UNESCO sites in Wallachia – 4 days tour
The Romanian cultural heritage spans far beyond Count Dracula. Romania is home to no less than 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ranging from natural sites, such as the transboundary Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Danube Delta to cultural landmarks like the villages with fortified churches in Transylvania or the painted churches of Moldova, and the historical assets regarding the ancestors of Romania as the endangered Rosia Montana site, all these sites are places that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
We will not miss:
We set the compass to the West and start the tour. There’re a few attractions on our list, today.
The landscape from the Carpathian Mountains contains few of the last remaining virgin forests in Europe. The journey across the hills of Wallachia will show us here and then, examples of majestic beech trees, witnesses of the remnant forests included in UNESCO list.
Around noon we reach Horezu town. Here we find examples about craftmanship of ceramics, by visiting one of the many pottery workshops opened in the town. Horezu ceramics are a unique traditional craft, reflecting generations of knowledge and craftsmanship. What is interesting the family members are doing different jobs – men are doing the primary operation, extracting and preparing the material, then the women decorate the objects that are fired, at the end. The process is in fact a socialization reason, giving the community a sense of identity, this craft being also transmitted through families.
Visit a ceramic workshop and perform a pottery lesson, under the surveillance of the craftsman.
In the proximity of Horezu town we find then, Horezu Monastery, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List "… for its architectural purity and balance, the richness of its sculptural detail, the treatment of its religious compositions, its votive portraits and its painted decorative works".
“Culele” from the hills of Northern Wallachia represent another attraction for today.
Overnight in a “cula’, Conacul lui Maldar. One of the finest representations from the region, the manor still maintains the old traditional architecture, the wood decorations at the doors and the furniture attracting the sights with their amazing details. At dinner feel free to taste the delicious taste of the Romanian cuisine, mixed with modern slow cook recipes.
At last, if it’s summer, you might enjoy the swimming pool, if it’s cold just relax in the front of the fireplace, the central element of the location.
The travel in the hills of Wallachia continues.
We are heading Targu Jiu town, the place where the monumental works of the world renewed sculptor Constantin Brancusi could be seen. He was a central figure of the modern movement and the pioneer of abstraction, the innovator of world art/sculpture by an evolutionary search for pure forms and primordial sources of folk creation. Submitted on the UNESCO Tentative List, the only monumental ensemble by the sculptor Constantin Brancusi "The Way of the Heroes" was made in 1937 in memory of the heroes who died during the First World War. The east-west composition axis contains: the "Endless Recognition Column", the "Kissing Door", the "Table of Silence", the "Chair Alley".
The route continues then upstream Jiu valley, following the steep canyon to North. Here we find a jewel of the post-Antiquity era, the Densus church, also included in the UNESCO Tentative list. The church is distinguished by its particular silhouette and incorporates in an original way the Roman spoliations - columns, mouths of funerary lions etc.
Overnight on Gradiste valley, a narrow and hidden path to the old capital of the Dacians, Sarmizegetusa Regia.
Moara lu’ Antone (Antone’s Mill) is our host for tonight. The beauty of the surroundings, the clean air and crystal-clear river, the cadence of the mill when it grinds the flour, make Antone's Mill a magical and silent place, as it from stories. The mill is older than a century, one of the fewest which is still in use from Romania. Beside the tools for grinding, there’re also artifacts for woodworking, weeding and a natural wooden whirlpool for washing carpets. The rooms are simple but traditionally decorated, a heritage of the past traditions from the area. Delicious and tasty food made with fresh ingredients provided by the owner’s farm are coming to complete the day.
The mighty Dacian civilization once rivalled Rome in power and prestige. Today little remains of this civilization, apart from the six Dacian fortresses which are located across several sites in the beautiful Orăştie Mountains. The Dacian capital grew rich and in order to defend Sarmizegetusa against the Romans, a number of fortresses were built in strategic locations throughout the Orăştie Mountains, forming an elaborate defensive system. It is important to note that the so-called six fortresses are not only military bastions, but also religious, social and cultural centers.
We visit first Costesti-Blidaru fortess, then we move uphill for the jewel of the Dacian fortresses, the capital Sarmizegetusa Regia, build during the “golden age” of the Dacian civilization (1st BC – 2nd AD).
The wide range of military architecture is proved by the ingenious fortification system and the materials used to build it. The analyze of the ruins performed by the archaeologists revealed an equilibrium between the tradition and innovation that confirms the cultural and ethnic continuity. The site of Sarmizegetusa can be singled out for its scale and proportions, graceful sculptural pattern, and the sacred atmosphere, impregnated by a spirituality marked by the belief in immortality.
We remain in the mountains, today. Situated in a beautiful natural refuge, on Frumoasa (The Beautiful) valley, Nedei Hotel & SPA awaits us in a quiet environment, surrounded by dense forests and tumultuous fresh and cold rivers. The landscape and the harmony of the place are combining perfectly for a successful stay, a good opportunity to reconnect with the vibrant nature. A couple of hours in the afternoon in the swimming pool, the jacuzzi, the dry or wet sauna and the salt cave will help you to relax, release the tension and the accumulated stress.
Mountain scenic views - The road advance in short, then large loops to the highest elevation for a pathway in Romania, 2145m. The beginnings of this road are unclear, some sources claim that it was first built by the Roman legions during the wars with the Dacians, which is why it is listed on the history maps as the "Roman strategic corridor IV". What is certain is that this route, known as Poteca Dracului (Devil's Path), was originally a mountain path, used by shepherds from the Southern Transylvania to cross the mountains with sheep herds in Wallachia.
Transalpina, or the road “who scrapes the clouds” was developed then, due to the strategic meanings by the Austrians in 1731, in order to connect Transylvania to Wallachia. The king Carol II reviewed the idea and continued the project, wanting a strategic road in the event of a war outbreak, thus crossing the mountains with the heavy artillery and the infantry. Hence another name, “the king’s road”, Transalpina is going across Parang Mountains, yielding extreme sensations and leaving you breathless.
Return to Bucharest in the evening.
Transalpina, or the road “who scrapes the clouds”
The Road was developed then, due to the strategic meanings by the Austrians in 1731, in order to connect Transylvania to Wallachia. The king Carol II reviewed the idea and continued the project, wanting a strategic road in the event of a war outbreak, thus crossing the mountains with the heavy artillery and the infantry. Hence another name, “the king’s road”, Transalpina is going across Parang Mountains, yielding extreme sensations and leaving you breathless.
Transalpina road is accessible only in May-October period. In the rest of the time the program follows and alternative route, along Olt river valley.
Curtea de Arges - the former capital of Wallachia
The town of Curtea de Arges preserves important monuments for the beginnings of this territory. First, we see the ruins of the princely court (13th and 16th cent.) and the princely church of St. Nicholas, erected between 1340-1376 as a "Greek cross" and retaining almost entirely the original painting, whose artistic qualities make it one of the most important examples of 14th century painting. The whole is completed by the ruins of the church of another curch, "Saint Nicoara" (15th century).
A second attraction in the town is the church of the old monastery of Arges (1512-1517), decorated in richly carved stone, it has a triconch plan, four domes, with enlarged narthex, serving at the same time as a princely necropolis. The monument is an architectural archetype for a series of monastic buildings, representative princely foundations, up to the 19th century.
PRIVATE TOUR by car/minivan
890 EUR/pers (group of 2 persons)
*the tour can be organized even for 1 solo traveler
*for more people traveling together, the price will be revised