Glimpses of the Middle Age: Transylvania & Walachia
Transylvania - Romania
Round trip, Breakfast
Availability: 05.01.2012 - 30.12.2012
7 days / 6 nights
- Euro / PersonBook this offer
Arrival at Bucharest airport and departure to Horezu, to use the potter's wheel and make your own ceramic vessel. It will remain for burning in the kiln for a couple of days. Optional visit at the Arges Monastery (the legend of handyman Manole and his wife Ana). Overnight in Curtea de Arges area 3* - 4*. (312 km)
After breakfast departure to Sibiu via the Transfagarasan famous route (2.042 m altitude) to admire the glacial Balea Lake, Balea and Capra waterfalls, Poienari Fortress and Vidraru Lake. Arrival in Sibiu – one of the most important cultural centers of Romania and the European Capital of Culture for the year 2007. Visit at the ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization. Located in the Dumbrava forest, it is the largest open air museum in Romania and one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe. It contains houses and workshops of the traditional Romanian folk culture from the pre-industrial era. Over 300 houses and other buildings are situated in the forest around two artificial lakes with over 10 km of walkways between them. In the afternoon free time to visit the old city center of Sibiu. Free time to visit the old city center of Sibiu: The Large Square, The Small Square, The Liars Bridge and others. Overnight in Sibiu 3* - 4*. (163 km)
After breakfast leave for Alba Iulia. Visit the fortress and witness the changing of the guard. The fortress, with seven bastions in a stellar shape, was constructed between 1716 and 1735. Inside the fortress one may visit The Union Hall with the National Honour Galery, The National History Museum of Unification, the Princely Palace (Voivodal Palace), the Orthodox Cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral (the most representative building for the Medieval Romanic style in Transylvania), the Batthyaneum Library, the Roman Catholic bishop's palace, the Apor Palace, and the University of Alba Iulia. Overnight around Deva 3* - 5*. (141 km). Traditional Romanian dinner.
After breakfast visit at the Hunyadi Castle in Hunedoara - a Gothic Renaissance castle which features tall and strong defense towers, an interior yard and a drawbridge. Departure to Densus to visit the church (built in the 7th century on the site of a 2nd century Roman temple – UNESCO World Heritage Site). Inside the church there are mural paintings with Jesus wearing Romanian traditional clothes. Overnight around Deva 3* - 5*. (120 km)
After breakfast leave for Targu Jiu to admire the works of Constantin Brancusi, the famous Romanian sculptor: the Endless Column, the Table of Silence and the Kiss Gate. Departure to Horezu. On the way visit at the Women Cave. Legend says that when men went to defend the country against invaders, the children and elderly were taken to shelter by women in this cave, where they remained hidden until the war ended. Overnight in Horezu 3* - 4*. (220 km)
After breakfast visit at the Cozia Monastery, one of the most valuable monuments of national medieval art and architecture in Romania. Cozia also features a museum of exhibiting old art: old manuscripts and prints, embroideries and objects of worship. Departure to Horezu to pick up the ceramic vessels made in the first day. Shopping opportunity at the ceramics shop. Overnight in Horezu 3* - 4*. (130 km)
After breakfast departure to Bucharest. Panoramic city tour and optional visit at the Village Museum, an open door exposition with traditional buildings from all over the country, at the House of Parliament – the world’s most expensive office building and the second largest civilian administrative building in the world or at Cotroceni Palace (the residence of our President). Transfer to the airport. (220 km)
Services included6 nights accommodation in 3* / 4* hotels
1 traditional Romanian dinner
Services not includedentrance fees at the touristic attractions
other personal expenses
other meals not mentioned in the program
Atractions in Transylvania
Location: Central Romania - surrounded by the arc of the Carpathian mountain chain.
Transylvania is home to some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, most notably Brasov, featuring Old Saxon architecture and citadel ruins; Sibiu with its cobblestone streets and pastel-colored houses, and Sighisoara, adorned with a hilltop citadel, secret passageways and a 14th century clock tower. Tiny shops offer antiques and fine hand-made products by local artisans and artists.
Visitors to Transylvania will also encounter stunning castles such Bran, near Brasov, - a Gothic fairy-tale structure, often associated with 15th century Walachian Prince Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While the connection with Vlad is tenuous, the deep bond of local villagers with the legend is not.
In close proximity to Brasov and Bran are the fortified churches at Harman, with its massive 13th Saxon towers, and Prejmer, the largest fortified church in Southeastern Europe. The 15th-century Corvinesti or Hunyadi Castle, the most beautiful in Transylvania, located nearby Hunedoara, has a sumptuous Knights Hall – that can be used for functions or parties, as well as towers and buttresses reminiscent of the medieval times.
Transylvania’s multi-ethnic heritage (including German and Hungarian) is delightfully apparent in the folk costumes, architecture, cuisine, music and festivals.
Colorful centuries-old traditions are alive and well in the small villages of Transylvania. People here still make a living at such time-honored occupations as shepherds, weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters.
The Apuseni Mountain range, in the western Carpathians, is a landscape of exquisite beauty and mystery. Here, you’ll find ancient legends of mountain spirits and rare species of wildlife, along with 4,000 caves, many of which can be explored. Scarisoara Glacier, a national monument, shelters the second largest underground glacier on the continent.
Food & Wines of Transylvania
Transylvania's cuisine displays a variety of flavors with dishes spiced with thyme, red pepper or tarragon. Meats, such as pork, mutton, veal, are among the most popular ingredient in Transylvania’s cuisine. The soups, to which sour cream and egg yolk are ofted added, also include flour dumplings or homemade pasta.
Romania is one the world’s leading producers of cabbage (varza). Make sure you don’t leave the region without trying the delicious “Varza a la Cluj” – the Romanian version of lasagna - prepared from several layers of finely shredded cabbage (fresh or sour) and minced pork or veal mixed with rice and bacon and baked in the oven.
Transylvanians - among whom the Saxons make their particular contribution - are not only artisans in producing fragrant, pleasant and light wines, but also sophisticated double-distilled liquors: palinca, horinca and rachie (varieties of brandy). These are made of fruits, particularly plums, apples, and pears, aged in mulberry tree barrels, acquiring a golden color and a taste often rivaling whisky.
Tarnave Vineyards - Jidvei
The vineyards in Tarnave area: Blaj, Jidvei, Medias, Tarnaveni, Zagar and Valea Nirajului are known for their excellent white wine producers. With its cool climate and vineyards on slopes that stretch from the Tarnava Mare to the Tarnava Mica rivers, Tarnave is ideal for fruity white grapes with a very good acidity. The area has a long tradition of producing excellent dry, and medium-dry flavored wines such as Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Traminer.
Even if wooden tools have been replaced by modern winepresses and state of the art technology, grape picking, the control of fermentation, clarity, stability, the storage and maturation of wine are all carried out according to a special set of rules handed down from generation to generation. There are also traditions of wine making in some of the Saxon villages in this region, with small vineyards producing must for the larger wineries.
Other local vineyards: Aiud, Alba Iulia, Lechinta, Sebes-Apold
Jidvei Winery - Wine tasting is offered at the 16th century Bethlen Castle in Cetatea de Balta, located between Tarnaveni and Blaj.
Places to explore in Transylvania:
· Some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns: Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisoara
· Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle), built in 1377
· Rasnov Fortress – built in the 1300s by the Teutonic Knights to protect Transylvania against the Tartars and the Turks
· The Saxon fortified churches at Biertan, Calnic, Harman, Darjiu, Prejmer, Saschiz, Valea Viilor, and Viscri - all designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites
· Transylvania’s finest art museum – the Bruckenthal Palace in Sibiu
· Marginimea Sibiului, an area northwest of Sibiu home to more than 18 traditional villages
· The Museum of Glass-Painted Icons in Sibiel, the largest of its kind in Europe
· The city of Hunedoara with its 14th-century Gothic Corvinesti Castle
· The Dacian Fortresses at Sarmisegetuza (UNESCO World Heritage List)
· The Moti Land (Tara Motilor) on the Ariesi Valley - moži is the name given to the inhabitants of this region. They live in scattered villages at altitudes up to about 4,265 feet and have preserved their century-old traditions and lifestyle.
· The Apuseni Mountains with Scarisoara and Focul Viu glaciers, Chiscau Bears’ Cave and Vartop Cave as well as other 400 caves.
Location: Southern part of Romania; The Olt River divides Wallachia into Muntenia in the east and Oltenia in the west.
Wallachia’s unique mix of historical and natural attractions promises a different experience each day. Discover heritage buildings and museums in the capital city, enjoy day trips to a royal palace or century-old monastery, hike the mountains or follow Brancusi’s art trail - the choice is yours.
First documented in 1459 by Vlad Tepes, Bucharest is the main city of the region and the capital of Romania. Whether you are spending most of your travel time here or just using it as a gateway to a discovery journey around Romania, Bucharest and its cultural scene is going to surprise you: 37 museums, 22 theaters, 18 art galleries, opera houses and concert halls await your visit. The best way to explore Bucharest is to take a stroll along Calea Victoriei to Piata Revolutiei, site of the Romanian Athenaeum and the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum of Art. The old city center (near Lispcani) is a must to understand why Bucharest was known as "Little Paris" in the 1920s. Also, don’t miss the Palace of Parliament, the second largest building in the world.
Beyond Bucharest, the foothills of Wallachia give way to the Carpathian Mountains. Just an hour and a half north of Bucharest is the beautiful Prahova Valley, where the popular ski resorts of Predeal, Busteni and Sinaia are located. Sinaia is also home to the magnificent Peles Castle - a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, considered one of the best-preserved royal castles in Europe. In the summer time, these resorts are starting points to hiking trails in the nearby Bucegi Nature Park.
A must stop for art lovers is the town of Targu Jiu on the banks of the Jiu River. This former market town is closely associated with Constantin Brancusi, the Romanian artist who is considered to be the founder of modern sculpture.
Some of Romania’s most tranquil monasteries can be found in this region, including Horezu, a masterpiece of the 'Brancovenesti' architectural style and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Horezu is also a renowned pottery center, where travelers can marvel at the colorful pottery created in local workshops by talented artisans.
Food & Wine
Muntenia and Oltenia cuisine feature a variety of sour soups with lots of vegetables. It is not unusual to find an earthen oven in the backyards of houses in the Muntenia region. Here knot-shaped bread and pies are baked and delicious vegetable stew is slow cooked in clay jars.
Soup as well as haricot bean stew, potato stew with plenty of onions, braised sauerkraut and scovergi are popular dishes in this area of the country. Other traditional dishes include chicken soup with homemade noodles, giblet sour soup, tripe soup, meatballs soup, meat and/or rice (cabbage or grapeleaf) stuffed rolls, grilled fish in pickle sauce served with polenta.
Local lore has it that the famous mititei, one of the most popular Romanian gastronomic specialties, were created by accident in the kitchen of "La Iordache" restaurant, a fin de siècle culinary hotspot in Bucharest. One night, when there were no more of the famous sausages known as patricieni, as the cook had runt short of bowels to stuff with the remaining minced meat, he placed the meat straight on the grill. The emerging sausages were somewhat smaller but the customers highly appreciated them, naming them mititei (meaning “the wee ones”).
The owner of the restaurant added thyme, caraway and saltpeter to the local recipe to enhance its flavor.
When you mention traditional food in the Oltenia region, Oltenian sausages come first to mind - finely chopped beef and pork meat mixed with garlic, pepper and salt, and then stuffed into sheep guts and smoked for two hours. Then you have to mention beef ragout, carp stuffed with mushroom, lamb stew with chives and smoked bacon.
In this region, like all over the country, onion and garlic are highly praised, combined with other ingredients to make deliciously savory dishes.
Other local specialties:
Fried or broiled Danube mackerel
Dried prune stew or prune and meat stew
Cheese or pumpkin pie
A la russe or boeuf salad
Moussaka (of Mid-Eastern origin)
Chulama – chicken cooked in white sauce
This region produces some of Romania's best red wines including Feteasca Neagra, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dealu Mare / Valea Calugareasca Vineyards
Dealu Mare, extending from the Prahova Valley along the south-facing hillsides of the Carpathian foothills eastwards to Vrancea County, is considered to be the best area in Romania for the cultivation of red grapes.
Valea Calugareasca (Valley of Monks) - one of a series of vineyards forming the Dealul Mare wine-growing region, owes its name and quality of wines to a hermitage - and perhaps the particular skill of the monks in preparing the wine. The standard-bearer of this vineyard is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dealu Mare Vineyard is very generous with foreign grape varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, as well as Romanian grape varieties - Feteasca Neagra.
Dragasani has an old history which can be traced back some 3,000 years. Tonic, slightly frothy and having a long-lasting flavor, the wines of Dragasani have become popular outside Romania’s borders following world recognition at the Bordeaux wine contest in 1989 and at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Today, Sauvignon, Riesling, Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, and Tamaioasa Romaneasca are produced here.
Other vineyards in the region include: Pietroasa, Samburesti, Segarcea, Stefanesti, Urlati
Stefanesti Winery - Wine tasting tours include visits to the cellar where wines are kept for maturation, wine-producing workshop and the vineyard.
Rhein - Azuga Cellars - Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the traditional art of producing the sparkling wines. The local technique has been preserved throughout the years and passed on from generation to generation.
Places to explore:
· Bucharest, Romania’s largest city and capital, with its French architectural old center, the Palace of Parliament, The Museum of the Romanian Peasant, the Village Museum and many other attractions
· The magnificent Peles Castle in Sinaia, considered one of the best-preserved royal castles in Europe
· The Princely Court and Poenari fortress (the authentic residences of Vlad the Impaler)
· The beautiful Orthodox monasteries built in a Byzantine style, tucked into the foothills of the Carpathians: Arnota, Bistrita, Cozia, Curtea de Arges, Govora and Horezu
· The pottery workshop center at Horezu
· The 16th century Princely Court and monastery at Curtea de Arges
· The Constantin Brancusi architectural complex in Targu Jiu, with its famous masterpieces: Endless Column, Gate of the Kiss, Table of Silence and Avenue of Chairs
· Prahova Valley and the popular ski resorts of Predeal, Busteni and Sinaia
· The Unirea salt mine in Slanic Prahova, where 2.9 million tons of salt have been extracted since 1685. Due to the therapeutic microclimate, former mine shafts are used as asthma treatment facilities. Visitors can also enjoy a walk around the mine and the salt-carved sculptures.