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Bulgaria & Romania: Frescoes & Fortresses

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"I've been on four MIR trips. All were wonderful and I plan many more trips with MIR. The overriding impression of this tour was that ancient history is brought to life. I can't pick a favorite part. The beautiful Carpathian Mountains, beautiful old historic buildings, lovely villages and nice people all are great.

B. Martin

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

Explore the complex history and fascinating culture of Bulgaria and Romania, two Balkan countries whose rugged terrain and consequent isolation have helped preserve their heritage. Discover the luminous frescoes of the painted monasteries, breathe in the fragrance of the Valley of the Roses, and spend an afternoon visiting with villagers in a tiny Transylvanian town.

Days 1-6: Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo

Begin the journey in Sofia, Bulgaria, a city with more than 7,000 years of history. Visit the serene Rila Monastery, founded in 927 as a retreat for hermits. Pause in the Thracian settlement of Plovdiv with its ancient Roman and 19th century architecture, before setting off through the beautiful countryside of the Valley of Roses toward Veliko Tarnovo, capital of the 12th century Second Bulgarian Empire. Here, the remains of the Royal Fortress still stand at the top of Tsarevets Hill.

Days 7-8: Bucharest

Crossing the Danube into Romania, tour its capital, Bucharest, and contemplate Ceausescu's last folly, the 1,100-room Palace of the Parliament. Set out north to Transylvania, a land of mixed Hungarian, Romanian and Saxon heritage.

Days 9-14: Transylvania, painted monasteries, medieval towns

In Sinaia, admire the German-influenced 19th century Peles Castle. Explore the birthplace of Vlad Dracul in the citadel of Sighisoara, and visit Bran Castle, which served as Bram Stoker's model for Dracula's ancestral home. Drive via dramatic Bicaz Canyon to four of the UNESCO-listed painted monasteries of Bucovina, and enjoy lunch and a demonstration of traditional egg painting in a private home. Meet a Romanian costume designer in the village of Salva and spend an evening with actors from a Tirgu Mures theater. Stroll the Old Town Square in the Saxon town of Sibiu.

Days 15-16: Curtea de Arges, Bucharest

Learn about legends surrounding the Byzantine-style cathedral in Curtea de Arges Monastery before heading to Bucharest for a farewell dinner.

Trip Details

Length of Trip: 16 Days
2014 Departures: 2
Dates: June 3-June 18, 2014 (featuring the Rose Festival)
  September 2-17, 2014
Land Tour Cost  
5-16 travelers $5,995
Single Supplement $995
 
No Hidden Costs!

MIR Signature Experiences

  • See a demonstration of traditional egg painting in a private home
  • Meet a traditional Romanian costume designer and tour her village studio
  • Visit with local actors from a Tigru Mures theater

Map - Click to Enlarge

Day Activity  
Days 1-2: Sofia  
Day 3: Drive to Rila and Plovdiv  
Day 4: Plovdiv  
Day 5: Drive to Veliko Tarnovo via Kazanluk  
Day 6: Veliko Tarnovo with day trip to Arbanassi Village  
Day 7: Drive to Bucharest via Ruse  
Day 8: Drive to Sinaia  
Day 9: Sinaia with day trip to Bran and Brasov  
Day Activity  
Day 10: Drive to Saschiz, Sighisoara  
Day 11: Sighisoara, Bicaz Canyon, Gura Humorului  
Day 12: Gura Humorului, day trip to painted monasteries of Bucovina  
Day 13: Gura Humorului, Salva, Tirgu Mures  
Day 14: Tirgu Mures, Ganesti, Cluj, Sibiu  
Day 15: Sibiu, Curtea de Arges, Bucharest  
Day 16: Bucharest  
List of Highlights
Sofia Serdica settlement ruins and old walls, St. George Rotunda, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, St. Sofia Church, Royal Palace, city gardens, Bulgarian Parliament building, Archeological Museum
Rila Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Plovdiv Djumaya (Friday) Mosque, Roman amphitheater, Church of St. Constantine, visit a pottery studio, wine-tasting at Todoroff Wine Cellar
Kazanluk ThracianTomb (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Shipka Church of the Nativity, Shipka Pass, Shipka Monument, Rose Festival (June departure)
Veliko Tarnovo Tsarevets Hill Royal Fortress, Patriarch Complex
Arbanassi Village Constantsaliev House, Christ's Nativity Church, Peter & Paul Monastery
Ruse Ivanovo Cave Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Bucharest Palace of the Parliament (former House of the People)
Sinaia Peles Castle
Brasov Black Church, medieval town, Council Square
Bran Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle)
Saschiz & Biertan Fortified Church (UNESCO World Heritage site)
Sighisoara Historic Centre/Citadel area (UNESCO World Heritage Site), clock tower, House of Dracula's father, visit to brandy-making family
Bucovina Region Bicaz Canyon, Red Lake, Gura Humorului, painted monasteries of Bucovina, including Moldovita, Sucevita, Voronet and Humor (UNESCO World Heritage Sites)
Salva Rural village, visit a costume maker's home and workshop
Tirgu Mures Citadel Church and Fortress, backstage tour of Scena Theater
Ganesti Wine-making village, visit to local winery
Sibiu City center, Piata Mare
Curtea de Arges Ancient capital on the Arges River, Monastery of Curtea de Arges

Suggested Extensions

Combine this tour with Belarus, Ukraine & Moldova.

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Some images on this page courtesy Corbet

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