Transylvania and the Painted Monasteries

This 8 day tour offers you the opportunity to explore two of Romania’s most picturesque regions Transylvania with its medieval architecture full of history and mystery, and Bucovina the so called Monastic Archipelago home to the Painted Monasteries.

Bucharest – Sibiu – Sighisoara – Praid – Gura Humorului - Voronet - Sucevita - Moldovita – Lacu Rosu – Brasov – Sinaia – Bucharest

Day 1 – Upon arrival in Bucharest transfer to your hotel followed by City tour. O/N in Bucharest

Day 2 – Today we make our way from Bucharest towards Sibiu, on the way visit the Curtea de Arges Monastery and Poenari Fortress. O/N in Sibiu

Day 3 – We start the day with a walking tour of Sibiu Historic Center; afterward visit Biertan Fortified Church on the way to Sighisoara. Walking tour of Sighisoara in the afternoon. O/N in Sighisoara

Day 4 – In the first part of the day we visit the Praid Salt Mines and continue the rest of the day with a scenic drive across the Carpathian Mountains into Bucovina the land of the Painted Monasteries. O/N in Gura Humorului

Day 5 – Full day of exploring Bucovina included visits at the Monasteries of Voronet, Sucevita and Moldovita. Quick stop at the Marginea ceramics workshop. O/N in Lacu Rosu

Day 6 – Begin with a visit at Prejmer Fortified Church, followed by a visit at Bran Castle (aka Dracula Castle). O/N in Brasov

Day 7 – Walking tour of Brasov in the morning, followed by a visit at the Peles Castle, the summer residence of the Royal family. O/N in Bucharest

Day 8 – Departure day, Transfer to airport.

Day 1 – Bucharest

Upon arrival at the Henri Coanda Airport the guests are met by their English speaking guide/driver and transferred to a 3 or 4* hotel in the center of Bucharest. After a short time to rest we will continue with the city tour of Bucharest an opportunity to explore the city formerly known as “Little Paris” capital of the Socialist Republic of Romania for almost half of century, a city still struggling on its way to capitalism and true democracy. The city tour will give you the opportunity to admire some of the landmarks of Bucharest, such as the Arch of Triumph, the Athenaeum, the Revolution Square, the Romanian Patriarch’s Church, the Palace of Parliament the second largest building in the world.

Accommodation in Bucharest at a 3, 4 or 5* Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 2 – Bucharest – Sibiu- approx. 270 Km/ 167 miles

On this day we will leave Bucharest Behind and head towards Sibiu following the scenic route of Olt Valley. On the way we will make a stop to admire one of the most beautiful monasteries in Romania built in the16th century, the Monastery of Curtea de Arges still amazes visitors today with its elegant shape and its exquisite exterior decorations. Further we will continue with a visit at the ruins of the Poenari Fortres built in the 13th century, but brought to its glory during the time of Vlad the Impaler. In the afternoon we will arrive in Sibiu where we will also stop for the night.
Accommodation in Sibiu at a 3* or 4* Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 – Sibiu – Biertan-Sighisoara- approx. 110 Km/ 67 miles

After breakfast we will begin our day with a take a walking tour of the Old City of Sibiu, admiring its magnificent old architecture, visit places such as the Large Square, Small Square, the Catholic Church, Liars’ Bridge and learning about the interesting history of this great city.
After leaving Sibiu we will start heading toward Sighsioara, on the way we will make a short stop at the Biertan Saxon Fortified Church 15th Century, one of the most important of its kind in Transylvania, being one of the last Gothic Churches to be built in Transylvania, listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
In the afternoon we will arrive in the Medieval Citadel of Sighisoara, built in the 12th century by the Saxon colonists brought here by the Hungarian King. The citadel is still occupied and listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among the highlights of Sighisoara: the House of Vlad Dracul the Birth place of Vlad the Impaler, and the Clock Tower an impressive Gothic structure which nowadays houses the History Museum of Sighisoara.
Accommodation in Sighisoara at a 3* or 4* Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4 – Sighisoara – Praid – Gura Humorului- approx. 310 Km/ 189 miles

Today we leave the wonderful land of Transylvania behind and start making our way toward Bucovina the land of The Painted Monasteries. Before leaving Transylvania we make a stop at the Praid Salt Mines, one of the oldest mines in Europe first stared during the time of the Roman Empire. The mine still operates to this day and provides both edible and industrial salt.
In the second part of the day we will continue to make our way toward Bucovina passing through the Inner Eastern Carpathians, this will provide us with a lot of photo opportunities but also a chance to get a glimpse at the Romanian rural life.
Accommodation in Gura Humorului at a 3* or 4* Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5 – Voronet – Moldovita – Sucevita – Lacu Rosu- approx. 235 Km/ 145 miles

We start early in the morning for a full day of exploring one of Romania’s best preserved, most valuable historical and religious sites, the Painted Monasteries. Built in the 15th century, they tell us times of turmoil, when the borders of Moldavia were often threatened by the Turkish Empire. Even though the architecture of the churches is humble, it is the frescoes that made them famous worldwide and each monastery is famous for a specific fresco and color. The first stop will be at Marginea, famous for the one of a kind black ceramic made here, and then continue to see the Medieval Painted Monasteries of Sucevita and Moldovita, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After lunch, in the second part of the day a visit at the Voronet Monastery, also called the “Sixteen Chapel of the East“, famous for the blue color that dominates the exterior frescoes.
In the afternoon we will drive towards Lacu Rosu a small tourist resort in the mountains where we will stop for the night.
Accommodation in Lacu Rosu at a 3* or 4* Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 – Lacu Rosu – Brasov- approx. 185 km/ 113 miles

In the morning we start driving towards Brasov, on the way we stop for a visit at Prejmer fortified church, a spectacular Gothic monument built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century.
We will continue our day driving towards Bran Castle also known as Dracula Castle, built in the 14th century by the Transylvanian merchants as a military fortress. After 1900, it was donated to the Romanian Royal Family and it became the favorite place of Queen Maria. Extensively renovated, it became a residence, and later a museum. Nowadays it is one of the most visited sites in Romania. After the visit of the castle, we will have free time for souvenir shopping. In the late afternoon, we drive to Brasov and check in at our hotel.
Accommodation in Brasov at a 3* or 4* Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7 – Brasov-Sinaia-Bucharest – approx. 170 Km/ 105 miles

We begin our day with a walking tour of Brasov’s Old Town. Brasov is one of the seven cities founded by the Saxon colonists in Transylvania, some 800 years ago. Thanks to its location on the Transylvanian border, Brasov became a trade center for the region. Most of the Saxon architecture is still present and, the Black Church, the largest Gothic church in South-Eastern Europe, is definitely worth a closer look.
Next we will drive towards Bucharest and on the way stop for a visit at Peles Castle, the summer residence of the royal family, built by Carol I, Romania’s first king. We reach Bucharest in the afternoon.
Accommodation in Bucharest at a 3* or 4* Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast

Day 8 – Bucharest- departure
Today you will say goodbye to Romania, and the friends you made here. Your private guide will escort you to the airport for your departure.
Accommodation: N/A
Meals: Breakfast

Included features:

* 6 nights in 3, 4 or 5 star hotels with breakfast included;
* air conditioned car for the above mentioned route, gasoline price and parking fees;
* guided tours and entrance fees for the sights included in the itinerary;
* a professional private English speaking guide/driver, at your disposal throughout the trip;
* guide’s expenses;
* all transfers;
* VAT and local tax;
* map of Romania;

Not included:

* meals other than the ones included in the program;
* individual travel insurance;
* photo and video fees;
* gratuities;

Transylvania and The Painted Monasteries Tour MapClick on the map to enlarge

Arch of Triumph    Arch of TriumphInitially built of wood in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in World War I, Bucharest's very own Arc de Triumph was finished in Deva granite in 1936. Designed by the architect, Petre Antonescu, the Arc stands 85 feet high. An interior staircase allows visitors to climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city. The sculptures decorating the structure were created by leading Romanian artists.
Athenaeum in Bucharest    Bucharest AthenaeumThe work of French architect Albert Galleron, who also designed the National Bank of Romania, the Athenaeum was completed in 1888, financed almost entirely with money donated by the general public. One of the preeminent public fundraising campaigns ever in Romania, the "Give a penny for the Athenaeum" campaign saved the project after the original patrons ran out of funds. With its high dome and Doric columns, the Athenaeum resembles an ancient temple.
Biertan Fortified Church    Saxon Fortified Church of Biertan, Near Sighisoara, Transylvania, RomaniaThe 15th century fortified church at Biertan (UNESCO World Heritage Site) 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 multi-paneled wooden altar and a remarkable wooden door which once protected the treasures in the sacristy.
Black Church    Black Church Built between 1385 and 1477 on the site of an earlier church (destroyed by Mongol invasions in 1242), the construction of the Marienkirche, as it was known in German, was hampered by extensive damage caused by Turkish raids in 1421. The church was given its new name after disaster struck again in 1689, when the Great Fire leveled most of the town, blackening the walls of the church. Restoration took almost 100 years. Of two towers planned, only one was finished. The Black Church is the largest gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul.
Black Pottery of Marginea    Potery workshop at MargineaLocated in the North of Romania, a few km have of Radauti in Bucovine, at the edge of the forests centenaries, the village of Marginea is famous especially by its black pottery. This pottery kept for essence the features which it had with the Neolithic era: the form remains unchanged as well as the technique of cooking and ornamentation. This pottery is of indigenous, Dacia tradition and one finds it on territory of Moldavia and of the east of Transylvania.
Bran Castle    Bran Castle the so called Dracula CastleBuilt on the site of a Teutonic Knights stronghold dating from 1212, the castle was first documented in an act issued by Louis I of Hungary on November 19, 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt (Brasov) the privilege to build the Citadel. Although Stoker never visited Transylvania, the Irish author relied on research and his vivid imagination to create the dark and intimidating stomping ground of Count Dracula, leading to persistent myths that it was once the home of Vlad Tepes, ruler of Walachia.
Brasov    Brasov bird's eye viewFringed by the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains and resplendent with Gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, as well as a wealth of historical attractions, the medieval city of Brasov, located just three hours north of Bucharest, provides a great introduction to the region. Among Brasov’s best know historical and cultural attractions are the Council Square, the beautiful St. Nicholas Church, the Black Church – the largest Gothic church east of Vienna.
Brukenthal Palace    Brukenthal Palace (white) next to the Blue House together forming the Brukenthal MuseumFacing west of the square is the stunning Brukenthal Palace, built between 1778-1785 by a Viennese architect in a refined late-baroque style. It is now the home of the Brukenthal Museum, the oldest and one of the finest art museums in the country. The palace was built by Baron Samuel von Brukenthal to serve as his official residence and house his collections of Romanian and Western art, 16th – 18th century religious sculptures and icons, stamps and coins, as well as an impressive library.
Church on the Hill    The Church on the Hill in SighisoaraTo the north of the Clock Tower stands one of the most representative gothic-style structures in Transylvania, the Church on the Hill - so called because of its location on the School Hill (1,373 ft high). First mentioned in a document in 1345 and superposed on a former Roman basilica, its construction lasted almost 200 years.
Council Square    Council Square in BrasovLocated at the heart of old medieval Brasov and lined with beautiful red-roofed merchant houses, the Council Square, known to the Saxon population as the Marktplatz, is a nice place to rest and soak in the beautiful scenery. In the center of the square stands the Old Town Hall, now home to Brasov's History Museum, while the southeast corner is dominated by the town's most famous landmark, the Black Church.
Great Square    Great Square in Sibiu First mentioned in 1411 as a grain market, the Great Square – the largest square in the city, has been throughout the centuries a quiet witness to the town’s lively merchant activity, assemblies and even public executions. Located in the heart of the old walled city, the square was designated an architectural monument by UNESCO and features some of the most impressive buildings in Sibiu.
Huet Square    Huet Square in SibiuHuet Square is home to a mix of Gothic buildings dominated by the Evangelical Cathedral (Biserica Evangelica). This impressive structure, featuring five pointed towers, was built in 1520 on the site of an old Roman basilica. The simple, stark interior is in total contrast to that of the Catholic Church. Here, you can also find the city's only fully German school, the Samuel von Brukenthal Gymnasium, which exemplifies the city's proud German heritage
Liars Bridge    Liars Bridge in Sibiu Little SquareSeveral steep streets and stairways lead from the upper to the lower town. One of them passes beneath the iron Bridge of Lies. Built in 1859 by Fredericus Hutte, this was the first wrought iron bridge in Romania.
Little Square    Little Square in SibiuFrom the Great Square, walk through one of two tunnels under the arches of the Council Tower to arrive at the Little Square. This second fortified square was home to the town’s most prestigious master craftsmen, who lived in rows of arcaded houses along the north and east sides. Today, small shops, cafes and businesses line the square.
Moldovita Monastery    Moldovita MonasteryThe Monastery of Moldovita pronounced "Mol do vee' tsa", located in the village of Vatra Moldovitei, was built by Petru Rares in 1532. The predominantly gold and deep blue paintings on the exterior walls were completed in 1537.  The large and vivid Siege of Constantinople highlights the frescoes. Another stunning representation depicts the Tree of Jesse, representing Christ’s genealogy, a wide-spread iconographic theme in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Museum of the Romanian Peasant    Traditional new years maskOpened in 1906, the museum features the richest folk art collection in Romania, with over 90,000 artifacts that trace the colorful and diverse cultural life of the Romanian people. The displays dip into all aspects of life in the Romanian countryside. Exhibits of agricultural tools, carpets, icons, furniture, photographs and films build up a complete picture of Romanian folk culture. In 1996, the museum was named European Museum of the Year.
National Art Museum    "Andreescu la Barbizon" by Nicolae GrigorescuLocated in the neoclassical former Royal Palace, set amid a wealth of historic buildings such as the Romanian Athenaeum, Kretzulescu Church and the Hotel Athenee Palace-Hilton, the museum currently exhibits over 100,000 works divided into two major sections. Its National Gallery features the works of major Romanian artists, including Grigorescu, Aman and Andreescu. There is also a roomful of early Brancusi sculpture.
Parliament Palace    The Parliament PalaceBuilt by Communist Party leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, the colossal Parliament Palace (formerly known as the People's Palace) is the second largest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon. -It is the world's second-largest office building in surface (after the Pentagon) and the third largest in volume (after Cape Canaveral in the U.S. and the Great Pyramid in Egypt) - The crystal chandelier in the Human Rights Hall weighs 2.5 tons - Some of the chandeliers have as many as 7,000 light bulbs.
Peles Castle    Peles Castle in SinaiaPeles Castle a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture, considered by many one of the most stunning castles in Europe. Commissioned by King Carol I in 1873 and completed in 1883, the castle served as the summer residence of the royal family until 1947. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows and Cordoba leather-covered walls.
Savings Bank Palace    Palace of the Savings BankBoasting one of the most impressive neoclassical facades in the city, this structure was built in the 19th century to the design of French architect Paul Gottereanu (who between 1875 and 1900 designed more than 50 buildings in the city, to house the first Romanian Savings Bank. The square-shaped palace has a large central dome with metallic ribs separated by glass, which allows natural light to come in; there are also four smaller domes.
Scholars’ Stairs    Scholars Stairs in SighisoaraLocated at the end of School Street and connecting the Citadel Square with the Church on the Hill, the Scholars' Stairs, or Schoolboys' Stairs, as it was also known, makes for an interesting piece of medieval architecture. Built in 1642, the covered stair-passage was meant to facilitate and protect schoolchildren and churchgoers on their climb to the school and church during wintertime. Originally, the stairs had 300 steps, but after 1849, their number was reduced to 175.
Sibiu    Sibiu skyline, towers of the Orthodox CathedralDesignated European Capital of Culture in 2007, Sibiu retains the grandeur of its earlier days when rich and powerful guilds dominated regional trade.  Explore the old city center with its upper town, home to most of Sibiu's historic sites, and lower town, lined with colorful houses on cobblestone streets and bounded by imposing city walls and defense towers overlooking the river Cibin. Sibiu makes an ideal base for the exploration of the nearby countryside and villages.
Sighisoara    Sighisoara skylineThe medieval town of Sighisoara, a perfectly intact 15th century gem with nine towers, narrow passageways and cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sighisoara is also the birthplace of Vlad Draculea, nicknamed Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Tepes), ruler of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. It was Vlad who inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional creation, Count Dracula. His house is just one of many attractions here.
Sighisoara Clock Tower    Clock Tower in Sighisoara Sighisoara's main point of attraction is the Clock Tower, also known as the Council Tower, built in the second half of the 14th century and expanded in the 16th century. In the 17th century, a two-plate clock, with figurines carved from linden wood, was set at the top of the tower, with one dial looking over the Lower Town, and the other facing the citadel. This intricate two-plate clock has been working continuously since the Middle Ages.
Sucevita Monastery    Nun at Sucevita Monastery announcing the beginning of the serviceSucevita Monastery Founded in 1581 by Gheorghe Movila, Bishop of Radauti, it was later expanded by his brother, Ieremia, ruling prince of Moldavia. Sucevita was the last of the 22 painted churches of Bucovina in 1602-1604 and has the largest number of painted images. Sucevita boasts a magnificent depiction of the Ladder to Paradise. Red-winged angels in orderly rows attend the righteous on a slanting ladder to the heavens, each rung inscribed with one of the monastic virtues. Sinners fall through the rungs and are driven by grinning devils to the chaos of hell.
Village Museum    Bucharest Village Museum The Village Museum was founded by royal decree in 1936, this fascinating outdoor museum, the largest in Europe, covers some 30 acres on the shores of Lake Herastrau in Herestrau Park. It features a collection of 50 buildings representing the history and design of Romania's rural architecture. Steep-roofed peasant homes, thatched barns, log cabins, churches and watermills from all regions of the country were carefully taken apart, shipped to the museum and rebuilt in order to recreate the village setting.
Vlad Dracul’s House    Vlad Dracul`s House (detail)Vlad Dracul's House is located in the Citadel Square of Sighisoara, close to the Clock Tower. This ocher-colored house is the place where Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's famous Dracula, was born in 1431 and lived with his father, Vlad Dracul, until 1435 when they moved to Targoviste. The ground floor of the house serves as a pastry shop while the upstairs is a restaurant.
Voronet Monastery    Voronet Monastery Perhaps the most famous and stunning of the painted monasteries is Voronet (Vo ro nets), founded in 1487 by Stephen the Great to celebrate a victory over the Turks. Widely known throughout Europe as "the Sistine Chapel of the East" due to its interior and exterior wall paintings, this monastery offers an abundance of frescoes featuring an intense shade of blue commonly known as ‘Voronet blue.’  The composition of the paint continues to remain a mystery even now, more than 500 years after the church was built.

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