The Painted Monasteries of Romania and The Land of Silence

Romania

Holiday overview

Destination

Romania


Type

Self Guided, Wine Tours


Difficulty

Moderate


Month

Jan - Dec


Price

£ 645 pp


Duration

7 nights


Contact Us

This walk takes you to the ‘Painted Monasteries of Bukowina’. These monasteries are unique because of the mural paintings on their exteriors, pictorial texts combining Byzantine forms and Western book miniature painting with Romanian folk tradition. It then takes you to the ‘Land of Silence’ one of the most isolated and undiscovered regions of Europe.

This walk takes you to the ‘Painted Monasteries of Bukowina’. These monasteries are unique because of the mural paintings on their exteriors, pictorial texts combining Byzantine forms and Western book miniature painting with Romanian folk tradition. You walk along old rediscovered trails to the monasteries whose architecture and paintings would be unthinkable and impossible without the beautiful landscape of the ‘Sweet Land of Bukowina’.

The Maramures, the ‘land of silence’ or ‘the land of deer’, is one of the most isolated and undiscovered regions of Europe. Ethnographically it is a treasury of still surviving old customs and rites. Impressive are the carved gables and gates combining Pagan and Christian symbols and above all the unique wooden churches. Colourful markets and the local crafts are practiced as in the past. It is a journey far back to the past and an opportunity to see how Europe once was.

 

Price:

Self-Guided: £645 per person based on two people sharing with a single supplement of £135.

Maramures extension: £510 per person. £80 single supplement.

 

Included:

14 nights in carefully selected accommodations in double or twin rooms all with private facilities, breakfast each morning, 6 evening meals. Good description of monasteries, route description, maps for every day (1:50 000), telephone hotline, all transfers as described, luggage transfer during walks, train (Rapid or Intercity) Bucharest – Suceava – Bucharest.

The guided itinerary may sometimes necessitate a shared bathroom between 2 rooms.

 

Not Included:

Journeys from/to home, entry fees, taxi transfers in Bucharest (arranged on request), anything not specifically mentioned in programme.

 

Departure Dates:

Self-Guided: Daily May to October – For the Maramures extension, it will be necessary to start the Painted Monasteries holiday on a day other than a Saturday in order to tie in with the train to Maramures.

Self-Guided Itinerary

 

Day 1:

Arrive Bucharest. Overnight in ***hotel in Bucharest.

 

Day 2:

Short walk to train station (3 min.). Pleasant train journey to Suceava. Transfer to Putna Monastery. Two nights in the very beautiful Arhondaric. You will be welcomed by Brother Dosoftei, who speaks English, and enjoy the hospitality of this beautiful monastery in its Arcadian setting. Overnight Putna.

 

Day 3:

Putna monastery, a foundation of Stefan the Great, is the most important spiritual center of Romanian Orthodoxy and played a significant role in the Romanian history. Doing a circular walk, you will visit Sihastru monastery and have a magnificent view over Putna from one of the hills. 4 hours walking approx. Overnight Putna.

 

Day 4:

From Putna you take the old monastery path to Sucevita monastery. In summer the forest is full of berries and wild mushrooms. The undercoat of emerald green on which the frescoes are painted (1596) gave the monastery the name ‘a Poem in Green and Light’. The iconostasis is considered to be the most beautiful in the country. As Sacherverell Sitwell wrote in 1938: ‘The first view of the painted church of Sucevita is among the most impressive revelations of the Byzantine world’.5 hours walking. Overnight in Sucevita (2 nights in welcoming guesthouse with excellent food).

 

Day 5:

A transfer by car over the Ciumirna Pass, with magnificent panoramic views. Visit Moldovita monastery, famous for its brilliant frescoes (‘a parchment dipped in blue’ is the description of the Tree of Jesse), including the fine Ladder of Paradise. Back in Sucevita a circular walk to enjoy a wonderful view over this impressive, fortified monastery. 3 hours walking. Overnight Sucevita.

 

Day 6:

Short transfer to Solca village. The walk to Humor takes you through pastoral scenery and villages founded by Poles in the Hapsburg period. The way is still used by horse-drawn hay carts, whilst in the fields the sickle and scythe are still the main implements at harvest. The 16th century monastery church at Humor is painted in blues, greens and reddish browns (from oriental madder pigment). 4.5 hours walking. Overnight in Humor (2 nights in very pleasant English-speaking guesthouse).

 

Day 7:

Visit Voronet monastery. Its superb frescoes gave it the name ‘the Sistine Chapel of the East’ – architectually it combines Gothic and Byzantine features. Continue up to the Objina with fine views over the valley and villages and back to Humor.  4.5 hours walking. Overnight Humor.

 

Day 8:

Transfer to Suceava. Train to Bucharest. Departure. Extra night possible in Bucharest on request.

 

Extension week:  Maramures – Land of Silence – Self-guided

The Maramures, the ‘land of silence’ or ‘the land of deer’, is one of the most isolated and undiscovered regions of Europe. Ethnographically it is a treasury of still surviving old customs and rites. Impressive are the carved gables and gates combining Pagan and Christian symbols and above all the unique wooden churches. Colourful markets and the local crafts are practiced as in the past. It is a journey far back to the past and an opportunity to see how Europe once was.

 

Day 8:

Take bus/train or taxi along the wild Bistritza river, then up into the mountains, over the Prislop pass into the Maramures to Viseu de Sus or Oberwischau. Overnight in the Zipserei, the German quarter of Oberwischau. During Habsburgian times the Austrian Empress brought miners and woodcutters here from the Zips and Tyrol.

 

Day 9:

The forestry train (every day except Sundays) drawn by an old steam engine takes you up (around 7 a.m.) the Vaser valley or Wassertal into the mountains. You may see deer or even bears drinking from the river. On arrival there is the possibility of a circular walk (2.5 hours) to the idyllic Wine Valley.

 

Day 10:

Walk up to the hills which separate the Iza from the Vaser valley where you have beautiful views over the Rodna and Maramures mountains. In the spring the air is filled with Lady’s Mantle, a plant mixed with elder and wood worm to make ‘face water’. Over night in Dragomiresti. 6 hours walking.

 

Day 11:

Walk along the Iza valley to Bogdan Voda where you may visit the wooden church and the village museum, then through fields to the village of Ieud. The ‘Church on the Hill’ (1364) is the oldest in Maramures and the interior is adorned with superb 18th century paintings. The steps to the tower of this double roofed building with tiny windows are build out of a single log. Along drovers’ roads you walk beside fields and orchards to Botiza, a village well known for making ‘cergi’ (woollen blankets). The traditional dying techniques,  using walnut, onion and other vegetable plants, have survived to today. Overnight in Botiza. 5 hours walking.

 

Day 12:

Walk to Poienile. The wooden church is filled with paintings (18th C) of the Day of Judgement. Remarkable also are the carvings on the church door showing snakes, wolves’ teeth, fish scales and a moon. Then walk through beautiful scenery to Barsana monastery with beautiful views to the distant mountains. The nunnery, set in a beautiful garden is new, but built with traditional techniques – not a single nail was used. Overnight in the monastery accommodation.

 

Day 13:

Visit to the workshop and private museum of Mr. Barsan, who, together with his son, still carves traditional wooden gates. Through further villages adorned with old wooden gates decorated with Pagan and Christian symbols you reach Oncesti. 4 hours walk.

 

Day 14:

Walk in the surrounding to a mineral spring; or (optional) have a tour  to Sapanta to visit the ‘Happy Cemetery’ famous for its humorous grave inscriptions (‘Griga, may you pardoned be, even though you stabbed me’) and colourful pictures. Night train to Bucharest and departure.

 

Extension Week Price:

Additional £450 per person based on two people sharing.

Single-Supplement: £70 6 nights in pensions in double room (partly shared facilities) and a monastery, on half-board (breakfast and dinner).

1 night overnight train.

Transfer to Maramures, luggage transfers during the walks,

Telephone contact, route description, map for every walking day (1:50 000).

 

Not Included:

Forestry train (5 euro), Sapanta round-trip (30 euro), taxi transfers.