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LAST UPDATED
13 / 11 / 2016



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Romantic Romania - Brasov & the Carpathians
Gateway to Transylvania - the mountain resorts of the Prahova Valley, historic Brasov,
the Burzenland, and the Szekelyland of the Eastern Carpathians





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Holidays in Romania with Beyond the Forest - Transylvania Uncovered
Recommeded Accommodation in Brasov, Sinaia and the Carpathians
Touch o Class holidays with Count Kalnoky
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Bran Castle


The Carpathian Mountains cut through Romania in the shape of a horseshoe enclosing the Transylvania plateau. To reach the province from Bucharest it is necessary to climb up from the plain.The normal route, followed by the main highway and the railway, is northwards from Ploiesti through the Prahova Valley and over the Predeal Pass to reach the city of Brasov, and the region called the 'Burzenland'. To the north-east of the city lies the traditional land of the Hungarian-speaking Szeklers. nestled beneath the forested slopes of the eastern Carpathians. To the north-west, the Transylvanian plateau embraces the historical region of Saxon Transylvania with its fairytale mediaeval towns, and its fortified churches.



PRAHOVA VALLEY - Royal Palaces and Mountains

This is a region of beautiful high mountain scenery, incorporating the peaks of the Bucegi Mountains, which has long provided an escape from the baking summer heat of the city and the Baragan Plain.

The resort of Sinaia was chosen by King Carol I as the summer residence of the royal family, and he built Peles Castle there in the late 19th Century. Built in an extravagant style reminiscent of a Bavarian Schloss, and richly decorated with superb wood sculptures, paintings, stained glass and Murano chandeliers, Peles is now a popular tourist attraction (closed on mondays; queues for guided tours may be lengthy in the summer months).

Also of interest is the more modest, art-nouveau style Pelisor Castle, a favourite of Queen Marie, while other attractions include Sinaia Monastery (1690), and the "Cote d'Azur" style Casino built in 1912. This is an excellent centre for a simple holiday, convenient for the airport, and with a variety of decent hotels such as the newly-renovated, elegant Palace Hotel.





SAXON TRANSYLVANIA


Holidays in Transylvaniacan
support local communities and
crafts through local
tourism initiatives


HOLIDAYS


Brasov area is featured in
the following holidays

Brasov area is featured in
our following holidays

Touch of Class
Ultimate Dracula





HIGHLIGHTS



BURZENLAND
Brasov
Black Church
Piata Sfatului
Postavarul Cable Car
Poiana Brasov Ski Resort
Fortress Churches
Prejmer (Tartlau)
Harman (Honigberg)
Bran Castle
Rasnov Fortress
Piatra Craiului Mountains
Mountain villages & hamlets:
Moieciu, Sarnea,
Magura, Pestera
Dambovicioara Gorge

PRAHOVA VALLEY
Bucegi Mountains
Sinaia
Peles & Pelisor Palaces
Sinaia Monastery
Cota 2000 Cable Car
Busteni
Babele & Sfinx
Caraiman Mountain
Prahova Valley Wines, Azuga

SZEKELYLAND
Eastern Carpathians
Miercurea Ciuc
Baile Tusnad Spa
St. Ana Lake
Balvanyos Spa
Gelence & Darjiu churches
Miclosoara (
Count Kalnoky)
Pied Piper Caves (Almasch/ Varghis)
Covasna Spa
Covasna-Comandau Forest Railway





TRAVEL


Nearest international airport -
Bucharest Otopeni (3 hours)

Frequent trains from Bucharest to
Sinaia & Brasov (2-3 hours)
including international trains
to/from Budapest & Vienna
Direct services from Brasov to Sibiu,
Sighisoara, Cluj Napoca, Timisoara,
Arad, Sf. Gheorghe, Miercurea Ciuc,
Targu Mures, Sighetu Marmatiei,
and Suceava. Local services to
Zarnesti, Intorsura Buzaului
and Targu Secuiesc.

Frequent buses to Bran, Rasnov
and Poiana Brasov
from Brasob


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Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds - Beds


Our personal recommendations for the best accommodation in Brasov & the Carpathians
Luxury 5-star hotels to family run guesthouses



















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There is no region within such easy reach of the mountains. Sinaia and Busteni are less than three hours from Bucharest Airport or city by car, frequent rail services and minibus services. A special 'ski train' operates during the winter months. Cable cars and chairlifts ascend from Sinaia and also from the hiking centre of Busteni to the Caraiman mountain where you will discover the unusual rock formations of the Babela and the Sphinx. This is an excellent centre for walking with facilities for skiing at Sinaia (queues may be a problem as access to the slopes is limited), Azuga and Predeal. For those looking for round or two of golf there is an ecellent international course and golf club at the comfortable Lac de Verde Hotel lower down the valley at Breaza. At Azuga, it is also possible to visit the 'Rhein' wine-cellars of the Prahova Valley vineyards, while the main vineyards of the Deaulul Mare wine-growing region (mainly red wines) are within easy reach in the foothills to the east of Ploiesti. Here you will find the Valea Calagureasca wine trail, several villages in which to sample or buy the wines (e.g. Urlati and Tohani).
Peles Palace, Sinaia
BURZENLAND (Tara Barsei)

The 'Burzenland', is the region of south-eastern Transylvania within the crook of the Carpathians and separated from the remainder of the Transylvanian plateau to the north and west by the Persani Hills and the Piatra Craiului mountains. It is significant historically due to its strategic position. The 'Saxon' settlers were encoraged to settle here uring the 13th century, by the then 'Hungarian' rulers, in order to guard the mountain passes against Ottoman and Tatar raids from the south and east.

Brasov (Kronstadt) became one of the key towns of Saxon Transylvania, one of the 'seven fortified towns', the 'Siebenburgen, while other fortresses such as Bran (Torzburg), Rasnov (Rosenau), and fortress chucrhes such as Prejmer (Tartlau), and Harman (Honigberg) attest to the importance of the region. The fortress churches were built to shelter villagers and livestock and withstand a siege in the event of raids.


See below for prices for Brasov city breaks and short breaks in the southern Carpathians
Black Church, Brasov
Brasov, which is one of Romania's largest cities, preserves a mediaeval core comprising the massive, gothic "Black Church" (1383-1477) and the historic, pedestrianised Piata Sfatului ('Council Square'), lined by former merchants' houses, now containing smart boutiques, or restaurants with pavement cafes. Here you will find the history museum in the Casa Sfatului (Council House, 1420), the local ethnographic museum in a restored pharmacy, and the 'Hirscher Haus', the Guildhall where the Saxon guilds used to meet. You will also find th Color e remains of fortifications around the old city centre, sections of the city wall and some of the former bastions such as the Weavers Bastion (Bastionul Tesatorilor) which houses a museum to the fortifications of the Burzenland, the Blacksmiths' Bastion (Bastionul Fierarilor) and the citadel (cetate) ruins overlooking the town. Of special interest is the old Schei District where the Romanians were banished outside the city walls by the Saxons. This part of history is celebrated in the 'Pageant of the Juni' on the first sunday in May, the only day when the Romanians could freely enter the city. There are traditional dances, music and a procession of young men dressed in bright costumes. Other festivals during the year include a popular beer festival in early October, Jazz Festival, and a Festival of Chamber Music. Entertainment is varied with a City Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Marionette Theatre, Philharmonic, and a wide selection of clubs, bars and some excellent restuarants. Add to these attractions several decent hotels, and pensions, good shopping and easy access to the ski and mountain resorts of Poiana Brasov and Predeal, and to Bucharest, and it is understandable why Brasov is a such a popular base base for short breaks and extended stays in Transylvania.

Brasov offers a decent transport network so Bran Castle, Rasnov, Poiana Brasov and the Moieciu Valley can all be easily reached by frequent buses, while frequent trains connect with Sighisoara, Sinaia, Bucharest and Sibiu. There is a cable car from the town to the Tampa Hill (views over the city) and another from Poiana Brasov to the Postavarul Mountain. Brasov is also a good place to stock up on guides or maps before heading into the Bucegi, Piatra Craiului Mountains or even before heading up to Romania's highest peaks along the Fagaras ridge (reached from the local rail station of Victoria, near Fagaras). Local attractions include the UNESCO listed fortress churches at Prejmer (Tartlau) and Harman (Honigberg), the hilltop fortress at Râsnov (outstanding panoramic views of the Carpathians and the plateau region) and the famous
Bran Castle. Many tales and legends have been spun about Bran, which conjures up the archetypal, gothic fairytale image of a Transylvanian fortress and is regularly touted as Dracula's Castle - a useful tag to draw the crowds from nearby Poiana Brasov. However, there is no documented connection and the castle's most famous resident was Queen Marie, wife of King Ferdinand and granddaughter of Queen Victoria. For those in search of the real Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) this is certainly his tramping ground - he was born in Sighisoara, raided Brasov (including one raid against the merchants of Brasov in 1460 when he burned the suburbs and impaled hundreds on a nearby hill) and was holed up in the small castle of 'Konigstein' (now a ruin) above the Bran-Rucar Pass hiding from the Hungarian King Matei Corvin. To the west of Bran you will find the beautiful Moieciu Valley, the Dambovicioara Gorge, and the lovely mountain hamlets of Magura and Pestera in the Piatra Craiului mountsins. villages beneath the Rucar Pass. This is perfect country for walking or for hiking into the Piatra Craiului and Bucegi Mountains. We offer a selection of private guesthouses and hotels here, in addition to hotels in the ski resorts of Predeal and Poiana Brasov for both winter and summer. Poiana Brasov is particularly convenient with excellent speciality restaurants and a wide range of facilities and excursion possibilities. However, please note that prices n the larger hotels for the period of Christmas and New Year are often considerably overpriced, and are only offered as inflexible extended packages.


Check out our accommodation pages for an excellent selection of hotels, apartments, and private pensions in Brasov, Poiana Brasov and the surrounding regions


ROVING ROMANIA - one of the best ways to experience the real Romania, in particular off-the-beaten-track mountain trails, remote Saxon villages and village life to take a tour with Colin Shaw, or one of his colleagues, based in Brasov. Roving Romania, who count on an indepth knowledge of Romania gained over many years in the region, organise a wide range of exciting experiences ranging from extended tours by Land Rover (tailored to meet your interests and requirements), to adventure holidays for small groups using quality, local accommodation and offering a range of tours, treks, cart rides and activities. They are also founding members of the Association of Ecotourism in Romania and can sometimes arrange visits to forest bear hides with authorised guides. Large Carnivires are very elusive creatures living in dense extensive swathes of dense montane forest so chances of seeing anything other than their tracks are very limited. Please contact us for further details or a quotation or refer to our ROVING ROMANIA pages.

SZEKELYLAND

The Szeklers are a race of people closely related to the Magyars who settled in the region of the eastern Carpathians in Transylvania. Like the Magyars, they speak Hungarian, but it is believed that whereas the Magyars of Transylvania migrated westwards from the plains of modern-day Hungary where they had settled in the 10-13th century, the Szekelys took a more direct route crossing the high passes of the eastern Carpathians. The Szekelyland is a very distinctive, and fascinating ethnic region centred around the principal town of Miercurea Ciuc (Csikszereda) and roughly covers the counties of Covasna and Harghita. Much of this region comprises the densely forested and remote eastern Carpathians together with the upper reaches of the Olt and Mures valleys. It is a region with much geothermic activity - hot springs and other mineral springs which have lead to the development of a string of small spa resorts including Baile Tusnad (Tusnadfurdo), Balvanyos, Covasna (Kovaszna) and Sovata (Szovata) to the west. Other important towns include Sfintu Gheorghe (Sepsiszentgyotgy), Targu Secuiesc (Kezdivasarhely), Odorhieu Secuiesc (Szekelyudvarhely) and Covasna. Many of the attractions are natural, such as the Varghis (Vargyas) Canyon (the 'Almasch Caves' of the Pied Piper), the beautiful St. Ana lake and the rugged landscapes of the eastern Carpathians stretching as far as the Caliman Mountains and the Bicaz Gorges.

Romantic winter in Miclosoara -
Count Kalnoky's Guesthouses
However, there are also plenty of cultural highlights including many fortified catholic churches such as Darjiu (Szekelyderz), the frescoes in the church at Gelence, the various manors or castles of noble Szekely families such as those of the Kalnoky's at Miclosoara (Miklosvar) - see below - and Calnic (Kalnok), the traditional pottery of Corund, or further afield the bizarre castle at Lazarea and the salt mines at Praid. Also of interest is the former forestry railway of Covasna-Comandau, best known for its listed inclined plane connecting the two levels, and as part of a preservation project, the only survivor of many such narrow gauge lines in this part of the Carpathians. We can offer quality accommodation in the spas of Balvanyos, Baile Tusnad and Sovata and good hotels in many towns - however, in many respects the best introduction to this region, its nature and culture is to take an inclusive holiday at Count Kalnoky's Guesthouses in Miclosoara (details below).

Experience a "Touch of Class" in Transylvania

These popular TOUCH OF CLASS holidayes ares based on private guesthouses, belonging to a former Transylvanian Count,
in the tiny village of Miclosoara (Miklosvar), just north of Brasov in the edge of the Szekelyland.
This sustainable tourism project provides a unique insight into the real Transylvania
- the varied cultures of the Hungarian-speaking Szeklers, the German-speaking "Saxons" and the Romanians
- interwoven with the history, architecture, natural history and scenic beauty of the region.
All activities and excursions are included, and are tailored to your own interests and requirements.
HRH The Prince of Wales' properties at Zalanpatak and Viscri have recently been incorporated in these programmes.

Click here for further details





LARGE CARNIVORES IN ROMANIA

The Romanian Carpathians are home to the largest predator populations
in Europe west of Russia. 50% of Europe's Brown bears (about 5,500),
30% of it's wolves (c.2,500) and Lynx (c.1,500) live here.
Even though more than two thirds of the Romanian Carpathians
are unspoiled forests, this mountain range is still inhabited by millions
of people and used for livestock production, forestry, hunting, mushroom
and berry picking. It is the only place in Europe where large
carnivores live in fairly high densities and in close vicinity to humans.

The Carpathian Large Carnivore Project,
with the support of WWF and other
conservation bodies, established an
eco-tourism programme in Zarnesti in the
Piatra Craiului Mountains with the goal to
create a model area for sustainable,
large carnivore conservation.
The project, which concluded in 2003,
demonstrated to local communities that
wolves, bears and lynx have an economic
value and that they are not only a burden for
livestock production but that they can
be used to generate income.


Also check out our wildlife holidays:

Touch of Class



Brown Bear
[ Romanian National
Tourism Authority ]
Piatra Craiului Mountaibns / Fagaras Mountains / Bucegi Mountains
Peles Palaces, Sinaia / The Sphinx above Busteni / Bucegi Cable-Car
Near Balvanyos / Piata Sfatului (Council Square), Brasov / Black Church, Brasov
Pelisor Palace, Sinaia / Hotel Economat, Sinaia / Roving Romania at Moieciu

[ Photographs 1-3, 5-9 courtesy of Romania National Tourism Authority ]







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