Romanian sites description
Vallachia / Tara Româneasca
Bucharest

Founded in 1459, on the banks of the Dambovita River, by ruler Vlad the Impeller Bucharest became after two hundred years the capital city of Valahia Principality and after two centuries the capital of newly created modern Romanian State. The tradition connects the founding of Bucuresti with the name of Bucur who according to the legend was a shepherd. Bucuresti proved to be a great European metropolis many years ago. In 1701 the first hospital in Bucuresti was built by the great noble Mihail Cantacuzino, in 1857 the building of the Palace of Academy, the future University started using the projects of arch. Alexandru Orascu. Bucharest was permanently ahead of progress. It had gas lamps in 1861 before Paris and Berlin. In 1864, its City Hall was founded, the street lightning with coal gas was installed. At the same time, in Bucuresti, the first vehicle of public transport started to run.

The town is also a cultural European town famous for its artistic and literary life and from this was nicknamed “The Little Paris of the Balkans”. In the second half of the 19 th century and early in the 20 th century, important buildings are erected: the National Bank (1883-1885), the Romanian Atheneum (1888), the Museum of the Romanian Literature (1873), the Romanian Academy (1890), the Justice Palace (1890-1895), the Northern Railway Station (1862-1872), the Parliament Palace on the Hill of the Metropolitan Church (1907), “Grigore Antipa” Museum (1908). In 1935 the Triumph Arch (27m high) is built on the lovely Kiseleff Avenue which is longer than Champs Elysees in Paris.

Bucuresti is a real garden-town with a varied architecture. From this point of view the Cismigiu Park is a reference point. Here, in this park created in 1860, with its lawns and statuettes, there is a pleasant and old style atmosphere. This is the favorite walking place of the Bucuresti people in the summer.

The boulevards of Bucuresti are cut from North to South and from East to West, but are not very straight. The Victory Road is the main thoroughfare in Bucharest, formerly named Podul (bridge) Mogosoaiei because in 1692, ruler Constantin Brancoveanu built this wood floored road between his palace in Bucharest and his castle in Mogosoia. The Gen. Magheru Boulevard, parallel with the Victory Road, is relatively short with its buildings dating from the 30’s host shops, restaurants, cinemas and hotels. It is continued by the Nicolae Balcescu Boulevard with buildings in the Second Empire style and the modern tower of the Intercontinental Hotel, and close to it, The National Theatre and the University.

The old town is still a part of Bucharest. Try to find ruins of the fromer Princely Court of Vlad the Impeller which is now an open-air museum. Near by it, is the famous Manuc’s Inn, a former caravansary, built in 1808. Situated on the hill top next to the Parliament house is “The Patriarchal Church” built in 1657 by prince Constantin Serban.

Bucuresti is surrounded by lakes and forests doted with old places and monasteries. The Snagov Monastery (1404) situated on an island of the Snagov Lake housing the tomb of prince Vlad the Impeller is one of the most famous of them. 14 km from Bucharest there is the wonderful Mogosoaia Palace built in the 18 th century as residence of ruler Constantin Brancoveanu who gave his name to a Romanian style of architecture. In the evening, the bars and restaurants, clubs and cabarets wake up. Bucuresti is the European town with the largest number of casinos. The locals, like all Romanians, are kind, happy and like to have fun. The city has two airports, Baneasa, mainly for domestic flights and Otopeni for international flights, as well as five railway stations.

Visit Bucharest while you travel in Romania.

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Sinaia
Peles Palace - Royal Summer Residence

“The Pearl of Carpathian Mountains” is situated 125km north of Bucharest at 800m altitude on the Prahova Valley. The main point of tourist interest besides the natural beauty and the possibility of mountain sports according to the season, is the Peles Castle, built in Germanic Neo-Renaissance style in the 19 th century by King Carol as his summer residence. The castle has 160 rooms and the priceless collections of art, arms and furniture. Noble Mihail Cantacuzino built the Sinaia Monastery which gave the name to the town, in 1695 after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land at Mount Sinai. Built in traditional Brancovenesc style is today a valuable museum of religious art and a community of monks.

Visit Sinaia on one of our tours in Romania.

Transilvania
Sighisoara
The Medieval Town of Sighisoara - Clock Tower

Distinguished itself as a big handicraft and cultural center and as a residential town. It is certified in documents from 1280 under the name of ‘Castrum Sex’.

The fortress, situated on a hill, dominates the whole city, maintaining its original shape, a nucleus of massive building that guard the narrow colorful streets. It has 14 defensive towers Among them the most famous are: the Tower of Butchers, of Tailors, of Shoemakers, of Blacksmiths, of Ropers and the bastion of what used to be the Tower of Jewelers. Inside the fortress is the Clock Tower with a height of 64m, equipped with4 little towers and a wooden passage for guards.

It was built in the 14 th century and served as a meeting place for city’s olders. Later in 1648 a clock was installed in the tower which gives it the actual name. The city offers tourists many monumental construction. The Uphill Church, erected in Gothic styli similar to the Black Church in Brasov. Inside the church we can see old paintings(1483-1488), an altar painted in 1515, furniture in the Renaissance style, funeral stones, one of them from 1640;the southern portal and the walls of the choir which are entirely decorated with sculptures. The Dominican monks built the Monastery Church, in shape of a gothic hall, in the 13 th century. In 1656 another monument ‘The Covered Stairs’ was built with 175 stairs that connect the downward town and the fortress.

Besides these, one can visit ‘The House with Deer’, noble residence raised in the Transilvanian Renaissance style, the Vlad Tepes’s House, where the famous prince was born in 1431 and the Venetian House.

Visit Sighisoara on this tour in Transilvania.

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Biertan
Biertan fortified church

Is mentioned for the first time in a written document in 1283. It developed into a flourishing, crafts and trade center during the Middle Ages, always in competition with its neighbor market of Medias.

The fortified church of Biertan was built in the place of an old basilica at the end of the 15 th century with architectural elements from the late-Gothic and renaissance style. The walls, which surround the church in three rows, were built in several stages; the inner enclosure was already built in the 14 th century to protect the old basilica. The second enclosure was erected in the 15 th century and the third one as well as the 8 towers and the bastions were built the 16 th century. The altar is the “gem” of Biertan church, as it is considered not only one of the biggest, but also the most beautiful Gothic folding triptychs in Transilvania. It is made-up of 28 pre-Reformation plates, dating from 1483 and attributed to the Vienna “Schottenmeister” school. The Sacristy Door is another of the churches “jewels”. The oak door, with inlaid work, dates from 1515 and has a huge lock with a complicated mechanism on its backside. This was awarded a prize at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900 as it was considered a masterpiece of Transilvanian arts and crafts.

The Church of Biertan served for 300 years as the residence of the Lutheran bishop of Transilvania.

Today it is one of Roumania’s most important historical and architectural monuments, included in 1993 on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage.

Visit Biertan on this tour in Transilvania.

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Calnic

The architectural monument of Calnic, the peasant fortress, which was built in the 13 th century, is one of the most representative defensive constructions erected in Transilvania during the Middle Ages. The impressive fortress with high walls and guarding towers withstood the hardship of history for many centuries. The Siegfried tower, standing in the middle of the fortress as the last retreating point, dominating the landscape with it’s five stories height, is endowed with defensive corridors and firing windows.

Visit Calnic on this tour in Transilvania.

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Medias
Medieval Town of Medias

Ancient settlement with vestiges that certify a continuous history dating from the Neolithic period. Medias is mentioned in documents as a village in 1267 and as ’civitas’ in 1359. The Evanghelical Church of large proportions, was erected at the end of the 15 th century and the beginning of the 16 th century on the place of an old monastery. The verandas of the church are covered with oriental carpets from 17 th -18 th centuries.

From the 6 towers that existed initially, today only four are standing, the most remarkable being The Trumpets Tower of 74m height.

Visit Medias on this tour in Transilvania.

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Sibiu - The European Capital of Culture in 2007
Sibiu - the largest Medieval Town in Transylvania, the Europen Capital of Culture for 2007

I rubbed my eyes in “amazement” wrote a traveler in Sibiu before the second World War. “The town narrow streets and old gabled houses made me think of Nuremberg” continued the same person.

Sibiu, also known by its German name as Hermannstadt, is located in the very heart of Romania. It is an old cultural center whose beginning date back to 1192. The capital of Southern Transilvania, Sibiu was the most important of the seven cities established by the German colonists. Indeed, it is from the fact the German population has inhabited this area for the past eight centuries that Sibiu draws its distinctiveness. Documents dating from 1376 mention the existence of 19 guilds whose members practiced 25 crafts. In addition to being the first city of Romania to flourish as a trade center, Sibiu also claims fame in several other areas; the first manuscript on rockets in the world was written by a resident of Sibiu, Conrad Haas (published between 1529-1539); the first hydroelectric plant in Romania (third in the world), near Sibiu, in 1896; the first cable car in the country (second in the world after New York); the first theatre in the country, in 1788; the home of the Brukenthal Art Museum, of world fame, founded in 1817; the home of the Museum of Folk Civilization, which boasts the largest folk artifact collection in the world. The original town was built in the 15 th century and was protected by walls and brick towers, the buildings were joined by tunnels and narrow passageways, with heavily grated windows to cover the stairways and corners where intruders might be ambushed. Everywhere you look, there is evidence of Sibiu’s historical past. The buildings are painted sky blue, red, apricot and pea green. And there are many cafes and restaurants, as well as a number of interesting churches and museums. Surrounding Sibiu are a number of lovely villages with fortified church and rows of houses presenting a highly colored, but solid wall to the street.

“Marginimea Sibiului” the villages around Sibiu are hidden in the mountains and valleys. These communities are very rich architecture, history and heritage and have resisted the ravages of time. Towards Fagaras, Tarnave and Sebes there are many wealthy Romanian and Saxon villages defended by fortified churches and with hardworking people.

Visit Sibiu on this tour in Transilvania.

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Saschiz
Fortified Church in Saschiz

Is an old center of renowned carpenters and wood painters. The local craftsmen were employed all over Transilvania to decorate castles and churches. It was here also that in 1702 the Saschiz blue pottery was born. The local fortress was built between the 14 th and 15 th centuries and has high walls(7-9m),6 fortified towers and water well 50m deep. There is also a fortified evangelic church built in 1496, in gothic style.

Visit Saschiz on this tour in Transilvania.

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Valea Viilor
Valea Viilor fortified Church - listed on UNESCO World Heritage List

This fortified Evangelic church was built in 14 th century, in gothic style, and is the largest peasant church of Transilvania. It has a water well in the center of the choir to provide water for the locals during the sieges. Also the church displays old Saxon furniture from 1526.

Visit Valea Viilor on this tour in Transilvania.

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Harman
Harman Fortified Church

Stronghold, built by the Saxons, has circular walls within which a Romanesque church restored in the Gothic style is standing, Conceived in the architectural style of the time, the church has a 50m high tower surrounded by four small towers, sign that Harman has the right to judge legal matters and apply the death penalty.

The stronghold has seven square bastions where the villagers could find shelter during the sieges. Though besieged 47 times during the history it never surrendered.

Visit Harman on this tour in Transilvania.

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Prejmer
Prejmer Fortified Church - listed on UNESCO World Heritage List

The peasant-fortified complex from Prejmer is the most representative construction of its type in Transilvania. The fortress was built in 1427 for protection against the Turks.

The chronicles relate that in 500 years of existence the fortress was besieged 50 times. At Prejmer the extremely powerful walls reach 14m in height and are 5-6m thick. The access in the building is made through an arched passage with a length of 30m, fortified with two rows of gates. Cleverly made, the second gate had the function to stop the closed and the attackers who passed through the main gate. The second gate was closed and the attackers were trapped built at the end of 15 th century and its style inside. The church, in shape of a Latin cross, was built in gothic style. Especially valuable inside is the altar with panels and the organ from 1803.

Visit Prejmer on this tour in Transilvania.

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DRACULA-INTERNATIONAL MYTH AND ROMANIAN HISTORY
Vlad Tepes - Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker is the one who made the name of Dracula and The Irish writer Bram Stoker is the one who made the name of Dracula and Transilvania world famous. The young writer decided to use an unusual theme for that time in a new gothic novel and this is how the first (published) novel about vampires was born. He based his novel on research not only in the field of vampirism but also on historical research.

Therefore it seems the character he used for inspiration is a Hungarian countess-named Elizabeth Battory-who became notorious for her crimes. The stories say she used to bathe in maidens blood because she thought this would preserve her youth. Although Elizabeth Battory was cruel enough, Stoker decided he needed a male character for his book and this is how he discovered Prince Vlad Dracula in a book about Transilvania.

The novel itself doesn’t preserve the historical and geographical truth, presenting Dracula as a count and not a prince and also mixing up the actual places in Transilvania but it managed, this way, to make the name of Dracula notorious.

History-the true story The prince Vlad Dracula, named this way after his father, was born and lived until the age of four in Sighisoara, one of the German fortress cities in Transilvania. The name of Dracula he inherited from his father who, for his battles against the Turks, became part of the “Dragon” knighthood order as “defender of the Christianity”. This symbol of the Dragon he wore ever since gave him the name of “Dracul” (Devil) because in the Romanian mythology the Dragon looks completely different. So everybody thought this Mark of the Dragon looked more closely to the devil. The different ending in his name (Dracul-Dracula) means in Romanian “son of “..So Dracula can be translated with “Son of the devil”. Albeit this name, after he became Ruler of Valahia himself, Vlad received the nickname “Tepes” (the Impeller) because of his favorite way of punishing the enemies. Although cruel, for the Romanians he became a hero, because of the battles he won against the Turks and also due to his fair ruling.

Learn more about the historical part of the legend of Dracula on one of our tours in Romania designed specially around prince Vlad Dracula.

 

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Feb 27, 2014
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