At the eastern edge of Europe lies the ring of the Carpathian Mountains. The plains within these mountains were once the homeland of the Dacians, one of Rome’s great enemies, who were conquered in AD106.
Here the Romans stretched their defensive frontier from the Danube across the Carpathians to the Black Sea, in a complex system combining the naturally defensive geography with forts, walls and ditches. Once again at the frontier of empires in the Medieval period, nobles and princes fortified themselves behind Gothic castle walls, inspiring all sorts of Transylvanian legends....
- Visit Histria, the largest excavation site in Romania
- Explore the iconic Bran Castle
- Travel in 4x4s to Sarmizegetusa Regia
- Be accompanied by an expert at all times
- Learn about Greek, Roman, Saxon and Gothic archaeology
- Historic Churches
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
We fly to Bucharest from London and drive to Constanta across the wide Wallachian plains.
Constanța, the ancient city of Tomis, lies on the Black Sea. We will visit ome current excavations and the ‘mosaic building’, probably a market hall. Outside the large museum there stands a statue of Ovid, the city’s most famous ancient resident, exiled here by Augustus, while inside there are finds from the city and all over Dobrogea, including the famous ‘Sculpture Treasury’. In the afternoon we visit Mangalia, originally a Greek colony.
A day at Histria allows us to explore the largest excavation site in Romania. The rolling landscape around is dotted with substantial prehistoric burial tumuli. This was the first Greek colony in the area, bring founded in the 7th century BC. The city survived as a Roman township, and was rebuilt as a small late antique town. Most of the visible monuments are Late Roman in date, including city walls, baths and several Christian basilicas. We will also visit the large site museum.
This morning we head out to Adamclisi. This was the site of Tropaeum Traiani where Trajan’s army erected their victory monument to the conquest of Dacia, building the monument and carving the numerous stone panels depicting the Roman army in action. This is an extraordinary piece of Roman triumphal architecture. We visit the reconstructed monument and the museum with the original carvings. We then explore the ancient city. In the afternoon we return to Bucharest.
Bucharest is a fascinating city. Not for nothing was it called the Paris of the Balkans, with its 19th century French fin di siècle style creating a fantastic mix of architecture. This was added to by the art deco interwar buildings and punctuated, enhanced is hardly the word, with blocks and avenues of the communists. Our first visit is to the National Museum in Bucharest, which holds treasures from all over Romania. Before lunch, we tour the old town, then continue to the Philharmonia Academy followed by a look at the ‘Pharaonic House of the People’ – the Stalinist Juggernaut at the head of the avenue of Socialist Victory, now the Parliament.
We drive this morning along the Prahova Valley to Bran Castle, popularly linked with Rumania’s most famous historical figure, Vlad Tepes or Dracula. We then continue to Brasov. This was one of the cities founded by Saxon settlers from the 12th century and originally named Kronstadt. Its Germanic atmosphere remains in part with many characteristic buildings. We spend the afternoon exploring the city.
We continue exploring Brasov, including the archaeological exhibition and the Gothic Black Church. We then head to the fortified Saxon church of Cisnadie. These fortified centres formed the nucleus of Saxon settlement in the countryside and are a characteristic feature of Transylvania. Then on to Sibiu, a medieval town founded in the 12th century by German settlers. It was European capital of culture in 2007. We explore the old town, including the Bruckenthal Palace, home to one of Romania’s largest and oldest museums.
This morning we follow in the footsteps of the conquering Roman emperor Trajan. We drive up high into the forested Transylvanian hills and mountains to visit the excavations of Sarmizegetusa Regia, centre of the kingdom of Decabulus the Dacian ruler. It has quite a unique appearance, including defensive walls, artificial terraces, temples and sanctuaries. End the day at the nearby 1st-Century Dacian fort of Costeşti, one of the oldest forts in the Orăştie Mountains, and part of the outer defences of Decabulus’ capital.
What happened after the Roman conquest? We find out at Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa, colonial capital of the Roman province of Dacia, with amphitheatre, temples, forum and the residence of the province’s financial procurator. In the afternoon we pay a final visit to the middle ages by visiting the glorious 15th century Gothic Hunyad Castle at Hunedoara. Built by the great warrior Jan Hunyadi it was a bastion of Hungarian and Rumanian power in Transylvania. On to the remarkable medieval church at Densus, built form the 7th century AD with material taken from a Roman temple of Mars.
We return to Bucharest, and catch our flight back to London.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach and 4x4s
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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Many of our tours can be linked together to form longer programmes. We are happy to arrange connecting flights and hotels, allowing you to spend as long as you wish exploring the ancient world... See suggestions below: