Tour of Exotic Transylvania
Visit Transylvania, this remote corner of Europe, a region trapped in time. There are hardly more destinations in civilized Europe that can still be be called’ Exotic”
Transylvania is a mythical land of vampire legends, gypsy bands and bandits with castle ruins of former kingdoms surrounded by the formidable Carpathians.
Don’t miss this last time opportunity! The region’s exotic flavor will be soon disappearing due to the European Union precipitously extending the benefits of civilization to this remote corner of Europe in the upcoming years.
Dine at Dracula’s house, meet the proud local Szekelys who still populate their ancient homeland despite forceful Romanization during communist times. Have dinner with local families tasting traditional hearty meals, enjoy warm hospitality during your village stays, marvel alpine peeks, bathe in caves and volcanic lakes, immerse yourself in Transylvania.”
Join us on this tour to a remote corner of Central Europe exist a region trapped in time. It is a land known to the West for its colorful folklore, fairy tales and vampire legends. Transylvania, Erdely (woded land) in Hungarian is the birthplace of count Dracula, Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), later prince of Walachia, a vassal to the Hungarian kings. It is the ancient land of the 1000 year-old Hungarian Kingdom with numerous castle ruins perched on imposing hill tops, testaments of bloody battles and scenes of political schemes. Colorful Saxon villages, fortified churches, great historical estates are embraced here by the wild Carpathians, the easternmost frontier of civilized Europe during past centuries. Transylvania was part of the Historical Hungarian Kingdom established in 1000 and later also became home to the many Saxons who were brought mostly from the Moselle Valley establishing several prosperous cities during the 12-13 century.
Being a region of several ethnicities, Transylvania came to be exceptionally progressive in ethnic and religious tolerance. As early as the 16ht century, when most of Europe was still engaged in religious wars, it introduced religious enlightenment and tolerance. In 1566, Prince John Sigismund enacted the Edict of Religious Toleration at the Diet of Torda.
Under the Ottoman Turkish occupation of Hungary during the 16th and 17th Centuries, Transylvania was a semi-independent principality, ruled by Hungarian princes who were able to maintain a precarious independence from the Ottoman Empire through shroud diplomacy.
Transylvania was part of Hungary until the end of World War I, when this region was awarded to Romania by the Allies under the Treaty of Trianon. The country of Romania was formed relatively recently, in 1859, with the unification of the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia and became independent in 1871.
Transylvania Tour with Dracula
1. Day. From the Gate of Transylvania to the “Capital” of Transylvania
15 kilometers east of the Hungarian/Romanian border, the city of Oradea (Hungarian: Nagyvárad, is the gateway to Transylvania. The city of St Ladislaw was first mentioned in chronicles in the 12th century, when its citadel was built. It is the most Hungarian-looking among all cities of Transylvania with its open spaces, Art Nuevo buildings and savvy intellectual life. We start our tour with visiting the Episcopal Palace, a replica of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, and the Roman-Catholic Cathedral housing St Ladislaw’s relics. After a short walk between the famous “Art-nouveau” style buildings we arrive to the Black Eagle Palace and to the Moon Church Cathedral with the unique mechanism showing the phases of the moon. Continuing on to Cluj, (Kolozsvar) we cross the Occidental Carpathians with the biggest damp of the region, the Dragan-lake. We will have a short brake inKalotaszentkiraly, a Hungarian region with colorful folklore and live traditions, arriving at Cluj, capital of Transylvania late in the afternoon. We will then visit the main attractions in the city center: the Saint Michael’s Roman-Catholic Church as well as the birth-house and equestrian statue of King Mathias Corvinus, considered Hungary’s greatest king. Overnight in Cluj.
2.Day: A Glance to the Transylvanian History
Visit the city of Alba Julia, the medieval capital and executive center of the region with its 16th century princely palaces of the former governors of Transylvania. Visit the Roman Catholic Cathedral with the tombs of Transylvanian rulers and of John Hunyadi, father of Mathias King; the funeral place of the I. Hungarian prince Zsigmond as well as the Union Hall where the Union of Transylvania with Romania was declared. Continue on to the majestic Corvin Castle in Hunedoara with the beautiful Knights Hall. In the afternoon we arrive in the former capital of the Saxon region: Sibiu. The city of Sibiu was founded on the site of the Roman city of Caedonia, during the 12th century. It is the most important city build by the Transylvanian Saxons. During the middle ages it rapidly evolved into a powerful economic and political center. Sibiu housed the “Academia Saxorum”, the German Parliament of the seven Saxon citadels of Transylvania (in fact, the German name for Transylvania – Siebenbürgen – means “seven cities”). During the communist times, Sibiu has suffered a major loss when its citizens were sold one by one to Western Germany by the Romanian dictator, Ceausescu. Despite all this ethnic cleansing and 45 years of communism, much of the historic center has been preserved looking like a colorful medieval German town from a Grimm fairy-tale. Visit the city’s Crafstmen’s Square, Huet Square, the Evangelical Church, Bridge of Lies, Great Square and the City Hall Tower. Continue on to Bilea Cascade following the Transfogaras serpentine road (this serpentine is one of the biggest manifestiations of the communist era, connecting Transylvania and Wallachia) under the 2500m’s peaks of Fogaras. Mountain up to the highest glacier lake: Bilea. In the afternoon we arrive to Cheile Gradistei, the land of special Romanian cheese which we taste at dinner. Overnight at Cheile Gradistei.
3.Day: The Famous “Dracula Castle”
First in the morning we visit the “Dracula Castle” built in 1377 and served as a summer residence to Queen Maria in 1920. After legend back to history: visit the richest Saxon town, Brasov, with its famous Turkish carpet collection of the Black Church, the Old Town Hall (15th century), and the narrowest street in the town followed by a break in one of the cafés. Refreshed, drive to the XIII century fortified church of Prejmer listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It will be a unique experience walking inside the fortified walls of the church. Leaving the Saxon region we arrive to Székelyföld. The Szekelys are Hungarian speaking people settled at the Eastern end of the Hungarian Kingdom to protect the lands from foreign invasions. They are a very proud persistent people considering themselves the descendants of the Attila, the Hun. Székely traditional costumes are presented by 247 dolls at Kezdivasarhely. We spend our night in the heart of the mountains in serene mountain surrounding at Best Western Hotel Balvanyos.
4.Day: The Land of Fairies. This day is dedicated to the delightful nature of the Szekely-land. In the morning we take a gas-bath in the “stinky-cave” of Torja, a small cave with sulfuric gas, used as a treatment for rheumatic disorders). After a swimming in the volcanic Saint Ana-lake we “hunt” for carnivorous plants of the Mohos peat moss swamp. This area is the only volcanic formation which preserved its original form in Central Europe. According to legend there was a high mountain in the place of St Ann’s Lake. Two wicked brothers lived on the opposite peaks of the mountains. One of them was count Gáspár the other was count Sándor. Both of them built castles on the peaks; they were always in competition with each other. One day a rich traveler who had a beautiful coach with four horses arrived at Sándor’s castle. He wanted to get accommodation for one night. The greedy count wanted to get the beautiful coach but he could not persuade the guest to sell his coach so he won the coach from the rich traveler on a game of dice. After it he boasted about it to his brother, who offered a bet. The bet was if he had found a more beautiful coach than his brother’s he would get Sandor’s fortune. Gáspár had a devilish idea and he collected eight beautiful virgins from the neighborhood and had the girls pull his nicest carriage. The poor girls couldn’t move the coach, so the count stroke at the first girl with his whip. This girl was called Anne and she was the most beautiful of the girls. Ann went down on her knees and begged God. God heard it and passed a terrible judgment. An earthquake and thunderstorm stroke with heavy rain and the counts’ castles with the mountains were swallowed by the earth. Next day there was a dark mountain lake at the place. We spend the night in the largest Szekely city: Csikszereda.
5.Day: Mixing with locals, Meet the Real Szekely Peoples
Whole day program with cart-tour, traditional crafts, tasting the traditional ordas pancake and polenta with soft cheese. After the tasty dinner we return to Csikszereda.
6.Day: The Unique Szekely Landscape
This day is also reserved for the beauty of the nature. We’ll visit the Gyimes region, the former border of Hungary and the 300 m high walls of the Frog Gorge (Bekas Szoros) and of course the Red-lake on the river Bicaz, connecting Transylvania and Moldavia. The gorge consists of three main parts: the ’Gate’, the ’Portico’ and the ’Throat’ of Hell. It is one of Europe’s unique natural phenomena with its 200-300 meters long, vertical cliffs, a paradise of rock climbers. The gorge with is winding road attracts many tourist every year. Why they call “Killer” lake or Red Lake? The mountain, when it tumbled down, buried a herd with its shepherd and it was these creatures’ blood that kept seeping into the water and colored the lake red. The pine trunks sticking out of the lake make it mysteriously unique. These trunks are the remains of an old pine forest that used to occupy the valley. We return to the Armenian city of Gheorgheni.
7.Day: Pearls of the Szekely Folk Art
In the morning we will visit the Renaissance castle of Szarhegy with its knight hall, the fine art and painted eggs exhibition. It used to be an important military and administrative center of Székely land in the 1600s. The village has been attacked and burnt by Tartars and Turks numerous times. In 1658 Cosack-Tartar troops broke into the area from Moldova. The people of Gyergyó fought them and defeated them. According to legends only 15 people from Gyergyó died whereas the enemy lost more than 500 soldiers. The bodies were buried just outside of the town in a pile which is called ’Tartar hill’ to this day. We will stop at the beautiful painted wooden Szekely gates at Marefalva and at the exhibition of Szejkefurdo. Leaving the Szekely land we are going to the best preserved living medieval town in Europe: Sighisoara, birthplace of count Vlad Tepes, Dracula. The most interesting places in town are the Clock Tower, the wooden covered staircase, the Monastery Church and the Torture Instruments Museum. We will have dinner in Dracula’s birth house
8.Day: The English Connection
Near Sighisoara we will visit the most famous of the fortified Saxon churches, Biertan. It was the seat of the Lutheran bishops for 300 years and now is enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site. At Erdőszentgyörgy we will discover the Transylvanian relatives of the British Royal family. See the ancestral home of Claudia Rhedey, the great-great grandmother of Queen Elisabeth II of England. In the afternoon we will arrive to the famous Bear salt-lake.
9.Day: Farewells to Transylvania
We start our last day in this unique region with shopping at the most famous folk art market in Korond. You will find here hand-painted pottery, hand-carved decorations, weaved textiles, etc. In our way back to Oradea we will stop at the capital of Szekely land: Tirgu Mures. The legends of the Szekely people are presented in the Palace of Culture, a building with remarkable painted stained-glass windows. We arrive back to Oradea in the evening and here ends our trip of Transylvania. transfer to the train station or optional overnights. We can also arrange optional transfers to Budapest, Cluj, Bucharest, etc
2014 Prices Per Person in Euros or US$* (rate varies depending the exchange) based on double or triple occupancy Based on minimum 2 passengers traveling together
|Prices per person in EurosBased on the number of people in your party||2 people||3 people||4 people||5 people||6-8 people||9-10 people||11-12 people|
|Optional Carriage Ride||RQ||RQ||RQ||RQ||RQ||RQ||RQ|
|Price if one passenger traveling alone – including
|Transfer to or from Oradea Per Car (price
subject to change for transfers)
|Itinerary and departure city can be modified upon request|
8 nights accommodation at 4 and 3star hotels (see hotel list below) with 2 meals per day
Transportation in AC private car or minibus depending on number of passengers
Services of a private guide throughout the tour (for 9days)
All entrance fees
Land taxes and service charges
* US$ rate varies depending the exchange
Hotels used for the tour:
Cluj: Hotel Agape4* or Hotel Deja Vu4*
Cheile Gradistei: Hotel Gradistei***
Balvanyos: Grand Hotel Balvanyos****
Miercurea Ciuc: Huenguest Hotel Fenyo***
Gheorgheni/Borzont: Pension Dorka**** or pension Rubin***
Sovata: Danubius Hotel Sovata****