This is a two days tour about royal families, royal and fake castles, royal fortresses, royal tombs and royal acts. We depart from the royal city of Cluj and make the first stop in Turda to visit the salt mine, which, during the rule of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, achieved the biggest fame and development of all times. We shall then stop to visit Alba Iulia and it’s Vauban fortress. Stories about the ancient Romans, the Hungarian kings, the union of Transylvania with Romania will finally clarify the royal theme of this tour. In Hunedoara we will discover the Hunyad Castle which, as it’s name already says it, belonged to the Hunyad Family, namely to King’s Mathia Corvinus father. Here, you’ll have the chance to hear lots of legends and stories about the royal family, it’s origin, medieval fighting techniques and so on. Close to Hunedoara we’ll then visit the Romanesque stone church from Strei. Built between the 13th and the 14th century, it is one of the oldest stone churches in Transylvania built not by the Saxons or the Szeklers, but by a Romanian noble family. From here we’ll make a small deviation to visit Densus stone church, often said to be the oldest church in Romania. There are many hypotheses regarding the origins of the Densus church, some say it was built on the bases of a pagan Dacian temple, others say it was built on the bases of a Christian Roman church. Yet, on the spot we shall discover remaining that lead to both theories. We will end our journey with a visit to the royal Dacian fortress of Sarmizegetusa Regia and a hike to the best preserved Dacian fortress: Costesti Blidaru.
Day 1 Departure from Cluj in the morning toward the Hateg area. First stop of the day will be in Turda where we will take a fabulous underground voyage into the wombs of the ancient salt mine. Next stop will be in Alba Iulia to discover the city’s fortress and it’s military, political, religious and cultural role throughout the centuries.
Arrival in Hunedoara in the afternoon and visit the Hunyad Castle. Pretty popular for tourists, yet not as popular as the royal Peles Castle in Sinaia or the ‘Dracula Castle’ in Bran, Hunyad Castle was chosen as a set for the shooting of Ghost Rider 2, starring Nicholas Cage. On the other hand, the castle was classified by several travel publications as being in top ten must-see European castles. Why? Easy: because of it’s impressive Gothic architecture. It was built by the House of Hunyad, more precisely John Hunyadi, one of the richest noblemen in the Kingdom of Hungary, also the father of the future king of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus, who was born in Cluj! We shall end the day having a look at some Gypsy palaces that have rather exotic Asian architecture than local one. Overnight in Hunedoara.
Day 2 In the morning we leave towards the very heart of the Hateg region. This day is scheduled for the visits that make Hateg so well famed: Medieval stone churches and Dacian fortresses. First stop will be in Strei village to visit the small, yet remarkably charming stone church. From here we continue for Densus medieval stone church to admire the blinded saints. The rest of the day will be spent deep in the Sureanu Mountains. After a 20 km gravel road, at 1200m above sea level, we shall arrive at Sarmizegetusa Regia fortress, the most impressive of all the Dacian fortresses in Romania (UNESCO heritage). Headquarter of the Dacians capital’s defensive system including 5 other fortresses, Sarmizegetusa Regia contained a citadel and residential areas with dwellings and workshops as well as a sacred areas. We shall end the day with a hike through the forest (50 min / 1 way) to see the best preserved of the 6 fortresses, namely Costesti Blidaru. Arrival in Cluj in the evening.