Sfinxul and Babele – the legends from Romanian Carpathians

The legends from Romanian Carpathians - mountains that are true symbol of Romania - are numerous. These mountains hide different formations, but the way they formed remains a mystery to each of us. Even the name comes from an Indo-European word meaning "stone".
legends from Romanian Carpathians

Probably the most well-known symbols of the Bucegi mountains – Sfinxul (the Sphinx) and Babele (the Old Women) – are surrounded by many legends, becoming, throughout history, very important historical attractions for people.

Sfinxul (the Sphinx)

Sphinx – geological formation, located at 2,206 meters altitude in Moroeni Commune, Dâmbovița County – in the Bucegi Mountains (a subdivision of the Carpathians). It resembles the Egyptian Sphinx, hence the origin of its name. Eight meters high and twelve meters wide, the Sphinx is a representation of a deity from pre-Greek tribes.

Some legends say that it was human creation, others that it was natural, and urban folklore states that it was an energy center for aliens. It would represent a deity from ancient times or it would have been made by the Dacians. The exact origin is not known, the legends circulating quite quickly and being very diverse around this tourist attraction.

Its resemblance to a human head has made the Sphinx a place with a fairly large tourist attraction, with a very interesting shape, especially for building legends. Supreme divinity, associated with power, with sovereignty. The features are quite well defined, showing the image of a chin and lips.

Legends around the Sphinx

The most widespread of the legends from Romanian Carpathians about the Sphinx states that the Egyptian Sphinx was actually built after the Sphinx in the Romanian Carpathians. Between the two sphinxes there would be a three-dimensional tunnel of time, full of energy that connects them.

Another legend claims that it is the oldest sacred symbol. On November 28, the day the tourists gather at the Sphinx, the Dacian king, Decebalus, allegedly killed his son as a ritual sacrifice for the gods, right where the Sphinx is. Tourists from Romania and other countries gather at the Sphinx on November 28, every year, at sunset. The legend says that the sun’s rays form a kind of pyramid around the Sphinx, which has a therapeutic, healing role.

According to other legends, the Sphinx is also considered an evil female character, in ancient Egypt being attributed to a monster with a human head and the body of a lion.

Another legend refers to the Sphinx as the energy center used by aliens to connect with the Earth.

Read also: 3 Special nature attractions in Romania you must visit

Babele (the Old Women)

Babele are located in the Southern Carpathians, on the same Bucegi Mountains Plateau, where the Sphinx is also located. Same as the Sphinx, Babele is a tourist attraction, located at an altitude of 2,292 meters, near the Baba Mare mountain top, and the chalet with the same name – Babele – not very far from the Sphinx.

Dedicated to heaven and earth, the moon and the sun, Babele were nicknamed the “Cyclops Altar of Caraiman.” Many legends continue, with the Babele representing, same as the Sphinx, an important attraction in the Romanian Carpathians.

It is said, according to science, that water, ice and wind created these rocks with strange shapes. In history books it is said that they look like giant mushrooms.

Legends around Babele

The most popular legend specifies that Baba Dochia had a son named Dragobete, and one day he brought home a daughter-in-law whom Baba Dochia could not bear. She gave the young woman a ball of black wool and sent her to the river to wash it. She was not allowed to return until the ball was completely white.

The girl tried to wash the wool until God saw her and gave her a flower. She put the flower in the water, and the wool turned completely white. Baba Dochia started looking for her, but because of the scorching sun, the old woman starting taking off her coats, but then the weather suddenly changes. Baba Dochia freezes and turns into a big stone.

A second legend says that Babele are symbols of spring, the name associated with the early days of March. Other Balkan countries also have a similar legend related to the first days of March, but such stones are only in Romania.

Like any beginning or rebirth, March is under the sign of the fight between forces of evil and good, of overthrowing the existent order, but also of restoring it for better. Weather forecasts and al kinds of prophecies are made during this period. The whims of the weather characteristic of this period are patronized by the 12 or 9 Babe, a suite of meteorological demigods.

Nowadays, people are talking about 9 babe, each symbolizing the first days of March, form the 1st to the 9th. But contrary to popular belief, Babele are often mentioned as 12, and their days do not have a fixed date. Only the fiercest of them, Baba Dochia, shows up every year on March 1st.

Nowadays, it is customary for everyone to choose a Baba, and as the weather will be on that day, so will the rest of the year be for him/her. The custom is called “putting on the Babes,” but its archaic significance was different: as the weather is that day, so is man’s nature, his moral character.

How did Sfinxul and Babele appear in the Romanian mountains?

According to geologists, both the Sphinx and the Babele are rock formations that took birth following the erosion of the mountains, under the long-term constant pressure of the wind and the rain. Their peculiar shapes have been around for hundreds of years, as they have been freezing and thawing year over year.

The legends around them continue to develop, as it is not precisely known, in fact, how the Babele and the Sphinx appeared. No scientific evidence has been able to clearly explain their formation and appearance, and practically the entire phenomenon that created them from the very beginning. Nevertheless, geologists continue to say that humans have nothing to do with these rock formations, and that nature is strictly responsible for their formation.

Picture of Iulia Serban

Iulia Serban

Travel guide and advisor

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