Oltenia an area at the foot of Middle Carpathians, also called Lesser Wallachia in antiquated versions, with the alternate Latin names Wallachia Minor, Wallachia Alutana, Wallachia Caesarea is a historical province and geographical region of Romania in western Wallachia. It is situated between the Danube River in south, the Carpathins in the north and Olt river in the east. Initially inhabited by Dacians, Oltenia was incorpored in the Roman Empire (106 A.D). In 129 A.D, during Hadrian's rule, it formed Dacia Inferior, one of the two divisions of the province (together with Dacia Superior, in today's Transylvania). Under Marcus Aurelius the capital city was named Romula.
Here we can find the trovants, also known as ~ growing stones ~ There are geological formations found in sand accumulations and sandstone deposits cemented by waters rich in calcium carbonate. They appear as mineral units, nodular, spherical or cylindrical with massive, concentric or plain structure ranging from a few millimeters to several meters. The trovants have a hard stone core, but their shells are made of sand.
The tour is completed by a visit to the new UNESCO site – Horezu Village, a traditional Pottery center.
Day 1: Bucharest – Pitesti – Ramnicu Valcea – Costesti – Horezu
Meet your guide at your hotel in the morning. From here will start your private tour in Romania.
Highlights: One wood church, Horezu Pottery Centre, Hurez Monastery, Trovanti Geological Museum
• One wood Church is situated on the valley of Otasaului River in Francesti parish. According to an ancient local tradition, would be established in the first decades of the XVI century, through building in this place the mass of a single oak. It was built in honor of Virgin Mary's Icon, the icon that is preserved today in the stone church of the monastery. Based on this tradition the monastic settlement here is named "One wood".
The oldest testimony of the monastery has been recorded in writing by deacon Paul de Alepp, who accompanied the Patriarch Macarie of Antioch in his travels through Wallachia between 1653-1658. He said that a monk had found an icon of the Virgin Mary in the burrow of a secular oak. At that moment he would have heard a voice that would have urged him to build a monastery from that tree trunk.
Built on the site of the oak, in all probabilities, in the middle of the XVI century the wooden church is made of thick beams, tailed in a tail of a swallow. It has a rectangular shape with unhooked apses of the altar, with a total length of 13 m, width 5.50 m and a height of about 4 m. It is surrounded on the outside of a waist in cable molding, dug in the thickness of the wood, with an open porch, without towers.
• The small village of Horezu is a cultural center in Romania that is only now starting to gain the attention it deserves and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its specific making of the pottery.
• At the foot of Capatanii Mountains, and surrounded by green forests, Hurez Monastery is placed against a picturesque setting whose peace and quiet is broken only by the noise made by eagle owls (hurez - in Romanian), which actually lent the monastery its name. Hurez Monastery holds a special place in the Romanian history of art, as it is probably "the most beautiful edifice in the whole of Romania" (Charles Diehl), and, undeniably, the largest and most accomplished medieval ensemble in Wallachia. First and foremost, it defines the Brancovan art style.
• Trovants - The location is a sand quarry on the left side of the road, before the entry in Costeşti village. On an area of 1100 m2 there are several trovants of various forms, several tons heavy, extracted from the steep sand quarry wall. The stone formations with alien features lie dormant, witnesses to the passing of time; that is – until it rains. Not long after the last drops of water fall, they begin a multiplication process. Small oval or round plain-like forms appear on the upper part of them. Trovants can be seen at the "Trovants Museum" Natural Reserve at Costesti village, Valcea County, declared UNESCO monument,
Overnight in Ramnicu Valcea – Sofianu Art Hotel. Time at leisure and dinner (B.D)
Day 2: Ramnicu Valcea – Curtea de Arges – Sibiu
Highlights: Transfagarasan Alpine Road, Poienari Fortress, Balea lake, Sibiu
Hot and cold buffet. We’ll start our journey heading Curtea de Arges known as the first capital of Walachia, founded by Basarab I. Short stop to one of the oldest church in Romania – Princely Church. From here heading north we’ll start the Alpine Road Transfagarasan – Top Gear drivers consider it one of the most scenic road in Europe - and soon we’ll see the real place of Vlad the Impaler (known as Dracula). Built on a cliff Poienari Fortress guards the road between Walachia and Transylvania. After this our next stop is Vidraru Dam – the biggest in Romania – where the scenery is dramatic. From here following the road that surrounds the lake we’ll reach the upper part of the Alpine Road that leads us at 2034 (6103 ft) meters high elevation. On the way the southern slope offers us a scenic view over the road and the view over the former Ice Ages traces – Glacier Lake, moraines, glacier pails and Water fall. Stop at Balea Lake the biggest of its type from Romania. Here we’ll have the possibility to taste traditional cheese and meat. Late in the afternoon reach Sibiu the former European Capital declared in 2007. Accommodation at Ramada Hotel or similar. Brief orientation, dinner and time on your own. (B, D)
Day 3: Sibiu – Calnic – Hunedoara – Alba Iulia
Highlights: Sibiu Old Town, Calnic Fortified Church, Corvine Castle.
Open buffet breakfast. Start our day with a leisurely walking visit of Sibiu – considered the oldest Transylvanian Saxon foundation and the chief city of them. Sites like Lesser and Big Squares, Liar’s Bridge, the specific Saxon architecture with ‘sleepy eyes’ dormers. Council tower, the Evangelical Cathedral, Metropolitan Christian Orthodox Church, narrow and dim passages and the remains of surrounding walls and guild tower are the “ingredients” of this walking tour. Lunch on own. Heading west we reach Calnic fortified Church (UNESCO monument). The foundation (dated 1269) differs from most of other constructions of its type in that it is not situated on a hilltop but rather in a depression, much lower than the surrounding hills. This position, pretty inconvenient in case of attack, can be explained by the fact that initially was used as residence and not as defensive construction
Depart for Hunedoara to visit the best Middle Age Castle preserved. A monument by its grandeur leads us back to medieval times. Founded by Corvine family in Gothic Style and attested by documents at the middle of 15th century, it was the seat of Corvine princely family. The Mace Tower, Neboisa Tower, The Council Room, Bethlen wing are still witness of the passed centuries.
Late in the afternoon we reach Alba Iulia – the Citadel known since Roman times. The star shape fortress impresses because of its wonderful Gates and dates from 1714 when the Italian architect Antonio Visconti finished the work in Vaban Style. Traces of Roman times are to be seen also in the citadel.
Accommodation at La Maison du Caroline or similar. Brief orientation, dinner and time on your own. (B, D)
Day 4: Alba Iulia – Blaj – Medias – Biertan – Sighisoara
Highlights: Alba Iulia Citadel, Biertan Fortified church,
Hot and cold buffet at hotel. Start our day with a leisurely walking tour in Alba Carolina Citadel. One of the oldest settlements in Romania, known in ancient time as Apulum, Alba Iulia served as the largest military and economic center during the Roman occupation. Temples, mosaics, thermae and statues, amphitheaters, the governor's palace "Daciarum Trium" – all rendered the original Dacian Apulul as the miniature copy of the mother Rome. In the old town visitors can stroll along the wide, tree-lined streets of the Hapsburg citadel, one of the most impressive in Europe, to discover the historical, cultural and architectural places of interest of Alba Iulia: the Roman Catholic Cathedral – the oldest and most valuable monument of architecture in Transylvania., the Batthyaneum Library, the Orthodox Cathedral of the Reunification, the Babilon Building – housing the National Museum of Unification, the Union Hall, the Apor Palace, the Princely Palace, and the University of Alba Iulia. Leave Alba Iulia and pass Blaj town lies at the confluence of the two Tarnava Rivers, in a wine-growing region. It was the first place to have Romanian written with Latin alphabet instead of Cyrillic in which it had traditionally been written. Blaj was also a center for the Romanian Age Enlightment, being the founding site of the Scoala Ardeleana society that promoted the Roman cultural heritage of the Romanians. Thus Blaj gained the "The Little Rome". From here pass nearby Medias (one of the 7 fortified cities) we reach the village of Biertan (UNESCO monument) that dates from 1283. This was in a document about the taxes paid by the inhabitants of 7 villages and so it is believed to have been founded sometime between 1224 to 1283 by German settlers (‚new comers’, „ guests”) The village settlement quickly developed into an important market town. Not far from here it is Sighisoara (UNESCO citadel) known as ‚The Pearl of Transylvania’. By 1337 Sighisoara had became a royal center for the kings, who awarded the settlement urban status in 1367 as the Civitas de Segusvar. The city played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of Central Europe for several centuries. Sighisoara became one of the most important cities of Transylvania, with artisans from throughout the Holy Roman Empire visiting the settlement. The German artisans and craftsmen dominated the urban economy, as well as building the fortifications protecting it. It is estimated that during the 16th and 17th centuries Sighisoara had as many as 15 guilds and 20 handicraft branches.
Overnight in the upper city. Accommodation at Sighisoara Hotel (15th century building) or similar. Time on own and dinner. (B,D)
Day 5: Sighisoara – Saschiz – Rupea – Bran - Brasov
Highlights: Sighisoara Citadel, Saschiz Fortress, Bran Castle
Breakfast at the hotel and after this we’ll stroll in the citadel to feel the medieval atmosphere. A visit to the Clock Tower – symbol of the city – Vlad Dracul House, The Church on the Hill and many nice surprises are waiting for you to discover in a leisurely walking tour. From here depart for Brasov and on the way another monument awaits for us – Saschiz village. Saschiz, with its 15th century church, is part of the World Heritage Site Villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, designated in 1999 by UNESCO. Following the road we’ll see on a side of the road another fortress located on the hilltop. Rupea Fortress older Romanian names for the settlement include Cohalm and Holuma. Passing through the forest of Bogata (rich lady) we reach Burzeland where Bran Castle is located as a watch guard between Transylvania and Walachia. In 1212, Teutonic Knights built the wooden castle of Dietrichstein as a fortified position in the Burzenland at the entrance to a mountain valley through which traders had traveled for more than a millennia, but in 1242 it was destroyed by the Mongols. The first document that mentions Bran Castle is the act issued by Louis I of Hungary on 19 November 1377, giving to the Transylvanian Saxons of Kronstadt (Brasov) the privilege to build the stone citadel on their own expense and labor force; the settlement of Bran began to develop nearby. From here it is a short distance to Brasov the place where we’ll have the accommodation. Hotel Casa Wagner or similar. Dinner. (B,D)
Day 6: Brasov – Sinaia – Bucuresti
Highlights: Brasov Old Town, Peles Palace
Hot and cold buffet breakfast at hotel. Morning stroll in Brasov old town visit to discover the biggest Gothic Church (Black Church), the first school in Romanian language and many more. From here a scenic drive to Sinaia mountain resort. Named after St. Catherine Monastery on Mount Sinai, Sinaia became the unofficial capital of the Kingdom of Romania towards the end of the 19th century.
Visit the amazing Palace with its gardens and from here heading south we’ll reach Bucharest, the capital of Romania.
Overnight in Bucharest at Royal Hotel or similar. Time at leisure. (B,D)
Day 7: Day of departure
According with your departure transfer to the airport . End of your private tour.
Price from 790 euros per person
* NOTE: Booking necessary at least 7 days (low season) 30 days (peak season) ahead
Airfare is not included in the tour price.
- 6 nights at three and four star hotels
- Fully insured sedan/minivan with climate control, for the entire distance
- Fuel & parking fees, Entrance fees of visited sites
- All sightseeing tours & cultural connections
- Independent informal talk on: Vlad the Impaler - Dracula,
- Meals: 7 breakfasts,
- A professional English speaking tour guide (driving / hiking) to accompany you throughout
- All transfers (car, bus)
- Map of Romania
- Other meals than stated
- Alcoholic beverages
- Photo/video fees at sites and museum