Transfer organized by your hotel. Accommodation in a 3* central hotel. Opera Hotel: www.thhotels.ro
10.00 You will be picked up from your hotel and drive north, passing Prahova valley. We visit in Sinaia the Peles Castle – a royal palace built as a summer residence for the first king of Romania, Carol I. The castle was built between 1875 and 1883 in a German Renaissance style.
Visit the center of Brasov, a Saxon fortress, often compared with old towns in Poland and Czeck Republic. We climb a little hill to the White Tower where you can have a stunning panorama of the old stronghold and from here we start our tour in the old center, visiting the Council Square and the famous Black Church.
Transfer to your accommodation in Magura village, at 1100 m altitude, at the foothills of Piatra Craiului and Bucegi mountains.
Dinner at the accommodation.
Visit Rasnov 13th century hilltop fortress built by the local people against Tartar and Turkish invasions and the famous Bran castle, built in 1377. Since 1920 the castle has become the summer residence of Queen Marie of Romania, the grand-daughter of Queen Victoria of England. The castle is strangely linked to Count Dracula, even if it is doubtful that Vlad the Impaler ever spent the night here.
Return to your accommodation and do a small walk in the area (e.g. Zarnesti gorge where Cold Mountain movie was filmed).
Same accommodation as previous night. Dinner at the accommodation.
On back street you drive to Sibiu, the Capital of Culture in Europe in 2007. 80 ha of old architecture, lovely squares and churches. You will be there around lunch time. Free after noon to explore the city.
Accommodation in a central 3* hotel, Imparatul Romanilor.
Dinner not included, but many restaurants around.
If you need more time in Sibiu, you can still have 2 hours of relax. I advice to attend the Orthodox Service in the Orthodox Cathedral of Sibiu, just to have a feeling if it. Today is Saint Helen and Constantin holiday. People in the rural area will not work on the field, but stay outside on the benches and chat.
We visit the largest Saxon defensive fortress, with three surrounding walls – Biertan, considered to be among the most fantastic Saxon heritage in Transylvania. The fortified church is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site (Biertan is open even on Mondays).
Visit Richis and listen the story of the key holder about how he discovered the green men of the church. He is a wonderful story teller and a great character.
Drive to Malancrav for overnight accommodation and dinner. We stay overnight in one of the trustee’s restored guesthouses and a lady in the village take care of us and the meal. Watch for the cow parade!
Visit your village (one of my favorites) and its church. The church still has inside painting before reformation.
Little walks on rolling hills are available in the area or a horse and car ride.
Drive to Sighisoara, considered to be the most beautiful and complete medieval architectural assemble of Romania and the most beautiful inhabited citadel throughout Europe. Sighisoara is also the birth place of Vlad the Impaler, connected according Bram Stoker’s novel with Count Dracula. The medieval citadel is perched on a hillock and is fortified with a 14th century wall.
You can also drive to Viscri (1h), a remote village with a beautiful12th fortified church and wonderful restored houses. Viscri is the headquarter of Mihai Eminescu Trust (English-Romanian trustee aims to preserve the villages fabric, remedy their loss of income and revive their sense of community. The Trust helps the inhabitants to develop new sources of revenue and the restore their houses with sympathetic use of traditional materials). Time to spend in the village.
Take your guide advice on the drive to Viscri. He may recommend other villages (Sighisoara is his home town).
Return for dinner and the same accommodation.
We take a long drive to the north of the country, passing the Carpathians and going to Bucovina. We pass the Bicaz gorge, a wonderful limestone landscape. About 7 h drive to get to your accommodation.
Accommodation not far from one of the painted churches. Dinner at the accommodation.
Peasant market today in Gura Humorului. Have a visit and see the real life (they sell pigs, cows, cereals, etc.).
Continue among the most picturesque treasures of Romania, the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, these churches are one-of-a-kind architectural sites in Europe.
MOLDOVITA’s exterior walls feature predominantly gold and deep blue paintings, dating from 1537. The large and vivid Siege of Constantinople highlights the frescoes. There is also a beautiful fortified wall and garden and the museum displays the “Golden Apple”, a prize received by the painted churches in 1977 for the “best travel destination”.
SUCEVITA High walls and heavily buttressed defensive towers surround the great monastic complex of Sucevita, giving it the appearance of a fortress. The Ladder of Virtues is magnificent.
Drive then to VORONET, also known as the Sistine Chapel of the East. Perhaps the most stunning of the painted monasteries, it was founded in 1487 by Stephen the Great to celebrate a victory over the Turks. The frescoes were added about 60 years later and feature an intense blue…even after more than 500 years!
Same overnight accommodation. Dinner at the accommodation.
A long drive today to pass the Carpathians again to get to Maramures, the Wood Land.
Getting into Maramures we visit some traditional villages and wooden churches (e.g. Ieud, Unesco heritage).
Dinner and accommodation at the foothills of Gutai mountains, in restored wooden houses. Delicious home made food.
Drive along the Ukrainian boarder to Sapanta, to visit the Merry Cemetery.
In Sighetu-Marmatiei we visit the Memorial Museum, a former prison for political prisoners during the communism regime, now housing a fascinating museum of this awesome past and for the memory of the famous people who where incarcerated here. Sighet also holds an open air village museum and Ellie Wiesel museum (Romanian Jew born in Sighet, surviving the holocaust and winner of the Nobel Price for Peace in 1986).
Return to the same accommodation. Dinner at the accommodation.
People is wearing today their Sunday best.
Explore the villages along Cosau valley, with traditional dressed people, traditional wooden machines and beautiful villages.
The most beautiful thing in Maramures is the people. Walking along their villages or from village to village is easy to admire the day-by-day life.
In Budesti, we visit the wooden church where hangs the coat of mail of the famous Maramures outlaw Pintea the Brave. Inside beautiful wall paintings are still preserved. In these villages, along Cosau Valley, men wear a little straw pillbox hat from a remarkable young age. We’ll stop to visit an artisan which makes these funny little straw hats.
In the next village, Sarbi, almost every house has its own carved wooden gate. Along the riverside there are several water-powered installations (‘valtori’), all made of wood, water mills operating all day long (villages’ simple washing machines!)
Desesti, to a walking distance to our village, has one of the UNESCO designated wooden churches. Beautiful restorations of the paintings inside.
Drive to Baia Mare for your overnight accommodation in a 4* central hotel.
04.00 A.M. Take a taxi and have an early flight to Bucharest with Tarom. Book it on line on www.tarom.ro
Cost of the tour:
Included: comfortable accommodation everywhere, with dinners and breakfasts, as mentioned above; transport by minibus in Romania, with services of English-speaking guide.
Not included: return flights; lunches (see above); drinks; entrance fees; tips; insurance.