Peles Castle
Peles Castle

Romanian Archaeology

9 days From £1,995

17 September 2019

Throughout history Romania has stood at the frontier of empires, having been part of the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire and more recently the Communist empire that spread west from Soviet Russia after the Second World War. Now fully open to the west and developing fast, Romania offers a rich and varied archaeological and historical heritage, from relics of the ancient kingdom of Dacia (82BC-106AD) to Roman ruins, former Saxon-German colonies and dramatic castles.

We take you to the heart of Romania, starting in the glorious capital city of Bucharest. As we start to unravel Romania’s timeline we discover the medieval town of Sibiu, founded in the 12th century by Saxon settlers and the later town of Sighișoara, famed for its Swiss clock tower. Romania’s rich history has seen many civilisations pass through, none of which are more apparent than in Ulpia Traiana. Once the former capital of Roman Dacia, all that remains of this great city now are the ruins of what was once the political, administrative and religious centre of Dacia. We pass spectacular scenery such as the much understated Orăștie mountains and the Bucegi mountains, where the snow-capped peaks are dotted with alpine forests. Bram Stoker’s novel, Count Dracula, is synonymous with the region and on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia stands the magnificent Bran Castle, which with its imposing towers and turrets is often thought of as Dracula’s lair.

What's included?

  •  Flights
  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
Book Now £1,995 Deposit: £200 Single supplement: £280

Tour highlights:

  • The National Museum of History, containing treasures from all over Romania
  • Two thousand years of history all in one place at Alba Iulia
  • The remarkable sanctuaries of Sarmisegetuza Regia
  • More vampire legends than you can shake a clove of garlic at!

Tour details

Dates 17 September 2019 - 25 September 2019
Duration 9 days
Cost £1,995 Deposit: £200 Single supplement: £280 Balance due by 25 June 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code BWROM19B

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

17 September 2019: Itinerary

We depart this morning from London on a direct flight to Bucharest. On arrival we will be met by our local guide and coach and transfer to our hotel in Pitești, to the north-west of Bucharest, a city surrounded by hills, at the heart of an area rich in vineyards and plum orchards. During the early days of the Communist regime it was one of the main sites of political repression, with the prison becoming notorious as a centre for experimental brainwashing techniques. Dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Dinner

Following breakfast this morning we depart for Sibiu, a medieval town founded in the 12th century by Saxon settlers, which became the most important of Transylvania’s ‘seven cities’. It remains a charming old town with narrow lanes, medieval houses, churches, merchants’ guild house and the Brukenthal Palace, which houses one of Romania’s largest and oldest museums.

After lunch, we continue to Sebeș, our stop for tonight. Originally a Dacian settlement, later incorporated into the Roman Empire, Sebeș was also settled by the Saxons in the 12th century, and it flourished economically and politically during the Middle Ages.

All meals included

Today, after breakfast, we head for Sarmizegetusa, where we visit the ruins of Ulpia Traiana, the former capital of Roman Dacia. Built on the ground of a camp of the Fifth Macedonian Legion, the city was populated with veterans of the Dacian wars. It received from the beginning the title of colonia and the status of Ius Italicum. With an area of 30 hectares and a population of 20,000 – 25,000 and strong fortifications, Ulpia Traiana was the political, administrative and religious centre of Dacia Romana in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The city was destroyed by the Goths and today Ulpia Traiana remains in ruins, with a partly conserved forum, an amphitheatre and the remnants of several temples.

We continue with a visit to the greatest Gothic-style castle in Romania, Hunyad’s Castle, which was built by the Anjou family on the site of a former Roman camp. The castle served as a fortress until the mid-14th century when it became the residence of Transylvania's ruler, Iancu de Hunedoara. Iancu upgraded the fortress transforming it into the most stunning castle in Transylvania. The beautifully preserved structure features a sumptuous Knights' Hall, an impressive drawbridge, high buttresses, inner courtyards, a chapel and some 50 rooms resplendent with medieval art. Also known as Corvin Castle or Hunedoara’s Castle, Hunyad is sometimes claimed to be the inspiration Bram Stoker’s Castle Dracula, though there is little real evidence of this.

We return to our hotel in Sebes, where dinner is served in the evening.

All meals included

After breakfast today we exchange our coach for 4-wheel drive vehicles, in order to negotiate the gravel roads that will take us 1200 metres up into the Orastie mountains, where we will find Sarmisegetuza Regia, the capital of pre-Roman Dacia. The site is actually a complex of sanctuaries, of which the most remarkable are “Sanctuarul Mare Rotund” (The Big Rounded Sanctuary) and “Soarele de andezit” (The Andesite Sun). Most archaeologists assert that the city was raised between the 3rd and the 2nd century before Christ, while others maintain that it would be at least 600 years older than that. One of the reasons of this dispute could be the striking resemblance of the Big Rounded Sanctuary with those of Stonehenge, though on a smaller scale. Parallels have also been drawn between the Andesite Sun and the Mayan calendar.

In the afternoon we drive to Alba Iulia. The gentle climate and rich soil made the surrounding area habitable since ancient times and established Alba as a leading wine growing region from the 1st century AD. One of the oldest settlements in Romania, known in ancient times as Apulum, Alba Iulia served as the largest military and economic centre during the Roman occupation. With temples, mosaics, statues and amphitheatres, the original Dacian settlement became a miniature copy of Mother Rome. The ‘Three Fortifications’ route offers a journey through two thousand years of history, featuring the remains of three fortifications from different eras, successively built on the same location – the Roman fort (106AD), the medieval fortress (16th - 17th centuries) and the Alba Carolina Citadel (a Vauban fortification from the 18th century).

We continue to the picturesque little town of Sighișoara, whose buildings range from the 13th to the 19th centuries and include a fine 15th century church and a sturdy clocktower, whose clock was made by the same Swiss watchmakers behind the famous clock in Prague. Founded in the 13th century by German immigrants, the town is also famous as the birthplace of Vlad Dracul, the inspiration behind the fictional Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel.

Dinner is served in the evening at our hotel here in Sighișoara.

All meals included

Following breakfast we depart for Brasov, fringed by the peaks of the Southern Carpathian Mountains and resplendent with gothic, baroque and renaissance architecture, as well as a wealth of historical attractions. Founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211 on an ancient Dacian site and settled by the Saxons as one of the seven walled citadels, Brasov exudes a distinctly medieval ambience. Its German name, Kronstadt, as well as in its Latin name, Corona, both mean Crown City, hence the coat of arms of the city which is a crown with oak roots. Brasov is home to what is said to be the narrowest street in Europe. Rope Street (Strada Sforii) is approximately four feet wide and links Cerbului Street with Poarta Schei Street. The street was initially used as an access route by firemen.

Dinner is served at our hotel in Brasov this evening.

All meals included

After breakfast we depart this morning for Bran Castle, which is often referred to as Dracula’s Castle, although, as with Hunyad’s Castle, there is no evidence to suggest that Bram Stoker knew of the castle’s existence. However, it is known that Prince Vlad Tepes, the son of Vlad Dracul (see above), used this castle as headquarters for his incursions into Transylvania. Vlad Tepes ruled in the 15th century and became known as “Vlad the Impaler” for his practice of impaling enemies of the kingdom, which was greatly threatened by the Ottoman Turks at the time. Whatever the truth about the Dracula connection, there is no denying that Bran Castle certainly looks the part, with its imposing position and its many towers and turrets.

We continue to the winter ski resort of Sinaia at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains, where we will tour Peles Castle. Set dramatically in the hills above Sinaia, this 160-room palace, built in German Renaissance style, was completed in 1914 for the first Hohenzollern king of Romania, Carol I. The castle was the king's attempt to imitate the styles of his former homeland, creating a Bavarian setting in the mountains of Romania. The castle's sculpture terraces, art displays, and historic armouries make it one of Romania's most important and beautiful museums. The palace is ornately decorated, inside and out, with intricate woodcarvings and paintings of scenes from Wagner's operas.

Later we return to our hotel in Bucharest, where dinner is served in the evening.

All meals included

After breakfast this morning we depart for Constanta, known in ancient times as Tomis, on the Black Sea coast, travelling across the fertile plains of Romania and crossing the River Danube, where we will see Anghel Saligny’s railway bridge which at the time of its completion in 1895 was the longest bridge in Europe.

We continue with a visit to Histria, the largest excavation site in Romania. It was an ancient Milesian apoikia (trading colony) from the 7th century BC, which was subsequently abandoned. Most of the visible monuments are Late Roman in date, including city walls, baths and several Christian basilicas.

Dinner is served in the evening at our hotel in Constanta.

All meals included

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and cross the Dobrudja region from east to west for a visit to Adamclisi to see the Tropaeum Traiani, the triumphal monument erected in celebration of Trajan’s victory over the Dacians - the provincial counterpart to Trajan’s column in Rome, one of the very few such monuments which still survives.

Later we return to Bucharest, Romania’s capital city since 1862, where we have a panoramic tour, followed by a visit to the National Museum of History, containing treasures from all over Romania, including life size replicas of the reliefs of Trajan’s column in Rome. The museum’s ‘treasury’ is also very impressive displaying Romania’s most valuable artefacts, including much gold and silver, from prehistory to the modern era.

Dinner is served in our hotel here in Bucharest.

All meals included

After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our return flight to London, where on arrival the group will disperse or make onward connections.

Meals include: Breakfast

17 September 2019: Additional Info

17 September 2019: Accommodation

17 September 2019: Enquiries

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