue team from Vatra Dornei can be contacted at these numbers: 
Pietrosul Calimani

0230-372767, 0230-375229, 0744-332378
Rescuers are on duty at the weather station at weekends.

External links

Calimani sunset idyll Summer sunset

Animated Snapshots

The best shots of the Călimani Mts by LukZem

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-8 of 8    
yatsekMy Linguistic Speculations


Voted 10/10

The name of these mountains is one of the classic Carpathian mysteries. "Kelemen" translates as clement. Such an adjective seems to fit these mountains very well, especially if one juxtaposes them with the nearby Rodnei or the Marmarosh mountains further to the north. On the other hand, it seems likely that the name was a reference to a person's name, which must have been quite popular a thousand years ago, in the early years of the Hungarian Kingdom. There were several popes named Clement in the 11th and 12th centuries A.D., and even though the word "kelemen" is no longer used by modern Hungarian as an adjective, "Kelemen" has survived as a common Hungarian surname.
Posted Oct 16, 2011 1:12 pm
LukZemRe: My Linguistic Speculations


Hasn't voted

Very interesting speculations. Maybe, Peter should know more...
Posted Oct 17, 2011 3:08 am
peterbudRe: My Linguistic Speculations


Voted 10/10

I can only confirm that it's a surname that is used, and that its meaning has vanished. Unfortunately I have no time for investigating further now.
Posted Oct 17, 2011 3:07 pm
peterbudRe: My Linguistic Speculations


Voted 10/10

OK, I couldn't resist. The first written mentioning is dated back to 1228: "alpes Clementis". So the name is old, but not older than the presence of Cristianity in the area (~11th century).
Posted Oct 17, 2011 3:50 pm
yatsekRe: My Linguistic Speculations


Voted 10/10

Re: "OK, I couldn't resist."

:-) Thanks - this is what we wanted. :D
Posted Oct 17, 2011 5:17 pm
dandTrain travel in Romania

Hasn't voted

Hi! I'm from Romania and I travel a lot around the country. If you wanna travel around, best way is the train way. You can find train's time list here http://mersul-trenurilor.net . I always using this application in my trip.
Posted Jun 15, 2017 1:03 pm
yatsekRe: Train travel in Romania


Voted 10/10

Thanks. The link does look better than the old one.
Posted Jun 18, 2017 6:24 pm
LukZemRe: Train travel in Romania


Hasn't voted

Thanks for your hint. I am looking forward to next week´s travel by train from Cluj to Lotru (via Turnu Rosu pass:)
Posted Jun 20, 2017 12:42 pm

Viewing: 1-8 of 8    


The MarshalVolcanic figuresCălimani Mts NPcalimans 4Volcanic rocksVistaInteresting ridge
Magical charmTwelve ApostlesIezer lakeCalimaniLom valley - Calimani mtns.Negoiul Unguresc (2081m)Pietricel (1993m)
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