Dracula Tour in Transylvania

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Bucharest –  Curtea de Arges – Poienari Fortress – Sibiu – Sighisoara – Bran Castle – Brasov – Peles Castle – Snagov Monastery – Bucharest

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Tour highlights:

  • accompanied by your private guide, explore the Medieval citadels of Sibiu, Sighisoara and Brasov
  • spend an overnight in the charming citadel of Sighisoara, Dracula’s birthplace
  • enjoy an included  dinner in the home of a family of Transylvanian Gypsies, a great opportunity to learn more about their culture and life style
  • visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Old Town of Sighisoara and the Biertan Fortified Church
  • discover Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle), Peles Castle in Sinaia, and also the Snagov Monastery, the supposed resting place of Dracula

Day 1 Arrival in Bucharest. Transfer to the hotel, followed by city tour.

O/N in Bucharest, Hotel Berthelot**** (centrally located)

Day 2 Start your Dracula tour by departing from Bucharest, headed for Sibiu. On the way, visit the Curtea de Arges Monastery and the Poienari Fortress (Dracula’s real fortress).

O/N in Sibiu, Hotel Casa Luxemburg***(located on the Old Town Square)

Day 3 Guided walk in Sibiu in the morning, then head for Sighisoara. On the way, visit the Biertan fortified church (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Guided walk in Sighisoara upon arrival, including the Clock Tower and the Arms Museum.

In the evening, join a family of Transylvanian Gypsies for a home hosted dinner. This is a rare opportunity to discover more about the culture, traditions and lifestyle of this controversial ethnic group.

O/N in Sighisoara, Hotel Sighisoara***, located in the heart of the old town citadel.

Day 4 Leave Sighisoara, headed for Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle). Guided visit of the castle, then continue to Brasov. Guided walk in the Old Town.

O/N in Brasov, Hotel Casa Wagner***, located right on the Old Town Square.

Day 5 Depart from Brasov to Sinaia. Visit Peles Castle and Sinaia Monastery, then continue to Snagov monastery another highlight of the Dracula tour in Transylvania. The monastery is the believed resting place of Dracula. Arrival in Bucharest in the late afternoon.

O/N in Bucharest, Hotel Berthelot**** (centrally located)

Day 6 Departure. Transfer to the airport.

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Detailed itinerary:

Day 1 – arrival, Bucharest city tour

Palace of Parliament

Upon your arrival in Bucharest, you will be met by your private guide at the airport and start discovering the city right away. With a population of just over 2 million, Bucharest is the largest city between Berlin and Athens. Nicknamed “The little Paris” between the two World Wars, Bucharest is, nowadays, a city of contrasts. 45 years of Communist rule changed the aspect of the city dramatically, but still, traces of the old, bohemian times can be found, especially in the French architecture of the residential districts and the famous churches that still survive throughout the Romanian capital.

The Princely Court

The city tour will give you the opportunity to admire some of the landmarks of Bucharest, such as the Arch of Triumph (inspired by the one in Paris), the Atheneum (Romania’s most famous concert hall), the Revolution Square (where the 1989 anti – Communist revolt went nationwide), the Romanian Patriarch’s Church, and the  the Palace of Parliament (the world’s second largest building, after the U.S. Pentagon), built by Ceausescu, Romania’s Communist dictator. While on a stroll in the old part of town, you will admire the ruins of the Old Princely Court, which was expanded greatly during the rule of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula). He is one of the first Wallachian rulers to spend quite a bit of time in Bucharest, rather than in the capital city of Targoviste.

O/N in Bucharest, Hotel Berthelot**** (centrally located)

Day 2 – Bucharest – Curtea de Arges – Poenari – Sibiu
The great medieval city of Sibiu in Transylvania is your destination today, but you will also discover some important sights in Wallachia on the way.

Curtea de Arges monastery

First, you will stop at Curtea de Arges, where you will visit the monastery there. Built at the beginning of the 1500’s, its origins are surrounded by a famous legend in the area: the craftsmen who were building the church, led by a man called Manole, were working hard, but everything they built during the day would just crumble at night time. This went on for a while, and they were hardly able to make any progress until one night, Manole had a dream when he was told that the church needed a human sacrifice in order to be completed and, as such, the first woman bringing food the next morning should be buried inside the church wall. Sadly, the first woman to come in the morning was Manole’s wife, Ana, and she was the one sacrificed so that the church could be completed. The legend also says that after the church was completed, the King was so impressed with its beauty that he became worried that the craftsmen would build another similar church for somebody else, and since he wanted his church to be unique, he took away the scaffolding, leaving the craftsmen stranded on the roof. Following Manole’s idea, they built wings out of the left over wood and tried to fly down, but they crashed and perished, one by one.

This may be a legend, but just outside the church, there is a fountain which marks the supposed place where Manole fell, and in the church, the wall in which Ana was supposedly buried is also marked.

Poienari Fortress

Head north for a short drive towards the Carpathians and visit the Poienari fortress, the actual castle of Vlad the Impaler. It was built right after he made it to the throne, in 1456, and the legend has it that the people who worked here were none others than the nobles whom he had arrested under charges of treason. Not many of them survived to see it completed, since the work conditions were very harsh and besides, the fortress sits atop of a tall hill. Nowadays, it takes a climb of some 1500 steps to make it up to the ruins.

Arrival in Sibiu in the afternoon, check in at the hotel. Your guide will take you for a short orientation walk in the central area, and then you can enjoy some time on your own.

O/N in Sibiu, Hotel Casa Luxemburg*** (located on the Old Town Square)

Day 3 – Sibiu – Biertan fortified church – Sighisoara

The Evangelical Church

Start your day by enjoying a guided walk in Sibiu’s Old Town. In the Middle Ages, Sibiu was the most developed and fortified city of the seven that were founded and governed by the Saxons. This is where, for some time in its long history, the governors of Transylvania resided. At its heyday, Sibiu had no less than 7 concentric walls built around the city, as it was an important trading post and was often attacked by various migratory people, and later on by the Turks.

An excellent example of German Gothic architecture, Sibiu was appointed as European Cultural Capital for 2007. It is also the place where the first museum in Romania was open (The Brukenthal Museum) in 1817, only seven years after the National Gallery in London.

Your guided stroll will include sights such as the Large Square, Small Square, the Catholic Church, Liars’ Bridge and the magnificent Evangelical Church.

Then, head east, for the town of Sighisoara, one of the best preserved medieval cities in Eastern Europe.

Biertan fortified church

On the way, discover one more of Transylvania’s architecture gems, by visiting the Biertan fortified church (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The Saxons are the ones who used this style of architecture extensively in the Transylvanian villages between the 13th and 15th centuries, as a way to protect themselves against the invasions that occurred often. This type of churches is also known as the “peasant fortified churches”, as they were built and maintained by locals. The Biertan curch is the last one to be built according to this pattern, in the early 16th century. For about 200 years after it was built it served as the seat of the Transylvanian Archbishop, thus becoming one of the most important churches in the region. The church has been beautifully restored recently, and the fortification systems are largely intact. A most interesting addition is the room used for married couples whose marriage did not go very smoothly: they would be locked in there for a while with just one spoon, one fork and one plate, and they would have no choice but to share everything and also talk their problems through.

Sighisoara’s Old Town

After the visit of the Biertan church, continue to Sighisoara. Sighisoara is, like Braov and Sibiu, one of the seven cities founded by the Saxons. It stands out, however, due to the fact that the fortification system of the upper town are still largely intact, and this makes Sighisoara the only inhabited citadel in Europe. Upon arrival, you will enjoy a guided walk through the Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and visit the History Museum (located inside the 800 years old Clock Tower), from the top of which you can enjoy a magnificent view over the whole old town and the Arms Museum. Then you will make your way up the hill using a wooden, covered staircase built in the 1600’s to facilitate access to the Church – on – the Hill, a beautiful example of Gothic architecture of the 14th century.

Vlad the Impaler Dracula

Sighisoara is also famous for being the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the source of inspiration for the main character of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Born here in 1431, he became famous as a king of Wallachia in the 1450’s. The house he was born in is still standing, nowadays housing one of Sighisoara’s famous restaurants.

In the evening, join a family of Transylvanian Gypsies for a home hosted dinner. This is a rare opportunity to discover more about the culture, traditions and lifestyle of this controversial ethnic group.

O/N in Sighisoara, Hotel Sighisoara***, located in the heart of the old town citadel.

Day 4 – Sighisoara – Bran Castle – Brasov

Bran Castle

After breakfast, you will depart Sighisoara, headed for Brasov. On way, you will visit one of the most famous sights in Romania, the Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle). The castle was built as a military fortress by the merchants of Brasov, so that it could help them overlook and defend the trade route that connected the provinces of Wallachia and Transylvania. At the beginning of the 20th century the city of Brasov donated the castle to the Romanian Royal family, and it became the summer residence of the second queen of the Romanians, Maria. She is the one who renovated the castle extensively in the 1920’s, transforming it from an austere military fortress to a comfortable, yet simple residence.

After the visit, you will have some time to explore the souvenir vendors around the castle, or maybe taste some of the traditional cheeses and palinkas (plum or pear brandy) sold by the locals.

Brasov’s Old Town Square

Then drive to the city of Brasov. Southern Transylvania is famous for its 7 cities which were founded and ruled by the Saxon merchants from the 1200’s on. Brasov is one of the largest towns of the seven, and the central area in the Old Town has a distinct Central European feel to it. You will enjoy a guided walk in the Old Town, and admire sights such as the Black Church (the largest Gothic cathedral in southeastern Europe), the Old Town Square, the old city walls and the St. Nicholas Church, the main church of the Romanian community in the Middle Ages, next to which we also find the very first Romanian language school in the country.

O/N in Brasov, Hotel Casa Wagner***, located right on the Old Town Square.

Day 5 – Brasov – Peles – Snagov – Bucharest

Peles Castle

In the morning, you will depart from Brasov and head for the mountains of Transylvania. After a 2 hours drive, you will arrive in Sinaia, a little town which has always been linked to the Romanian Royal family. Here we visit Peles Castle, an astounding Royal residence, built by Carol I, Romania’s first king, at the end of the 19th century. The King chose the location himself, and the construction took 39 years until the residence was completed. At the time of its building, the castle was one of the most modern buildings in Europe, with electricity, a central vacuum cleaning system and central heating. No expenses were spared in building it, and some of the most famous craftsmen and architects of Europe were employed by the King. The interior decorations are exquisite, with Carrara marble, Murano chandeliers and Venetian mirrors, and some 40 wood types were used for the wood carvings on the walls.

Sinaia monastery

Next, you’ll have an encounter with the Romanian Orthodox faith and Romanian church architecture, by visiting the Sinaia Monastery. The old church was built by the a member of the Cantacuzino family at the end of the 17th century. Upon returning to his country after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he decided to build a monastery that would remind people of Mount Sinai, hence the name Sinaia. The old monastery was the first building in the area (and gave the town its name) and a new church was added to the monastery complex later on, in the 1840’s.

Snagov monastery

In the afternoon, you will head for Bucharest, and on the way, take a detour to make a quick stop at the Snagov Monastery. Situated in the middle of a lake just outside of Bucharest, the monastery was built by Vlad’s ancestors, and it believed that it is here that he was buried. It is unclear by whose hand he died, even though we know that it happened while fighting the Turks outside of Bucharest. His head was sent to Istanbul, as proof of his death, but his body was buried with great haste and secrecy, so all we have right now about Vlad’s burial place is a legend.

After visiting what is believed to be Dracula’s final resting place, you will arrive in Bucharest.

O/N in Bucharest, Hotel Berthelot**** (centrally located)

Day 6 – Bucharest, departure

Today, you will say goodbye to Romania and the friends you made here. Your guide will take you to the airport.

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