Treasures of Bulgaria and Romania Tour
Day 4 – Sunday
FULL-DAY TOUR OF BUCHAREST
The Romanian Athenaeum, Bucharest
After breakfast, full day sightseeing tour of Bucharest including visit of the famous Parliament Palace. The walking tour includes the Revolution Square and the bustling old center of Bucharest. You’ll admire as well The Village Museum and famous boulevards and neighborhoods of this interesting city.
The settlement of Bucharest was first mentioned in 1459 and, ever since, the town went through a series of continuous changes, representing the central scene of Romania’s political, artistic, university, financial and cultural life. Between the two world wars, due to the elegant architecture and to the elite living in Bucharest, the city was nicknamed “The Little Paris”.
Guinness Book registers the Palace of Parliament as the second largest administrative building in the World, after Pentagon – with a floor area of 330,000m² – and the third in the world as volume, with 2,550,000m³. The building is situated in the historical and geographical center of Bucharest and it was built on a hill. The building, whose works were started in July 1984, is structured on six levels and divided into 21 body units. It includes a huge combination of monumental sculptures, glided ornaments, decorative flooring, laced ceilings, brocade curtains, heavy carpets and tapestry, all in a succession of chambers, galleries, lavish vast rooms and halls, which split themselves or merge in a simple, overwhelming and harmonious way.
Located in a green area of Bucharest and inaugurated in 1936, The Village Museum is one of the most beautiful and most interesting museums in the country. It boasts old and original houses brought from different parts of the country. In The Revolution Square you’ll get the story of the anticommunist revolution from 1989 and you’ll find out more about the hardships an entire nation had to suffer for 45 years. The day ends with what became the most bustling area of Bucharest, The Old Center. Once, the place of princely families and nobles, later an area of the craftsmen, the old center became today the Mecca of bars, restaurants and quaint cobblestone streets.
Overnight in Bucharest.
Day 5 – Monday
BUCHAREST – CURTEA DE ARGES – SIBIU
Curtea de Arges Monastery
Departure to Curtea de Arges, the former capital of Walachia, and visit Curtea de Arges Monastery.
The Episcopal Church, known as the Church of the Curtea de Arges Monastery, was built by the Romanian ruler of Wallachia Neagoe Basarab in 1512-1517. A great legend is connected to this church. It is said Master Manole entombed his wife alive in the walls of the church so that they would never crumble. And so that the secret of the monastery’s construction would be preserved forever, Manole himself had to be sacrificed. Left without a ladder on the roof of the church, at the command of the prince, Manole made himself wings from wooden laths and tried to descend: he crashed to earth and from his body welled a spring. Such is the legend of Manole’s Well. In 1875, the beautiful trefoil church was demolished and rebuilt by French architect Andre Lecomte du Nouy. The Episcopal Church of Curtea de Arges houses the tomb of its founder, Neagoe Basarab, and of other members of the royal family (Kings Carol I and Ferdinand, and Queens Elisabet and Mary).
In the afternoon we will drive along the picturesque Olt Valley to visit Cozia Monastery and then we will arrive in Sibiu.
Mircea the Elder, ruler of Walachia and grandfather of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula), built Cozia Monastery in the 14th century. Here you’ll have a first contact with the painted frescoes. On the entrance wall of the church you’ll see an impressive “Last Judgment” fresco.
Overnight in Sibiu.
Day 6 – Tuesday
SIBIU – SIGHISOARA – CLUJ NAPOCA
After breakfast, you will enjoy a walking tour of Sibiu.
Considered to be one of the most beautiful Romanian towns, due to its unique architectural style and to the impressive complex of museums, Sibiu was awarded the official title of 2007 European Capital of Culture. Sibiu has a vast number of museums organized around the two great cultural and historical centers: The Brukenthal Museum and the Astra Museum. The town’s touristic attractions are: The Evangelical Church, The Orthodox Cathedral, The Roman-Catholic Church, The Stairs Tower, The Council Tower, etc
Drive to Biertan to visit the impressive Saxon fortified church.
The village of Biertan (German: Birthalm), first mentioned in an official document in 1283, is home to one of the largest and most impressive medieval strongholds in Transylvania. Surrounded by quaint streets and vineyards, the 15th century fortified church at Biertan is perched high on a hill in the middle of the village. Three tiers of 35-foot-high defensive walls, connected by towers and gates, encircled the complex, making the church impossible to conquer during medieval times. Featuring late-Gothic architecture with heavy doors and double exterior walls, the church boasts the largest Transylvanian polyptych wooden altar and a remarkable wooden door which once protected the treasures in the sacristy. The altar was built by artisans from Vienna (Austria) and Nurenberg (Germany) between 1483 and 1513. The door, a true marvel of engineering, has an ingenious locking mechanism with 19 bolts that can be simultaneously activated by a key.
The day continues with a stroll on the streets of Sighisoara, the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler (also known as Dracula) and one of the greatest sites in Eastern Europe. Visit the medieval citadel (the Upper Town): the Clock Tower and the Church on the Hill.
The medieval town of Sighisoara is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage as being the only inhabited citadel in Europe. It is a popular tourist destination, due to its particular architecture, as well as to the strong connection that exists between the citadel and the legendary image of vampire-prince Dracula.
Departure to Targu Mures – panoramic tour of the elegant city centre well known for its architecture. Drive on to Cluj Napoca, one of the oldest cities of Romania.
Overnight in Cluj Napoca.
Day 7 – Wednesday
CLUJ NAPOCA – SURDESTI – SAPANTA – SIGHET – VADU IZEI
Merry Cemetery, Maramures
After the breakfast you will be driven toward the region of Maramures, a place where the purity of nature blends with the beauty of the old villages, a place where the locals kept untouched their traditions, where the carved wood represents a common way of building.
Passing through Baia Mare you will reach the UNESCO site of Surdesti. The local wooden church, built in the 18th century, is an amazing example of the local architecture, a wooden church surrounded by a well preserved rural landscape.
Crossing the Gutai Mountains you’ll arrive to Sapanta village where you will admire the famous Merry Cemetery.
The Merry Cemetery has gained originality and value by means of the chopped, carved and painted crosses on which the artisan has chiseled out versified epitaphs, most of them full of a remarkable sense of humor, particular to the area and to all the Romanians. The value of these works of art is recognized both at home and abroad.
In the same village you’ll stop to admire the highest wooden structure in the world: Peri Convent, recently rebuilt.
In Sighet you will hear more about the horrors of the communist regime. You will visit a former prison where during the communist years many important Romanian leaders but also common people who were against the regime lost their lives.
The day ends in a local guest where you’ll meet a wonderful family. It is here where you’ll enjoy a rich dinner and plenty of tuica also known as palinca which is a sort of strong plum brandy. You are going to enjoy a room with private bathroom.
Overnight in Vadu Izei.
Day 8 – Thursday
VADU IZEI – BARSANA – DRAGOMIRESTI – MOLDOVITA – SUCEVITA
Today the journey is long and beautiful. First, you will visit Toader Barsan’s house, a local wood carver who took part at the Smithsonian World Festival in Washington. In the same village, you’ll visit one of the highest wooden churches in the world, Barsana Convent.
Perched on the hills of Maramures, overlooking the Iza Valley, the Barsana Convent is one of the most impressive monastic places of Romania despite it was rebuilt recently. The slender and tall silhouette of the wooden church, the carvings of each building and the amazing garden represent a perfect synthesis between the strong faith of the locals, their skills and nature.
Driving through the famous Borgo Pass where you’ll enjoy a tasty lunch at the Dracula Castle Hotel, you will reach for the first time Bucovina, known for its painted monasteries and for the traditional houses adorned with beautiful floral and geometrical motifs, for its traditions kept over the centuries and for its hospitable people.
The Convent of Moldovita is the first painted church visited in Bucovina. It is famous for its “Siege of Constantinople” fresco. Then you’ll be driven to the nearby Sucevita Monastery, which is the largest of all, looking more like a mighty fortress than a monastery. The monstic place, as the last one to be painted on the exterior walls, boasts the best preserved frescoes of Bucovina.
Overnight in Sucevita.
Day 9 – Friday
SUCEVITA – VORONET – BICAZ – SZEKLERLAND
Sucevita Convent, Bucovina
Today the tour of eastern Europe is long but impressive. The first visit of the day is at the most famous painted monastery of all, Voronet Convent.
Erected in 1488, Voronet Monastery represented one of the first Moldavian creative elements showing a distinctive style. The church is a combination of Byzantine, Gothic and local elements. The exterior painting on the western wall depicts, on five registers, the Doomsday scene, unique in the whole world. The Voronet Monastery entered the universal cultural heritage also for having in the composition of the paintings the inimitable “Voronet blue”.
Then you will leave behind Moldova entering again into Transylvania. It is here where you’ll be astonished by the wonders of the nature. The Bicaz Gorge and Red Lake are among the most known landmarks of Romania.
Then you’ll be taken to the core of the Hungarian minority that lives in an area known as Szeklerland. It is here where you’ll be able to admire the traditional way of living of these people and their amazing old houses.
You’ll stay in the manor house. Prepare yourself to step back in time…
Overnight in Szeklerland.
Day 10 – Saturday
SZEKLERLAND – BRASOV – BRAN – SINAIA– BUCHAREST
Bran Castle, Transylvania
After breakfast you will enjoy a walking tour of Brasov with visit of the old downtown. You’ll admire the beautiful buildings like Black Church which is built in Gothic and Renaissance style. Also you will see the narrowest street in Romania, Rope Street, Schei and Catherine’s Gates, St. Nicholas Church and the old Schei neighborhood.
Then, you will visit the famous Bran castle also known as Dracula’s castle.
The Bran Castle was a safeguard castle for the trade route that connected Transylvania and Wallachia, it was built by the people of Brasov between 1377 – 1378. It represents in the consciousness of any tourist the dark residence of prince Dracula, a fictional hero in the famous British Bram Stocker’s novel.
After a scenic drive you will leave Transylvania and you will stop in Sinaia to visit the most beautiful castle in Romania – Peles Castle.
The Peles Castle, built in two stages between 1875 and 1914, was the summer residence of King Carol Ist and his wife, queen Elisabet. The museum complex in Sinaia includes both Peles castle and Pelisor castle and the Foisor royal residence.
Overnight in Bucharest.
Day 11 – Sunday
In the morning free time in Bucharest and transfer to the airport.