Vlad Tepes “the Impaler” vs Count Dracula
History vs Legend
Romania is a country where history, religion, folk art and nature blend magically, creating one of the most sought-after lands. Adding the legends to the already rich old Romanian history is a bonus, for those who dare venture to the mythical sites. Vlad Tepes “the Impaler” could be one reason why you should choose to visit Romania.
An exciting wander through medieval Romania – feel the history, taste the legends
DAY 1: Bucharest
Welcome in Romania! Transfer from airport to the hotel in Bucharest. After dinner the group will have a get-to-know evening at the hotel in order to get acquainted to one another and to be briefly informed about the program of the whole program (D). Accommodation in Bucharest.
DAY 2: Bucharest – Targoviste – Curtea de Arges – Sibiu (320km)
Your tour logically starts in Bucharest, the 500 years old capital of Romania with a visit to the Old Princely Court ruins. The oldest document attesting the city’s origin under the name of Bucuresti was discovered in the Old Court Museum area; it was issued on September 20, 1459 and signed by Prince Vlad Tepes.
Continue on to Targoviste, a throne residence of Wallachia between 1396–1659, known for the Princely Court (14th -17th centuries) and for the Chindia Watch Tower, dating from the 15th century, built during the reign of Vlad Tepes.
A short drive will take you to Curtea de Arges, founded in the first decades of the 14th century by Wallachian Prince Radu Negru. A stunning arhitectural gem is the 14th century Curtea de Arges Monastery, with its two towers spiralling in opposite directions. The monastery is the resting place for two of the Romanian Kings and their wives: King Carol I and King Ferdinand I.
Next stop are the ruins of Poienari Castle; a real challenge for the visitors. The castle is located on a cliff on a canyon formed by the Argeş River valley. It was built around the 13th century by Wallachia’s rulers. In the 15th century, realizing the potential of a fortress perched high on a steep precipice, Vlad Tepes consolidated the structure. Due to its size and location, control of the castle was difficult to take. To reach the castle, visitors need to climb about 1,480 steps.
Drive through the impressive Olt valley to Sibiu. Accommodation in Sibiu. (B, L)
DAY 3: Sibiu – Sighisoara (100km)
Sibiu, European Cultural Capital in 2007, is a beautiful addition to the medieval atmosphere. Even having a short time to take in the old part of the city, you will fall in love with its narrow streets , large squares, cozy buildings.
We will visit Biertan (UNESCO) for the saxon fortified church from here second largest from south-east of Europe.
Drive to Sighisoara medieval citadel; built by the Saxons in the 12th Century, it rises above the town and is situated in the midst of Transylvania province.
Sighisoara, the best preserved inhabited medieval citadel in Europe, is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site; pay a visit to the Clock Tower Museum, climb the covered wooden steps to the Church on the hill, take a peek to Vlad Dracul House, where Prince Vlad Tepes, nicknamed Dracula, was born. The house has been turned into a restaurant and a museum that keep the old atmosphere. Passing through the town’s narrow streets with original architecture, cobbled alleys, steep stairways, secluded squares and towers, is like stepping back in time.
Accommodation in Sighisoara (B, L)
A great tip: if you ever come to Romania in August don’t miss the famous “Medieval Art and Theatre Festival” that takes place a full week in Sighisoara, where arts and crafts blend with rock music and stage plays.
DAY 4: Sighisoara – Prejmer – Brasov (150km)
Sighisoara–morning wandering in the citadel for the last impressions. Leaving Sighisoara, passing through beautiful old Saxon villages, arrive at Prejmer fortified church, the biggest fortified church in Southeastern Europe, built in the 14th century. Inside its walls there is a church, but the main attraction here is the honeycomb like inner wall.
A short drive will take you to Brasov, a medieval trading centre, the second largest city in Romania, strategically situated at the meeting point of the three Romanian principalities: Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania. You may visit the Black Church, so called because of a 1689 fire; drive slowly to old Schei District of Brasov, to visit St. Nicolas of Schei Church, built between 1518-1598, where you can see actual 16th century books and documents of great value, as well as the first printing machines. Enjoy a special traditional dinner at a native restaurant.
Accommodation in Brasov or Poiana Brasov mountain resort (B, D)
DAY 5: Brasov – Bran – Snagov – Bucharest (170km)
Early morning departure to Bran Castle, widely known as Dracula’s Castle, built at the beginning of the 13th century by Knight Dietrich of the Teutonic Order. The Castle had a strategic mission being the border between Transylvania and Wallachia. First it was under the rule of the King of Hungary Sigismund of Luxemburg, of the Romanian voievodes Mircea cel Batran and Vlad Tepes and later on it came under the jurisdiction of the City of Brasov. The Castle in the XX century was donated to the Royal Family and became a royal residence. The museum is opened for the visitors preserving the future from that period.
A scenic drive will take you to Peles Royal Castle; situated in Sinaia mountain resort, it is a masterpiece of German New-Renaissance architecture. Former summer residence of the Royal Family, it is now one of Romania’s most beautiful museums, displaying priceless collections of weaponry, hand woven silk rugs and furniture, ceramics and sculptures.
Continue South to Snagov Monastery, located on an island in the northern part of Snagov Lake, some 38 km from Bucharest. It was built by Mircea the Old (grandfather of Vlad Tepes), who attested the church in 1408. The monastery was rebuilt by Vlad the Impaler and some other rulers of Wallachia and is the supposed resting place of Vlad Tepes. Accommodation in Bucharest (B, D)
DAY 6: depart Bucharest
Bucharest – transfer from hotel to airport (B).
· Accommodation: 5 night’s at selected hotels
· Buffet Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner as per program (3 course menu, mineral water)
· Entrance fees to the tourists sites as per program
· Transportation throughout itinerary by car / minibus/bus
· R/T airport transfers
· English speaking guide assistance throughout itinerary
· All local taxes (luggage handling is not included)
Price does not include:
· Air tickets, travel insurance, luggage handling, tipping
· Photo & Video taxes and permissions where necessary
· Any meals and drinks not included in the programme
· Any items of personal belonging such as laundry, mini bar, phone, fax, etc.;
Note: – Museums are closed on Mondays
– Peles Castle is closed on Mondays (winter time closed also on Tuesdays)
– The Black Church is closed on Mondays (short program on Sundays)
Meet the hero of the tour!
Vlad Tepes (the Impaler), ruler of Wallachia, was born in Sighisoara, in Transylvania, in 1431. Vlad Dracul, his father, was a Knight of the Dragon Order, a chivalric order from Eastern Europe, whose main goal was to hold back the expansion of the Ottoman Empire . The crest of this Order, representing a dragon (the Turks) and a cross (Christian symbol), covered all Vlad Dracul’s flags, coins and seal.
Sadism reputed, Vlad Tepes was nevertheless revered by his people, for the campaigns against the Turks. He was esteemed as a fighter, as well as a fair ruler, who built up several monasteries during his reign. He was as venerated a hero, as dreaded by his people.
In his “Legende des Siecles”, Victor Hugo describes how Vlad Tepes “welcomed” Mahomed the II’s invading army in Walachia: marching towards Targoviste – capital of Wallachia, the Turkish soldiers were terrified by the sight of the burnt houses, the scorched fields, the poisoned fountains. But the worst was yet to come: by the walls of the citadel where Vlad Tepes was sheltered, there was a forest of dead Turkish soldiers. Horrified and panic-stricken by the smell of the 20.000 impaled bodies, the Turks withdrew, acknowledging their defeat.
For the Romanians, Vlad Tepes’ reign is a remainder of a time when one could drink water at the citadel fountain, from a golden cup, that nobody would ever steal. Historical sources confirm the existence of this cup, by the fountain, until the day of Vlad Tepes’ death.