11 days / 10 nights
Meeting the guide and departure to Sinaia.
We go through a chain of villages in the plain around Bucharest; then the landscape changes as we reach the Prahova Valley, one of the most picturesque places of this region, with mountain resorts spread across it.
We arrive in Sinaia, our final destination for the first day, and we stay at New Montana 4* Hotel in the center of the resort. Here, your time is your own. The price includes sauna, pool and Jacuzzi inside the hotel.
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 Palace – is one of the best-preserved royal palaces in Europe. The Palace is full of ornaments inside as well as outside, and features elaborate wood sculptures and paintings representing scenes from the works of Wagner.
Pelisor is situated right next door 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.
After seeing these precious and unique places we shall stop in Azuga, where Medieval Tours invites you to taste foaming wines and have welcome lunch in a special place – the Halewood Wine Cellars. Foaming wine has been produced in Azuga since 1892, when a German merchant set up the Rhein & Cie company. The merchant had chosen this particular place due to the climacteric conditions as well as to the fact that it was close to the vineyards and that the wine could be easily transported to any other part of the country.
The foaming wines ferment by a special process of sitting on racks deep inside the old Rhein wine cellers which still exist today as they did when the company was set up.
After our foaming lunch we shall continue our journey with a visit to the famous Bran Castle situated in an old village of the same name.
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.
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.
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 controversial castle, we shall continue our journey and reach Rasnov Fortress.
The biggest peasant fortress of the south and south-eastern part of Transylvania, built in the 13th century helped protect the inhabitants of Tara Barsei for centuries.
After visiting Rasnov, our day will end in Brasov, where we shall stay at Bella Musica 3 * Hotel, situated in Piata Sfatului (Council Square).
After breakfast we shall visit the town of 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.
Prejmer, first documented in 1240, preserves the strongest village fortress in Southern Transylvania (the 15th-16th centuries), built around an evangelical church in early Gothic style (1241-1250), then transformed into late Gothic style (the 16th century) and renovated several times
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).
Sighisoara 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 shall stay inside the citadel in the old House of the Stag 3 *
We shall continue our journey after leaving Tara Barsei, and we shall stop in our way to Tara Secuilor in order to admire Lacul Rosu (the Red Lake), Cheile Bicazului,( Bicaz Gorges) and in the afternoon we arrive in Bicaz Lake where we can admire the fantastic landscape of the region while staying in a floating Hotel 3 * surrounded by mountains, fresh air, sunshine, silence .
Lake Bicaz, also known as Lake Izvorul Muntelui is the biggest artificial lake of Romania and is also a port to the unique “sea” of the romanian mountain lakes (Bicaz lake). The lake itself is 40 km long, has a total surface of 33 km2 and a maximum water volume of 1250 million m3.
Humor Monastery is one of the most famous foundations of the Romanian Middle Ages. An inscription situated at the entrance, on the exterior wall of the church, mentions the year 1530. The most attractive and impressive feature of Humor church are its exterior frescos.
Humor Church and especially its paintings are subordinated to the theological idea of human redemption; the idea of the human being who, under the overwhelming impression produced by the contemplation of the frescoes, which show scenes from the redemption history, feels irresistibly attracted to achieving Christian ideology, which gives the human being the opportunity of meeting and cooperating with the divine for his redemption.
Owing to the kindness of the Faithful Prince Stefan Cel Mare (Stefan the Great), Voronet Monastery, with St. Great Martyr Gheorghe dedication day, was built between May 26 until September 14, 1488. Voronet Monastery is considered to be the “Sistine Chapel of the Orient” because of its great frescoes situated on the western wall and named “Doomsday”. Also, “Voronet” blue is considered by art specialists to be unique in the world and famous like Rubes red or Veronese green. “Iesei’s Tree” or “Christ’s Genealogy” is presented on a background of this wonderful blue and Greek Latin philosophers are painted on the columns.
Accomodation in Frasin, The GuestHouse in The Heart of Bucovina 4 *
A unique demonstration of skills in the hand painting of decorative eggs
Maramures, a cradle of culture and civilization which carved its history in wood, is the place where tradition, clothes and folk art are preserved like nowhere else in Romania. Maramures is a huge outdoor museum and the everyday life of the Maramures villages is a genuine experience in time travel. The wooden churches – folk art jewels – are present almost in every village. Eight of them belong to UNESCO patrimony and some of them hold absolute records: the highest wooden construction – the church of Birsana monastery 62 m, the oldest wooden church – Ieud church back in 1364.
Welcome to the unique atmosphere of the Maramures villages!
Visit the Iza Valley with the famous wooden churches. Iza Valley is a region of enchanting and captivating scenery. The Iza is one of the most important rivers in Maramures. The valley spans 83 km collecting hundreds of small rivers until it flows into the Tisa River.
All along the Iza Valley there are small villages dating back to before the fifteenth century. The Iza Valley is home to villages known for their historical significance and their wooden churches. Some of the more notable villages are described below.
Built in the 16th century by the Dragos family. One of the most important monasteries in the region of Maramures.
Bogdan-Voda’s wooden church dates back from 1718 and inhabits the site of an even older church which was burnt down in the 1717 raid by the Tartars.
Ieud is known for the preservation of its traditional customs as well as its traditional architecture. The people here dress and act the same as they did hundreds of years ago. Every year in July the people of Ieud celebrate with a multi-day festival of traditional culture called “Ieud Cultural Days”.
Overnight in Sighetul Marmatiei , Vila Royal 4 *
In the town of Sighet we shall visit the “Communism and Resistance Memorial”
Back in 1993, the poet Ana Blandiana presented to the Council of Europe a project for the transformation of a former prison to a Memorial of the Victims of Communism and Resistance. The Council of Europe took the Sighet Memorial under its aegis in 1995.
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.
Sighetul Marmatiei also features the birth place of Ellie Wiesel –
“I was the accuser, God the accused. My eyes were open and I was alone–terribly alone in a world without God and without man.”
– Elie Wiesel, ‘Night’ (1958)
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.
The creative spirit of Stan Ioan Patras has made this monument of Sapinta, the Merry Cemetery, a vestige of Romanian culture and civilization.
RONA DE JOS , a Maramures village dating from 1360
The church of Rona de Jos is the oldest in a series of similar churches in the valley of the Tisa River, the church of the Birth of the Holy Virgin has been dated using dendochronological research to around 1639.
In the pronaos, there is also an inscription with the year 1653. Another, slightly later dating for the church is the year 1720, while the wooden altar table can be dated to 1733-34.
The church has not been changed much through the centuries, but the tower roof has been modified at some point.
The interior of the church was painted in 1793, and most of the original decoration has been preserved. The scenes are framed with white, red, blue and yellow bands, and are explained by inscriptions in Romanian with Cyrillic letters. There are several unique icons painted on wood and glass in the church.
Visit an old mill house in the Lalu Valley
Visit a blacksmith and a furrier from the region.
Overnight in Baia Mare – Hotel Rivulus 3 *
The wonderful ‘miracle working’ icon from the Nicula Monastery dates from the year 1681
Visit the Armenian Cathedral fron Gherla , the biggest Armenian cathedral from Europe ( 1748 – 1800). It features an original Rubens masterpiece. In 1806 Francisc II offered this masterpiece to the Gherla Armenian Cathedral .
Arrival in Cluj , overnight in the Hotel Agape 4 *
St. Michael’s Church
This church is one of the most beautiful gothic monuments in Transylvania. The building was erected between 1350 and 1487.
St. Jacob’s Chapel formerly stood on the current location of the church.
The altar is the oldest part of the church, as it was built around the year 1390. Repeated restorations 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
The house was built in gothic style in the 15th century; 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.
Arrival in Sibiu
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.
From Sibiu to Bucharest, the way leads up through the spectacular Olt Valley, where at some point we’ll stop and visit the Cozia Monastery.
One of the most genuine jewels of the local church architecture, the Cozia Monastery lives and shall go on living in the history of the Romanian people both through its artistic and spiritual significance and through its age.
The Cozia Monastery, one of the most important foundations of King Mircea the Great, was built between 1386-1388 and 1393.
We arrive back in Bucharest and we are accommodated at the fancy Boutique-like Moxa Hotel****, located in the city center, on a quiet street.
BUCHAREST CITY TOUR
Bucharest is the capital of Romania, the biggest city and the main political, administrative, economic, financial, banking, educational, scientific and cultural center of the country. It is located in the S-E of Romania, at an altitude of 60-90 m, on rivers Dambovita and Colentina, at 44°25’50’ north latitude (just like Belgrade, Geneva, Bordeaux, Minneapolis) and 26°06’50’ East longitude (just like Helsinki or Johannesburg). The city stretches on an area of 228 sq km and it has a population of over 2 million people – about 9% of the total population and about 15% of the urban population. From the point of view of the number of inhabitants, Bucharest is the third city in the area, following Athens and Istanbul.
The city of Bucharest was mentioned for the first time in 1495 as the residence of Vlad the Impalor, the king of Romania (Tara Romaneasca), but its history goes back to previous times up to the 14th century. The name of the city of Bucharest draws its origins to that of a peasant named Bucur, but there is no document to attest it until the end of the Middle Ages. The Turk and Tartar attacks before the 17th century prevented the city from developing. The city became the capital of Wallachia in 1698 and developed in the peaceful days of the 18th century. The city’s population in 1800 reached 50,000 inhabitants. From 122,000 (1859) inhabitants, it grew up to 639,000 (1930) and 1,452,000 (1966). Bucharest became the capital city of Romania in 1862. It continued developing, supported by its ties to the oil refineries of Ploiest and is one of the first gas-lit cities.
The first higher education institution was opened in 1694 (St. Sava Academy), and Bucharest has an university founded in 1861 located next to the Academy of Sciences, the Public Bookstore and the National Theatre. Bucharest has nowadays 21 higher education institutions with almost 100,000 students, the Patriarchy of the Orthodox Church, The Romanian Academy, two national libraries, 40 museums, 230 churches (some of them, in the orthodox style, from the 19th century), the Opera House, the Musical Comedy House, other 20 theatres. The Palace of Parliament, which was built at the command of Ceausescu, the dictator, between 1984 and 1989, is the second biggest building, stretching on 265,000 sq m, following the Pentagon (which has an area of 604,000 sq m). Out of the many art galleries and museums, the most remarkable are the Village Museum (the second most important in Europe, following the one in Stockholm), which gathered together the traditional rural architecture from allover the country, the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, the National History Museum or the churches dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.
Great parks and lakes, which make Bucharest look like a “garden city” are close attractions: Snagov lake and forest (including the restored monastery located on an island in the middle of the lake), Mogosoaia – with the palace of Constantin Brancoveanu, Pustnicu forest, the monasteries of Cernica and Pasarea, the forest of Baneasa (with the biggest Zoo in Romania), Caldarusani lake and monastery (founded during the reign of Matei Basarab).
Farewell dinner in a traditional Romanian restaurant (Caru cu Bere – The Beer Cart) in the old town.
PRICE: 2,900 EURO
The price includes:
Guide-driver’s accomodation and meals included
Price does not include:
Lunch and dinner, except mentioned
* Upon request, this tour may be considered for more than two persons