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October 20, 2015

The Medieval Treasure of Romania

Written By Admin

44-300x300Beyond Bucharest, the foothills of Walachia give way to the Carpathian Mountains and shelters tranquil Orthodox monasteries. The Transylvanian region includes medieval towns such as Sighisoara, Brasov and Sibiu, sites that have been made by Saxon craftsmen and merchants who came in this area from the Luxembourg, Lorraine, Moselle, Rhine and Wallonia regions of northwestern Europe and established here powerful and rich citadels. The Maramures region – N Transylvania – is a living “outdoor museum” famous for its unchanged way of life and for its well-preserved wooden villages and churches. The wooden churches are remarkable examples of well-preserved religious architecture that arisen from the Orthodox traditions and Gothic style influences. The Byzantine masterpiece of Bucovina’s Painted Monasteries contains exquisite wall frescoes who tell stories about saints, prophets, angels, demons, heaven and hell. Nevertheless, the Carpathian Mountains are known for their natural beauty. The glacial fashioned ridges and high peaks are simply stunning in their magnificence. The mountains are covered by coniferous and deciduous woodlands, limestone gorges and valleys, including grassy alpine habitats which are used by traditional sheep farmers.
Day 1: Bucharest – Sibiu (270 km). 

– Curtea de Arges Orthodox Cathedral. Built in the 16th century by Prince Neagoe Basarab of Wallachia is the burial place of many kings, queens and princes of Romania. Its legends have inspired many Romanian poets.
– Transfagarasan – one of the most world scenic alpine roads that pass through the Carpathians Mountains into Transylvania. Note: the road is open only from June, 15th to September, 15th. For other periods the option is Olt river valley course (defile) with visit to Cozia Monastery.
– “Sibiu 2007” represents once – in-a – generation opportunity for a Romanian city to host the European Capital of Culture designation. Sibiu/Hermannstadt as European Capital of Culture in 2007 aims at opening gates through which the city’s rich cultural landscape and diverse life will meet that of Europe. Sightseeing tour: the Big Square, the Little Square, Huet Square, Iron Bridge, the Evangelical Church and the Orthodox Cathedral. 
Accommodation in 3*** guest house in Sibiel village. Traditionally dinner in guesthouse in Sibiel with pure biological and home made food.

Day 2. Sibiu – Sighisoara – Turda – Cluj Napoca (250km).

– Sighisoara, Europe’s best preserved medieval town. The birth place of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) is one of the most beautiful towns in the heart of Transylvania. The medieval citadel, part of UNESCO World Heritage preserves Saxon (German) architectural influences visible throughout the entire city. Visits include: Guild Tower, Venetian House (built in the 13th Century), Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) House, Antler House, Wood Covered Staircase, Hill Church, Hermann Oberth Square.
– Turda Salt Mine. One of the most important salt mines in Transylvania, the salt mine has been known since ancient times, but was put into operation for underground mining work during the Roman period. Recent exploatations begun in the XVIIth century, being a decisive factor in the development of the town. By its impressive recently renowed galleries, long tunnels and mining system, great accoustics and very healthy microclimate, Turda Salt Mine is an excellent tourist destination.
– Cluj-Napoca, the historical capital of Transylvania, is one of the most important cultural and economical cities of Romania. Napoca is the name of the ancient Dacian fortress and Cluj comes from the Latin word “clusum” – to be closed, protected by the surrounding hills. City tour in the late afternoon: St. Michael’s Church – one of the most beautiful Gothic church in Transylvania (1450 – 1480, The National Theatre and Opera House – Baroque-Rococo building, beginning of the XXth, The statue of Matei Corvin, king of Hungary in 1457-1497, The Orthodox Cathedral – Byzantine style, 1933.
Arrival in the evening and accommodation in Cluj Napoca (3*** hotel).

Day 3. Cluj Napoca – Baia Mare – Sighetu Marmatiei (300 km)

– The wooden churches of Maramures. Following the Iza and Mara rivers, admire impressive landscapes and visit some of the oldest churches made of wood, special places within UNESCO’s patrimony, as well as a row of Maramures gates, authentic rustic triumphal arches. Visit Desesti and Surdesti churches.
– Sapanta. The Merry Cemetery, unique in the world, amazes the tourists due to its originality. The wooden crosses, sculptured and painted by craftsman Stan Patras, turned it into an authentic museum. The colors of the crosses and the humorous texts on them capture for eternity the essential episodes of life and show the strength of the Romanian spirit, which do not fear of death.
Arrival in the afternoon and accommodation in Sighetu Marmatiei (3* hotel).

Day 4. Sighetu Marmatiei – Moldavian Monasteries (300 km)

– Barsana village. Documentary attested in 1326 shelters one of the UNESCO wooden churches from Maramures, standing nowadays in the village cemetry after moving from the its monachal location were actually a new convent was created.
– passing the Carpathian Mountains to Bucovina, the famous region in the north-east of Romania. 
– the “Painted” Monasteries from Bucovina is the major Moldavian destination, because of the vivid and animated frescoes on their church walls. These depict Biblical and other scenes, designed in sequences almost like strip cartoons to educate the local people in the Orthodox religion. Due to their singleness, the monasteries in Bucovina are now UNESCO protected cultural sites. The art historians compare their artistic value with the mural paintings of San Marco church of Venice or the church of Orvietto. The secret of the Moldavian painters who prepared the colors and the techniques that made the paintings incredibly resistant is still a mystery. Accommodation in 3* B&B.

Day 5. Voronet Monastery – Agapia Monastery – Neamt Monastery -Piatra Neamt (200 km)

– Voronet Monastery, most known for the frescoes with predominant blue color – Voronet blue; surnamed “The Sixtin Chapel of the East”, these frescoes depict a fairy-tale world, painted on a “piece of heaven”. This “jewel of Bucovina” was built by Romanian great ruler Stefan the Great in 1488. 
After Voronet, continue driving and visit Sucevita, Agapia and Neamt Monasteries. 
Sucevita is chronologically the last and greatest monastic ensemble among the painted monasteries in Bucovina, as it has the appearance of a real fortress, with towers, buttresses and watch roads. 
The interior of Agapia Monastery was painted in 1858 by our greatest painter, Nicolae Grigorescu, at the age of 20. Due to their artistic value, these painting can be considered a real art gallery.
Surrounded by old forests, at the bottom of the mountains, is raising the oldest monastery of Moldavia – Neamt Monastery. Sumptuous, with delicate color effects, only by architectural point, the monastery shows the maturity of the Moldavian architectonic style, curdled during Stefan cel Mare (Stephan the Great) ruling. The façades of the church are covered with the decoration characteristic for Stefan cel Mare’s foundations: Gothic windows, friezes with enameled disks, colored in green, yellow and brown.
Accommodation in 3*** hotel in Piatra Neamt city, placed at the mountain feet.

Day 6. Piatra Neamt-The Red Lake / Lacu Rosu – Prejmer – Brasov (250 km)

– Bicaz Gorge, found in Eastern Carpathians on the river Bicaz, makes the connection between Transylvania and Moldavia. The gorge is crossed by a winding and scenic road. 
– Lacu Rosu/Red Lake, placed at the superior part of the gorge is the single natural barrier lake from Romania, appeared in 1837 after an earthquake followed by a big landslide
– Prejmer Fortified Church, the biggest from Southeastern Europe was built in the 13th century. The fortress with double walls, dungeons and honeycomb like inner wall makes us think to the ancient tales.

– Brasov, the Saxon’s Kronstadt (Town of the Crown) attracts with the largely Baroque area coiled beneath Mount Tampa and Mount Postavaru – old city. Visits to the Black Church – the biggest Gothic church from Southeast Europe houses a priceless collection of Oriental rugs as well as a 4000-pipe organ., the Council Square, the Franciscan Monastery, the Central Park, the Black and White Towers, Ecaterina’s Gate, Schei Gate and the Rope Street (the narrowest street in Europe).
Accommodation in central 3*B&B

Optional: a special musical dinner in Cetate Restaurant in Brasov, for the opera music lovers – with a performance of Brasov Philharmonic. In the Medieval Saloon you will enjoy a recital including chamber music, dance and arias of classical and pre-classical music.

Day 7. Brasov – Bran – Sinaia – Bucharest (200 km)

– Bran Castle (known as “Dracula’s Castle”), important national monument and landmark of the Romanian tourism, due not only to the beauty of the Castle and the landscape but also to the legend of Count Dracula. Built in 1377, the castle’s fame came first from Dracula’s legend then from the affiliation with the Royal Family who received it in 1920, as a symbol of gratitude for Queen Marie of Great Romania contribution to the achievement of the Great Union from 1918. 
– Peles Castle, built in 1875 at Sinaia, a beautiful mountain resort surnamed “The pearl of the Carpathians. Property of the Royal Family, the castle has 160 rooms, opulently decorated with leather, ebony, walnut and mother of pearl, with invaluable collections of art and furniture; very modern also, the castle was equipped with electricity (the first from Europe), central heating, elevator, vacuum cleaner and theater (cinema from 1910) room, since the beginning.
– Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Afternoon city tour, includes he Arch of Triumph (inspired by the one in Paris), the Press Square (where a copy of the Moscow University can be seen), the former Royal Palace (nowadays the Art Museum), the Athenaeum (Romania’s most famous concert hall), the Revolution Square (where the 1989 anti – Communist revolt went nationwide), a ride along Victoria Avenue, the University, the National Theatre, the Opera House, Manuc’s Inn placed near the medieval core of the town, the Patriarchy, the Palace of Parliament (the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon) and a visit of the Village Museum – one of the biggest and the oldest outdoors museums in Europe.

Price: 749 euro/person sharing a double room (for 2 persons traveling together)
Single supplement: 90 euro.

-6 night accommodation in 3*hotels/guesthouses, breakfast included 
-1 traditional dinner at Sibiel guesthouse, Romanian drinks included
-transport by modern car for the entire tour 
-English speaking guide for the entire trip (escorted tour)
-visits as per program

Not included: 
-entrance tickets to the attractions, other meals or services.

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