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The Cradle of Romanian Civilization
- Bus tour
- 12 days
- Perfect for small or middle sized groups
Nature, history, art and culture in Southern Romania – from the Danube Delta and the Black Sea to the region of Banat, the home of the Swabians. Romania’s traditional rural architecture, crafts and cuisine shape a living culture of unique value.
Day 1: Flight to Bucharest – Transfer to Mamaia
Flight to Bucharest. Arrival at the București-Otopeni Airport and transfer to the hotel located on the beach front at the Black Sea. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 2: Ancient Histria and the Danube Delta
Today, we visit the ancient city of Tomis (now called Constanța). This port city boasts one of the largest and most beautiful mosaic floors in the world. According to the legends of the Argonauts, the ill-fated king of Kolchis buried the remains of his son here. The boy was killed by his own sister Medea who cut his body into pieces and threw them into the sea. In the former Agora we see Ovid on his stone pedestal. Ovid was a Roman poet best known for ‘The Art of Love’ and the ‘Metamorphoses’. Then, we go along the coast to Histria (the ancient Istros). This city state was built in the 7th century BC by the Miletians; today, only the imposing ruins attest its existence. The remnants of the thermal baths are impressive as well. After a stopover in Babadag (the mausoleum and mosque of Gazi Ali Pascha), we arrive in Tulcea, the heart of the Delta, where we walk along the same roads once crossed by the Persian king Darios and the Macedonian king Alexander the Great. Dinner and overnight stay in Tulcea.
Day 3: The Danube Delta Waterway
Breakfast at the hotel. Today, we’re be joined by a specialist who shows us the true Danube Delta. In Tulcea the Danube breaks up in three main branches. We cross the main branch of the Danube with a small boat that will be reserved for us. Then, we go across the so-called ‘Old Danube’, a labyrinth of channels, lakes and virgin forests inhabited by storks, herons, glossy ibis, spoonbills, cranes and other birds. Lunch on the boat. Dinner and overnight stay in Tulcea.
Day 4: The Danube Delta Waterway II
Breakfast at the hotel. If Tulcea has the appearance of a Turkish city, the inhabitants of the villages in the Delta remind us of characters in Russian fairytales. In fact, they are the descendants of the Orthodox Christians who had fled Russia because of the persecution they were subjected to during the czarist regime. The doors and windows of their thatched little houses are decorated with carvings and sea horses dangle from the gables.
Today, we cross the southern branch of the Danube in a ship that and later we’ll move onto a boat which will take us to the unique colonies of pelicans. After we have a delicious fish dish for lunch, we head for the scene of an archaeological sensation. Romanian and American archaeologists dug out an ancient port city here and in 2001 they discovered the tomb of an early martyr whose existence had been consigned until then only in legends. In the evening we see the imposing ruins of an early Christian basilica and an Orthodox church. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 5: A Trip to Bucharest
After having breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Bucharest. During our city tour of Bucharest we see the Athenaeum, the former royal palace, the Kretzulescu, Enei and Stavropoleos churches, but also Ceaușescu’s megalomaniac legacy, the House of the People. We also see the ruins of the former royal court built by Vlad Țepeș in the 15th century. The controversial ruler of Wallachia is alleged to be the founder of Bucharest. Dinner and overnight stay in Bucharest.
Day 6: Bucharest – Curtea de Argeș
Breakfast at the hotel. Our first stop today is a famous village museum by the lake where rural farmsteads, mills, churches and workshops from across the country offer a descriptive representation of the Romanian rural folk architecture and rural culture. Then, we see the former capital of Wallachia, Curtea de Argeș, located in the heart of the Carpathians. Here, among episcopal and royal churches, we find two of the most important Romanian churches. The construction of the first church in the 14th century reflects Constantinople and its image; the extraordinary frescoes date back from the time of the final Byzantine ‘Renaissance’. The beautiful counterpart is the Episcopal Church. Filled with lavish grey-gold-green decorations, the church paintings establish a connection between the stories from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and the Bible stories. So, it comes as no surprise that Paul of Aleppo considered this church the eighth wonder of the world. Weather permitting we take a short evening trip in the mountains. Dinner and overnight stay in Curtea de Argeș.
Day 7: The Wallachian Monasteries
Breakfast at the hotel. In Râmnicu Vâlcea we reach the Olt river; the riverbed is deeply buried in the rocks. Our first stop is Cozia Monastery. There are beautiful frescoes from the 14th century in the narthex of the church and frescoes from the 16th century in the small chapel. We also see the so-called ‘One wood log church’ which is quite isolated. According to legend this little church was built out of the trunk of only one tree. No less original are the so-called ‘Culen from Măldărești’, two ancient residential towers with a special architecture. From here, the Horezu Monastery is not far away. This monastery – which falls under the competence of UNESCO – represents one of the most impressive monastery complexes in Wallachia. Dinner and overnight stay in Curtea de Argeș.
Day 8: Curtea de Argeș – Turnu Severin
Breakfast at the hotel. The small town of Horezu is famous in Romania for the wide range of pots manufactured here. The ceramic is decorated with filigree patterns. We meet the well-known craftsmen who make these pots. Then, we go to Târgu Jiu along the Parâng mountain while crossing a beautiful landscape. We see outstanding trademarks of European modern art: the ‘Table of Silence’, the ‘Alley of Chairs’, the ‘Gate of the Kiss’ and the ‘Endless Column’. Constantin Brâncuși, the creator of these magnificent works of art, was a friend of Amedeo Modigliani and Henry Rousseau and was much admired by Hans Arp and Henry Moore. Through these sculptures he expressed his love and gratitude for his home country. In the evening, we reach the Roman bridgehead at Drobeta Turnu-Severin on the Danube. Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel by the lake located outside the city.
Day 9: Boat Trip to the Iron Gates
Breakfast at the hotel. Sailing on the Danube through the Iron Gates was previously considered a death trap for boatmen. Although the cliffs – which were initially very dangerous – were flooded by water coming through the reservoirs, the landscape didn’t lose its beautiful features. We cross the narrow gorge and the large basin with a boat and we see the incredible river landscape. Then, we visit the St. Ana Monastery where, from the top of the mountain, we have a great bird’s eye view of the river. Finally, once we arrive in Drobeta Turnu Severin, we look for Roman vestiges, namely the remains of the famous bridge over the Danube built by Emperor Trajan and designed by Apollodorus of Damascus. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 10: The Mountainous Region of Banat
Breakfast at the hotel. We cross the Danube once again until we arrive in Orșova. Then, we head for the region of Banat where the narrow streets develop into a rather pastoral landscape. We see the old Swabian colony mines and what is left of them. In Biniș, located near the former steel manufacture in Reșița, we admire pots and plates manufactured according to an ancient Roman tradition. They can be seen in every major ethnographic museum in the world. Afterwards, we have dinner. Then drive to Timișoara. Overnight stay in Timișoara.
Day 11: Timișoara and the Swabian Villages
Breakfast at the hotel. The Turkish wars left the region of Banat devastated and uninhabited. The first colonists were soldiers or Swabians who colonised this swampy region with great sacrifices. In Timișoara we see St. George’s Cathedral (the Dome) designed by J.E. Fischer von Erlach, the Plague Column, the city hall and the place where Prince Eugene lived for a while. In the afternoon, we travel through the former Swabian villages and we arrive in Lenauheim. Here, we visit the birthplace of the poet Nikolaus Lenau, an interesting memorial museum and an exposition of dolls dressed in traditional costumes. Also worth mentioning is that Bela Bartok composed his famous ‘Hungarian Dances’ here. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel in Timișoara.
Day 12: Flight Home
Breakfast at the hotel. Flight home from Timișoara Airport.
– All 12 overnight stays with half board;
– All entry fees;
– Transport with bus according to the program;
– English speaking tour guide;