Padiș - A tourist oasis in the heart of Apuseni Mountains
This paper aims to highlight the tourism potential of the most spectacular karst complex in Romania - Padiş - a tourist oasis located in the heart of the Apuseni Mountains.
The Karst Plateau of Padişis located in the central-western side of the Apuseni Natural Park and it is distinguished in the Romanian karst landscape by the density, variety and uniqueness of the karst forms and phenomena developed in its perimeter, most of them are declared natural monuments. The high number of its original images, some iridescent as in ice caves, others like limestone reliefs on the walls, made Padiş, one of the most attractive karst areas of the country and of Europe.
Padiş is famous for its numerous scientific superlatives:
- the highest density of karst forms and phenomena/km² in Romania;
- the most beautiful, diverse and complex karst landscapes in the country;
- the deepest pit of Romania (V5, 653 m);
- the most grandiose karst complex in Europe (CetățilePonorului/Fortress of Ponor);
- the highest portal caves in Romania (CetățilePonorului/Fortress of Ponor, over 70 m);
- the widest opening of a cave in Romania (Coiba Mare, 74 m);
- one of the longest underground confluence cave systems in the country (Zăpodie - PeșteraNeagră/Black Cave, 12 048 m);
- the only authentic poly in the Romanian karst (PoianaPonor);
- one of the most important paleontological sites in Europe, which preserves remains of the cave bear (Onceasa Cave);
- four of the five permanent ice caves from Romania locatedatabout 1 100m altitude (Gheţarul de la Barsa/Barsa Glacier, Ghețarul Borţig/Borțig Glacier, Focul Viu/Living Fire and Gheţarul Vârtop/Vârtop Glacier) and the list could go on. All these karst superlatives invites to hiking, relaxation and admiration,being valorized through a complex network of tourist routes.
At the end of the paper are presented some proposals on how to promote the tourism and sustainable development of this area.