The Macin Mountains are of remarkable importance in the country’s mountains, being the oldest mountains in Romania. Due to the numerous historical vestiges, the researchers interest is focused on the archaeological excavations and equally on the research of existing vast natural treasure here geological, botanical and zoological.
The Macin Mountains National Park’s available natural potential is making it accessible to a wide range of tourists, interested in hiking, landscapes, flora, local fauna, studies and documentaries (documentations).
On different levels of vegetation, between 7 and 467 m – Tutuiatu Peak, we meet the unique steppe landscapes on the slopes, followed by forests with oak, flowering ash, hornbeam and downy oak, leading to bushes on the peaks and cliffs, and steppe-looking alpine meadows.
In the park there is one of the oldest, exciting and known reserves of our country the Beech Valley Natural Reservation. It is characterized by the unique and vigorous presence of Tauric beech, which shows intermediate characters between the native beech, Oriental beech and coppice flora, unique in Dobrogea and similar to Crimean beech forests.
The Macin Mountains are situated in the South-East of Romania, respectively in North-West Dobrogea, Tulcea County, between the Danube Valley, Luncavita Valley and the Cerna-Horia saddle.
In the West and South-West of the natural park, the entrance is via the national road 22D, between Macin and Horia. In the North there is there European road E87, linking Horia and Luncavita. The county road between Horia and Luncavita allows access to the East and North-East of the park.
The Macin Mountains occupy the NW part of Northern Dobrogea, presenting itself as a row of NW-SE oriented parallel ridges. The altitude of these mountains is between 7 and 467 m (Tutuianu Peak).
The Macin Mountains National Park occupies the central and highest area of the Macin Mountains, which is the oldest geological formation in our country, being a rest of the Hercynic-Cimmerian orogeny.
Geomorphologically, the Pricopan Heights are unique within the park, having Alpine relief, represented by steep and rocky ridges, reaching up to 370 m in the Suluc Peak. The rock disintegration processes are active, many erosion witnesses being present there, which have a ring-like aspect, giving a great variety to the scenery. The other areas of the park are generally less prominent, but the slopes are often rocky and steep, locally being covered by scree, especially on the Western frame of Macin Heights.
The significant rocks are: granitic gneiss in the S and E, crystalline limestone in the SE, metamorphic and igneous rocks in the N, yellow soil deposits on plateaux and small altitude areas. There are also Carapelit formations which are composed out of conglomerates, sandstones and detrital shale.
The Macin Mountains National Park lies within temperate-continental climate, with arid influences owed to eastern air current circulation. The Macin Mountains are situated in a pronounced continental climate, with sub-Mediterranean influences in the higher areas and with obvious steppe characteristics in the South of the protected area. The climate includes very hot and dry summers, long and dry autumns and freezing winters with very little snow. The average annual temperatures are 10-11°C with average precipitation amounts which do not go beyond 500 mm, thus fitting into the extreme temperatures and precipitation areas of Romania. They are the country’s driest mountains. Vegetation conditions are most valuable in the Northern and Central area of the park, where precipitation is abundant and the area has a forest character, being lower in the SE, where there is a steppe region. Frequent winds blow from the N and NE, without producing massive tree felling.
Due to special physical-geographic conditions, especially the diversity of the climate of the geological sub-layer, relief and vegetation, the Macin Mountains stand out presenting a great variety of soils. The soils of the park fall into the Mollisols (34%) and Cambisols (66%). The repartition of soils is tightly connected to climate and vegetation, but also to the lithologic structure.
The hydrographic network is characterized by rainwater supply, small rivers and small debits. Luncavita and Jijila Valleys have evolved on synclinal lines, while part of Taita Valley was formed on a fault line. They are part of the Dobrogean rivers, being short. Because they are rainwater supplied (in a very small measure due to snow or groundwater), the rivers show a great flow variation, which is a consequence of climatic continentalism. The watercourses fit both the basin of the Danube (the rivers Jijila, Luncavita, Cerna, Somiac), and of the Black Sea (Taita river). Because of the arid climate, the flow of the rivers is reduced, most of them having a temporary character. During rainy periods, especially during the spring, on the rocky valley temporary waterfalls are formed.
The Macin Mountains are the oldest mountains in the territory of Romania, being created during the Hercynian orogeny.
The landscapes of the Macin Mountains are alike those of Southern Europe due to the presence of sub-Mediterranean and Balkan forests. They also resemble Eurasian steppes, defined by saxicolous vegetation, the Macin Mountains being the largest such area in Dobrogea and Romania.
The landscape originality is given by megalithic granite formations, as well as by the contrast between mesophilic forest vegetation and the xerophile steppe-like pastures. Rock weathering processes are active, resulting in surprising archaic landscapes.
The representative character of these mountains at national level is given by the existence of three layers of vegetation proper to the Dobrogean Plateau: mesophilic Balkan deciduous forests, xerothermic sub-Mediterranean forests and the forest-steppe with sub-Mediterranean forests.
The climate of these mountains has created a specific variety, unique in Europe, enhanced by the interference of the Black Sea-sub-Mediterranean, Central European and Asian ecosystem types. This gives the Macin Mountains the look of a miniature synthesis of two great continents Europe and Asia.
Inside the perimeter of the Macin Mountains National Park the following main categories of landscapes are identified: