Castles & Mountains in Transylvania and Beyond
Drive to Bran to visit its castle known as 'Dracula's castle’. The castle is perched atop a 60m peak in the centre of Bran village. The glory days of Bran began long ago, in the 13th century, when on a mountain crag called Dietrich’s Rock; a fortress was erected to protect the commercial route connecting the area to the town of Campulung. In the Brasov pass, at the end of the corridor separating the Bucegi and the Piatra Craiului Mountains, the merchants of Brasov built in 1377, a castle that became an emblem of the area. The castle was built to defend the Bran mountain pass against Turks, and was used also as a summer royal residence by Queen Marie of Romania, the granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria
Today, it is a museum with armours and weapons, vaulted halls and secret passages, mediaeval furniture and inner yards, overlooking a dream region. The castle is perfectly fitted to the rock it is raised on the building being integrated to the rock, which served as a pillar up to the 4th level. The edifice is provided with 4 towers corresponding to the 4 cardinal points. The bridge makes the access over a ditch dug in the rock.
Queen Marie of Romania (1875-1938) cherished a lot this place, and some of her personal effects can still be admired in the castle where she used to stay. When she died her heart was placed in a gold casket, as she had wished, and remained hidden in the Bran castle until it was moved in the treasury of Bucharest’s national history museum.
At the foot of the castle there is an ethnographic museum, which enlightens the visitors as to the trades of the place, the traditional costumes and construction styles.
Afternoon walk (12 kms – 3 hrs) in the Pestera- Magura area, exploring the villages where traditional occupations such as sheep farming , wool weaving and cheese making are still in use and enjoying the spectacular views of the mountains: Bucegi on one side and Piatra Craiului on the other.
Piatra Craiului Mountains - flanked by vast areas of natural forest that contain a healthy population of wolves and bears - are some of the wildest mountains in Europe. Largely formed of limestone and very rich in alpine flora, the high areas are grazed by flocks of sheep looked after itinerant shepherds. There are also plenty of interesting birds in the area including White Backed Woodpeckers and Wallcreepers. Piatra Craiului National Park is also known for its diverse flora including the edelweiss, gentian and rhododendron species and an endemic dianthus.
Descend walking from Pestera village to Zarnesti, a small town at the foot of Piatra Craiului Mountain (King Rock’s Mountain). On the way we will stop to visit the impressive chasm of the 'Prapastiile Zarnestilor' limestone gorge, which is best seen by wandering through it on foot.
Return to Harman (Honigberg) for overnight accommodation at The Country Hotel.