Hiking in the Carpathians
omania - Simply Surprising and Surprisingly Diverse
Romania is a dynamic showcase for the enduring splendors of its fascinating past, timeless natural wonders and modern-day marvels. There is always another mystery to uncover — a legendary fog enshrouded castle, a village lost in time, unexplored mountains and ice caves. A world outside of time awaits discovery.
Now is the time to explore Romania’s many mysteries — all surprisingly accessible to international travelers through Sky Team: Delta, KLM, Air France and Alitalia (www.SkyTeam.com). Getting around the country can easily be done by car or train; a three hour journey will take you, from Bucharest to the medieval towns in Transylvania, from Sighișoara to the world’s famous Painted Monasteries in Bucovina.
Meet the People: Romanians have a well-deserved reputation for being exceptionally friendly and hospitable. They are by nature fun-loving, warm and playful, with an innate sense of humor. Many romanians living in towns and cities are able to communicate in English, French or German. In smaller villages it’s usually the younger people who speak one or more foreign languages.
History and Heritage: Romania’s history has not been as idyllically peaceful as its geography. Over the centuries, various migrating people invaded Romania. Romania’s historical provinces Walachia and Moldova offered furious resistance to the invading Ottoman Turks. Protected from direct Ottoman attacks by the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania was successively under Hapsburg, Ottoman or Walachian rule, while remaining an autonomous province.
When to Go: Romania is a year-round tourist destination, with mid-April to late June and late August to the end of October being the best sightseeing periods, due to generally mild and pleasant temperatures. Summers can be hot, especially in Southern Romania, including Bucharest. Mountain resorts and higher elevation areas are warm and pleasant during summer. Winters can be cold, especially in the mountains and snow is common throughout the country from December to mid-February.
Romania’s Best Known Attractions include:
* Transylvania’s medieval towns, including Sighișoara, Brașov, Sibiu and Biertan. * Fairy-tale castles, such as Peleș Castle in Sinaia, Bran Castle near Brașov and Corvinești Castle near Deva. * The Painted Monasteries, whose exteriors feature Byzantine-influenced frescoes . * Bucharest, capital city and home of opulent palaces, magnificent architecture and fascinating museums. * Danube Delta, a wilderness paradise for birds and wildlife. * The Black Sea: Beach resorts and Medical Spas to rejuvenate and unwind. * Century-old villages, such as the ones in Maramureș and Transylvania, where festivals, weekly fairs and produce markets keep ancient traditions alive. * The scenic Carpathian Mountains, great for hiking and wildlife watching. * 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Bucharest (București). . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Transylvania. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Bucovina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Road Map of Romania. . . . . . . . . . . 14 Maramureș. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Danube Delta & The Black Sea . . . . 18 Medical Spas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Banat and Crișana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Gastronomy & Wine. . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Sample Itineraries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Practical Information. . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Bucharest - The Romanian Athenaeum
ucharest - Romania’s Capital of Culture
Known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards, marvelous Belle Époque buildings and reputation for the high life Bucharest (București) was once called the “Little Paris”. However, there’s nothing little about the scope of Bucharest’s attractions, ranging from museums, art galleries, parks, and myriad architectural delights.
True, the French influence is there in the 19th century architecture, and there is even an Arch of Triumph on the elegant Șoseaua Kiseleff - a tree-lined boulevard reminiscent of Paris’ ChampsElysees - but Bucharest has a charm, culture and history that is uniquely its own. The city can also provide all the comforts and conveniences that visitors seek, including familiar hotel names, such as J W Marriott, Hilton, Radisson, InterContinental, Golden Tulip, Sofitel-Pullman or Crowne Plaza. The main international gateway to Romania, Bucharest is served by two international airports, and it is well connected by roads and railways to Romania’s numerous tourist attractions. City Landmarks: Stroll along Calea Victoriei, Bucharest’s oldest and arguably, most charming street, to discover some of the most stunning buildings in the city, including the French eclectic-style Cantacuzino Palace – today home of the Museum of the Romanian Music; the Military Club, the Palace of the Savings Bank – boasting one of the most impressive neoclassical
facades in the city; the National History Museum, and the architectural gems in the Royal Palace Square: the former Royal Palace, now home to the National Art Museum, the historic Athenee Palace Hotel, and the stunning Romanian Athenaeum. Renowned worldwide for its outstanding acoustics, the Athenaeum is Bucharest’s most prestigious concert hall and home of Romania’s National Philharmonic. Every other year the Romanian Athenaeum is the main venue for one of Europe’s greatest classical music festivals, named after Romania’s most prestigious musician: George Enescu. Perhaps the city’s unique charm can be best observed in the old city center, around the area known as Lipscani. At the beginning of 1400s, merchants and craftsmen - Romanian, Austrian, Greek, Serbian, Armenian and Jewish - established their stores and shops in this section of the city. Soon, the area became known as Lipscani, named for the many traders from ‘Lipsca’ (Leiptzig). The mix of nationalities and cultures represented in Lipscani area
Bucharest - Mogosoaia Palace is reflected in the mixture of architectural styles, from baroque to neoclassical to art nouveau. A once-glamorous commercial area, the old historic center is being revamped to become an art galleries, antique shops and coffee houses district. At the center of the historic area are the ruins of the Old Princely Court - built in the 15th century by prince Vlad Ţepes (Vlad the Impaler), and the Princely Church. Buzzing with crowds and traffic from early morning until late at night, The University Square is another city landmark, bringing together some remarkable architectural masterpieces on each of its four corners, starting with the University of Bucharest, the neoclassical Colţea Hospital, the Bucharest National Theater, and the Șuţu Palace, famous for the grandiose balls held here in the 1900s, now home to the Bucharest History & Art Museum. Bucharest has 37 museums; 22 theaters, 2 opera houses, 3 concert halls; 23 art galleries; and a wealth of libraries and bookstores. Many of these are housed in buildings that are attractions in themselves, sporting architectural styles influenced by both eastern and western cultures.
Bucharest - University Library Main Museums: - The National Museum of Art houses 70,000 works by Romanian artists, including Brancuși, Grigorescu, Aman and Andreescu, as well as Western masters such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Renoir and Cezanne. - The Village Museum is a fascinating open-air museum in Herăstrău Park that displays more than 300 buildings that reflect the history and diversity of Romania’s rural architecture and design from all regions of the country. - The Museum of the Romanian Peasant features an extraordinary collection of furniture, pottery, costumes, fabrics and apparel, agricultural tools, household appliances, and religious objects. - The History Museum of Romania, housed in what was once Bucharest’s main post office, presents a collection of artifacts and jewelry that date from prehistoric to modern times. Other large museums of note include the Museum of Art Collections, Natural History Museum and Museum of the City of Bucharest. Smaller museums, catering to enthusiasts with a taste for special interests include the National Geological Museum, National Museum of Old Maps & Books, Technical Museum,
Pride - and Joy According to Romanian legend, Bucharest was founded by a shepherd whose extraordinary flute playing and prowess as a vintner so impressed the local residents that they gave his name (Bucur translates as “joy”) - to the place: București (be joyful). Today, Romania is a parliamentary democracy where the “House of the People”, meant to be the seat of the communist regime in Bucharest, has been transformed into the Palace of Parliament (pictured). * It is the world’s second largest building after the U.S. Pentagon, a proud edifice of over 1,100 rooms that reflects the work of the country’s best architects and artisans. * It is built entirely from Romanian materials and products, including local marble, cherry and walnut paneling, crystal chandeliers; and hand-woven tapestries, carpets and draperies. * The crystal chandelier in the Human Rights Hall weighs over 6,000 lbs and has more than 7,000 light bulbs.
Bucharest - the Palace of Parliament
Bucharest - the Savings Bank Museum of Astronomy, Museum of the Romanian Music and the Railway Engines and Cars Museum. Music, Drama and More: Lovers of performing arts can spend an evening or more at the National Philharmonic, the Opera House, Operetta House, several drama theaters, or the Jewish Theater. Shopping: shops and stores offer everything from handicrafts to antiques, from fine china to crystal. Truly unique crafts, such as embroidered clothing and linen, blouses, skirts, exotic coats, painted eggs, pottery, woodcarvings, icons, rugs are available at specialized handicraft stores (Artizanat) as well as the shops of the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the Village Museum. Nightlife and Dining: Bucharest is one of the few cities in Europe with gambling. A few 18th and 19th century palaces now house elegant casinos, where guests can play blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, and other games of chance, dance all night to live music, and dine at sumptuous buffets. Dining options include Casa Doina, Locanta Jaristea, Carul cu Bere - a pub with intricate art nouveau exterior walls; Casa Vernescu - a French restaurant housed in an elegant mansion, as well as numerous other restaurants and sidewalk cafes.
Bucharest - the Arch of Triumph Jewish Bucharest - Bucharest is home to one of the oldest and most important Jewish communities in Romania. Sephardic Jews arrived here in the 16th century and at the beginning of the 17th century, during the Cossack uprising, the first Ashkenazi Jews came from Ukraine and Poland. A sacred brotherhood, a charity box and a prayer house were registered in 1715. Some of the synagogues built during the 18th and 19th century also featured ritual baths (mikve). By 1832, 10 holy houses had been established. Their number would increase significantly before the end of the century, almost every one having its own Rabbi and cult performers. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish population in Bucharest numbered 40,000 people with 70 temples and synagogues. A few of them still serve the city’s present Jewish community. Sites of interest include: Dr. Moses Rosen Museum of the History of the Jewish Community in Romania, Choral Temple (Templul Coral) - services are held every day at 8:00 am and 7:00 pm; on Saturday, they are held at 8:30 am and 7:00 pm. Yeshoah Tova Synagogue. Bucharest Jewish Community Address: Str. Sfânta Vineri 9 -11 Tel: (021) 313.17.82
Peleș Castle Seventy-five miles north of Bucharest is Peleș Castle - one of the most beautiful castles in all Europe. Nestled at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains in the picturesque town of Sinaia, Peleș is a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture. Commissioned by King Carol I in 1873 and completed in 1883, the castle’s interiors are an opulent display of elegant design and historical artifacts. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art: Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows, walls covered with Cordoba leather, Meissen and Sevres porcelains, ebony and ivory sculptures.
Sinaia - the Peleș Castle
Peles is open from June until September, Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and from October until May, Wednesday through Sunday, same hours. The castle is closed during the entire month of November.
Bucharest - The Romanian Athenaeum
Bucharest – Basic Information
Bucharest Hop On / Hop Off Sightseeing Bus Tours.
Although a member of the European Union, Romania does not yet use the Euro. The national currency of Romania is called Leu (plural Lei). Price tags indicate RON - the abbreviation for Lei.
Hop-on, hop-off bus tours are operated daily on a fleet of new double-decker buses. Travelers can get an introduction to Bucharest’s fascinating architectural mix and get familiar with the city’s main places of interest in about 90 minutes.
Airports - Most international flights arrive at Henri Coanda International Airport, 12 miles north of downtown Bucharest. Transportation: Henri Coanda Airport (Otopeni) to the city center: Express Bus 783 runs to and from the city center, with stops at Băneasa Airport, Piaţa Presei Libere, Piaţa Victoriei, Piaţa Romană, Piaţa Universitaţii and Piaţa Unirii. The bus operates daily from 5:30 am to 11:00 pm. The journey to downtown takes approximately 50 minutes. Round-trip fare is 7.00 Lei (about $2.10) . Henri Coanda Airport to the train station (Gara de Nord): Express Bus 780 runs from and to Henri Coanda Airport, with stops at: Băneasa Airport, Piaţa Presei Libere, Clăbucet and Gara de Nord. The bus operates daily from 5:15 am to 10:50 pm. The journey to the train station takes approximately 45 minutes Round-trip fare is 7.00 Lei (about $2.10). Bucharest has an efficient public transportation network which includes: bus (autobuz), tram (tramvai) and trolley bus (troleibuz) as well as subway (Metrou) . The ground transportation system operates - between 5:00am and 11:59 pm. A one-way ticket is 1.30 Lei (about 40 cents). Tickets are interchangeable. The subway is the fastest way to get around the city center and to reach attractions such as Cotroceni Palace, Palace of Parliament, the Arch of Triumph and the Village Museum.
Taxis * From the airport: Currently several taxi companies are licensed to pick up passengers from the airport. Fare to downtown Bucharest is about $25. Fly Taxi offers easy online and phone reservations. (www.TaxiFly.ro, telephone 9440) * Within the city and to the airport: Taxis can be summoned by telephone or hailed on the street. Rates per km should be posted on driver’s and passenger doors. Average Taxi rates: Initial Fee: 2.0 Lei ($0.60) plus 2.0 Lei / km ($0.95 / mile) Taxi rates can vary from company to company. Check the rates with the driver and ask him to confirm the approximate fare for the trip. Please note that some taxi companies may post and charge rates up to five times higher than the averages above. Safety Bucharest is safe and hospitable. Violent crime against visitors is almost non-existent. As in any large city visitors are advised to take usual safety precautions. Do not draw unnecessary attention to your person, money or jewelry and be aware of pickpockets and scam artists. Never accept taxi/ car rides, tours or guide services from strangers, no matter how presentable or fluent in English, who approach you on the street.
All information in this section is valid at the time of publication. For the latest updates, please visit www.RomaniaTourism.com
Brașov - Black Church
ransylvania - The Legendary “Land Beyond the Forest” Storybook Transylvania - wild forests, howling wolves, and remote medieval castles - really does exists and is waiting to be explored. (National Geographic - Journeys of a Lifetime)
Transylvania boasts numerous medieval towns, modern cities, spas, quaint villages, vineyards and a wealth of historic attractions. The Carpathian Mountains beckon hikers and caving enthusiasts, while its rivers attract rafters and fishermen. Some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, most notably Sighisoara, Brasov, Sibiu and Biertan are located in Transylvania. Visitors can marvel at unique architectural treasures as they stroll on narrow cobblestone streets. The region is also home to nearly 200 villages, churches and fortifications founded by Saxons between the 13th and 15th centuries. BRAȘOV - Fringed by the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains and resplendent with gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, as well as a wealth of historical attractions, Brașov is one of the most visited places in Romania. The city was founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211 on an ancient Dacian site and settled by the Saxons. Fortifications were erected around the city and continually expanded, with several towers maintained by different craft guilds, according to medieval custom. Brașov’s location - at the intersection of trade routes linking the Ottoman Empire and western Europe - together with certain tax exemptions, allowed Saxon merchants to obtain considerable wealth and exert a strong political influence in the region. This was reflected in the city’s German name, Kronstadt, as well as in its Latin name, Corona, meaning Crown City (hence, the coat of arms of the city which is a crown with oak roots).
Among Brașov’s best known historical and cultural attractions are the Council Square, the beautiful Saint Nicholas Church; Black Church - the largest Gothic church east of Vienna - so named because of its dark walls which survived a devastating fire in 1689, Brașov Fortress, with three of its four gates dating back to the 13th century still functional, the Museum of History, Museum of Ethnography, The Museum of Art, Opera House, Drama Theater and Marionette Theater. Visit these archeological and historic gems before heading for Bran Castle, 16 miles southwest of Brașov. This fortified medieval castle, often referred to as Dracula’s Castle, was built by the citizens of Brasov in 1377. Its rooms and towers surround an inner courtyard. Some rooms are connected through underground passages. Bran Castle also houses a collection of furniture, Romanian and foreign, and art items from the 14th to 19th centuries. The castle is open daily, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. (12 pm to 4:00 pm on Mondays). Only 5 miles from Brasov lies the modern ski resort of Poiana Brașov, where Hollywood celebrities Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger and Jude Law relaxed after shooting the film The Cold Mountain on location in nearby fields and farms. Also in close proximity to Brasov are the fortified churches at Hărman, with its massive 13th century defending towers, and Prejmer, the biggest fortified church in Southeastern Europe, built in the 14th century by Saxons.
Sighișoara - the Clock Tower SIGHIȘOARA - Transylvania is also home to the exquisite medieval town of Sighișoara, a perfectly intact 15th century gem where nine towers, cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches rival the historic streets of old Prague or Vienna for atmospheric magic. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sighișoara is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, nicknamed Vlad Ţepeș (Vlad the Impaler), ruler of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. It was Vlad who inspired Bram Stoker’s fictional creation, Count Dracula. His house is just one of many attractions here. Others include the Church on the Hill, with its 500-year-old frescos; the Church of the Dominican Monastery, known for its Transylvanian Renaissance carved altarpiece, baroque painted pulpit, Oriental carpets and 17th century organ; and the Venetian House, built in the 13th century. There is nothing to distract the traveler from the beauties of the medieval architecture - like the famous 14th century Clock Tower, whose “modern” works were made by the same manufacturer that made the famed astronomical clock tower in Prague. This tower
Sighișoara - Access to the Citadel controlled the main gate of the half-mile-long defensive wall. Starting from 1899, the Clock Tower has housed the Museum of History, which mirrors the evolution of crafts in Transylvania. The Museum also holds a medieval pharmacy from 1670, artifacts of ethnography, a section of fine arts and a collection of clocks. Walking up the creaking, winding staircase gets you to the top and a fine view of the red-tiled roofs of the Old Town and intact 15th and 16th century Saxon houses. Every year in July, Sighișoara hosts the Festival of Medieval Arts and Crafts which re-creates the medieval atmosphere of the town, complete with troubadour music and costume parades, street entertainers and handicraft displays, open-air concerts and medieval ceremonies. In the nearby countryside, another UNESCO World Heritage town, 13th-century Biertan, stands high on a hill, enclosed by walls more than 35 feet high. The most famous of the fortified churches, Biertan was the seat of the Lutheran bishops from 1572 to 1867.
The Siebenburgen: a Saxon Heritage The Saxons came to Transylvania - central Romania - during the mid 1100s from the Rhine and Moselle regions of Northwestern Europe. They called the area they settled “ Siebenburgen” after the seven major walled towns they built: Bistriţa (Bistritz), Brașov (Kronstadt), Cluj-Napoca (Klausenburg), Sibiu (Hermannstadt), Mediaș (Mediasch), Sebeș (Mühlbach) and Sighișoara (Schässburg). The result of almost nine centuries of Saxon existence in Transylvania is a cultural and architectural heritage, unique in Europe. Transylvania is home to nearly two hundred villages, churches, refuges or military outposts encircled with fortifications built by Saxons - for protection against the constant invaders - between the 13th and 15th centuries. The Saxons not only farmed and protected the fertile lands between the forested Carpathian Mountains, but formed guilds and became wealthy craftsmen and traders. Highly respected for their skill and talent they gained a degree of freedom previously unheard of in medieval Europe.
Biertan - the Fortified Church
Sibiu - General View SIBIU - Recently recognized by Forbes magazine as one of Europe’s most idylic places to live, Sibiu retains the grandeur of its earlier days when rich and powerful guilds dominated regional trade. Sections of the medieval walls still guard the old historic district, founded in the late 1100s, where narrow streets pass steep-roofed 17th century buildings with gable overhangs before opening into vast, church-dominated squares such as the Great Square and the Little Square (Craftmen’s Square). Sibiu is also home to Transylvania’s finest art museum, Bruckenthal Palace, the somewhat austere exterior of which belies its rich interior and extensive art. This Palace, a fine example of late Baroque Viennese architecture, was built in 1778 for Transylvania’s Governor Baron Samuel von Brukenthal. The art collection includes paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Teniers, as well as works of German, Austrian and Romanian masters. The museum also features a 16th century silverware collection, painted glass icons and about 400 rare books, many dating to the days of the first printing presses.
Other attractions in Sibiu include Little Square (Craftsmen’s Square), Bridge of Lies, Great Square (Piaţa Mare), Huet Square, the Orthodox Cathedral, City Hall Tower. The largest open-air museum in Romania - the ASTRA National Museum - is 2 miles south of Sibiu via the city tram, in the Dumbrava Forest. The 240-acre museum grounds contain a village of more than 300 traditional dwellings, including workshops, wooden churches and windmills, as well as a small hotel and restaurant. Every year, in August, the ASTRA Museum hosts two major events: the National Festival of Folk Tradition and Art - where more than 350 Romanian folk artists and craftspeople compete in a range of traditional endeavors, from dancing to cooking - and the Craftsmen’s Fair where artisans from all over Europe demonstrate their skills and sell their crafts. Visitors can actively participate in craft-making workshops. Near Sibiu lie some of the most interesting villages in Transylvania, many of which managed to keep their traditional architecture and customs almost intact over the centuries.
Vlad the Impaler, Fact and Fiction Many visitors are probably fascinated by the legend of Count Dracula, inspired by the Romanian prince Vlad Ţepeș (Vlad the Impaler). However, the real story is being told in Elisabeth Kostova’s recent novel “The Historian”.
Bran - the Bran Castle
Vlad - considered by Romanians a great hero who defended his country against the invading turks, was born in 1431 in Sighișoara. The house where he was born is today a museum of medieval weapons. A Vlad the Impaler tour may include: Curtea Domnească - Vlad’s palace in Bucharest, Snagov Monastery where Vlad is alleged to have been buried after his assassination; Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle); the Poenari fortress and the village of Arefu (where many Vlad the Impaler legends are still told). There are tours that also focus on aspects of the fictional Dracula, such as eating the meal Jonathan Harker ate at The Golden Crown in Bistriţa, and sleeping at Castle Dracula Hotel - built on the Borgo Pass, approximately where the fictional castle of the Count is supposed to be.
Sibiu - The Great Square Located at the foothills of the Cindrel Mountains, a halfhour drive from Sibiu, Mărginimea Sibiului is considered one of Central Romania’s most authentic ethnographic areas. The region encompasses 18 villages – among them Sibiel, Săliște, Jina, Rășinari, Gura Râului - in which century-old customs as well as the traditional occupation of sheepherding, have been carefully passed down from generation to generation.
Sibiu - House of the Caryatides making cheese, cooking local specialties or tracking brown bear, wild boar and red deer in the nearby forests.
For more than 200 years, the art of painting icons on glass has been a tradition in these villages. In 1968, Father Zosim Oancea - a local Orthodox priest - founded, in Sibiel, the Museum of Icons on Glass. This museum exhibits probably the world’s largest collection of 18th - and 19th - century icons richly painted on glass, as well as antique furniture and ceramics.
CLUJ-NAPOCA - The largest city in northwestern Transylvania, Cluj is a vibrant cultural and university center. The Main Square, dotted with 18th and 19th century buildings and home to many shops and restaurants, is dominated by the 15th century St. Michael’s Church, one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in Romania. The square also encompasses the 18th century baroque Banffy Palace, housing art collections as well as a weaponry exhibition. Founded in 1859, the History Museum of Transylvania illustrates best the history of the region. Among its more than 400,000 items are many rare books, paintings, old jewlery, coins, furniture and weaponry.
To really soak up local culture, consider village home-stays. In the last decade, some Romanian families have reclaimed and carefully restored ancestral estates, and have opened guesthouses in farming villages in mountainous Transylvania. Guests can take part in traditional activities: blacksmithing, milking cows,
Well-connected by air and rail with Central Europe, Cluj is a good base for the exploration of Transylvania and Maramureș regions. Non-stop flights from Austria or Hungary to Cluj take less than one hour, while a journey by train gives travelers the opportunity to admire the beautiful Romanian countryside.
Corvinești Castle One of the most impressive Gothic-style structures in Romania, the Corvinești Castle is located, 75 miles west of Sibiu, in Hunedoara. In 1445, Ioan of Hunedoara - Governor of Transylvania, Banat and Crișana - decided to transform a 14th - century fortress, established on the site of a former Roman camp, into a residence that would flount his new social status. The castle was built in several stages and completed in 1480. The beautifully preserved structure features two sumptuous function rooms: the Knights’ Hall and the Council Room, as well as a chapel and some other 50 rooms resplendent with medieval art. The courtyard features a 100 foot-deep well bored through rock. An impressive drawbridge is still the only access to this castle surrounded by 7-foot-thick, 70-foot-high walls. Nearby attractions include the ancient vestiges of the Dacian capital – Sarmisegetusa (a World Heritage site), Deva fortress, Densuș Monastery and Retezat National Park.
Hunedoara - the Corvinești Castle
ucovina and The Painted Monasteries
Be transported back in time by the brilliant blues of the frescoes, the beauty of the countryside, and the chanting of the monks. (National Geographic - Journeys of a Lifetime)
Among the most picturesque treasures of Romania are the painted monasteries in Bucovina. Most of the beautiful Byzantineinfluenced frescoes on the outside facades of these holy places were created during the 15th and 16th centuries. The frescoes illustrate biblical scenes, prayers, episodes of sacred hymns and religious or historic themes, all variously featuring the colorful and detail-rich imagery of saints, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, angels and demons. They served as visual Bible lessons for the masses who could not read or remained outdoors during services. VORONEŢ - Perhaps the most famous and stunning of these is the Voroneţ Monastery. Its gentle, yet vivid blues (popularly known as “Voroneţ blue”) plus the quality of the frescoes have led to Voroneţ’s billing as the “Sistine Chapel of the East”. A magnificent scene of the Last Judgement covers an entire wall. Biblical characters, saints and even animals join people in procession toward the open gates of heaven. First though, they must pass the seat of judgment. Scales that weight deeds and misdeeds will give the verdict. Devils vie for the damned, who are pushed into a river of fire.
HUMOR - Founded in 1530, Humor is rather small, physically, but it looms large among Bucovina’s treasures with a variety of frescoes, including one illustrating the “Return of the Prodigal Son” and one with a “humorous” depiction of the devil as a woman. SUCEVIŢA - Set in a beautiful green valley, the Suceviţa Monastery complex is fortified with watch towers at each of its four corners. The church’s walls are adorned with thousands of pictures - more than any of the other monasteries. The western wall, however, remains unpainted, purportedly in tribute to an artist who died from a fall off of the wall scaffolding. The village of Marginea, located just 7 miles northeast of Sucevita, is renowned for the black clay pottery crafted here, said to preserve a centuries-old Gaeto-Dacian technique, passed on from generation to generation. MOLDOVIŢA - The large and vivid “Siege of Constantinople” highlights the frescoes on the walls of the Moldoviţa church. Inside, 16th century furniture survives, including Prince Petru Rareș’ (founder of the monastery) chair, as large as a throne.
Suceviţa Monastery Access - Suceava and Iași are the largest cities in the monasteries area. There are daily flights from Bucharest to Suceava (one hour); train travel takes about six hours. The nearest international airport is Iasi, served by Austrian Airlines from New York, Washington, Chicago and Toronto with a change in Vienna. The Monasteries can be visited in one rushed day, but two or three would be ideal. The easiest way to discover the Painted Monasteries area is by car; a 30-minute drive (or less) separates one from another. Gura Humorului – located just 25 miles west of Suceava provides a good base for exploring both the monasteries and the nearby villages. SUCEAVA - The town of Suceava, may be the best starting point for a trip to the monasteries. Once the capital of Moldavia (from 1375 until 1565) is has some noteworthy attractions of its own, such as the Princely Court, built in 1388. Today, visitors can tour the remains of the impressive fortifications and take in a great view of the city. Other sights in Suceava include the St. George Church, Mirăuţi Church, the Zamca Monastery and a number of museums dedicated to the woodcraft, ethnography, history and folk art of the region. The Bucovina History Museum displays medieval armor, coins, weaponry, tools and ancient documents.
Suceviţa - Fresco IAȘI - is the largest economic and cultural center in eastern Romania. The city was for many centuries the crossing point of the main commercial routes linking Poland, Hungary, Russia and Constantinopole. Over the past 500 years, history, culture and religious life have molded the city’s unique character. Iași boasts an impressive number of Orthodox churches, almost 100, most of them located in the “Golden Plateau”, representing the nucleus of the city, around which the entire area developed over the centuries. One of the most famous monuments in the city is the stunning Trei Ierarahi Church, built in 1639. Another major landmark is the neo-gothic Palace of Culture, built between 1900-1926, currently housing the Ethnographic Museum, the Art Museum, and the History Museum of Moldova. In the 19th century, Iași was one of the most important Eastern European centers of Jewish learning. World’s first Yiddish-language newspaper, Korot Haitim, was founded in Iași. Also in Iași the world’s first professional Yiddish-language theater was opened in 1876. The Great Synagogue of Iași, founded in 1671, is the oldest surviving Jewish prayer house in Romania and one of the oldest synagogues in Europe.
The History of Voroneţ Voroneţ Monastery, located near the town of Gura Humorului in southern Bucovina, was founded in 1488 by Stephen the Great - the ruling prince of Moldova to fulfill a pledge to Daniil, a hermit who had encouraged him to chase the Turks from Wallachia. After defeating the Turks, Stephen erected Voroneţ in less than four months on the very spot Daniil had his small wooden hermitage. Daniil became the monastery’s first abbot and was eventually made a saint. Voroneţ’s exterior paintings were made in 1547. It remained a working monastery until the start of Habsburg rule in 1785, and only became a religious retreat again after the fall of communism in 1991.Visitors can easily chance on a Romanian Othodox service with nuns singing in response to the chanting of the priest. Voroneţ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Voroneţ - Fresco
Maramureș - Wooden Gate
aramureș - A Living Museum
This region in northwestern Romania is home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. The inhabitants of this area have preserved, to an amazing extent, the rural culture and crafts of their ancestors.
THE WOODEN CHURCHES - As it has for hundreds of years, social life in Maramureș continues to revolve around the village church. The Wooden Churches in Surdești, Plopiș, Rogoz, Ieud, Poienile Izei, Bârsana, Budești and Desești – have been recognized by UNESCO as some of the most important sites of world heritage. They are unique in shape and ornamentation, and make a powerful impression through their distinct, vertical and firm architectural lines. The characteristic high roofs and tall, narrow, pointed steeples are often collectively described as “the Gothic style of Maramureș”. The primary wood material used by the artisans who built them was local oak, which has survived the elements with sturdy elegance until today. The interior walls of the churches were painted by local artists, with biblical scenes often juxtaposed against the familiar landscape of the village.
Most of these houses of worship have stood proudly since the 17th and 18th centuries - some even longer. The oldest wooden church in Maramureș is the Church on the Hill in Ieud, which dates from 1364. CARVED WOODEN GATES - Woodlands still account for more than four-fifths of the land surface of Maramureș and wood has long been - and continues to be - the medium of expression for the region’s artisans. The towering Maramureș wooden gates, often compared to triumphal arches, are the calling cards of the local wood carvers. Supported by four columns, they feature traditional ornamental motifs, including the sun and the twisted rope - both symbols of life and continuity. Some of the most beautiful wooden gates are found in the villages of Vadu Izei, Desești, Giulești, Budești, Sârbi, Bârsana and Oncești. The villages of Bârsana and Oncești have, perhaps, the greatest number of impressive gates.
Traditional Hat SIGHETU MARMAŢIEI - While the main tourist activities in Maramures are gate-, church- and people-viewing, the town of Sighetu Marmaţiei also has a few attractions worth visiting. The outdoor village museum, on the road into town, boasts dozens of homes and farm buildings assembled from around Maramureș county. Other attractions include the 16th century Reform Church, the Museum of Ethnography, and the Memorial of the Arrested Thinking, located in a former communist prison in the center of town. Access to Maramureș - The easiest way to visit the Maramureș area is by car. Baia Mare and Satu Mare - with direct rail links with Bucharest, Brașov, Cluj and Oradea - are the best starting points for a trip to Maramureș. There are daily flights from Bucharest and Timișoara to Satu Mare, as well as from Bucharest to Baia Mare.
Maramureș - Christmas Carolers Maramureș has eight museums, 67 historical sites and monu ments, over 360 outstanding architectural treasures, and 14 urban and rural historical zones that are virtually living museums. The area’s mountains and valleys teem with greenery and wildlife. For a one-of-a-kind experience, take the narrow-gauge steam train. Starting from the small logging town of Vișeu de Sus, the steam railway runs along a scenic road for about 30 miles, chugging behind an old steam engine. The train provides the only access – other than walking – to settlements higher up in the valley. During stops, you can watch workers load firewood and take on water from clear mountain streams. On the trip back down in the evening, the engine driver whistles for brakemen to stop the train- sometimes to pick up or drop off passengers, sometimes to stop to pick wild mountain mushrooms.
The Merry Cemetery Here am I, Husar Ion Lying under this cold stone Everyone called me handy And maker of the best plum brandy So begins one of hundreds of epitaphs carved into blue crossshaped oaken headboards at the Merry Cemetery of Săpânţa. No “rest in peace” or “beloved husband” here. Instead, firstperson verse that endeavor to capture essential elements - both the good things and the imperfections - of the deceased’s life. Sapanta’s colorful, 5 foot tombstones, feature geometric designs in symbolic colors: yellow for fertility (the subject has many children), red for passion, green for life, black for early death. The Merry Cemetery is one of the very few in the world which draw more visitors than mourners... The townfolks’ ancestors considered death as a beginning not the end. Therefore the background is always blue, the color of hope and freedom. Even without benefit of translation, visitors will appreciate the handiwork of sculptor Stan Ion Pătraș, who began carving these epitaphs in 1935. Săpânţa is a 20-minute drive from Sighetu Marmaţiei, one of the region’s principal cities.
The Merry Cemetery - Tombstone
Delta Nature Resort
Danube Delta - Pelicans
he Blue Danube, Green Delta and Black Sea
670 miles of the Danube River run through Romania and before ending its journey at the Black Sea the Danube forms one of the most spectacular wetlands in the world, The Danube Delta. The Danube offers visitors a unique means to sample the delights of Romania as part of a multi-country cruise.
Romanian ports of call on Danube river cruise itineraries Constanţa has a number of Roman vestiges and historic buildings that color the Ovidius Square and Old City Center. may include, from west to east: THE IRON GATES - This narrow gorge that separates Romania from Serbia offers some of the most breathtaking natural scenery. ORȘOVA - The Saint Ana monastery affords a panoramic view of this picturesque Romanian town. TURNU SEVERIN - Highlights include the ruins of a 1,900 year-old Roman bridge and the city’s archeological museum. GIURGIU - A jumping-off point for excursions to Bucharest, this town is worth exploring in its own right. Passengers can visit the remains of a medieval fortress and marvel at the 300 year-old stone clock tower. OLTENIŢA - This town, also a point of disembarkation for a short drive to Bucharest, offers scenic forest vistas. TULCEA - Tulcea is the gateway to the Danube Delta, where the Danube separates in three arms which flow into the Black Sea. BLACK SEA RESORTS - Romania’s Black Sea coast features miles of fine-sand beaches dotted with resorts as well as numerous medical spas known for alleviating arthritis, rheumatism and other ailments. Eforie Nord and Mangalia spas specialize in mud baths as well as in world famous Gerovital and Aslavital rejuvenation treatments. CONSTANŢA - An ancient metropolis and Romania’s largest seaport, Constanţa traces its history some 2,500 years ago. Founded by the Greek colonists from Millet in the 6th century B.C., Tomis was conquered by the Romans in 71 B.C. and renamed Constantiana by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in honor of his sister. Constanţa flourished during the Genovese merchants domination of the Black Sea (13th century) but the city declined in the 15th century under Turkish rule. Fine mansions, hotels and the casino were built in the 19th century when King Carol I decided to revive Constanţa as a port and seaside resort.
An impressive collection of artifacts from Greek, Roman, and Dacian-Roman civilizations is on display at the National History & Archeology Museum. Nearby the museum you can admire the 6th century colorful mosaics at the Roman Edifice complex, along with vestiges of the Roman public baths. Other attractions include the Art Museum, the Romanian Navy Museum, the St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral, Aquarium and Planetarium. Take a stroll along the waterfront promenade and take in the view of the old city from the Genovese Lighthouse built in 1300. Enjoy lunch or dinner by the sea at the elegant Grand Casino. Open-air restaurants and nightclubs in nearby Mamaia offer a wide variety of entertainments. Day trips from Constanţa include visits to the nearby Murfatlar vineyards & cellars or short excursions to the Danube Delta. Bucharest is about three hours - by train or by car - west of Constanţa.
Danube Delta: A Natural Heritage Site Considered to be the world’s third most biologically diverse area - after Australia’s Great Coral Reef and Ecuador’s Galapagos Archipelago - the Danube Delta has been recognized by UNESCO for its outstanding universal value. Its tree-fringed lakes, reed islands, marshes and oak forests are home to over 5,400 animal and plant species. This remote, roadless wilderness has a unique end-of-the-world feel and will enthrall bird-watchers with opportunities to spot more than 300 species of migratory and permanent birds - including eagles, egrets, vultures, geese, cranes, ibises, cormorants, swans and pelicans. The Delta’s waters teem with some 160 kinds of fresh- and salt-water fish as well. Location – south-eastern Romania; Size – 1.68 million acres; Nearest cities – Tulcea, Galaţi, Brăila, Constanţa.
pas - for Natural Healing One third of Europe’s known mineral and thermal springs are located in Romania, a country with a long tradition of applying the healing power of water. The first spa in the country - Băile Herculane - was founded by the ancient Romans more than two millennia ago.
Today, over 70 medical-spa towns not only provide a massage that feels good for 20 minutes but also treatment and relief for rheumatism, arthritis and ailments of the endocrine, kidney, liver, respiratory system, heart, stomach and nervous system. Therapeutic mud, thermal waters, ionized air, “Mofettes” (natural sources of carbon dioxide) and various types of mineral waters, are successfully applied for medical use including alkaline (containing magnesium and sodium sulfate), sulfurous (with alkaline sulfurs), acidic (with a high content of carbon dioxide), ferruginous (with iron carbonates) and radioactive. Romania’s best-known spa towns include: BĂILE FELIX Established in the 18th century, Băile Felix is located in the northwestern part of the country, close to the border with Hungary. The thermal oligomineral waters found here, supplemented by sapropelic (mud), are used to treat degenerative rheumatism, joint and inflammatory afflictions. BĂILE HERCULANE Located in southwestern Romania, Băile Herculane is surrounded by spectacular mountains which are part of Domogled National Park.
OCNA SIBIULUI Mud packing, aerosol treatments and salt water baths in lakes created after several salt mines had been inundated, have been used here successfully in the treatment of rheumatic, dermatological, endocrine and gynecological affections, as well as in the treatment of asthma. EFORIE NORD and MANGALIA Spa-loving travelers can soak up the benefits at Romania’s world-renowned Black Sea Coast resorts and medical spas in Neptun, Eforie Nord and Mangalia. The unique curative qualities of mud extracted from nearby Lacul Techirghiol, combined with sea water, offer relief from degenerative and inflammatory rheumatism and arthritis as well as from internal and nervous disorders. Many spa hotels in Romania offer rejuvenating treatments with Gerovital and Aslavital - two original anti-aging drugs discovered in the early 1950s by Romanian physician Ana Aslan. Gerovital can improve cell metabolism and it is believed to relieve many mental and physical afflictions usually associated with aging: arthritis, migraine, Parkinson’s Disease, atherosclerosis, sickle cell anemia, senility, failing memory, muscle fatigue and varicose veins.
Famous figures such as Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, German poet Goethe and Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph visited Băile Herculane where the thermal waters are effective in relieving afflictions of the locomotor system, peripheral nervous system and degenerative rheumatism. SOVATA Located at 1,600 ft. above sea level, Sovata features the only heliothermal lake in Europe - Lacul Ursu. The mineral waters here are particularly prescribed for treatment of gynecological and sterility afflictions. In the nearby underground salt mine of Praid a spa offers treatment of afflictions of the respiratory system, such as asthma.
Thermal Water Treatment
Arad - City Hall Timișoara - the Union Square
Oradea - City Hall
rișana and Banat - Historic Gateways to Europe
Though not as well known as Transylvania, Bucharest or Bucovina, Western Romania nonetheless is worth exploring for the serious traveler. The country’s history-rich provinces of Crișana and Banat are steeped in ageold cultural traditions and a diverse architectural heritage.
TIMIȘOARA - The charm of this city, settled on the bank of the Bega River, lies in its distinct architectural character and vibrant cultural life. It is the abundance of Secessionist architecture that has provided Timișoara with its rather appropriate moniker, “Little Vienna.” A progressive, cosmopolitan place, the city is home to year-round musical and theatrical performances, art galleries, museums and a buzzing nightlife. Timișoara was the first city in Europe and second in the world after New York, to use electricity to illuminate its public streets. Places of historical note include the Ruins of Timișoara Fortress, Huniade Castle, Dicasterial Palace, Old City Hall, Palace of Justice as well as churches of several denominations, a Jewish quarter, an elegant baroque square, and a pedestrians-only downtown area.
Natural Wonders Western Romania is also a great place for active travelers and adventure seekers, with abundant opportunities for trekking, mountain climbing, hunting, fishing, horseback riding and more. Crișana and Banat have exquisite natural scenery with a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean. The Bihor Mountains, descending from east to west, hold some of the best hidden treasures of Romania; explore their cave tunnels, underground waterfalls, lakes hidden from the day light, silent forests, mysterious intermittent springs, canyons and glaciers. Travelers into caving or spelunking should check out the region’s caves, including Chișcau - also known as “Bears’ Cave” - west of the Bihor Mountains. Named after the fossil traces of the cave bear-species (extinct 15.000 years ago) discovered here it also has stalactites and stalagmites in unusual shapes, some resembling animals and castles.
The city’s main cultural attractions are: the Banat Museum (art, natural history, and ethnography), Museum of Fine Arts, Village Museum, Timișoara Philharmonic, Opera House and Marionette Theater.
-L ARAD - Straddling the Mureș river and occupying parts ofTimisoara both Crișana province and Banat, Arad traces its history back to the 12th century. Churches and cathedrals span four centuries, several denominations, and architectural styles ranging from baroque to neoclassic. The exciting architecture of the buildings in the city’s square reflects the influence of the one-time Austrian-Hungarian rule; most notable are the City Hall and Cenad Palace. Other sites of interest include a fortress originally built by the Turks in 1550, the Palace of Culture, Administrative Palace, Palace of Justice and State Philharmonic House. ORADEA - Oradea - eight miles east of the Romanian / Hungarian border - is one of the most picturesque towns in western Romania, as well as an important cultural center. At the turn of the last century most of the town’s old houses were rebuilt and customized to the then-trendy Austrian architectural style called “Secession” with its richly decorated facades of pale pink, blue, green and white. Sites worth visiting are the Episcopal Palace - home to the Museum of the Cris Rivers County - a beautiful Baroque building modeled in 1770 after the Belvedere Palace in Vienna, the Old Town, the City Hall, the Black Eagle Palace and Cetatea Oradea, a fortress built in pentagonal shape. There are over 100 religious sites of different denominations in Oradea, including three synagogues, the biggest Baptist Church in Eastern Europe and the Cathedral of the Orthodox Diocese (Biserica cu Lună) - featuring an astronomical clock which depicts the phases of the moon. Oradea is only 5 miles northwest of Băile Felix (Baths Felix) which are home to numerous thermal springs and medical spas that focus on treatments that cure rheumatism, arthritis and neurological problems.
Smoked Shank with Sauerkraut
ining and Dining the Romanian Way
“…I go to the butcher in the morning and buy steaks by the yard,” mused Constantin Brâncuși, the world-famous Romanian sculptor. Romanians love meat, so grilled or spit-roasted pork, chicken, beef or lamb are in great demand, served with potatoes and vegetables.
On the Menu: A typical Romanian meal may begin with an appetizer of cheeses, cold cuts and vegetable spreads - and continues with one soup and one or two entrees.
Wines and Vineyards: Romania’s climate and soil are hospitable to the production of many different types of wines, from dry, sparkling whites to rich, aromatic, purplish reds.
The most popular soups are meatball soup (“ciorbă de perișoare”), meat and vegetable soup (“ciorbă ţărănească”) as well as tripe Liberty Square soup (“ciorbă de burtă”), a traditional hangover helper.
Romania is currently the world’s ninth largest wine producer. Popular domestic varieties include Fetească, Grasă, Tămâioasă, Crâmpoșie, Băbească, Frâncușă but Romania also produces its share of worldwide vintages, including Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Muscat Ottonel.
Traditional fish dishes include “ciorbă de pește” (fish soup), “saramură” (grilled carp in brine), “nisetru la grătar” (Black Sea sturgeon steak) or “scrumbie la grătar” (grilled mackerel) Entrees vary by region and they may include: * Tocaniţă or Tochitură (meat stew with onions and/or spices) * Sarmale (pickled cabbage leaves stuffed with meats, and rice) * Mititei (”The Wee Ones” - small skinless grilled sausages) Desert choices include papanași (cottage cheese donuts, topped with sour cream and fruit preserve), or clătite cu brânză (crepes filled with cottage cheese and raisins).
Whether you travel in Romania along the coast of the Black Sea or in the Painted Monasteries area or along valley slopes of the scenic Carpathian Mountains or in Transylvania you’re in wine country. For the traveler interested in adding viniculture to a cultural travel itinerary, a trip to Romania offers many opportunities to visit wine-producing regions and to discover and sample the many different wines of Romania, from little known local and regional wines to Romania’s great wine labels, such as Cotnari, Dealu Mare, Jidvei, Murfatlar and Odobești among others.
Romania Restaurant Tips
Your Guide to a few Romanian native wines:
* Prices listed on restaurant menus are per serving and include all taxes and service charge. However, some restaurants might post prices per 50 grams or 100 grams (1.75 oz. or 3.5 oz.) while the actual serving can be up to 300 grams (12 oz.). If not stated clearly on the menu, check with the waiter and make sure to be specific when ordering.
Frâncușă - A very versatile soft, dry wine, crisp and lively, with just the slightest touch of sweetness.
* Salad is usually a side order which comes with most entrees. * Typically each food item is ordered (and charged for) individually, right down to the bread and butter. * Your glass of water or soft drink will probably not be served with ice unless specifically requested.
Fetească Albă - Semi-dry white wine, well balanced, with a distinct aroma reminiscent of the first flowering in the vineyard. Tamâioasă Românească - A white wine with subtle honey and basil aromas and exquisite amber color. Its sweet taste may also suggest a blend of rose petal and wild berries. Grasă de Cotnari - A naturally sweet white wine with a delicate fragrance and a smooth interplay of fruitiness and acidity.
* Most restaurants do not have a non-smoking section.
Fetească Neagră - Semi-sweet, medium bodied, light red wine, with original aromas. A very tricky wine which changes on your palate as it transforms to a delectable dry finish.
* While it is customary to tip, the amount is up to your discretion.
Babească Neagră - Traditional full bodied red wine with a delicate bouquet and a slight taste of clove.
Sample Itineraries for Visiting Romania On the pages that follow are some ideas for itineraries. Use them as is or as a guide to creating your own. Some of these will be easiest by car. Starting from Bucharest: 1. Bucharest and Southern Transylvania Itinerary: Bucharest - Sinaia - Brașov - Sighișoara - Sibiu Duration: 5 days Best way of transportation: train or car
Day 1: Bucharest Explore Bucharest, the capital of Romania. In the evening enjoy a concert by George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra or travel to Valea Călugărească, one of the top Romanian wine regions. After wine tasting and dinner return to Bucharest. Day 2: Bucharest - Sinaia - Brașov (103 miles/ 166 km) Drive or take the train to Sinaia and visit the Peleș Castle. Built in 1883, Peleș Castle is a masterpiece of German Renaissance architecture. The smaller Pelișor Castle features a unique collection of Viennese furniture and Tiffany glassware. Continue straight to Brașov or from Predeal take a 25 miles detour to the village of Bran to visit the 14th century Bran (Dracula’s) Castle then continue to Brașov. Overnight in Brașov. Day 3: Brașov - Sighișoara (72 miles/ 116 km) Sightseeing in Brasov. Highlights include: the Council Square, the beautiful Saint Nicholas Church, Brașov Fortress, Franciscan Monastery. Do not miss the Black Church whose name is attributed to a fire set in 1689 by disgruntled invaders unable to breach the city’s walls. Ever since, the church and its red-tiled roof have been ash-stained. For a panoramic view of Brasov and the surrounding Carpathians Mountains take the cable car to Postavarul Peak in Poiana Brașov. Day 4: Day-trip to Sibiu (110 miles/ 178 km) Sightseeing in Sibiu. Highlights include: Craftsmen’s Square, Huet Square and Evangelical Church, Bridge of Lies, Goldsmith Square, Great Square, Orthodox Cathedral, Roman Catholic Church, City Hall Tower. Take an afternoon train/ drive back to Sighișoara or continue to Brașov. Overnight in Sighișoara or in Brașov. Day 5: Return to Bucharest (175 miles/ 282 km) or continue your journey to the Painted Monasteries in Bucovina.
2. Discover Walachia Itinerary: Bucharest - Targoviște - Curtea de Argeș - Brașov Sinaia - Bucharest Duration: 5 days Best way of transportation: car Day 1: Bucharest Explore Bucharest, the capital of Romania. Overnight in Bucharest. Day 2: Bucharest - Târgoviste - Curtea de Argeș (118 miles/ 191 km) Drive to Târgoviște and visit the Princely Court (the authentic Dracula’s Castle). From Târgoviște continue to Curtea de Argeș to visit the 16th century Curtea de Argeș Monastery (Mănăstirea Curtea de Argeș) and the 14th century Princely Court (Curtea Domnească). Overnight in Curtea de Argeș. Day 3: Curtea de Argeș - Câmpulung - Bran - Brașov (81 miles/ 131 km) From Curtea de Argeș to Bran, drive over the Carpathian Mountains (through Bran-Rucăr Pass). Visit Bran (Dracula’s) Castle. Spend a night in a private farm and enjoy homemade cheeses and grilled lamb pastrami or continue to Brașov (16 miles northeast). Day 4: Brașov Stroll around Brașov’s medieval section and learn about the city’s rich history. Overnight in Brașov. Day 5: Brașov - Sinaia - Bucharest (103 miles/ 166 km) Return to Bucharest via Sinaia, where Peleș Castle, former summer residence of the Royal family, awaits. Wine enthusiasts can stop in the town of Azuga for lunch and wine tasting at Rhein Cellars. 3. Bucharest and the Painted Monasteries Itinerary: Bucharest - Suceava - Sighișoara - Brașov - Sinaia Duration: 5 days Best way of transportation: car or train and car
Day 1: Bucharest to Suceava (282 miles/ 455 km) Travel from Bucharest to Suceava - by express train (6 hours) or by car. Overnight in Suceava or in Gura Humorului. There are also non-stop flights from Bucharest or from Vienna (Austria) to Iasi (90 miles southeast of Suceava).
Day 2: The Painted Monasteries (108 miles/ 175 km) Visit the unique monasteries of Bucovina: Voroneţ, Suceviţa, Moldoviţa and Humor (car rental or tour/ transportation arranged locally). Day 3: Return to Bucharest or Vienna Travel to Suceava or Iași for your flight back home or continue to Bucharest on land, crossing Transylvania: The Painted Monasteries – Sighișoara (182 miles/ 294 km) Take the scenic route to Sighișoara via Bicaz Gorges. En route to Sighișoara stop in Corund and visit the local pottery workshops. Overnight in Sighișoara. Day 4: Sighișoara - Brașov (72 miles/ 116 km) Sightseeing in Sighișoara, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Spend the day seeing the sights, such as the Clock Tower, Church on the Hill, Scholars’ Wooden Staircase, Venetian House, Hermann Oberth Square. Travel to Brașov (train or car). Overnight in Brașov. Day 5: Brașov to Bucharest (103 miles/ 166 km) Take the train or drive to Bucharest. En route to Bucharest stop in Sinaia to visit the Peleș Castle. 4. Bucharest to Budapest (Hungary) Itinerary: Bucharest - Brașov - Sighișoara - Cluj - Oradea Budapest Duration: 5 days Best way of transportation: car or train Day 1: Bucharest - Sinaia - Brașov (103 miles/ 166 km) Travel from Bucharest to Sinaia and visit the Peleș Castle. Continue to Brașov and see its Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance buildings, among other sights. Overnight in Brașov. Day 2: Brașov - Sighișoara (72 miles/ 116km) Travel to Sighișoara; see one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns. Overnight in Sighișoara. Day 3: Sighișoara - Cluj-Napoca (100 miles/ 162 km) Travel to Cluj-Napoca. Discover the city’s architecture. See paintings dating from the Middle Ages housed in the 18th-century Banffy Palace. Learn about the region at the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania. Overnight in ClujNapoca. Day 4: Cluj-Napoca - Oradea (95 miles/ 153 km) Drive or take the train to Oradea, a city known for its Art Nouveau architecture. Visit the “Church with Moon” and
Rules of the Road
Minimum driving age is 18. U.S. and Canadian driver’s licenses are valid for driving in Romania. Driving is on the right side of the road. Passengers in the front seat of a car must wear seatbelts at all times. Children under 12 years of age must ride in the back seat. Speed limits are 50 km/h (31 mph) in build-up areas, 90 km/h (56 mph) on main roads and 110 km/h (70 mph) on highways unless posted otherwise. The use of cellular phones while driving is prohibited. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense and penalties are severe. In case of a car accident do not leave the site, call the police and make sure that you get a copy of the Police Report.
Museum of the Criș Rivers, housed in a 1770 Baroque palace. Overnight in Oradea. Day 5: Oradea to Budapest (Hungary) (155 miles/ 250 km) Take the train to Budapest and explore the capital of Hungary or discover the traditional villages of Maramureș (please see itinerary #9). Starting from Cluj-Napoca: 5. Transylvania’s ‘Siebenburgen’ Itinerary: Cluj - Sighișoara - Brașov - Sibiu - Cluj Duration: 4 days Best way of transportation: car or train
Day 1: Cluj-Napoca - Sighișoara (100 miles/ 162 km) In Cluj-Napoca, visit the Art Museum, housed in the 18th century Banffy Palace, to view collections of weaponry and Romanian paintings dating from the Middle Ages. Sightseeing: Old Town’s architecture, the Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania, St Michael Cathedral, the Botanical Gardens. Drive/ take the train to Sighișoara. Overnight in Sighișoara. Day 2: Sighișoara - Brasov (72 miles/ 116 km) Discover Europe’s best preserved medieval town. Spend the morning seeing the sights, such as the Clock Tower, the Guild Tower; Venetian House, Antler House, Scholar‘s Wooden
Getting Around by Rental Car
Car is the best way to explore the Romanian countryside. It allows visitors to reach remote areas and take advantage of myriad photo opportunities they’ll find even during short drives. A hired car will save you a lot of time when visiting attractions such as the Painted Monasteries in Bucovina and the traditional villages in Maramures. When renting a car in Europe, please check with the car rental company about its policy regarding taking the car across national borders. Independent travelers entering Romania by car (own or abroad rental) need to obtain a road toll badge, called RoVigneta. RoVigneta is available at any border-crossing point, postal office and most gas stations. Avoid fines by buying the toll badge at the border. Romania’s major roads are safe and well maintained. The Romanian Automobile Association (ACR or Automobil Clubul Roman) offers 24 hour roadside assistance. Call: (021) 222 22 22 or visit www.acr.ro
Staircase, Church on the Hill, Hermann Oberth Square. Have lunch in the house where Vlad Ţepes (Dracula) was born. Travel to Brașov. Overnight in Brașov. Day 3: Brașov - Sibiu (87 miles/ 141 km) Explore Brașov’s outstanding old town built by Saxons in 1400s. Travel from Brașov to Sibiu (train, bus or car). Overnight in Sibiu. Day 4: Sibiu - Alba lulia - Cluj-Napoca (104 miles/ 168 km) Visit Sibiu’s Bruckenthal Palace and its rich art collections. Other attractions in Sibiu include Little Square (Craftsmen’s Square), Bridge of Lies, Goldsmith’s Square, the Orthodox Cathedral, several centuries- old churches and the City Hall Tower. Visit the nearby traditional village of Sibiel. Return to Cluj-Napoca.
latter known as the “Sistine Chapel of the East.” Overnight at a hotel in Gura Humorului or in one of the many B&Bs (Pensiune) in the nearby towns.
Starting from Timișoara 6. Western Romania’s Architecture Itinerary: Timișoara - Arad - Oradea - Timișoara Duration: 3 days Best way of transportation: car or train Day 1: Timișoara A walking tour of Western Romania’s largest city starts in Union Square (Piaţa Unirii), a grand square built in Viennese style flanked by colorful 18th and 19th century buildings. The Freedom Square (Piaţa Libertaţii) offers a great display of 19th century architecture. The town’s main gathering place is Victory Square (Piaţa Victoriei), lined with cafes, bookstores and shops. - Timișoara was the first European city to introduce horsedrawn trams (in 1869) and electrical street lighting (in 1889) - The Metropolitan Cathedral was built on a swamp and it has 5000 oak supports underneath it. Day 2: Timișoara - Arad - Oradea (102 miles/ 165 km) Travel to centuries-old Arad to see some impressive turn-of-thecentury buildings, such as the neoclassical City Hall (1876), the Palace of Culture (1913) and the Red Church. Do not miss the Roman Catholic Church, with its Baroque interior; and the imposing Orthodox Cathedral. On Revolutiei Boulevard there is an Art Gallery exhibiting furniture from the 17th century on. Continue your journey to Oradea. Overnight in Oradea. Day 3: Oradea - Timișoara (102 miles/ 165 km) Spend the day in Oradea, one of the most picturesque towns in western Romania. Discover the city’s “Sezzession” architecture. Return to Timișoara or continue northeast to Maramureș, one of Romania’s most unique, traditional, rural areas. Starting from Iași 7. The Painted Monasteries Itinerary: Iași - The Painted Monasteries - Iași Duration: 3 days Best way of transportation: car Day 1: Iași Fly in from Bucharest or from Vienna or take the express train from Bucharest to Iași and rent a car. Drive to the centuriesold Cotnari vineyards. Take a wine tasting tour and try some of Romania’s finest sweet white wines: Grasa de Cotnari, Tamâioasă and Fetească Albă. Enjoy dinner in a monastery and a Byzantine vocal concert by students at the Theological Institute of lași. Overnight in lași. Day 2: Iași - The Painted Monasteries Area Drive northwest to Gura Humorului and discover the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina. Visit the three best-preserved 15th century monasteries: Moldoviţa, Suceviţa and Voroneţ, the
Day 3: The Painted Monasteries Area - Iași Return to Iași. Iași is often overlooked by many visitors but the city continues to be one of Romania’s most important cultural centres and home to the country’s first university. In 1565, Iași became the capital of the historic province of Moldova and for a short period of time, from 1859 until 1862, the capital of Romania. Iasi is among the very few cities in the world which have more than 100 Orthodox churches. Starting from Budapest (Hungary) or FROM VIENNA (AUSTRIA) 8. Hiking, Caving and Rural Life in Central Romania Itinerary: Budapest (Hungary) - Cluj - Câmpeni - Cluj - Oradea - Budapest Duration: 4 days Best way of transportation: car or train and car Day 1: Budapest - Cluj-Napoca (250 miles/ 403 km) Leave Budapest in the morning, travel to Cluj. Approximate travel time: one hour by plane, six hours by car or eight hours by train. Overnight in Cluj. Day 2: Cluj-Napoca - Câmpeni (69 miles/ 111 km) Rent a car in Cluj and take the scenic drive to Campeni, via Lake Fântânele. Drive (2 hours) through great mountain scenery and quaint villages. Sightseeing and hiking in the area (Apuseni Mountains). Overnight in a bed and breakfast in Câmpeni, Albac or any other village in the area. Day 3: Câmpeni - Scărișoara - Cluj-Napoca (94 miles/ 151 km) Explore Scărișoara Cave (elevation 3,950 feet), home to one of the largest underground glaciers in Europe. Return to Cluj (2 hours by car) or travel to Oradea (3 hours by car) where you will spend the night. You may also choose to spend a second night in the Apuseni Mountains and prepare your next day visit to the Bears’ Cave (Peștera Urșilor). Day 4: Cluj-Napoca or Oradea - Budapest (250 miles or 155 miles/ 403 km or 250 km) Return from Cluj or from Oradea to Budapest or, if you chose to extend your stay, explore the Bears’ Cave. Travel to Oradea (3 hours by car).
9. The traditional Villages of Maramureș Itinerary: Budapest - Oradea - Satu Mare - Maramureș villages Duration: 4 days Best way of transportation: car or train and car Day 1: Budapest - Oradea - Satu Mare (238 miles/ 384 km) Leave Budapest and travel to Oradea (4 hours by train). Rent a car in Oradea or hire a local guide. Travel northeast to Satu Mare. Overnight in Satu Mare. Sightseeing in Satu Mare: the impressive Secession buildings in the Great Square. Day 2: Satu Mare - Săpânţa - Botiza (94 miles/ 151 km) After breakfast travel east to the village of Săpânţa. Sightseeing: the Merry Cemetery. Continue 12 miles east to the town of Sighetul Marmaţiei. Discover Maramureș’ villages such as Vadul Izei, Bârsana and Botiza. In Bârsana visit the workshop of master wood-carver Toader Bârsan, who represented Maramureș at the 2001 Smithsonian Festival in Washington, DC. Observe rural life, the traditional costumes still worn by the villagers, and the specific architecture. Overnight in a Maramureș village
Day 3: Botiza - Oradea (177 miles/ 285 km) Sightseeing: some of the area’s wooden churches: Poienile Izei - famous for its representation of Hell on its main door, Ieud featuring the oldest church in the entire region, Bogdan Vodă and Surdești – the tallest wooden church in the world (steeple 160 feet high). Ovenight in Oradea. Day 4: Oradea - Budapest (155 miles/ 250 km) Take the train or drive from Oradea to Budapest. This itinerary can be extended with one or two days to include the Painted Monasteries in Bucovina.
Romania by Rail
Romania’s well-maintained railway network covers practically the entire country: Trains are still a popular means of travel among Romanians. They are inexpensive and have a good ontime rate. Three services are offered. The cheapest (and slowest) are Local Trains - Regional (R); faster but more expensive are the Express Trains - Inter-Regional (IR) for which travelers must buy a seat assignment along with their ticket. The fastest are Inter-City Trains (IC). The last two types of trains have dining cars; overnight or long-distance trains also have sleepers. Train enthusiasts, be they groups or individuals, can rent one of nine steam trains that date from the 1920s and ‘30s, some of which have been restored to provide a luxury travel experience. For information on train schedules and fares, visit www.RomaniaTourism.com.
10.The Danube Delta – Europe ’s Everglades A boat ride into the sunset, wine tasting at a monastery lost in time, a fishing trip with the locals and fresh caviar served on the banks of Lake Samova in the Danube Delta, one of Europe’s last unspoiled and remote wildernesses. Itinerary: Bucharest - Tulcea - the Danube Delta Duration: 4 days Best way of transportation: train or car to Tulcea, then boat Day 1: Bucharest - Tulcea - the Danube Delta (195 miles) Arrive in Bucharest. Transfer to Delta Nature Resort. The Delta Nature Resort is an elegant and luxurious retreat, recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the Top 10 eco-resorts in the world. Sunset boat trip along meandering channels of the Danube Delta while sampling local wines from the Sarica Niculiţel vineyards, such as Aligote, Fetească Regală and Pinot Noir. Relaxed dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, overlooking Somova Lake. Day 2: the Danube Delta After breakfast, head out, by boat, to Saon Monastery. Built in 1846, this religious retreat is home to some 40 nuns who run an organic farm on the banks of picturesque Lake Parcheş. Lunch, prepared by the nuns from local organic products, at the monastery. Return by boat to the hotel, via Delta channels teaming with dozens of species of birds, including the largest colony of white pelicans in Europe. Traditional Danube Delta dinner: Caviar and fresh fish from the Danube River and nearby Black Sea. On the menu will also be the delicious local salad, Salata Dobrogeana, and Saramura, an entrée prepared from broiled carp served with polenta and garlic sauce. A selection of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Muscat Ottonel wines from Murfatlar vineyards will be served to quench the thirst. Day 3: the Danube Delta After breakfast, explore some of the main channels and lakes of the Delta while fishing for carp, catfish, zander and perch. Hear the call of an egret, spot a group of pelicans lifting gracefully into the air or catch sight of other rare species, such as the pygmy cormorant or the red-breasted goose. For lunch sample the traditional fisherman’s soup prepared fresh in one of the villages en route. In the afternoon, visit the Danube Delta Natural History Museum in Tulcea where you will learn more about the Delta, the third most biodiverse in the world. Overnight in Tulcea. Day 4: The Danube Delta - Tulcea - Bucharest (195 miles) After breakfast, departure to Bucharest for your return flight or continue your Romania Discovery Journey.
How to say it in Romanian Train Station . . . . . . . . . . Gara / Staţie de Tren Train . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tren Platform. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Peron / Linia Car. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vagon Restaurant (Car). . . . . . . . Vagon Restaurant Sleeper (Car) . . . . . . . . . . Vagon de Dormit (reserved) Seat . . . . . . . . . Loc (rezervat) Berth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Loc vagon de dormit Departure. . . . . . . . . . . . . Plecare Arrival . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sosire Connection . . . . . . . . . . . Legatura / Schimb Ticket Office . . . . . . . . . . Casa de Bilete Ticket. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bilet Luggage Storage. . . . . . . . Birou de Bagaje / Bagaje de mână
Essential Information Travel Formalities: U.S., Canadian and Australian visitors do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. A valid passport is all that is required to enter Romania. There is no arrival or departure tax. Getting to Romania: Bucharest is less than two hours by plane from most cities in central Europe. Austrian Airlines offers daily connections to Bucharest, Timișoara, Cluj, Sibiu, Iași and Baia Mare from several cities in the U.S. and Canada. Delta Airlines operates seasonal, nonstop, flights from New York to Bucharest. Driving in Romania: Minimum driving age is 18. Driving is on the right side of the road. Independent motorists driving into Romania from neighboring countries need to purchase a Road Toll Badge called “Rovigneta”. Climate: Romania has a temperate climate, with four distinct seasons, similar to the northeastern United States. Spring is pleasant with cool mornings and nights and warm days. Summer may be quite warm, with extended sunny days. Autumn is dry and cool while winter can be cold, especially in the mountains. While not the rule, abundant snowfalls may occur throughout the country, from December to mid-February. Hotels: Hotels and other types of accommodations in Romania are licensed and periodically inspected by the Romanian Ministry of Tourism. As in most countries in Europe, Romanian hotels are rated by stars, from one to five, five stars being the best possible rating. Hotel rankings in Romania rely heavily on the diversity of facilities offered, such as an on-site restaurant or pool. However, the number of stars may not always reflect the level of service and attention to detail. Most hotels offer a breakfast buffet at no extra charge. Rack rates include the sales tax (TVA). Local taxes (0.5% - 5%) are additional. Currency: Romania’s currency is Leu (RON), plural “Lei”. Banknote denomi nations: 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 200 and 500 lei. Coins: 1, 5, 10 and 50 bani coins (1 leu = 100 bani). Foreign currencies may be exchanged at banks or authorized currency exchange offices. Larger hotels also offer currency exchange services.
ATM (Bancomat): ATMs are available at main banks, at airports and shopping centers. ATMs are rarely found in remote areas or villages. When visiting rural regions it is a good idea to carry cash. Credit Cards: Major credit cards, including American Express, MasterCard and Visa, are accepted in hotels, restaurants and stores in the main cities. However, in small towns or away from tourist areas credit cards acceptance is still limited. Health: No immunizations or special health precautions are necessary. Romania has no infectious risks and there are no poisonous insects. Water: Tap water is safe to drink. Bottled water is inexpensive and widely available. Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in most public places, including on planes, buses and some trains. Smoking is still permitted in most restaurants. Unfortunately, some of those who do smoke have little consciousness of non-smokers’ comfort. Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50 cycles. Outlets take plugs with two round prongs. A power adapter is necessary for appliances requiring 110 volts. Disabled Visitors: Access for people with disabilities to Romania’s tourist facilities and attractions has improved in recent years, and it is a priority. However, it is advisable to check with all service providers prior to your visit, ensuring that they are able to meet your particular needs.
Language: Romanian is a phonetic language. Want to Say it in Romanian? Just read all the letters in a word. A few specific letters and groups of letters need to be said with sounds familiar to English-speaking people: Letter ă â or î e i j ș ţ ce ge gi che chi ghe ghi
Pronunciation [s] (as in father / fathăr) (as in lesson / lessân) (as in tell / tell) [e] (as in pick /pick) [s] (as in leisure / leijre) [ƒ] (as in shoe / șoe) [ts] (as in fits / fiţ) [tƒe] (as in check / ceck) [dse] (as in gender / gender) [dsi] (as in gin / gin) [ke] (as in chemical) [ki] (as in king/ ching) [ge] (as in guess / ghess) [gi] (as in give / ghive)
Emergency: General emergency phone number: 112 U.S. Consulate (021) 200.33.00 Canadian Consulate (021) 307.50.00 Australian Consulate (021) 316.75.58 Disclaimer: The goal of this brochure is to provide you with a general introduction to Romania. Because of changes in conditions and circumstances some changes may occur. Therefore the accuracy of the information in this brochure cannot be guaranteed. For latest updates please call the nearest Romanian Tourist Office or visit www.RomaniaTourism.com .
Romanian National Tourist Office - North America 355 Lexington Avenue, Floor 8 New York, NY 10017 www.RomaniaTourism.com Telephone: 1 212 545 8484 firstname.lastname@example.org
From the world to Romania.
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