Jiu Gorge National Park is a protected area of national interest corresponding IUCN category II (national park), located in the South-West of the country, on the administrativ territory of the counties of Gorj and Hunedoara.
In the park area you can find Lainici Monastery, an Orthodox monastery of monks built in 1817. The place of worship is dedicated to the “entry into the Church of Virgin Mary”.
The protected area is in the Southern tip of Hunedoara County (on the administrative territories of Aninoasa, Vulcan and Petroşani cities) and in the Northern tip of Gorj County (on the territory of the town Bumbeşti-Jiu and the village Schela) and it is crossed by the national road DN 66 that connects the towns Deva and Filiaşi.
Jiu Gorge National Park was declared protected area by the Government Decision Number 1581/ Dec. 8th 2005 (on the regime of natural protected areas and natural habitats, wild flora and fauna conservation, approved with amendments by Law no. 462/2001) and has a total area of 11,127 ha.
National Park lies in the Western part of Southern Carpathians, between Vâlcan Mountains (Retezat-Godeanu Mountains group), to the West and Parang Mountains (Parang-Şureanu-Lotru Mountains group) to the East, along the river Jiu, among the confluence of Eastern and Western Jiu and the confluence with Sadu valley and it is a mountainous area (with rocks, limestone slopes, peaks, grottos, gorges, waterfalls, slopes, mountain meadows and forests); in its area are included nature reserves: Sphinx of Lainici (megalithic geological formation shaped like a sphinx) and Rafailă Cliffs (protected area of paysagistic andgeological interest, whose territory is made up of several rock formations made of metamorphic rocks with structure of shale with chloritoid insertions).
The area has several natural habitat types (Dacian beech forests (Symphyto-Fagion), alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae), forest of Tilio-Acerion on steep slopes, debris and ravines, forests of oak and hornbeam Galio-Carpinetum type, beech forests Luzulo-Fagetum type, beech forests Asperulo-Fagetum, Illyrian oak and hornbeam forests (Erythronio-Carpiniori), Acidophilic Forest of Picea Abies in mountainous region (Vaccinio-Piceetea), communities of hygrophilic tall grass skirt from the lowlands, up to mountain and alpine, Petrifying springs with travertine formation (Cratoneurion), woody vegetation with Salix eleagnos along mountain rivers, woody vegetation with Myricaria germanica along mountain rivers and herbaceous vegetation from mountain rivers harboring a diverse range of flora and fauna of the Meridional Carpathian Mountains.
The park is covered for more than 80% of beech forest (Fagus sylvatica) and oak (Quercus petraea) in combination with hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) or ash (Fraxinus). Herbaceous layer flora is composed of over 550 species of cormophyte and over 140 of talofite (species with a single gametophyte unite, propagated by spores). Fauna is well represented by mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects.
The National Park overlaps the site of Community importance – Jiu Valley Gorge (site SCI), based on that designation being some fauna and flora species listed in Annex I of the European Directive 92/43/EC of May 21st 1992 (on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora), including seven mammalian species: brown bear (Ursus arctos, lynx (Lynx lynx), river otter (Lutra Lutra), the greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), common bat (Myotis myotis), mouse-eared bat (Myotis blythii) and long winged bat (Miniopterus schreibersi), two amphibians: yellow-belled Toad (Bombina variegata) and the crested newt (Triturus cristatus), four species of fish: eggplant barbel (Barbus meridionalis), European bullhead (Cottus gobio), Golden spined loach (Sabanejewia aurata) and Danubian Longbarbel Gudgeon (Gobio uranoscopus) and eight invertebrate species: hermit beetle (Osmoderma eremita), water beetle (Rhysodes sulcatus), stag beetle (Lucanus cervus), great capricorn beetle (Cerambyx cerdo), longhorn beetle (Morimus funereus), Rosalia longicorn (Rosalia alpina), red beetle (Cucujus cinnaberinus) and stone crayfish (Austropotamobius torrentium).
Other species of animals (mammals, reptiles and amphibians) reported in the area of the site: chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), deer (Cervus elaphus), the European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), wildcat (Felis silvestris), the pine marten (Martes martes), fat dormouse (Myoxus glis), common dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius), smooth snake (Coronella Austrian), Aesculapian snake (Elaphe longissima), sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), green lizard (Lacerta viridis), water snake (Natrix tessellata), wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), slow-worm (Anguis fragilis), common red frog ( Rana temporaria ), agile frog ( Rana dalmatina ), common toad (Bufo bufo ), alpine newt (Triturus alpestris) or fire salamander (Salamandra salamander).
A plant vegetates in the grass (registered on the same annex of the European Council Directive – 92/43 / EEC) of species Tozzia carpathica , known as popular neck-grass.
The access to the Jiu Valley gorge is as follows:
European Road E79 route: Targu Jiu – Bumbeşti Jiu.
European Road E79 route: Deva – Simeria – Calan – Haţeg – Pui – Baita – Petrosani