Prahova Valley and Brasov private royal tour

BEST SOLD

Interests:
* Heritage, Gourmet, Family, Relaxing, Wellness
Itinerary:
* Prahova Valley (Busteni – Sinaia) – Brasov – Bran
Duration:
* At least 4 days
Departures:
* All year round

Included:
* Customized itinerary planning and travel arrangements
* Private sedan / minivan with professional English speaking driver (-guide) at disposal (Helicopter / jet transfer available on request)
* Personal tour manager at disposal (available on request)
* Complimentary rooms and restaurants reservations
Excluded:
* Rooms, meals, entrance fees
Price:
* Varies depending on season, tour length, number of guests, included special activities and other custom preferences

Tailor made this Prahova Valley and Brasov private tour for me


DAY 1 

It’s time for the Royal Resort !


The most beautiful valley in Romania is the Valley of Prahova river. This is also the one where there are the most numerous highlight sightseeing. Riding along it, just when you start feeling like being on a photo safari you reach Sinaia resort. Its charm is due both to the grace of the architecture and to the wonderful natural setting. That’s why it is nicknamed the pearl of Carpathian Mountains. Here you can ski on sky due to the unique phenomenon in Romania named “sea of clouds”. Between the elevations of 1400 and 2000 meters tourists have the sensation of skiing above the clouds ceiling. Initially in this place there was only Izvor (Source) village. And it was formed by those who watched over Sinaia monastery, named after Sinai Mount.

King Carol I of Romania was one of the great Romanian kings

and the conqueror of the National Independence. Born in 1839 Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, he ruled between 1866 and 1914. The year of 1866 was also the one when he first visited the region and future site of the castle. He fell in love with the rugged but magnificent mountain scenery. So he ordered a complex composed of 3 monuments to be nested here. The opulent Peles Castle was built for His Majesty and Queen Elisabeth. Nearby was raised Castelul Pelisor (Little Peles Castle) as summer residence for King Ferdinand. The third one was Foisorul de Vanatoare (Hunting Pavilion). And this is actually the place where the royal family lived for 12 years until Peles Castle was finished. Their daughter, Princess Mary, insisted with the King to bring her to Peles creek too. That was the period when Sinaia mountain resort became famous.

Sinaia Monastery

Founded by Prince Mihai Cantacuzino in 1695, it was named after the great Sinai Monastery on Sinai Mount (Egypt).

6th most spectacular castle in the world (2010)

Prahova Valley and Brasov royal tour

Peles Castle, the summer residence of the Romanian royal family, was one of the most modern castles of its times. Fairy tales alike, even today it is considered to be the 6th most spectacular castle in the world: 1) Hohenzollern Castle – Germany. 2) Castle Howard – Great Britain. 3) Alcázar of Segovia – Spain. 4) Himeji Castle – Japan. 5) Prague Castle – Czech Republic. 6) Peles Castle – Romania. 7) Chambord Castle – France. 8) Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany. 9) Corfe Castle – Great Britain. 10) Matsumoto Castle – Japan.

The breath-taking grounds of the castle

was setting for “The Brothers Bloom” (2007). The stars were Adrien Brody and Rachel Weisz and the movie received 3 Oscar nominations. Take a tour of the adorned saloons.  You will admire a large number of statues, vases, fountains, mosaics and other art exhibits hosted within it. The story about the secret passage will captivate you. And so it will do the hand carved teak set received as gift by Their Majesties.

Started in 1873 in an idyllic setting, the fairy tale construction was quite international an undertaking. “Italians were masons, Romanians were building terraces, the Gypsies were coolies. Albanians and Greeks worked in stone, Germans and Hungarians were carpenters. Turks were burning brick. Engineers were Polish and the stone carvers were Czechs. The Frenchmen were drawing, and the Englishmen were measuring…” Queen Elisabeth of Romania was writing at that time. Apparently, there were 14 languages heard among the workers.

By form and function, Peles Castle is truly a palace but affectionately and consistently called a castle instead, by all. Its architectural style is a Neo-Renaissance of romantic inspiration. Its corespondent in the 19th century ideals would be the monumental Gothic Revival of Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. Ironically this is called a castle as well. Designed by architects Johannes Schultz and Karel Liman, it was decorated by famous interior designers J. D. Heymann of Hamburg, August Bembé of Mainz, and Berhard Ludwig of Vienna. With a multicolored style combining baroque and rococo influences, the magnificent castle defies any comparison…

The castle hosted grand figures guests. Royalty (Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austro-Romania), politicians and artists (George Enescu, Sarah Bernhardt, Jacques Thibaud or Vasile Alecsandri) came here. The last ones were often guests of Queen Elizabeth of Romania (known to literature as Carmen Sylva). In 1953 the castle was declared a museum. It shelters one of the most valuable and most important painting collections in Europe, almost 2,000 items. During the last years of communist regime (1975-1989) the entire area was declared a state protocol interest area and closed. But Nicolae Ceausescu did not like the castle very much so he rarely visited it.

In 2007, Peles estate and extensions have been re-ceded to King Michael I of Romania.

was born on October 25, 1921 in Sinaia. And he is the son of King Carol II and of Queen Elena. His first reign started in 1927, after the death of his grandfather King Ferdinand I. After King Carol II came back to Romania’s throne and his mother Queen Elena left the country, King Michael remained in the care of his father. When the latter abdicated in 1940, he became again King Michael I. On December 30, 1947 King Michael was forced to abdicate by the communist authorities. The abdication act, which was signed under threat, is illegal, invalid and never passed the Romanian Parliament. After an exile that started in 1948, the King returned to Bucharest in 2001. Since 2004, King Michael and Queen Anna lived in Aubonne, Switzerland. When coming to Romania, they used to reside at Savarsin Castle or at Elizabeta Palace in Bucharest.

Pearl earrings from Romanian King Carol II to his lover fetch EUR 2 million at auction (2012)

A pair of large pearl earrings was given by Romania’s King Carol II to his mistress as a gift. This layed forgotten in an English house for 35 years. Auctioned in UK, they have fetched GBP 1.6 million (just under EUR 2 million). Dating from the early 20th century, they a gift from the King to his lover, Elena Lupescu. After her death in 1977, Elena’s earrings were left to an English friend. This had no idea of their value and didn’t particularly like them. Thus the royal gift was left forgotten in a drawer. They only came to light when the current owner had other heirlooms valued for auction.

The Swiss Gemological Institute appraised the pearls and described them as outstanding examples, worthy of special attention. The rose/blue iridescence is known as ‘Orient of Pearl’ and is particularly sought after. Both the size and the color of the large pearls match, which is apparently quite rare. Auction house Woolley and Wallis estimated the earrings’ value at GBP 80,000 to GBP 120,000. This means between about EUR 100,000 and EUR 150,000. But the price went up and up as determined bidders dead set on owning the royal pearls refused to back down. “The vendors brought them to us out of curiosity and were astonished to discover their value. We are absolutely thrilled with today’s result and delighted for the family,” said a representative of the auction house. Source: Romania-Insider

Casino Sinaia

The imposing building with unique architecture was originally designed for gambling. It was built in only 1 year (1911-1912) on the site of resort’s first villa – Ghika Villa – built by Prince Dimitrie Ghika. The main shareholder was the Baron of Marçay. He was also shareholder at Monte Carlo casino. So it was speculated that this building would be the precise replica of the French edifice. In fact, the two casinos share only a few elements of interior architecture. The opening event of the Casino included a high-performance show and a George Enescu concert, ending with fireworks. Both the royal family and the Prime Minister – Titu Maiorescu – attended this event.

Soon the casino became the irresistible attraction of the resort and

an important source of revenue for its shareholders. During the weekend, Bucharest-Sinaia “train of pleasure” brought here the addicts of roulette, cards (baccarat, Brazilian), rummy, chess… Unbelievable but this “social magnet” succeeded to attract between 600 and 800 guests each play day. The bar-restaurant, where they also danced, had a jazz orchestra. In the private small room with only 2 tables the minimum stake was 5 times higher than in the others. Players were highly confident in their chances of significant gains. Before entering, they were throwing silver coins in the artesian fountain nearby the casino. But once inside and seduced by gambling exhilaration, they lose important amounts of money. They were getting to gamble inclusively their jewelry and gold chain watches and then to borrow with huge interests.

At that time, the most original bazaar of the resort was only two steps away from the Casino. Here, there was a Turk, Hagi Benlian (known as Benli), with burgundy-red turban and silk baggy trousers. He was luring the pedestrians with all kind of Oriental adornments, sweets like in Istanbul, tobacco or cigarettes and coffee. For a few coins discreetly slipped in his palm, Benli was telling in the coffee cup of 2-3 fortunate numbers (from 1 to 9). Then customers quickly run to play these at roulette.

After Second World War, Sinaia Casino passed into state ownership. It was closed and used for a while by Red Cross Society. After major restorations that kept its elegance, it became Sinaia’s House of Culture, nowadays being an International Conference Center. A guided tour of this beautiful Casino will lead you not only back through its interesting history but also on its terrace. This has great view overlooking the city and Bucegi massif. You will also visit the superb interior garden, as well as the halls that hosts the permanent painting exhibition.

Memorial House of George Enescu composer

The most famous Romanian composer, George Enescu had long worldwide tours. These used to end with escapades for recreation at Luminis villa. Here you can still see one of the pianos to which he composed numerous masterpieces. There are also furniture and ceramics formerly belonging to the great composer. Numerous documents and photographs evoke the personality of the Romanian musician.


DAY 2


Bran Castle tour ~ Stories you only heard about in movies…

one-day-tour-at-bran-castleThe old settlement of shepherds at the entrance of Rucar-Bran Couloir was named after the Romanian word for gate or fortified place: Bran. The famous medieval fortified castle built between 1377 and 1382 as a military fortress dominates the entire village. It is everything you’d expect a mysterious castle to be.

The gloomy edifice is perched on a high bed of stone in the midst of Transylvanian fores. Its mock-Gothic towers soar against the backdrop of Bucegi mountains. Inside there is a labyrinth of winding corridors, narrow passages and secret staircases. But not only the majestic beauty and uncanny landscape brought its fame. Rumours say Prince Vlad Tepes (the Impaler) stayed here once in the 1400s. It is uncertain if Bram Stoker knew anything about this castle. But marketed as home of his novel’s titular character, Bran castle became one of the prominent tourist destinations.

One of the 10 most beautiful medieval castles in the world,

Bran is the most expensive estate in Europe (~ 120 mil. Euro) and the second most expensive one in the world. one-day-tour-at-bran-castleThe property built in 1926 in Beverly Hills, where “The Godfather” movie was filmed, is the most expensive estate in the world according to Forbes (2012). During “Tu veneno” tour from 2001, singer Natalia Oreiro filmed here the video clip for “Como te olvido”. Before visiting this legendary place stop for a while at the bottom of the hill, in the castle’s park. Here is an open-air ethnographic museum exhibiting traditional Romanian peasant structures (cottages, barns, etc.) from across the country. The irresistible themed souvenirs (from dolls to shirts) on display in this country-style-bazaar will be one more temptation for you.

Dine at one of the Artist Queen's dream castles

Grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, Queen Mary of Romania was the most fascinating personality of her time. Talented painter, garden designer, creator of original pieces of furniture, inspired interior decorator and photographer Her Majesty was most of all a writer (inclusively for prestigious American magazines). one-day-tour-at-bran-castleThe two castles very dear to her soul were Pelisor and Bran, within the last one, hidden in a silver box, her heart beeing found.

Dare to enter the eerie 57 chambers. Discover a museum of Romanian and foreign feudal art from the 14th to 19th centuries. It hosts well-preserved architecture, collections of weaponry, armours, costumes and furniture. From the highest white rooms of the castle you can admire Bran village as young princesses used to do it. Take a moment and relax with good traditional food on the lake shore, where “Queen Mary” Tea House (1920) is.

Explore the House of Princess Ileana (Museum of Bran Medieval Custom)

one-day-tour-at-bran-castleHistorical and art monument located at the feet of the Bran Castle, the architectural ensemble is compound of a 3-storyed central pavilion and 3 annexes connected by stone and brick walls. In medieval times, this was both an important crossing point between provinces and custom. So it brought the highest takings to Transylvania’s King. Between 1944-1948, the complex became residence of Princess Ileana and now hosts the Museum of Bran Medieval Custom.

The castle was retroceded to Archduke Dominic Habsburg-Lothringen, son of Princess Ileana. Then all patrimony objects were replaced with new collections brought by the Archduke’s family. The original Bran castle’s collections of plastic and decorative art include furniture pieces, ceramics, silvery, sculptures and paintings on wood. You can see all of them exposed at the House of Princess Ileana.

Luxury surprise in Bran village ~ Conacul Bratescu

From the moment we discovered the website of this mansion we decided to change our hotel booking if possible. The owner answered our call and despite the short notice he was extremely open and friendly. Since we couldn’t decide which room to choose he offered to book one for us but only choose on the spot the room we like most. One day tour at Bran castle RomaniaWe arrived late (22:00) and because the restaurant we previously chose for dinner was a total disappointment at 22:30 we were asking his help again. The grilled chicken with fresh vegetables and lemonade were incredible. And so was the spacious suite with a very comfortable bed and a fascinating old style bathroom. 

Everything shows good taste there: the architecture, the cozy restaurant, the carpet on the stairs, the common spaces and rooms. At the lavish healthy breakfast we received the cake from the house. Another small gesture – like the one of the owner that offered to bring us the coffee – but exactly these make the difference and leave a long lasting impression. Definitely this is a place to stop every time we pass through Bran and warmly recommend to everyone looking for really exquisite services.

Close encounters of the European Brown Bears

Imagine 60 acres of lush forest, rivulets and ponds located at the Carpathians’ feet. Can you believe they have been transformed into probably the largest in Europe and the world’s best sanctuary for bears ? It has lairs, naturally feed pool and special clinic.  For curious visitors, it features alleys between reservations as well as observation points in trees. You can safely move between these on high bridges. In-dwellers are European brown bears (protected specie) and an Asiatic black bear. All were dislodged from their natural environment and their return in the wilderness could harm them.


DAY 3

Brasov old city center tour


Whet your appetite with an impressive experience at one of the most picturesque backdrops in Eastern Europe. The gateway to Transylvania, Brasov was first documentary certified in the year 1234 A.D. under the name of Corona. Fortunately it still shows to its guests well preserved edifices with Old Saxon architecture. You can take a walk along the old city walls. And either walk up or drive around to the old towers guarding the medieval citadel.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: Spa & Castles

Prahova Valley and Brasov royal tour - spa ritual | Romania private tours by Azzurytt

Clear the mind and pamper the soul in a minimalist refuge near the old city center of mountain-wrapped Brasov. Escape with our flexible castles and spa package. This includes a choice of relaxing tailor made poly-sensorial spa therapies and fairy-tales castles. Simply the best of both worlds ! A spa for Bohemian, sophisticated and hedonistic guests, here they have an Art Nouveau hydrotherapy room. You can relax with your half during a Paris couples therapy. Or you can enjoy Vitaman premium spa brand. This is an Australian man skincare line. Hilton spas and B/Attitude – the spa brand launched by Buddha Bar also selected it. Castles that seem drawn from stories, imposing Gothic cathedrals, delightful medieval neighborhoods, secret passages that seem to go nowhere… All the qualities of a top destination spiced with unique moments of soothing, luxury and pampering.

Council Square

Here the Golden Stag Music Festival used to be held, the one where Julio Iglesias started his career.[/expand]

Black Church

This is the largest place of worship in Eastern Europe. It is one of the greatest monuments of Gothic architecture in Transylvania too. Black Church is also the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul. Built in 1385, it was called St. Mary’s Church until the fire in 1689. Then it received the present name due to the color of the blackened outer walls. Black Church shelters the largest and most valuable collection of Oriental (Anatolian) prayer rugs (over 100). With a huge bell, it also has a renowned 4000-pipe organ (installed in 1839) which is the largest in Romania.

String Street

Initially built as a corridor for the use of firefighters, it was first documentary mentioned in 17th century. It has 80 m length and a width varying between 111 and 135 cm. These make it the 3rd narrowest street in Europe. Spreuerhofstraße in Germany and Parliament Street in England are narrower. Try to fully spread your arms while on it. Yes, it is not wide enough ! It used to be a rendez-vous lieu pour les amoureux (meeting place for lovers). Nowadays this is considered to be the 5th most romantic place in Romania. By the way did you bring a date ?

Weavers’ Tower

This is located in the South-Western corner of the medieval walled city. It was erected at the expense and defended through the care of the weavers in the citadel. This is the best-preserved fortification of the city, nowadays hosting a Museum of the Medieval City of Brasov.

Graft Bastion

Brasov Craftsmen Defenders of the City – Permanent exhibition

Brasov Royal Palace

One of the most beautiful buildings in the city under Timpa is the  Royal Palace. It was built in 1912 by Prince Barbu Stirbey, a close to King Ferdinand’s family. Between wars, in the spacious saloons from here the cream of Romanian aristocracy came for balls. The King and the Queen spent their holidays here. Since 1944 Russian soldiers arrived in Romania began to devastate the palace. During the communist regime the monumental building functioned as Pioneers’ Palace. The nephew of the prince and his cousins claimed and won in court this beauty now decaying.

Our hotel picks:

Chambers'n Charm Hotel

Prahova Valley and Brasov private car tourHaving as backdrop the stunning Tampa mountain and breathtaking panorama views over Brasov city, this remote villa has only 9 different themed spacious rooms. Our favorite for winter has bed and floor covered with spotted white animal skins for surprisingly cozy night sleep.

Hilton Diamond Club partner, it  serves delicious drinks and menus. And entertain the guests with steam Turkish bath and VIP service. Did we mention there are plenty of activities nearby for you and your group ? Riding on snow mobiles, ice skating, sledging, skiing…

Aurelius Imparatul Romanilor Hotel

From the moment you arrive at the front desk you feel like stepping back in time. There are beautiful paintings on all walls. Rooms are surprisingly spacious, with old white furniture with golden details. Almost everything reminds you of the princely atmosphere from the begining of last century. The staff is friendly, prompt and very helpful.


DAY 4


Fagaras Fortress

Prahova Valley Brasov private royal tour - Fagaras Fortress | RomaniaOne of the largest and best preserved fortresses in Romania and even in Europe is Fagaras Fortress.

Its name seems to mean “wood money”

Local legends say that the peasants who built it have been paid with money made of wood. Innitially – by the end of 12th century – this was a wooden fortification surrounded by a ditch and remblai. But the conflagration from the middle of the 13th century destroyed it. Reinforced in the next century, it became a stone fortification. And another hundred years later it transformed into a defence military fortress. By the 16th century it already was an unattackable medieval fortified castle.

The most imposing monument of the great land of Fagaras

Being the most imposing monument of the great land of Fagaras, this was also its political and administrative center. But the apogee period of the fortress came only in the 17th century. Then the imposing medieval ensemble became a fastuos Transylvanian princely residence. The Italian architects brought by Prince Gabriel Bethlen imprinted the Renaissance aestethics to the construction. Thus stucco, blazons, floral motives and loggias open in arches appeared. The 4 bastions added at the fortress corners complemented the Italian style casemate look.

Prince Gheorghe Rackoczi I doubled the northern and southern exterior walls on the inside. Filling the created spaces with soil they obtained an 8 m thick resistance. They also enlarged, deepened and filled the defence ditch around the fortress with water from Olt river. Thus they made it a real lake. During the 1950s the fortress served as prison for communism opponents and dissidents. Restored after the 1989 revolution, Fagaras fortress awaits you today with a museum and a library. Let’s step inside and explore its Turnul Pestrit (Variegated Tower), Turnul Negru (Black Tower) and Salii Dietei (Diet Hall).

Rupea Fortress

Rupea fortress TransylvaniaTransylvanian ensemble of military architecture, Rupea fortress has been documentary attested in 1342 as place of refuge for the Saxons revolted against King Charles Robert of Anjou of Hungary. Located atop of the Cohalm Hill, this is one of the most beautiful citadels in Transylvania. With 7 towers, guarded by thick strong walls, it offers to the traveler’s eye breathtaking views of green surroundings.

Historians believe that the fortress

was built on the old ruins of a very important Dacian settlement. And that it is here where Decebal – the last King of Dacians – after long exhausting battles, cut his throat to not fall prisoner to the Romans led by Emperor Trajan. In the 15th century the Turks conquered and robbed the fortress. 2 centuries later it was burned down. Finally in the 18th century, following a strong storm that flew away the roofs, it was forever abandoned. But now, despite its troubled past you feel so peaceful here. And the mountain air is so refreshing. You can easily spend more than half day taking strolls along the stoned paths. And trying to imagine how over 400 people lived within these walls. Visit the cottages where the inhabitants of the villages around took refuge in during hard times. Pass through the Middle Fortress Gate and look for the Military Storeroom… The Servants, Pentagonal and Gate Towers or the Chapel and the Fountain are equally appealing !