Medieval Transylvania private tour

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Highlights:

Medieval Transylvania tour - Romania | Azzurytt private chauffereud carsDiscover the charm of the northwestern province of Romania, Transylvania in at least 3 days. The perfect mixture of resplendent landscapes, ancient history and cultural jewels make this land a perfect destination for your long week-ends. This tour reveals you medieval Romania, the dust of history and the mysticism of legends in the ravishing flavor of traditional Romanian meals and inebriating wine:

  • the unique medieval fortress of Sighisoara- one of the few in Europe still inhabited,
  • Sibiu – the European Cultural Capital of 2007 year
  • and Brasov citadel situated in a picturesque region of the Carpathians mountains, where the historical, architectural and cultural monuments are surrounded by the splendors of nature.

Itinerary:
MuresSibiu – Alba Iulia
Duration:
At least 3 days
Departures:
All year round

Azzurytt services:
Customized itinerary planning and travel arrangements, Private sedan / minivan with professional English speaking driver (-guide) at disposal, Personal tour manager at disposal (available on request)
Price:
Varies depending on season, tour length, number of guests , included special activities and other custom preferences.

Tailor made this Transylvania private tour for me

SIGHTSEEING
Medieval Transilvania – Old Cities And Saxon Fortresses !

Let’s travel back to medieval times ! Taste Tarnava wines in an off the beaten track cellar. Then go for traditional homemade delicacies tasting and shopping in a  Saxon village  from the 14th century. Later touch the waterfall that never freezes. And linger gazing to the panoramas over Bat’s wine world. Feel like walking through a rainbow in one of the few medieval fortresses in Europe still inhabited. And don’t forget to take photos of the 3 world records lake ! Where to go next ? To the White Vauban citadel. Here you will really breath the history’s air while walking through this 7 pointed star shaped citadel.

You can also pay a visit to the first live village museum in Romania or to the Roman Galleries Gold Mining Museum. The following days get off the beaten track and discover a Disney-like village. Dine in a 15th century lordly mansion from a village where Prince Charles has properties. The ruins of a Cistercian monastery dating back to 1200 are waiting for you in another Transylvanian Saxon village. In the evening attend a candle light dinner host on the palace estate of the Baron Samuel von Brukenthal.


Just for You: Rhubarb Jam. That’s Right.


Two words: rhubarb jam. Okay, a few more: it’s the perfect blend of refreshing and slightly sour taste in a Saxon delicacy. It’s delicious. And it’s made just for you by the crazy food geniuses at the Foodstuff Barn, inaugurated in 2009 by Prince Charles of Wales. It’s only available for the royal family, few other British, and now, for you. Right this way to rhubarb glory…

Tasting and shopping of traditional local delicacies

This Saxon village – with a XIV century fortress listed in UNESCO patrimony – keeps little secrets for unsuspected pleasures. Here an old barn have been transformed in a processing center for the local farmers which use traditional recipes and who were instructed through a course of the Royal Society of Public Health. Under the logo Saxon Village Preserves the members of the Foodstuff Barn – inaugurated in 2009 by Prince Charles of Wales – are selling (especially to clients from Great Britain, inclusively to the royal family): jams, pickles, salamis, sausages, fine chesses with noble mold, products made of plants, cakes, bread, drinks and oils. The highlights seem to be the:

  • Saschiz elder syrup,
  • Transylvania spring honey
  • and Rhubarb jam (Rheum rhabarbarum – a refreshing and slightly sour Saxon delicacy which is safer to buy directly from a Saxon housewife than to cook it yourself at home. The parts of the plant must be carefully chosen as the leaves contain toxic oxalates. It probably reached in Transylvania due to the Saxon merchants to whom it has been brought around the middle of the 16 century most probably from Asia).

Thrilling Middle Ages


Sighisoara fortressEurope has only few still inhabited Middle Age citadels and one of the most beautiful and best-preserved is in the old historical center of Sighisoara. You will be driven to this UNESCO World Heritage Site (since ’99) where an exciting day and evening full of entertainment awaits you.  Once there, stroll on the alleyways to feel like walking through the rainbow. Of course all your history related curiosities will be satisfied.

The medieval jewel of Romania, Sighisoara fortress was built in the 12th century, on the banks of Tarnava Mare River, by Saxon merchants and craftsmen. Its Latin name was Castrum Sex and for several centuries it played a significant strategic and commercial role at Central Europe’s border. While tasting the nectarious local fruits brandies you will find out that the small fortified town was visited by Nicole Kidman, Jude Law and Renee Zellweger during the production of Cold Mountain (released in 2003, with 7 Oscar nominations).

Dinner will be served right in the house where Prince Vlad Tepes (the Impaler) was born. You will enjoy spending the night in one of the oldest houses of this outstanding example of typical medieval German architecture. You can also stay overnight and enjoy good food at Sighisoara Hotel.


Bear Lake


It holds 3 world records:

  • the largest helio-thermal in the world (and unique in Europe),
  • the only one with salt water surrounded by a lush vegetation, due to the volcanic soil deposited in time,
  • and the only natural lake in the world whose date of birth is known with a precision of a minute: May 27, 1875, 11:00 o’clock.

Medieval Transylvania private tour - Bear LakeThe historians say here there was a meadow with 2 streamlets disappearing into a hole dug in the salt mountain. On that day, two salt guardians were gathering the hay when a shower came and took the hay covering the mountain’s hole where the streamlets flowed. The salt mountain – having 3 km depth and covered by vegetation – is called the Timbering from the Saltings (Arboretele de pe Saraturi). If people would not bathe into the lake, its temperature would reach 80 Celsius degrees during September – October due to the helio-thermal effect (the temperature was measured by an academician at the beginning of the 1900). The reservation Ursu Lake and the Timbering from the saltings (~ 80 ha) includes 6 lakes: Ursu (Bear) and Alunis (Nut-grove) – arranged – and Mierlei (Blackbird’s), Rosu (Red), Verde (Green), and Paraschiva (unarranged).


Mures Canyon & Thermal Waterfall


Medieval Transylvania private car tourJoin the Mures River as it makes the longest breakthrough the volcanic mountain chain of Romania and in the end see with your own eyes the waterfall that never freeze.

 

 

 


Linger gazing to the panoramas over Bat’s wine world


Bat Wines WorldPerfectly tailored to your taste, this culinary journey through the select wines made at the feet of the Carpathians starts with a guided tour of the vineyard. Then, in the cellar, you will discover few of the winemaking art secrets. But the climax is yet to come: on a plateau at the top border of the vineyard hill, a charming lodge invites you to linger gazing to the fantastic panorama view across the rolling hills… Enjoy unforgettable moments in this small but elegant hideaway while tasting 6 of the top Liliac wines accompanied by a plate with cheeses, smoked ham and fruits. This is what we call relaxing !


Biertan village off-the-beaten-track tour ~ UNESCO site


Biertan Transylvania private car tourYou can easily spend half day exploring one of the first and biggest Saxon fortresses in Romania and the first listed on UNESCO World Patrimony – in 1993.

Among top 10 unreal destinations in the world according to Cosmopolitan (2016): “Biertan seriously looks like a town from a Disney movie”.

The legend says the spouses who were fighting and wished to divorce were locked into a room of the fortress with only 1 spoon, 1 fork, 1 table, 1 bed, 1 chair and thus they were forced to bear each other. The result ? For 300 years there was only 1 divorce in the village. The fortified church was built in 15th century in late Gothic style. Inside you will notice right away the Anatolian rugs and the imposing altar with 28 scenes painted by artists from Vienna and Nuremberg. But the sacristy door will fascinate you for even more. It won the first prize at the Paris World Expo in 1900. And what makes it unique is not only the exceptional intarsia but also the still functional 19 locks system made by local craftsmen in 1515.


Enjoy Baron von Brukenthal’s candle light dinner


From the heavy crops harvested 200 years ago from the estate of Baron Samuel von Brukenthal’s summer residence they cooked in the palace kitchen sophisticated dishes, comfitures, pies and cakes, juices and wines. But the Baron’s favorites were the creations based on asparagus, a vegetable considered to be the secret of longevity, with important aphrodisiac benefits and a delicacy which cuisine experts say it is the tastier during springtime. To delight all your senses to the full we invite you to the Baron’s candle light dinner ! Asparagus cream soup, asparagus and pesto salad, pork loin with asparagus, potatoes in butter and parsley and Hollandaise sauce, having as dessert strawberries with vanilla foam and for drinks lemonade with honey and strawberries, elder juice and red wine from Recas. The menu can be adjusted depending on season fresh ingredients and guests’ preferences.


Sibiu ~ Top 10 most idyllic places in Europe ~ 3* Michelin Green Guide (means it is worth a visit)


A world “of Saxon villages and simple peasant agriculture. Horse-drawn carts trundle slowly along the lanes; small old-fashioned haystacks line the fields and punctuate the horizons; smiling old men scythe in the fields and decoratively dressed women fork up the hay; poppies and other wild flowers enliven the meadows; wooden Saxon houses with their high gates and brightly coloured exteriors line the village streets; every telegraph pole seems to support a nesting crane newly arrived from Africa; Lutheran churches, with their outer defence walls, outnumber Orthodox and Catholic ones. This is the world beloved of Prince Charles, who has bought a manor house in the region. It is no longer Wagner’s world, but rather that of The Sound of Music.”

This is one of the best cities to visit and one of the most charming one in Europe, included by Forbes in top 10 most idyllic places in Europe (2012).
The pretty town with cobbled streets was formerly the center of Transylvanian Saxons in Romania until World War II.
It is one of the most important religious and cultural centers in the country. And it is the only one designated European Cultural Capital for 2007, the year of Romania’s adhesion to European Union.
Almost every month they organize cultural events and their yearly Theater Festival is already famous.
Marvelously preserved, Sibiu is nicknamed the “sharp city” due to its cathedrals’ steeples and arrows.
Gently stroll along the cobbled street lined with little shops and open air restaurants. Into the old medieval square you will feel like every step you take is being watched by the eyes in the red roofs. This is the traditional way of looking out for intruders, not only of airing the attics.
Next day leisurely explore the largest open-air village museum in Europe. And even follow a traditional handicrafts class if tempted.

Strada Cetatii (Fortress Street)

Carpenters Tower on Fortress Street - Sibiu private tour | Romania

Carpenters Tower on Fortress Street – Sibiu private tour | Romania

The former capital of all Saxon cities hundreds of years ago, Sibiu has been a large handicraft center.
You will be fascinated by a remote street, with 600 years old defensive towers.
In 2011 this street looked like the old one, formerly known as the Harteneck Street.
The travelling journeymen brought it to life. They are a group of about 700 young people fully trained as carpenters, joiners, masons, stonemasons, sculptors and smiths. Originally they are from Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Romania. In 2010 they chose to travel for 3 years and a day wearing the journeymen’s uniform and hat and obeying to the rules imposed by their brotherhood.
This is how tens of craftsmen, men and women from all around Europe, showed off their skills and talent here.
Carpenters and joiners dressed in Middle Ages clothing made the tourists feeling the medieval atmosphere.

Piata Mare (Big Square)

Here is the most well known place of Sibiu. Along history, it was main cereals market, fair, place of public executions, park or place open to traffic.
During the Middle Age – 14th century – the most important events related to city’s daily life took place in this square: public assemblies and executions.
Medieval nobility houses, slightly touched by time patina, bound the square.
Nowadays considered the center of the city, the most important events of the city are held here.
A beautiful place to take a stroll or spend a couple of hours, the place is a  little crowded during weekends. But it is extremely beautiful if good weather.

The oldest museum of Romania

This is one of the most remarkable monuments in late Baroque style in Romania.
It was also the place where the art promotion in this part of Europe began.
The palace was erected at the end of the 18th century. And it was both official residence for Baron Samuel von Brukenthal and shelter for his collections.
The Baroque halls on the first floor still preserve the original canvas and silk wall, Rococo and Neo-classical white stoves and 18th century Transylvanian marquetry furniture.
Brukenthal Palace hosts the oldest museum of Romania. It officially opened to the public in 1817, 3 years prior to the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Climb the Turnul Sfatului (Council Tower) for pretty views

The most famous monument of Sibiu and one of its oldest towers (dating back to the late 1500s) hosts a small museum that definitely worth the effort of climbing its not quite easy stairs.
Not to mention it offers superb views over the old city, including the Lutheran Cathedral’s glistening tiled rooftop !
The large vaulted passage on the ground floor used to be painted at the beginning of the 20th century.
A spiral stairs with 141 steps leads to the penultimate floor where you can see the clock mechanism. Made in 1906 by a Saxon company, it was illuminated at night.

The tower had multiple usages, being access gate for about 100 years. It lost its primacy with the fortification of the Upper City. After that it remained a symbol of the city for the next 650 years.
It also served as cereal deposit, fire observation point and temporary arrest. In the middle of the 20th century it was even a natural sciences museum.
In 1848 the Saxon revolutionaries flown the imperial flag on the tower to protest against the annexation of Transylvania to Hungary.
In 1998 Prince Charles visited it.

Walk around the Piata Mica (Little Square)
With the steeple of the Lutheran Cathedral hovering overhead, a view into Sibiu’s Lower Town, and the beautiful decay of the colorful buildings, this is one of the prettiest spots in Sibiu.
On certain days, look for a local craft fair.

Emil Sigerus Saxon Folk Art and Ethnography Museum

Founded in 1997, it was named after the collector Emil Sigerus, who donated over 500 valuable objects including textiles, painted furniture, glass, tin, silverware, but especially Transylvanian ceramics.
At present its patrimony includes 8,900 items, organized in 3 collections: textiles – costumes – embroideries, painted furniture and ceramics.
Within the first collection there are 4,500 items from the 17th – 20th centuries. These are extremely valuable and rare both in the national and foreign museums’ collections.

Cross the Podul Minciunilor (Lies’ Bridge - 18th century)

The most well known landmark in the European cultural capital of Romania is surrounded by legends.
Most of the locals avoid to say a lie while passing on the bridge. They are afraid this will break under their lie weight.
Elders say the bridge has ears, a hard to imagine power and lot of intuition. So with every untrue said, the bridge starts moaning from all joints. Then, with a creepy noise, the balustrade is beginning to fail. Within minutes the bridge beaks under the lie weight and brings the liar with his feet on the ground.

Another legend says that Piata Mica being the merchants’ market, there were a lot of bargains here. After negotiations, going home with the merchandise, some buyers found they had been fooled. So they were coming back.  Getting to grips with the lying merchants, they ended throwing them out of the bridge in the laughters of the traders. Thus, next time they came to Sibiu, the frighten merchants stopped cheating the locals.
The most tasted legend is that of the young couples in love. These used to pass by night on the bridge swearing each other eternal love. When reaching the topic of girl’s purity they all said were as clean as the tear. Only that, after the wedding night, they were dragged and thrown off the bridge of false vows.

Turnul Scarilor (Stairs Towers)

This is the only one of the 3 access gates in the first precinct of the fortress which was preserved.
Dating back to the 13th century, it is also the oldest construction preserved in the city.
The actual shape dates from the middle of the 16th century (1542).
The massive brick construction has, at the first floor, on both sides, vaulted passage ways. One leads to the Stairs Passageway and the other to the Expiation Corner.  (This is located under the vaulted wall that separates the garden of the Parish House.)

Wander through Sibiu’s Lower Town

You cannot say you have really seen Sibiu without visiting also the Lower Town.
Once there, you are in the oldest part of the city, where you can still see some of its old fortifications.
Here two-story medieval buildings painted in all color shades borders the narrow streets.
While exploring them, look for hidden alleyways, small squares and daily life scenes, like an old woman sweeping a step, kids playing in the street or a scrappy dog with struts.

Pasajul Scarilor (Stairs’ Passageway)

It connects the Lower Town to the Upper Town.
In time the Lower Town remained the old city with small colorful houses where peasants lived.
And the Upper Town became the new city center inhabited by the wealthier Saxons.

Weinkeller

“This little treasure was a surprise find. We walked around the streets and found it along the Passage of Stairs. Beautiful place ! Really friendly staff, who greeted us with all smiles and hospitality. The guys had their specialty beef, which we agreed with the restaurant. It was “Christmas on a plate”.”

Sibiu religious landmarks
In Sibiu, Romanians, Saxons and Hungarians have all worship places within walking distance from one another.

Catedrala Ortodoxa Sfanta Treime (Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral)

Step inside to admire its walls covered by frescoes and grand scale characteristic murals.
Built at the beginning of 20th century (1902-1904) following a fundraising.
The first donor was the Emperor Franz Joseph I himself who gave 1,000 yellow coins
Both the altarpiece and the chair were made in Bucharest, of golden lime wood.
A villager from Sibiu county made the paintings.
The cupola has 15 m diameter while the 2 towers have 45 m height.
The great bell within the western tower weights over 1 ton.
Professor Nicolae Iorga was also present at the sanctification in 1906.

Catedrala Romano-Catolica (Roman-Catholic Cathedral)

Built by Jesuits in the first half of the 18th century (1726-1733) in early Viennese Baroque style, it has a deceiving simple outside appearace.
The 47 m tower has a dome and 4 levels, on the ground floor having a  vaulted  gang that allows the access to the Little Square.
It houses a 2 dials clock and 3 massive bells weighing together a little over 1 ton.
Mounted for the first time in the 19th century they were confiscated and melted in 1916, being remade in their original shape and sanctified in 1931.
At the end opposite to the tower, the roof has a torch tower, replaced in 1927 with a large cross, then rebuilt in the 1970s (1971-1975).

The first door on the facade from the Great Square facilitates the access to the church while the second one goes to the parish house.
Despite its quite sober exterior, the cathedral hides a beautiful inside  realized by a German painter and distinguished by the massive pilasters supporting the vault.
Initially, the rectangular interior was whitewashed with colorless glass windows, the church being much brighter than now.

Catedrala Luterana Sfanta Maria (Saint Mary Gothic Lutheran Cathedral)

One of the most impressive buildings in Sibiu, it was raised in the 14th century on the site of an old Roman church from the 12th century.
Really well-preserved, the imposing cathedral dominates the cityscape with its 7 level tower.
Having 73.34 m height, this is the tallest in Transylvania.
The 4 towers on the corners were a sign to medieval visitors that the city had the right to condemn those stepping out of line.

The first organ of the tower, brought in the 16th century (1585), was replaced a century later (in 1671) by a Baroque style one made by a Slovak craftsman.
The new organ, built by Wilhelm Sauer Company (Frankfurt/Oder) was installed in 1915.
At the present there are only 2 other organs made by this company (in Berlin – Tempelhof and in Talin – Dom).
In 1997 the organ undergoes complex renovation works, nowadays being the largest in the South-Eastern Europe.
During summer, organ concerts take place here every Wednesday night.

One of the most impressive Gothic halidoms in Romania, the cathedral has a particularly valuable mobile inventory.
Some of them, made in gilded silver by famous craftsmen in Sibiu such as Sebastian Hann, are not accessible to visitors, but other are.
For example, in the choir you can admire one of the most beautiful fonts in the country.
It was made in the 15th century (1438) by the master Leonhardus, from the bronze of Turkish cannons captured 1 year before by the inhabitants of Sibiu.
Having the shape of a calyx it is decorated with Gothic inscriptions and 228 booklets in relief, most of them figuratively representing the Byzantine influence.

Personalities of Sibiu – such as mayors and others – were buried here for 3 centuries starting with 15th century.
At the end of the 18th century the burials in the cathedral were prohibited.
The only exception was made in 1803, for Baron Samuel von Brukenthal who was buried in the vault near the pulpit.
The tombstones dismantled from the nave in 1853 were incorporated in the walls of the church, thus resulting a 67 tombstones gallery, unique in Romania.
After touring the stunning cathedral, climb the cathedral’s tower for gorgeous views of Sibiu.


Follow a traditional handicrafts class


For this you have to step within the most beautiful and largest open-air museum in Europe, which precisely reconstructs the villages from all corners of Romania to the smallest details: little houses, churches, mills, traditional objects and means of transportation… A thoroughly prepared travel to the atmosphere of the former Romanian village that will familiarize you with the way natives used to live in the past centuries, how our grandparents and great grandparents organized their households, the little secrets from the day-to-day existence, their beliefs and the church function, the taste for art…


Where to dine &  spend the night


Lunca Sibielului is a cosy little space, tucked away from the main city, but still near enough to travel to. It’s a family friendly place, which makes the place very homely and cosy. They serve good food, especially sarmale (minced meat in cabbage leaves).


7 pointed star shaped citadel


The fortress was erected between 1714 and 1738 after the plans of the Italian architect Giovano Morando Visconti. It has the shape of a 7 pointed star – design invented by Marechal Vauban, engineer to King Louis XIV of France. With 7 bastions and 6 gates, the imposing fortification stretches over an area of more than a hundred hectares.

Two necropolises were so far discovered in the former city of Apulum. One suggests the cemetery of the Aurelia Apulensis colony might have been here before the citadel construction. This is because in 2013 the archaeologists discovered several sarcophagi in the area. The 1,800-year old Roman sarcophagus was the only one intact (sealed with lime mortar). The two marble ones dating from the second or third centuries, were the only of the kind found on the territory of former Roman Dacia. The other 8 were broken and already robbed by treasure hunters. In the same area of the citadel there were also uncovered various constructions (structures, walls, buildings) and hundreds of tiny pieces mainly from the third century now found at Muzeul National al Unirii (Union National Museum).

In 2011 an archaeological research
in Alba Iulia brought to light vestiges of Principia (building of the command of Castrum Legio XIII Gemina). One of the artifacts was an 1,800-year old inscription reminding of a bloody political episode that took place in ancient Rome. This is an inscription from which the name of joint Emperor Geta (Publius Septimius Geta) was crossed out by Emperor Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), his brother. The two emperors, both sons of Emperor Septimius Severus, ruled together after their father’s death, which occurred in AD 211. The same year Caracalla kills Geta and orders his brother’s name to be crossed out of history. The Roman castrum of Apulum was the largest fortress in Roman Dacia; its construction started under Emperor Hadrianus, probably about 125 AD. For over one century without interruption Apulum was the headquarters of Legio XIII Gemina.

A sightseeing tour of the restored gates (The Gates Tour) of this early 18th century fortress – considered to be the most representative Vauban fortification with bastions in Romania – is a must. This includes the 5th gate erected at the base of St Michael’s ravelin. Access to it was closed by a brick wall and the gate interior, which is a semicircular arched passageway, was filled with dirt and made removed from use in the ‘60s.

The restoration works (2010-2011) allowed for a major segment of the original stone floor to be preserved and when the arcades were restored, the gate frame that allowed the drawbridge to operate was preserved. Many myths and legends are related to this citadel, some closer to reality than other. They say it was a forbidden city until 2005 because it was a military unit. They also say there is a Mathew bible from year 800 in the library.

Where to dine & spend the night

Pub 13
The restaurant is situated in the old gunpowder storehouse of the fortress within the Southern wall.

Medieval Hotel & Restaurant
This is really a great restaurant with panoramic views of the Vauban citadel. You can feel like royalty, listening discreet music while enjoying savoury dishes served by staff in epoque costumes. Highly recommended.
If you wish to also stay here overnight, kindly note that they get fully booked with 4 months in advance !


Roman Galleries Gold Mining Museum


Medieval Transylvania private tour Romania Open pit gold mineThe most active gold mining center of Western Carpathians was Rosia Montana. This was also one of the most long-lasting traditional gold mining sites known nowadays. Here the excavations began in the Bronze Age. The traditional gold mining ended in 1948 along with the nationalization, but the industrial mining continued until 2006. A significant interaction between man and nature generated one of the richest and most spectacular cultural landscapes of Romania. Thus the gold mining galleries, Roman surface landscape, historical industrial landscape and Rosia Montana gold mining fair were declared national historical monument. The mining galleries – of exploitation, assistance, ventilation, and water draining out – dug in the massifs around the town exceed 80 km. Seven km of these, excavated as early as the Roman Age, are unique in Europe. And they constitute the vastest and most important system of gold mining exploitation known from Roman world.