Leaving Caransebes on DN 68, after 20 km, we get to Otelu Rosu, we pass by it and in the railway station of the Zavoi commune we turn right, we cross it, and after 12 km we get to the Maru barrage and after another 8 km on a paved, picturesque road, we can get to the Poiana Marului resort.
The development of the Poiana Marului began with the Government Decree given in 1936, concerning the establishing of the two resorts, Muntele Mic and Poiana Marului. The interest in this area was manifested even from the Dacian period; numerous vestiges have been found here – the most important is a pagan shrine at an altitude of 1200 m on the northern side of the Muntele Mic Massif. Named by the locals “Pietrele Scorilo” (the Scorilo stones), the area appears to have been the favorite hunting ground of the Dacians. On the tourist route Muntele Mic - Poiana Marului, on the Scorilo valley, the legend says that the Dacian King Scorilo, the father of Decebal was buried here.
At the same time with the foundation of the steel facility in the town of Otelu Rosu (formerly named Ferdinand), in the year 1880, an important number of workers were attracted and they colonized this town. Poiana Marului became a logging area, but also a recreational area, as the former forest trains prove, to which passenger wagons were attached. The forest railroad line Zavoi - Poiana Marului was built in 1907, and in 1937 a motorailer with a trailer functioned (like a tram).
The first hosting spaces were the “Aca de Barbu” villa, belonging to an Italian family, and the Bistra villa, built by people from Timisoara, in the same period when on Muntele Mic the first buildings began to be constructed. Some time ago a sanatorium of tuberculosis patients existed here. The sedative climate, the fresh air and the beautiful landscape make the resort ideal for leisure but also for the treatment of neurosis, respiratory diseases and endocrine diseases.
“The climacteric resort Poiana Marului” as it was named after the Second World War, with new possibilities at one time with the finalization of the hydro-technical works on the Bistra Marului river, had an maximum point of development at the same time with the constructing and the putting into use of the “Scorilo” hotel. The hotel worked from 1977 until 1997. It had the same destiny as the “Sebes” hotel on Muntele Mic. It has a maximum capacity of 412 hosting places in 72 rooms.
An important moment in the tourist development of the resort was the beginning of the construction of the Maru zoned earth dam. Now the existing water accumulation is an attraction of the resort. The works on the dam began in 1984 and ended in the year 1992, when the dam had a height of 125 m. At the same time with this construction the access road into the resort was modified, a new road, which goes above the dam and continues on the south-west bank of the lake was constructed, the old road is now flooded. The hydrographical potential of the area was capitalized from the year 1930, when an electric station was built here, which a water-receiver had made from barrel staves. Now the main water-receiver Maru - Ruieni, with a concreted interior diameter of 4.9 m and a total length of 9.8 km, leads the waters, under the mountain, in the underground power-station at Turnu Ruieni – with a power of 153 MW – and then they flow into the Zervesti Lake.
The relief ensemble with its climate, flora and fauna, favored the apparition of the Poiana Marului resort, situated in very picturesque scenery dominated by coniferous trees and deciduous trees forests, which are spread between Muntele Mic, Nedeia and Varful Pietrii. From the resort we have a distant perspective of the Retezat and Tarcu mountains. A lot of mountain tracks begin from here: through Saua Iepii (1727 m), between the Bloju and Baicu Massifs, to Gura Apei, where a great accumulation lake for the hydroelectric plant Rau de Mori is; through Valea Sucului, to the Cuntu and Tarcu Peaks; on the valley of the brook Scorila, to Muntele Mic; from the trout farm, on the Culmea Nedeii, to Varful Nedeii.
From the legends that are abundant in this area, we believe more and more that the Dacians had a religious life linked with the mountain and the greatness of these heights. Poiana Marului was, for centuries, the resting place of the shepherds, which climbed to the pasturing places on these heights. That’s way inhabitants that grazed their sheep in the area of the Gugu Massif got the name of “gugulani” (“Gugulan with a cart full of apples / and with a beautiful wife”, says a song). One of the most interesting legends of the area appears to be that linked to Scorilo’s treasure. The Pietrele Scorilo, Cleantul Scorilo, Cioaca (Creasta) Scorilo are old names, which exist from the time of the Dacians. They remained and were transmitted over the centuries, together with the belief that there is a treasure of the Dacians in this area. After a pole made among the old shepherds, some interesting things were found, which lead to a good knowledge of the place from many points of view. They say that, in the cliff of Scorilo, with a right wall, a cave, where the treasure is hidden, somewhere in the centre, at a distance of 40 m from the feet of the rock and 40 m away from the peak, hides. The place would be marked by the first ray of sun which sends its light over the peak called “Buza Nedeii” and falls in the middle of the wall, at sun-rise, on the 21st of July, the day of the summer solstice.
This thing is pretty hard to accept. In a rock made of crystalline schists, natural caves cannot be formed. Through detailed research of the rock, only a lateral room was found which appears to have been dug into the rock, as a shelter for the shepherds, which climbed to Muntele Mic. After some detailed observations of the proper place, we can see some kind of sun-blind, like a pit. For the elucidation of this legend, detailed research on this wall on Scorilo’s rock can be made. Generally speaking, the shepherds don’t like to talk about this area, considering the area, a taboo area, a sacred area. Now, after the findings from Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, we know that a Dacian king called Scorilo existed, and his name has been kept in the area without being changed.
The Poiana Marului locality was, at the beginning, a place with a woodsmen house, later other houses appeared, of hunters and fishers, and then rest homes were built.
Now, the resort is developing fast, many rest homes, a small church and some small hotels have been built.
For the well functioning of the tourist resorts Poiana Marului and Muntele Mic it is necessary to make an easier link between them, by the construction of the road on the Sucu Valley and the construction of a funicular railway line.
All these, together with the hotel, which is being renovated, create the premises of the rebirth of tourism in this area.