10 days/9 nights


Maramures is a historic land of ancient monuments protected by UNESCO. The Maramures Country is an area of symbols, a living museum in the heart of Europe, and an old land with a unique people.

One can understand the call of Maramures by feeling the magical power of the Maramures people, the healthy laughter of the Maramures women, the deceptively subtle taste of the plum brandy “Horinca”, the charmed and archaic language of the village people and their musical heartbeat – the traditional “ceteras” fiddle playing.

Once you have come to Maramures you can only feel a strong desire to come back to this place and stay forever.

Highlights:
Maramures traditional village
wooden churches
wooden gates
folk costumes
handicrafts
ancient installations (different kinds of medieval style water mills – “moara”, “valtoare”, “piue”, “palincii” plum brandy distillery
wooden churches included on the UNESCO world heritage list)
The Merry Cemetery

Day 1

Arrival at Henri Coanda International Airport in Bucharest.
Overnight Hotel Rembrandt ,3 *an elegant old-world hotel, located in the historical center of Bucharest.
See Bucharest’s historical centre by night and enjoy a welcome dinner

Day 2

BUCHAREST CITY TOUR

The Civic Center and the Palace of Parliament
In 1971 Ceausescu visited North Korea and returned full of admiration for the grandiose avenues of Kim II Sung’s Capital. Thirteen years later ,inspired by what he had seen in Pyongyang, Ceausescu set out to re-model Bucharest as “the first socialist capital for the new socialist man” and to create a new administrative center which was to be a “symbolic representation of the two decades of enlightenment we have just lived through.” Implementing this megalomaniac vision entailed the demolition of a quarter of Bucharest’s historic centre, containing 9000 nintheenth-century houses, whose 40.000 inhabitants were relocated in new developements on the outskirts of the city.

The PALACE OF PARLIAMENT – we will visit the Palace interior and enjoy an extensive guided tour. (45 minutes visit with the specialized guide)

The Patriarchal Cathedral, at the top of Dealul Mitropoliei, built in 1655 – 1668 , the seat of the Romanian Orthodox Church .

The Old Palace of the Chamber of Deputies(1907)

The Historic Quarter , north of Piata Unirii, French street leads west into the maze of streets and picaresque houses that fills the oldest part of Bucharest. It was here that prince Vald tepes ( Draculea ) built a citadel in the fifteenth century.

The Old Court Church,( 1546 – 1558) is the oldest church in the city .A few doors east from the Old Court is the most famous hostelry Hanul lui Manuc ( Manuc ;s Inn) . It was built as a caravanserai in 1808 by an Armenian called Manuc.

The Stavropoleos Church, built between 1724 and 1730 for the first Phanariot ruler, the church has a gorgeous , almost arabesque façade.

The Revolution Square: with the former Communist Party Headquarters , a Stalinist monolith , featuring the famous balcony where Ceausescu delivered his last speech .

The Royal Palace is for sure the most imposing building facing on to the expansive Piata Revolutiei

The National Art Museum After a huge work of reconstruction, the museum was opened in 2000 and now is holding a marvelous collection of European and Romanian art.

The Romanian Atheneum – a magnificent Neoclassical structure, built in 1888, hosting concerts all year round.

The Cretulescu Church – built in the style created by one Romanian ruler in the seventeenth century

The Village Museum was established in 1936, it is a wonderful ensemble of over three hundred genuine Romanian dwellings, workshops, churches, windmills, which illustrate very well the extreme diversity of Romania’s folk architecture.

Overnight in the Hotel Rembrandt 3 *

Day 3

BUCHAREST – OLTULUI VALLEY – SIBIU

The way leads up through the spectacular Olt Valley, where at some point we’ll stop and visit the Cozia Monastery.

Sibiu
The city of Sibiu is almost 1000 old; the first mention in a written document goes back to 1191.

Sibiu is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful and well-preserved historical cities in Romania and Europe, with an architectural patrimony stretching over 80 hectares. The Sibiu medieval fortress remains untouched after two world wars and the Communist regime, and it still preserves the spirit and the atmosphere of the old times.

Overnight in Sibiu, Hotel Bulevard 4 *

Day 4

SIBIU – ALBA IULIA – CLUJ – GHERLA – DEJ – BAIA MARE
The Reunification Cathedral was built between 1921-1923. The sovereigns of United Romania were crowned here on the 15th of October 1922, and so the Cathedral is also called the Coronation cathedral.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral in Alba Iulia was built in the 11th century and is the most valuable example of early medieval architecture in Transylvania, which harmoniously combines Roman and Gothic elements.

ST. MICHAEL’S CHURCH CLUJ
This church is one of the most beautiful Gothic monuments in Transylvania. The building was erected between 1350 and 1487.
The altar is the oldest part of the church, and was built around the year 1390.
Repeated restorations have revealed mural paintings from the first part of the 15th century.
The latest restoration process of the church took place between 1957 and 1960.
MATEI CORVIN’S HOUSE CLUJ
The house was built in Gothic style in the 15th century and it is the last standing building of those times. It is assumed that Matei Corvin was born in this house on February 23, 1440. In fact, the house was erected some time earlier than 1440 and it underwent many changes along the years, so that only the main façade preserves characteristics of the Renaissance.

The Armenian Cathedral in Gherla is considered the capital and the main foundation of Armenians in Romania.


Arrival in Baia Mare and overnight in the Hotel Rivulus 3 *

Day 5

BAIA MARE –SATU-MARE -NEGRESTI OAS-SAPINTA – SIGHET

Baia Mare- Steven’s Tour
Steven’s Tour is part of Saint Steven Cathedral, built in the 15th century.
The Gothic style building is the most representative medieval monument of Baia Mare. The tower, which is similar to the Prague old City Hall tower, is 40 meters high and offers an exceptional view of the city. In former times the tour was used for supervising the city and preventing the fires.

We shall then visit the Merry Cemetery in Sapinta.

EVEN DEATH AFTER LIFE DOES GREATLY PLEASE

The entire life of Sapinta has close ties to the Merry Cemetery.
From shepherds, farmers and foresters to doctors and musicians, they have all kept the sacred traditions and customs of the community, thus creating a cheerful atmosphere and, last but not least, a unique and optimistic outlook on existence.

The crosses are brightly colored and inscribed with satirical verses, which describe the most important events of the deceased’s life. The written chronicle, sometimes funny, transformed this cemetery, which is traditionally a sad place, to become a unique place in the world: The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta.

We will visit the Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance from Sighet.

A place for prayer and meditation, which combines the antique style with a modern conception/vision, was built in one of the prison courtyards in 1977.

The names of almost 8000 people that died in the prisons, concentration camps and deportation camps from Romani were engraved in smoked Andesite on the wall of a ramp that descends in the underground. The first rooms of the museum as well as the “Place for prayers and meditation” were inaugurated in June 1997, when the Memorial was declared “an place of national interest”. By these honors the most important project dedicated by the civil society to the reconstruction and analysis of the Communist past is acknowledged – a unique project in the Eastern-European countries, according to its visitors.

Arrival in Sighet , overnight in the Guesthouse Vila Royal 4 *

Day 6

SIGHET – DESESTI – OCNA SUGATAG – BREB – BUDESTI –SURDESTI – CALINESTI – BAIA MARE

Desesti – UNESCO patrimony: the wooden church “Saint Paraschiva”, which dates form 1770 is mentioned for the first time in a document in 1360.

Visit the workshop of handicraftsman Gheorghe Pop, sheepskin coat and traditional waistcoat tailor.
Visit Maria Pop’s place, the master of the secrets of vegetable dye, who weaves carpets, wall carpets and embroiders traditional shirts.

Budesti is the best preserved Romanian village. Here we can observe hundreds of old pine houses. We will walk through the winding lanes in order to feel the atmosphere of the timeless.

Saint Nicholas church, dating from 1643, part of UNESCO world heritage list, has icons painted on wood or glass from the XV-XVII centuries. Is one of the eight churches that are part of the UNESCO world heritage list. The church is a good example for the typical Maramures churches. It is the only church in Maramures that has four sharp towers in each corner of the tour’s base, a characteristic that is typical to the church elements from Lapusului Country.

We will feast our eyes on the old farms, barns, stables, haystacks and old gates meticulously carved from massive oak trunks.

Surdesti

The superb church , burned by the tartars in 1717, was rebuilt in 1724. Surdesti Church of the Holy Archangels, is well known because of its spire, thethighest wooden tower until Birsana capped the records, with 54 m from its base.

Calinesti
The wooden church “Assumption of the Virgin”, a historical monument built in 1663, is one of the most beautiful churches in Maramures, with a very low ceiling. It holds wooden and glass icons, a bell mold from 1656, candelabra and candlesticks from the 18th century, carpets and old “stergare” traditional towels.

We will visit a “palincie” plum brandy distillery
Arrival in the evening in Baia Mare – Hotel Rivulus 3 *

Day 7

BAIA MARE – BARSANA – POIENILE IZEI – BOTIZA – ROZAVLEA- BOGDAN VODA- IEUD –BAIA MARE

Barsana

“Saint Nicholas” Church, built in the 18th century, included in the UNESCO patrimony.

Barsana is one of the largest villages in Maramures and one of the most important village in Izei Valley.

The church was used for cult/religious purposes until 1791, when the monastery was closed down. In 1802 the locals decided to move the unused church in the middle of their community. The church now sits on a hill surrounded by an orchard and is one of the churches on UNESCO world heritage list.

“Saint Parascheva” church, Poienile Izei, built between 1604 – 1632
This church was built from pine trunks. The altar is a typical example of an old church altar, tighter then the square plan of church’s main body. From the architectural details it can be deduced that the initial church had a lower ceiling and it was built mostly during the 18th century. This is one of the eight churches included on the UNESCO world heritage list. The main theme of the pronaos is the Final Judgement, one of the most complex frescos in Maramures.

Is the village where we can admire the folk costumes at its home, many locals wear traditional sandals “opinci”. We can also admire wooden plough and meet wood craftsmen.

Botiza

The church was built in 1796 in Vişeul de Jos and was transfered to Botiza in 1899 because it became too small for the fast growing community.

The church from Rozavlea dates back to 1720. Its tall and sharp spire and a very rare exterior fresco that depicts the beheading of Saint John the Baptist give an impression of grandiosity.

“Saint Nicholas” church in Bogdan Voda dates back to 1718 and it is one of the most famous in the area for its central position in the Izei Valley, in the middle of a crossroads. Contrary to most of the churches situated on the hills, the “Saint Nicholas” church is placed in the middle of the village.
A few valuable materials from “Bogdan Voda” church are worth mentioning here: a wooden curved candelabra from the 18th century, an interesting engraved bishops throne, also from the 18th century and an old rare book collection, that dates back to the 18th and 19th century.

We will admire here the only inhabited museum in Maramures, a house dating back to 1790, where Vasile Deac lives, the ex mayor of the village.

„The Virgin’s Birth” church in Ieud Deal

Built between 1611-1621, this is one of the oldest wooden churches in the world. The oldest code of laws written in Romanian, dating back to 1628, was discovered in the church’s attic. The only day were when no religious service is given in Eud is on the 8th of September. The well preserved architecture, repaired and slightly modified during the 18th century and the interior frescos painted at the end of the same century justify the presence of the church on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Arrival in Baia Mare and overnight in the Hotel Rivulus 3 *

DAY 8

BAIA MARE – BISTRITA – TIRGU-MURES- SIGHISOARA – BRASOV

It is the day when we say goodbye to Maramures and go to Transylvania. The first stop is at Sighisoara.

Sighisoara: This is the birthplace of Vlad Tepes – The Impaler , better known as Dracula. The town is on the UNESCO world Heritage List . It was originally a Saxon town known as Castrum sex( Fort Six).

It is the most beautiful and well kept fortified town in Transylvania and dates from the 13th century when it was known as the City of Schassburg. It is the only medieval citadel whose old buildings are still in a functional state and well kept. The town dates from around 1190. The inhabitants of the town were from the very beginning artisans, organized in guilds ( the oldest guild in Sighisoara dates from 1376).

The Sighisoara citadel has a very rich story, written in stone by its celebrated guild towers – the Leather Dresser’s Tower, the Tinker’s Tower, the Goldsmith’s Tower, the Rope Maker’s Tower, The Butcher’s Tower ,The Furriers’ Tower, the Tailor’s Tower and The Lockmith’s Tower. Alongside these are the vast Church on the Hill ( from 1345), the Monastery Church( built in 13th century), the Venetian House and the House of the Stag , called after the stag head fixed to the corner of the building, which dates from the 17th century. As a living embodiment of the renaissance Transylvanian Style, these are only a few of the SIGHISOARA’s marvels .

We continue our trip with Brasov, where we will stay over night.

Brasov, which, according to documents dating from 1234 was called Corona. During the second half of the 14th century it was confirmed as the administrative and ecclesiastic center of Tara Barsei, (Corona, Kronstadt, Brasso), “the free royal town”, one of the economic and cultural centers of Transylvania.

The old center contains Piata Sfatului, the imposing Black Church, Casa Sfatului (The Council House), Casa negustorilor (Merchants’ House), Cetatea Brasovului (Brasov’s Fortress), Poarta Schei (Schei Gate), Poarta Ecaterina (Ecaterina Gate) of 1540, and Strada Sforii (The Rope Street), the most narrow street in Europe – and these are only a few of the attractions of this town which is always full of life.

Accomodation Hotel Bella Muzica 3 *

Day 9

BRASOV- RASNOV – BRAN – SINAIA
Rasnov
The biggest peasant fortress of the south and south-eastern part of Transylvania, built in the 13th century helped protecting Tara Barsei inhabitants for centuries.
Bran
We continue our journey with a visit to the famous BRAN Castle,
Bran Castle can consider itself as the home of Dracula in so far as Vlad Tepes, the original Romanian Prince who inspired the legend, once lived there. Bram Stoker, the author of the book, was also inspired by this castle and the Transylvanian lands and villages surrounding it.

The first document regarding Bran Castle is a paper issued on November 19, 1377 by Ludwig I d’Anjou, by which Braşov inhabitants received the privilege of building the Fortress “at their own work and expense”.

Between 1920-1927 Bran Castle was restored under the leadership of Carol Liman, the Architect of the Royal Court, who transformed it in a beautiful summer residence surrounded by a park with promenade alleys, lake, fountains, arbors, and a tea house. In 1938 Queen Maria bequeathed Bran Castle with all its domains, to her daughter, Princess Ileana, who owned it until 1948.

Dracula’s Legend

The famous legend of Dracula is largely due to the book written by Bram Stoker which has since inspired countless films and stage productions. Stoker himself relied for inspiration on the historical image of the Romanian prince Vlad Tepes who ruled between 1456 and 1462.
Perhaps ore than anything else, the mythological character Dracula is known for his deeply evil nature. His favored weapons were his sharp fangs, and it is no coincidence that impalement, one of the most terrifying manners of dying, was always the torture method the original Prince Dracula preferred; that is where his name, (Vlad Tepes = Vlad the Impaler) comes from.

The cruelty of his punishment for the lack of loyalty and honesty coincides with his name. In Romanian it means “the devil”. In 1431 the Saint Roman Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg granted Dracula’s father, Vlad II, the Dragon order, a chivalrous order for fights against the Turks. The emblem of the order was a dragon, symbol of the devil. This reality mentioned by history has been the legend’s starting point. The transfer was facilitated by the need of fiction, mysticism, exotic spirit of the time, made concrete in the literary works of the European culture. The legend and the true story of Dracula meet and are kept alive by other Romanian tourist destinations; Snagov Monastery close to Bucharest or Bran Castle, close to Brasov.

After understanding (or not) the deep mysteries of this so controversial castle, we shall continue our journey and reach Sinaia.

Sinaia isis situated at an altitude that varies from 798 to 971 meters, at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains.

Sinaia has documented connections to the construction of the famous monastery in 1695, around which the first settlements appeared. The rapid construction of the place is connected to the development, in the south Carpathian area, of the extractive and oil processing industries, and to the opening of the road at the end of the 18th century, then the construction of the railway (1879) and of Peles Castle. Sinaia was declared a town in 1880, thus being one of the oldest urban mountain settlements in the country.

Peles Castle of Sinaia is without doubt Romania’s most impressive castles.

The castle was the summer residence of the royal family until 1914. It was built by Carol I of Hohenzollern, the first king of Romania (1866-1914) in the German Renaissance style, using wood, stone, bricks and marble, on the left bank of the Peles river, between 1873-1883 (the first floor) and between 1896-1914 (the second floor). Peles Castle has 160 rooms and a 66 m tall tower. The prevailing style is the German Renaissance combined harmoniously with other style like the Italian Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque, Austrian, Turkish and French Rococo.
The castle is surrounded by seven terraces, conceived initially in the late Italian Renaissance style and decorated with statues sculpted by the Italian Romanelli, stone curved fountains, ornamental vases and Carara marble, all of an impressing beauty.

Peles is one of the best preserved royal palaces in Europe. The Palace is full of ornaments inside as well as outside, and has elaborate wood sculptures and paintings representing scenes from Wagner’s works.

Pelisor is situated right next to Peles Palace and was the summer residence of Ferdinand, the second king of the Hohenzollern dynasty. Even though it is not as big as Peles Palace, Pelisor offers more comfort.

Sinaia Monastery
This real cathedral of Bucegi Mountains goes back to the 17th century, being the first building of the resort. Founded by the Sword Bearer Mihail Cantacuzino when he came back from Sinai Mountain, the monastery was named after the mountain, but adapted to the Romanian language it became Sinaia Monastery. It has survived many trials and tribulations so that today it represents a Romanian art and spirituality museum. The Brancoveanu style of architecture and the original painting make this orthodox monument the ideal place for seeing old Romanian culture.

Day 10

SINAIA –BUCHAREST AIRPORT

After we drive through the charming landscapes of the Prahova Valley, we will say good bye to Romania and return to the Internation Henri Coanda Airport.

If it will be difficult for you to leave Romania, it means that this tour and its guide didn’t let your expectations down and that you say goodbye with nostalgia and pleasure for the places and the people that perhaps you will never see again.

We hope that visiting Romania will be an unforgettable and unique experience.


PRICE: 2,750 EURO
This is a private tour, for one family
1,375 euro /1 person / in double occupancy
Price for single room occupancy: supplied on request

The price includes:
Transfer from / to the airport
9 nights accomodation in double room occupancy, breakfast included, in 3***, 4**** hotels and rural guesthouses, according to the schedule

All vehicle expenses included (transport, driver, fuel)


Guide-driver’s accomodation and meals included
Guide and translation services included
All entrance fees included, where applicable
A welcome dinner in Bucharest, folklore show

A traditional lunch in a village in Maramures

A traditional dinner & testing “ palinca “ in a farm in Maramures

A haymaking sample in a village in Maramures

Price does not include:

Lunch and dinner, except where mentioned
Fees for video camera in all museums and locations
Flight tickets
Other services

* Upon request, this tour may be considered for more than two persons
* Individual tour may be chosen upon request