POINTS of INTEREST around PREDEAL (highlights ) enclosed in the suggested tours
PREDEAL (mountain resort )(In German Schanzpass) is the highest altitude town (1.030-1.110 m). surrounded by old firtree forests with the cleanest freshair from Eastern Europe, the best mountain and ski resort of Romania !Predeal is Placed on PrahovaValley with mountain resorts spreading across it. Wide and deeply carved by the homonymous river, the PrahovaValley is an unforgettable display of the splendors nature most generously holds out. It is a narrow corridor between Transylvania and Wallachia, an ancient road that is crossed by both rail and motorways, making it one of the most visited routes in Romania.Predeal is one of the most appreaciated Romanian winter resorts that offers a dream like scenery. The resort it is located in Brasov county, on the summit separating the PrahovaValley from the TimisValley and it is surrounded by BucegiMountains, PostavaruMountains and PiatraMareMountains.
SINAIA mountain resort (20 km far from Predeal)– which served as a residence for the Royal family. Sinaia began developing into an important settlement with the construction of the famous SINAIA Monastery in 1695. The fast pace of Sinaia`s growth is connected to the development, in the south Carpathian area, of the extractive and oil processing industries, and to the construction of the road connecting it to Bucharest at the end of the 18th century. The construction of the railway (1879) and of PelesCastle followed. Sinaia was declared a town in 1880, thus being one of the oldest urban mountain settlements in the country.
SINAIA a picturesque mountain resort, has always been linked to the Romanian Royal Family. Established in the 17th century by the rulers of Wallachia, Sinaia grew in importance after the 1860’s, when Carol I, Romania’s first king, decided to build here the PELES CASTLE (www.peles.ro) that was to be used as a Royal Residence. The castle took 39 years to complete, since it was a very complex architectural entity, and one of the most modern buildings of its time (it had electricity, central heating, electrical elevator and an integrated vacuum cleaning system, all this in the 1880’s. The complex PELES CASTLE and PELISOR CASTLE – here is one of the best-preserved royal palaces in Europe. The Castle is full of ornaments the inside as well as on the outside, and features elaborate wood sculptures and paintings representing scenes from the works of German composer Richard Wagner.By form and function, Peleş is a palace, but it is consistently called a castle. Its architectural style is a romantically inspired blend Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival similar to Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. A Saxon influence can be observed in the interior courtyard facades, which have allegorical hand-painted murals and ornate fachwerk similar to that seen in northern European alpine architecture. Interior decoration is mostly Baroque influenced, with heavy carved woods and exquisite fabrics.The collection of arms and armor has over 4,000 pieces.Peleş Castle has a 3,200-square-metre (34,000 sq ft) floor plan with over 170 rooms, many with dedicated themes from world cultures (in a similar fashion as other Romanian palaces, like Cotroceni Palace). Themes vary by function (offices, libraries, armories, art galleries) or by style (Florentine, Turkish, Moorish, French, Imperial); all the rooms are extremely lavishly furnished and decorated to the slightest detail. There are 30 bathrooms. The establishment hosts one of the finest collections of art in Eastern and Central Europe, consisting of statues, paintings, furniture, arms and armor, gold, silver, stained glass, ivory, fine china, tapestries, and rugs. The collection of arms and armor has over 4,000 pieces, divided between Eastern and Western war pieces and ceremonial or hunting pieces, spreading over four centuries of history. Oriental rugs come from many sources: Bukhara, Mosul, Isparta, Saruk, and Smirna. The porcelain is from Sèvres andMeissen; the leather is from Córdoba. Perhaps the most acclaimed items are the hand-painted stained glass vitralios, which are mostly Swiss.A towering statue of King Carol I by Raffaello Romanelli overlooks the main entrance. Many other statues are present on the seven Italian neo-Renaissance terrace gardens, mostly of Carrara marble executed by the Italian sculptor Romanelli. The gardens also host fountains, urns, stairways, guarding lions, marble paths, and other decorative pieces.Peleş Castle shelters a painting collection of almost 2,000 pieces. Angelo de Gubernatis (1840–1913) was an Italian writer who arrived in 1898 in Sinaia as a guest of the Royal Family: After the guided visit of the castle you will have a bit of free time in the castle garden, an excellent opportunity to take some photos of the flower arrangements or the statues.
BRAN CASTLE (www.bran-castle.ro ) also known as the Dracula Castle
The first historical reference of Bran Castle is a document issued on November 19, 1377 by Ludwig I d’Anjou, by which Brasov inhabitants received the privilege of building the a fortress “at their own work and expense”. Between 1920-1927 Bran Castle was restored under the supervision of Karel Liman, the architect of the Royal Court, who turned it in a beautiful summer residence surrounded by a park with promenade alleys, lake, fountains, arbors, and a tea house. In 1938 Queen Maria of Romania bequeathed Bran Castle with all its domains, to her daughter Princess Ileana, who owned it until 1948.The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on DN73. Commonly known as "Dracula's Castle" There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad III, voivode of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula. The castle is now a museum open to tourists, displaying art and furniture collected by Queen Marie. At the bottom of the hill is a small open air museum park exhibiting traditional Romanian peasant structures (cottages, barns, etc.) from across the country. As of 2014, the castle is reportedly for sale.
The castle was built in the 14th century by the Transylvanian merchants as a military fortress to defend the area against the frequent Turkish attacks. After 1900, it was donated to the Romanian Royal Family and it became the favourite place of Queen Maria. Extensively renovated, it became a residence, and later a museum.The first documented mentioning of Bran Castle is the act issued by Louis I of Hungary on November 19, 1377, giving the Saxons of Kronstadt (Braşov) the privilege to build the stone citadel on their own expense and labor force; the settlement of Bran began to develop nearby. In 1438–1442, the castle was used in defense against the Ottoman Empire, and later became a customs post on the mountain pass between Transylvania and Wallachia. It is believed the castle was briefly held by Mircea the Elder of Wallachia during whose period the customs point was established. The Wallachian ruler Vlad Ţepeş (Vlad the Impaler) 1448–1476 does not seem to have had a significant role in the history of the fortress, although he passed several times through the Bran Gorge. Bran Castle belonged to the Hungarian Kings but due to King Vladislas II’s failure to repay loans, the city of Brasov gained possession of the fortress in 1533. Bran played a militarily strategic role up to the mid-18th century.In 1920, the castle became a royal residence within the Kingdom of Romania. It became the favorite home and retreat of Queen Marie. The castle was inherited by her daughter Princess Ileana who ran a hospital there in World War II: it was later seized by the communist regime with the expulsion of the royal family in 1948.
RASNOV FORTRESS ( German name Rosenau;)
It is possible this name is derived from Slavic "žrŭnovy", meaning (village or valley) "of the mill". In 14th century, German documents used the name Rasnov, but the modern German name, Rosenau, is based on a popular etymology, being influenced by the German word "Rose".In Râșnov a citadel was built around the year 1215 by the Teutonic Knights and it was mentioned for the first time in 1331. The citadel was conquered only once in its history, around the year 1600 by Gabriel Báthory.In 1856, the Roman fort of Cumidava was discovered near the town.In 2002, the Râșnov Citadel and surroundings were used during the shooting of several scenes from the American film Cold Mountain.
“VALEA CETATII” CAVE
Within the natural protected area Valea Cetăţii, the ValeaCetăţiiCave is an outstanding touristic attraction just minutes away from the Râşnov Citadel, 1.5 Km away from the city of RÂŞNOV and 7.5 km from POIANA BRAŞOV.
The crown of small lakes surrounding the awesome Cathedral Hall are perfect still mirrors that reflect breath-taking calcite formations and arches of a whiteness rarely seen anywhere in the world.Using the latest technology, the cave offers a tourist trail of such brightness and beauty that even the most claustrophobic will feel at ease. The cave can be reached from the parking on the national road Poiana Braşov-Râşnov, after a leisurely walk of about 450 metre
BRASOV ( German name Kronstadt)
Brasov is one of the seven cities founded by the Saxon colonists in Transylvania, some 800 years ago.German colonists known as the Transylvanian Saxons played a decisive role in Brașov's development. These Germans were invited by Hungarian kings to develop towns, build mines, and cultivate the land of Transylvania at different stages between 1141 and 1300. In 1211, by order of King Andrew II of Hungary, the Teutonic Knights fortified the Burzenland to defend the border of the Kingdom of Hungary. On the site of the village of Brașov, the Teutonic Knights built Kronstadt – the city of the crown.Although the crusaders were evicted by 1225, the colonists they brought in remained, along with local population, as did three distinct settlements they founded on the site of Brașov: Corona, around the Black Church (Biserica Neagră);Martinsberg, west of Cetățuia Hill; Bartholomä, on the eastern side of Sprenghi Hill.
Germans living in Brașov were mainly involved in trade and crafts. The location of the city 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. They contributed a great deal to the architectural flavor of the city. Fortifications around the city were erected and continually expanded, with several towers maintained by different craftsmen's guilds, according to medieval custom. Part of the fortification ensemble was recently restored using UNESCO funds, and other projects are ongoing. At least two entrances to the city, Poarta Ecaterinei (or Katharinentor) and Poarta Șchei (or Waisenhausgässertor), are still in existence. The city center is marked by the mayor's former office building (Casa Sfatului) and the surrounding square (piaţa), which includes one of the oldest buildings in Brașov, the Hirscher Haus. Nearby is the "Black Church" (Biserica Neagră), which some claim to be the largest Gothic style church in Southeastern Europe.
The cultural and religious importance of the Romanian church and school in Șchei is underlined by the generous donations received from more than thirty hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia, as well as that from Elizabeth of Russia. In the 17th and 19th centuries, the Romanians in Șchei campaigned for national, political, and cultural rights, and were supported in their efforts by Romanians from all other provinces, as well as by the local Greek merchant community. In 1838 they established the first Romanian language newspaper Gazeta Transilvaniei and the first Romanian institutions of higher education (Școlile Centrale Greco-Ortodoxe - "The Greek-Orthodox Central Schools", today named after Andrei Șaguna). The Holy Roman Emperor and sovereign of Transylvania Joseph II awarded Romanians citizenship rights for a brief period during the latter decades of the 18th century.
Thanks to its location on the Transylvanian border, Brasov became a trade center for the region. Most of the Saxon architecture is still present and, the Black Church, the largest Gothic church in South-Eastern Europe, is definitely worth a closer look.
ZARNESTI LIBERTY BEAR SANCTUARY
In 1998 a Romanian woman, Cristina Lapis, saw 3 bears in a small cage outside a restaurant in central Romania where they were used to attract customers. She later found more bears used in a similar way in other areas of the country. Her dream was to rescue these distressed animals and to change public attitudes to stop this cruel and illegal exploitation of one of Romania’s magnificent native animals.Now that dream is being realised, with over 70 bears enjoying a new life in the Libearty Bear Sanctuary – 70 hectares of oak and hazel forest in the Carpathian Mountains above the Transylvanian town of Zarnesti.Here, the bears climb trees, swim in the pools and forage on the vegetation. For many of them, having been caught from the wild as cubs, this is a new and stimulating experience.The Romanian bear sanctuary has helped to create better awareness of the issues affecting bears in Romania. The Romanian public, media and also the authorities have now taken this project to their hearts. The sanctuary has given new life to once-captive bears and is a symbol of optimism for the protection of Romania’s rich natural environment.
BUCEGI MOUNTAINS – “Omul “ PEACK & SFINX
The Vârful cu Dor Cabin is located half-way between Sinaia and the OmuPeak and is an ideal spot to admire Romania’s mountains in all their beauty. Following the path to the North of the cabin, you’ll climb up the so-called “hump of the fortress”, and then up the FurnicaMountain, leaving the Brazi and ZadeValleys to your right. Before getting to the Piatra Arsă Cabin, the path crosses the road that goes from Sinaia to the Royal Sheep Yard. From that crossroad, you’ll only have to walk 30 minutes more to the Babele Cabin.
The Babele Cabin is located at an altitude of 2206 meters, nearby two of Sinaia’s top touristic sights: the Babele and Sphinx rocks. You can stop here for a while and admire the Babele, two rocks shaped like mushrooms. Close by sits another wonder of nature, a rock shaped like a Sphinx. Both Babele and the Sphinx are surrounded by countless legends and have been visited by tourists for over a century. You’ll also find it difficult to part with the beautiful views of the valley.
The highest peak of the Bucegi Mountains
After a long break and a photo session at the Babele Cabin, get ready for an hour of hiking towards the Obârșia Ialomiței Peak, and then to the OmuPeak. 2505 meters high, the OmuPeak is the highest one in the BucegiMountains and the 11th tallest point in Romania. The hike to the OmuPeak can be a bit difficult at times, but it’s extremely rewarding. Beside the amazing views, you’ll have the chance to see unique plant species and endangered animal species, such as the black Carpathian goat.
From the OmuPeak you’ll see endless mountain ranges covered in snow peaks, dark forests, naked savage crests and valleys dotted with remote and picturesque villages. A delicious lunch at the Omu Cabin will exactly what you’ll need to make the experience perfect.
The Omu Cabin is one of the oldest in the BucegiMountains, the first construction dating back to 1888. Close to the cabin there is a weather station, the highest permanently inhabited spot in Romania.
SIGHISOARA (Schassburg in German)
Founded by Transylvanian Saxons during the 12th century, Sighisoara (Schassburg in German) still stands as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this perfectly intact 16th century gem with nine towers, cobbled streets, burgher houses and ornate churches rivals the historic streets of Old Prague or Vienna for atmospheric magic. It is also the birthplace of Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), ruler of the province of Walachia from 1456 to 1462. It was he who inspired Bram Stoker's fictional creation, Count Dracula.His house is just one of the many attractions here. Others include the Church on the Hill with its 500-year-old frescoes, the 13th century Venetian House and the Church of the Dominican Monastery, known for its Transylvanian renaissance carved altarpiece, baroque pulpit, Oriental carpets and 17th century organ.Sighisoara's citadel was built in the 12th century, when it was known as Castrum Sex (Fort Six), and was further strengthened and extended in the 15th century. The name must have existed long before, as the Saxons built their walled town on the ruins of a former Roman fortress. In 1298, the town was mentioned as Schespurch, while in 1367 it was called Civitas de Seguswar. The name of Sighisoara was first noted in a written document issued by Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Impaler's father, in 1431.In the 14th and 15th centuries, the economic growth recorded by Sighisoara's industrious craftsmen and tradesmen ensured financial means for the construction of a strong defense system provided with 14 towers and several bastions provided with gunnery directed to all four cardinal points. Each tower was built, maintained and defended by a craft guild. Among the most striking is the 14th century Clock Tower. This tower controlled the main gate of the half-mile-long defensive wall and stored the city's treasures.
Sighisoara was not the biggest or richest of the seven Saxon walled citadels* in Transylvania, but it has become one of the most popular. A walk through the town's hilly streets with their original medieval architecture, magical mix of winding cobbled alleys, steep stairways, secluded squares, towers, turrets and enchantingly preserved citadel, is like stepping back in time.
The Evangelic Church of SIGHISOARA was built at the end of the XV th century (between 1493 - 1496) by theSaxon colonists. The monument is very impressive due to its huge proportions and to the way that the fortifying elements have been adapted to the shape of a church building. Above the choir there is a fortified floor as well as a watch road above the great arches. From the outside, the church appears to be a bulwark, but the defensive destination of the monument is surpassed by the beauty of its gothic elements of architecture: huge arches, massive buttress and decorative elements made out of stone or bricks. Due to the significant distance between the centre of the village and the hill on which the Saxon fortress was built, over the years, the fortified Evangelic church became the main refuge for the inhabitants of Saschiz.
The Saxon Fortress that still dominates Sighisoara is another trace left by the restless times of the Middle-Ages. It was built during the XIV th century on a hill at 2 km from the centre of the village and its destination was to protect the inhabitants of Sighisoara (and other six neighboring villages that helped to its building) from destructive attacks. The Saxon community was, once again, the builder of this monument and therefore, we have to notice that they used to built fortresses around the church from the centre of their settlements and not so far away, feature that makes the Sighisoara fortress a special one among the other Saxon constructions
Work started in 1347, as an inscription on the North-Western wall clearly indicates. On the same wall (7 to 9 meters tall) there were built the four corner towers and the two gate towers, all with a definite watch and defense purpose. The names of those towers – the School Tower, the Munitions Tower, the Voivode Tower, the Priests Tower and the Guard Tower – show how well the community was organized at the time. Inside the fortress there was a chapel, now a beautiful ruin. The only actual remain is the 65m deep fountain that it is said to connect, by a tunnel, the precincts with the centre of the village.As for its architecture, the fortress belongs to the end of the Romanic style towards the beginning of theGothic style (it was finished in the XIV th century). But all the architectural details are over fulfilled by the ruin’s own beauty, which projects its ghostly shape over the trees that guard the access route, inviting the passers-by to set free their imagination among the walls of the medieval fortress.
The Clock Tower .Sighisoara's main point of attraction is the Clock Tower, also known as the Council Tower, built in the second half of the 14th century and expanded in the 16th century. The four small corner turrets on top of the tower symbolized the judicial autonomy of the Town Council, which could apply, if necessary, the death penalty.After a fire in 1676 when the town's gunpowder deposits located in the Tailors' Tower exploded, Austrian artists rebuilt the roof of the tower in its present baroque style and in 1894, colorful tiles were added.In the 17th century, a two-plate clock, with figurines carved from linden wood, was set at the top of the tower, with one dial looking over the Lower Town (Orasul de Jos), and the other facing the citadel (cetate in Romanian, burg in German). The figurines, moved by the clock's mechanism, each represent a different character. On the citadel side we see Peace holding an olive branch, accompanied by a drummer who is beating the hours on his bronze drum; above them are Justice, with a set of scales, and Law, wielding a sword, accompanied by two angels representing Day and Night. At 6 am, the angel symbolizing the day appears, marking the beginning of the working day and at 6 pm, the angel symbolizing the night comes out carrying two burning candles, marking the end of the working day.
The dial overlooking the Lower City features a set of seven figurines, each representing the pagan gods who personified the days of the week: Diane (Monday), Mars (Tuesday), Mercury (Wednesday), Jupiter (Thursday), Venus (Friday), Saturn (Saturday)and the Sun (Sunday).
The spire of the tower ends in a small golden sphere. At the top, there is a meteorological cock, which, turned around by air currents, forecasts the weather. This intricate two-plate clock has been working continuously since the Middle Ages.
The Clock Tower served as the gathering place for the City Council until 1556. Since 1899, it has housed the HistoryMuseum (see museum details). From the top of the Clock Tower, visitors can look down on the red-tiled roofs of the OldTown and see intact 16th century Saxon houses lining the narrow cobblestone streets. Today, merchants and craftsmen still go about their business, as they did centuries ago.
The Church of the Dominican Monastery Not far from the Clock Tower stands the Church of the Dominican Monastery. First attested in a document in 1298 as part of a Dominican monastic settlement, the church became the Saxons' main Lutheran church in 1556. The monastic complex demolished in 1888 and its place was taken by the present town hall. Only the church has remained from the original structure.
Built in late-gothic style typical of the hall-churches, with two naves and two rows of pillars, the church was restored in the 15th century and then again in the 16th century after the big fire of 1676. The last repairs were done in 1894 and 1929, when the church acquired its present-day look.
Inside the church, you can admire some valuable artistic objects, such as the bronze font dating back to 1440, the stone doorframe carved in 1570 in Transylvanian renaissance style and built into the northern wall of the church, the collection of 16th and 17th century Oriental carpets, a baroque organ and a fine altarpiece from 1680. Classical and baroque concerts are often held here.
The Church on the HillTo the north of the Clock Tower stands one of the most representative gothic-style structures in Transylvania, the Church on the Hill - so called because of its location on the School Hill (1,373 ft high). First mentioned in a document in 1345 and superposed on a former Roman basilica, its construction lasted almost 200 years.Initially a Catholic church, it became the main church of the Saxon inhabitants of Sighisoara, who had shifted from Roman Catholicism to Lutheranism after the 1547 Reform.
The church was completely painted on the inside but in 1776, the majority of the old murals were destroyed, provided that exact copies would be made on parchment and reproduced later. Unfortunately, the copies were lost and the murals never reproduced. A recent restoration brought back fragments of some of the original late 15th century frescoes.
Inside the beautifully restored interior, you can admire fragments of *murals from 1483-1488, the period prior to Martin Luther's Reformation, and renaissance-style furniture. The gothic altarpiece dedicated to St Martin dates from 1520 and was painted by Johann Stoss, the son of the renowned sculptor, Veit Stoss from Nürnberg. The three wood-carved coats of arms, found in the anterooms of the side naves, belonged to Mathias Corvin and his wife, Beatrix, the Transylvanian prince Stephen Bathory of Nyir (1479-1493) and the king of Poland and Hungary, Wladislav the 3rd.The church is reached by a covered wooden staircase known as the Scholars' Stairs. Opposite the church is the main entrance to a serene Saxon cemetery (open daily 8:00am - 8:00pm).
The Scholars' Stairs Located at the end of School Street and connecting the CitadelSquarewiththeChurch on the Hill, the Scholars' Stairs, or Schoolboys' Stairs, as it was also known, makes for an interesting piece of medieval architecture.Built in 1642, the covered stair-passage was meant to facilitate and protect schoolchildren and churchgoers on their climb to the school and church during wintertime. Originally, the stairs had 300 steps, but after 1849, their numberwas reduced to 175.
Vlad Dracul's House The Vlad Dracul House is located in the Citadel Square, close to the Clock Tower. This ocher-colored house is the place where Vlad Tepes, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's famous Dracula, was born in 1431 and lived with his father, Vlad Dracul, until 1435 when they moved to Targoviste. A wrought-iron dragon hangs above the entrance. The ground floor of the house serves as a restaurant, while the first floor is home to the Museum of Weapons (see museum details).
Benefiting from the friendship of the Hungarian king, Sigismund I of Luxembourg, Vlad II Dracul, the father of Vlad Tepes, spent his youth at the royal court and later distinguished himself as a brave knight in the fight against the Ottoman Empire.
For his deeds, the Order of the Dragon was bestowed upon him, hence the title Dracul(the Latin word for dragon is draco). While in medieval lure dragons served as symbols of independence, leadership, strength and wisdom, the biblical association of the devil with the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve, gave the snake-like dragon connotations of evil. Thus, the Romanian word Draculstands in English for both dragon and devil
.The Stag House Builtin the 17th century in Transylvanian renaissance style, the house draws its name from the stag skull set on one of the corners of its façade. Recent restorations revealed an external mural depicting the stag's body. Nowadays, the building houses a hotel, with a ground floor that doubles as a cellar bar.
The Venetian House Built in the 16th century, the house was later restored in Venetian gothic style with the upper part of the windows forming a three-lobe arch.
The CitadelTowers The half-mile defense wall was initially provided with 14 towers, of which nine have been preserved to this day. Among the most impressive are:
The Ropemakers' Tower Dating from the 13th century and standing above the pre-Saxon citadel walls, the Ropemakers' Tower is one of the oldest buildings in Sighisoara. Its role was to defend - together with the Goldsmiths' Tower - the northwest corner of the hill. Nowadays, the tower is the home of the caretaker of the Saxon cemetery, located next to the Church on the Hill.
The Tailors' Tower This imposing tower was raised in the 14th century by the richest guild in town. Initially as tall as the Clock Tower, its upper part was destroyed in the 1676 fire, when the town's gunpowder deposits, located here, exploded. The Tailors' Tower, with its two vaulted galleries which used to have huge oaken gates with an iron lattice, also serves as the second access road into the citadel. The tower was restored in 1935.
The Cobblers' Tower The Cobblers' Tower, located in the northeastern part of the town, was first mentioned in documents dating from the mid-16th century but it was rebuilt from scratch in 1650. The tower bears the influence of baroque architecture, featuring a hexagonal base with sides of different lengths. Its roof, resembling a pointy helmet, houses a small observation tower.
MEITNER TOURS & Hotel MEITNER invite you to enjoy an unforgettable holiday in Romania !