The Region of Oltenia

This weekend break is going to take you to the south-eastern part of Romania, the very beautiful, but quite unknown region of Oltenia. We will visit some superb Orthodox monasteries, the hometown and masterpieces of the world-famous sculptor Constantin Brâncuşi and admire the superb Parâng Mountains.

Day One

Departing from Sibiu in the afternoon, we will cross the medieval border between Transylvania and Oltenia and reach the small city of  Curtea de Argeş. It is the birth place of Wallachia and used to be capital city of this province for many years. One can still visit the ruins of the royal residence, where many rulers and princes lived and have built an impressive byzantine church. The monastery of Curtea de Argeş, which we will visit, is not located very far from the city. It is a  splendid mix of Moorish and Balkan building styles, where, legend has it, a human sacrifice was needed to complete the church. This small town is going to host us for this evening.

Day Two

Departing from Curtea de Argeş, we will drive through Râmnicu Vâlcea and reach one of the region’s most important religious and cultural sites, the monastery of Bistriţa. Initially built in the 15th century, it was often destroyed and rebuilt by the local rulers, until the 19th century, when it reached its present form. The frescoes are very interesting, from old Cretan paintings in the small medieval chapel, to the classic Romanian Orthodox paintings made by one of the most famous national painters, Gheorghe Tăttărescu.

Departing from Bistriţa, we will drive to the small village of Măldărăşti, where we will visit a very interesting complex of medieval buildings called cule. These are stone-built massive palaces, in form of defensive towers, which were used both for housing and protection in case of danger. The architecture is very interesting, from beautiful, fancy dormitories with superb old furnishing, to military loopholes and pitch noses from the outside.

At lunch we are going to reach the small city of Horezu. It is famous all over the country, as one of Romania’s most important ceramic production centers. All of the local ceramics are decorated with lively coloured painted local motives, such as oak leaves, or animals and birds (the famous symbol of this ceramics is the Horezu rooster) and you will find ceramic pieces of all sizes and shapes at a local craftsman, who is going to show us some of the secrets of his art.

In the surroundings of the city, we will visit one of Romania’s most beautiful monasteries, called Hurezi. It is on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites and is probably the perfect example of the Romanian traditional church architecture. This particular style was founded in the 17th century by the martyr ruler Constantin Brâncoveanu, who was executed in Constantinople because of his religious beliefs and the stubbornness to protect them. During his lifetime, he and his architects had designed a new architectural style, combining several Balkan, Armenian, Byzantine and Italian elements, to reach this enchanting style in which this monastery is built. The whole settlement is situated in a superb location, at the foot of the mountains. In the evening we will reach the small village of Dobriţa, where we will check in for the night and enjoy a great homemade organic meal.

Day Three

After breakfast we will depart for Tismana, one of the first Orthodox monasteries of the country. It was built in the 14th century by a monk from Mount Athos, who later became the first metropolitan bishop of the country, Nicodim. The inside frescoes are very impressive and have been restored in the last couple of years. Right outside of the monastery, there is a secret passage, used by Romanian National Bank to hide its treasures during the Second World War

Our next goal is one of highlights of this journey: Târgu Jiu. The small city situated on the banks of the Jiu River is famous because of Constantin Brâncuşi. He is considered to be the patriarch of modern sculpture and was born in a poor peasant family in Hobiţa, right outside of Târgu Jiu. Before immigrating to Paris (he actually walked from Romania to France), he gifted his home town some of his masterpieces. We are not only going to have the chance not to find out more about this world-class artist, but also see some of his works, such as the Table of Silence, the Endless Column or the gate of the kiss.

In the afternoon we will drive back to Sibiu. The ride is more than special, as we are going to travel along the Transalpina mountain road and reach altitudes of over 2500 meters, in a superb, breathtaking natural scenery. In the evening we will arrive to Sibiu.