Brașov - Râșnov - Bran - Bucharest (Total Travel Distance: 225 km)
Your guide will meet you at your hotel to lead a walking tour of Brașov’s many historically significant landmarks. As a significant stop along historic trade routes between Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire, Brașov is widely regarded as the capital for the region’s Transylvanian Saxons, who were highly involved in crafts and trading.
Archaeologists in Brașov have unearthed evidence of advanced civilizations dating back to 9500 BCE, the Neolithic Age; and this region holds some of Romania’s earliest artifacts. After hearing more about the rich history of Council Square--which includes public humiliation of accused witches and the late 17th-century beheading of a guild leader, you’ll see the city’s famous Biserica Neagră. Named after Saint Mary, the celebrated church became known as The Black Church as a result of smoke damage sustained in The Great Fire of 1689. The original structure was built in 94 years (between 1383 and 1477) and was the biggest church between Vienna and Constantinople.
Your tour will take you down Rope Street, the narrowest passageway in Romania--and possibly all of Europe: Strada Sforii’s width varies between just 111 and 135 centimetres and continues 80 metres. You will see both Black Tower and White Tower, two of the city’s Old City Watch Towers, as well as Brașov’s only original city gate that has remained intact since the Middle Ages. Catherine’s Gate, aka Șchei Gate, sits immediately beside Poarta Ecaterinei.
You will then drive a short distance to Râșnov, a medieval village built on the road that joins Transylvania and Wallachia. For the past several years, Râșnov has hosted a heavy metal music festival known as Rockstadt Extreme Fest at the base of the looming Castle of Râșnov. This citadel remained unconquered until its only defeat by Hungary’s Gabriel Báthory, Prince of Transylvania from 1608 to 1613.
The fortress was constructed with a simple architectural style that used stones and bricks for the walls and wooden gates and platforms. The walls reach five-meters high and one-and-a-half meters thick; however, the structure is also protected by steep cliffs abutting all but its eastern perimeter. Within Râșnov Fortress’ courtyard, archaeologists have preserved the ruins of more than 30 homes, a chapel and a school. Several scenes from the American war film Cold Mountain were filmed at this stunning historic monument and the surrounding region in 2002.
You will also visit nearby Bran Castle just a short drive away. This landmark is a favorite among visitors because of its inaccurate association with Vlad Țepeș, aka Vlad Dracula. In reality, there is no evidence that Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, was influenced by Bran Castle, and the fortress has no proven associations with Vlad the Impaler. Despite Bran Castle’s questionable connection with the literary legend, the castle remains a worthwhile and historic destination. In fact, the original fortress on this site dates back to the early 13th century; however, Mongols destroyed the first wooden edifice in 1242. Louis I of Hungary granted local Saxons authority to build the stone castle at their own expense and labour in 1377, and the site is now a museum housing Queen Marie of Romania’s furniture and art collection.
After a full day of sightseeing, you will return to Bucharest to prepare for your departure.