he millenary gastronomic tradition of the Sibiu region is an expression of the area’s multiculturalism. The beauty of the surroundings, the rich natural resources, the local cultural diversity and the history of the area have shaped Sibiu’s culinary universe. Forwards, we present a series of interviews and 10 tourist circuits which will give you the opportunity to enjoy both the architectural and natural wonders and the culinary delights. Since in 2019 Sibiu will hold the title of European Region of Gastronomy, we will tell you about 10 restaurants which are known for their delicious foods.
European Region of Gastronomy
- Excursion to Sibiu County - August 16, 2019
- Day 1
Middle Ages splendor
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Day 4
Nature and hiking
- Day 5
Romanian villages in Marginime, popular art and traditions
- Day 6
Transylvania’s fortified churches
- Day 7
- Day 8
SIGHISOARA - The Pearl of Transylvania
- Day 9
TRANSYLVANIAN WINE TOUR
- Day 10
TRANSALPINA - Romania's highest mountain road
• Brukenthal Avrig Palace
• Avrig Evangelical Church
• The Avrig Museum
• Clay Castle “Fairies’ Valley”
• The Cârța Cistercian Abbey
• The Fortified Evangelical Church of Moşna
• Tasting local traditional products
Departure from Sibiu at 10:00
We shall visit:
– Brukenthal Avrig Palace – Throughout its 250-year history, the estate has passed through the hands of several owners and has had several directions: the Brukenthal family, various families in the area, the Presbytery of the Evangelical Community, which opened a sanatorium in 1908 with a thermal facility. After 1948 the settlement was taken over by the state, which maintained the sanitarium. Since 1999 the land has been owned by the Samuel von Brukenthal Foundation, and in 2005 the sanatorium was disbanded. Today, the complex is open to visitors who want to enjoy a special atmosphere in the shadow of the Carpathian Mountains.
– The Avrig Evangelical Church – In the 13th century, the Saxon colonists arrived in the Avrig area and built a much smaller basilica on the site of the current Evangelical Church. By the 15th century, following the whole process of reconstruction and fortification of the churches of Transylvania, the Avrig church was also reinforced with fortification walls and turned into a church hall.
Due to the changes made, the church preserved various elements in different architectural styles: Romanesque portal, Gothic sculptures, Baroque interior elements. In 1770, Baron Samuel von Brukenthal, who was building his new summer residence in the neighborhood, donated for the church a clock that still works today.
– The Avrig Museum – Designed as an ethno-cultural center, the museum includes an exhibition dedicated to Gheorghe Lazar, a collection of folk art called generic Maria Spiridon, a glassware collection, a collection of glass icons and circles for traditional craftsmanship.
At the end of the visit we shall be able to attend a special weaving workshop.
– The Clay Castle Fairies’ Valley – It is a private project that has left the idea of a “fairy-tale natural house” and is built of natural materials. Thanks to the special architecture that makes you think about children’s story books, it attracts thousands of curious tourists.
– The Cârţa Cistercian Abbey– It is the only Cistercian monastery in Romania, it played a major role both in the political, economic and cultural history of medieval Transylvania, as well as in the introduction and dissemination of Gothic art in the Carpathian area. It was founded at the beginning of the 13th century by the Cistercian monks, and the first buildings of the monastery were raised, according to the Cistercian orders, from perishable materials, probably from wood, which could be dated with relative safety between 1205-1206.
– The Fortified Evangelical Church of Moşna, dating back to the 13th century, is one of the most valuable architectural heritage of the fortified churches on the Valea Târnavelor, visited by Prince Charles himself. The tower of the church city always awaits us for an unprecedented tasting of bacon, garden vegetables and cheeses.
– The good work of the Saxon order has always been found in fortified churches. For example, in order to resist the invasions, the Saxons built special stores where they stored their supplies. Moreover, one of the towers was always used to preserve slums during the year. Each family had a place reserved in the tower and its own distinctive sign that it always meant to be applied at bottom after cutting off the bacon. Today, the towers are no longer full of smoked bacon hanging in hooks, but offer the opportunity to taste the prepared bacon according to the Saxon custom.
– Traditional meal (bacon, cheese, vegetables), wine tasting.
17:30 Arrival in Sibiu (approximate time)
– All Mercedes Sprinder minibuses
– Entering all the tour objectives
– Group companion
– Participation workshop
– Tasting traditional products
A visit of the historic center
We start the day with a short visit of the old historic center, where we can admire buildings from the 12th century German-Saxon burg.
Piata Mare (The Big Square), the town’s largest open space and the starting point of the walk, reunites two prestigious landmarks: The Catholic Church and The Brukenthal Museum.
First mentioned as a grain market in 1411, it was the site of the citadel’s main events: carnivals, executions, public meetings. Wherever you turn you will find beautifully colored houses which are over half a century old and are renowned for having oval windows which are shaped as eyelids.
The Brukenthal Museum with its graceful Baroque facade was designed in the 18th century by order of Samuel von Brukenthal a keen art collector and a high imperial clerk at the court of Empress Maria Theresa. The museum keeps a portrait by Jan van Eyck and numerous Romanian art exhibits.
Piata Mica (The Little Square) is home to some of the oldest buildings in town.
Turnul Sfatului (The Old Council Tower) dates back to the 14th century and has an arch tunnel which links Piata Mare to Piata Mica.
In the middle of the Piata Mica stands Podul Minciunilor (The Liars Bridge), a 1859 wrought-iron bridge that was jokingly that way due to the fact that under it was a meeting point for gossipers.
One of the sides of the square contains the Museum of Pharmacy, which hosts medical instruments from the 16th century. The museum keeps alive the memory of Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy who established his first lab in Sibiu in 1797.
The small Piata Huet (Huet Square) is tucked behind old buildings and is home to the grandiose Evangelical Cathedral, the 14th century edifice with its beautifully carved tomb stones, which belong to important clergymen.
Nearby we see the 13th century Turnul Scarilor (The Gate Tower), Sibiu’s oldest standing building.
For a contemporary and elegant stop, we recommend you try the Atrium Cafe. Situated in a historic building, right on the Liars Bridge, the café comes with a light bourgeois atmosphere, with many small, beautifully decorated rooms, books and good music. The Atrium Cafe’s intimate ambience is matched by gourmet delights that stir your senses, culinary evenings with a variety of themes (raw vegan, spanish, italian, sushi). If you’re lucky, you can enjoy live cooking shows, piano music and photo shots.
This day is entirely dedicated to local traditional crafts and customs.
Muzeul Civilizatiei Populare Traditionale ASTRA (The ASTRA Museum of Traditional Folk Civilization) is one the biggest ethnographic museums in the world.
Hidden in the thick Dumbrava forest, The Astra open-air museum is one of Transylvania’s oldest and largest ethnographical museums. It spreads across 96 acres, has over 10 km of alleys, 2 restaurants and a playground for children. The museum aims to exhibit the old, rich rural heritage of Romania: old houses and dwellings gathered from all of the regions of Transylvania, installations, workshops, churches and inns. The first exhibition opened its gates to the public in 1905.
After returning in time, it’s time to stop for a culinary delight at Weidner’s Restaurant. It is right in the heart of Sibiu, only a few steps away from the major tourist attractions (Piata Mare, Bridge of the Liar). Here you will be spoiled with traditional Transylvanian dishes: goulash soup, sibian sauce or pork roasted with cabbage. Last but not least, the historic charm decor and the hospitality of the hosts will contribute to a successful dinner.
Rasinari + Paltinis (Adventure Park) + B&B Mai
If you decide to go beyond the outskirts of Sibiu, Rasinari is the main rural destination which will help you fully understand the traditional Transylvanian village. It is actually considered as a quarter of Sibiu, being linked with the town center by the famous tram line which runs through the Dumbrava forest. Here we will catch the first glimpse of this rural universe, and its importance for two remarkable cultural personalities who were born here: Emil Cioran and Octavian Goga.
If we venture another 20 km South of Rasinari, we reach Paltinis, atop Cindrel Mountains, a very popular destination among Sibiu city folks, especially in the winter season, when it is full of skiers. Here we find Arka Adventure Park, with lots of tree climbing facilities. You can also take the trails and hike in the surrounding area. On your way back to Sibiu, make a quick stop for a gourmet meal at Pensiunea Mai in Rasinari. Ask for a grilled trout, a veal stew or a Sibian plate for starters.
Fagaras Mountains + Albota B&B
The entire day is dedicated to hiking through the longest and tallest mountain chain of the Carpathians – the Fagarasi Mountains. In order to reach the Fagaras Mountains we will pass through the city of Avrig, home of the Brukenthal Summer Palace which was built in 1771 – the gorgeous Baroque summer palace of the wealthy governor Samuel von Brukenthal.
As we reach a crossroad, we are faced with the following dilemma: should we go right to Fagarasi or left to the Abby from Carta. A short detour will lead us to the impressive ruins of a 13th century construction built by French monks. We come back on the main road and follow the path to the hem of the Fagarasi Mountains.
We hop on the cable car near Cabana Balea Cascada (Balea Waterfall Chalet) which takes us at 2000m at Cabana Balea Lac (Balea Lake Chalet). The landscape is simply breathtaking, with spectacular views of the Transfagarasan road which was constructed by the Communists between 1970-1974 as a strategic road between Transylvania and Wallachia.
Once you get to the mountain top, you could spend some time sunbathing on the chalet terrace or go hiking on the surrounding peaks for a panoramic view of the Balea Lake.
As we climb down the Fagaras Mountains we make a small detour to Pastravaria Albota (Albota Trout Farm) for a delightful genuine Transylvanian meal. The caraway soup and grilled trout are a must.
Marginimea Sibiului + Casa Elena Sibiel
Marginimea Sibiului is a very popular rural destination among both foreign and Romanian visitors. Cisnadie, Saliste and Sibiel are the most popular.
CISNADIE (Heltau in German) has a population of only 16000 people. The town’s main tourist attraction is the amazing Evangelical Church with its 3 rings of fortification created in 1493 after a devastating Turkish attack. The other attraction is Expozitia Muzeala Istoricul Textilei (History of Textiles Exhibit). Cisnadie is still a leading manufacturing centre especially known for its woolen carpets and traditional weavings.
SALISTE is located in the middle of the Marginimea Sibiului area and the best time to visit this little town is between Christmas and New Year, during the traditional Transylvanian dance festival.
SIBIEL is known for having a museum filled with an impressive collection of glass painted icons. The collection was founded by Father Zosim Oancea. The village centre is known for the Holy Trinity Church which dates back to 1765 when the Orthodox cult was forbidden in Transylvania.
The people still keep alive old traditions. In Sibiel you can enjoy fresh cow or sheep produce and traditional meals. Casa Elena is by far the best known guest house, constantly attracting foreign visitors.
German colonists settled down in the center of Transylvania during the Middle Ages. After the Tartars attacks in mid 13th century, they used their skills in masonry and carpentry to raise the fortified churches that would eventually become their refuge during long battles.
Almost every German village had built up one or several rings of fortification around the village church in order to shelter the entire population.
One extraordinary example is Biertan, erected in the mid 16th century. The church is impressive not only due to its 3 fortification rings but also due to the fact that is has been the seat of the Lutheran Church for three hundred years.
And if you went out of Sibiu and you went to Transylvania, you will not return home without visiting Alba Iulia. For rest and relaxation we recommend the Martinutzi Domains. It’s a magical place full of sophistication, dominated by Count Redey’s Castle. You will really feel spoiled by the welcoming hosts, the modern and relaxing spa, the appetizing and healthy dishes.
Sibiu Saline + Hindu Restaurant
You can spend the entire day swimming in one of the 12 salty lakes of the Saline. The lakes were formed following medieval salt mine excavations and are known for curing numerous diseases.
The Hindu restaurant is the best choice if you want to enjoy a tasty meal.
SIGHISOARA – The Pearl of Transylvania
We set out towards the heart of Transylvania, with a clear desire to visit Sighisoara, probably the best-known medieval German burg. Each step we make we encounter lovely peasant fortified edifices.
The first one we see is Slimnic, a village that belonged to the Seat of Sibiu, a 13th century construction re-enforced in the following centuries, which has only been conquered twice: in 1529 and in 1706.
We carry on with our journey, driving through enchanting rural scenery which boasts outstanding fortified churches in places such as Seica Mare, Agarbiciu and Axente Sever. We cover half the distance before reaching another German burg of Medias, built around the most important religious building, Saint Margaret Church. The citadel was raised to the rank of burg only in 1534.
Finally we get to Sighisoara, considered to be the best preserved medieval burg of the Siebenburgen. Getting inside the citadel wherever we go we marvel at old historic sites: The Church of the Old Monastery, The Clock Tower – Sighisoara’s landmark, Count Dracula’s House, supposedly the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, The Wooden Staircase, The Church and School on the Hill.
On our way back to Sibiu, we shall stop at Danes for lunch at the Dracul Manor also known for its horse farm and the beautiful equestrian activities.
TRANSYLVANIAN WINE TOUR
We shall now have a look at one of Transylvania’s most tasteful attractions: the wine, especially the white dry wines such as Riesling Italian, Traminer.
We start our tour with a short drive to Alba Iulia, an old medieval tourist destination, dating back to the Roman period. We shall visit the remains of the Roman Carolina Citadel, then the Catholic Cathedral, The Union Orthodox Ensemble, The Union Museum, the citadel’s gates. Then we are all invited for wine-tasting and snacks at Ciumbrud Cellars.
We drive on to Blaj, another place linked to the mid-19th century Burgeois Revolution that swept Eastern Europe. The Trinity Cathedral erected in mid-18th century is the main attraction, with the burial places of the Bishop Inocențiu Micu-Klein and the Cardinal Alexandru Todea.
Finally we reach Jidvei, a Transylvanian vineyard famous for both the dry white wine and also for the French Renaissance style Castle Bethlen-Haller, built between 1615-1624, a scaled copy of the Chambrod Castle in France.
TRANSALPINA – Romania’s highest mountain road
We drive along the scenic River Olt valley. We turn right along the Lotru valley, the River Olt’s most important tributary and we head towards the heart of the Lotru Mountains. After we leave behind the enchanting rural landscape, we drive up to the Vidra River Dam and Lake, which along with other 3 storage lakes form one of Romania’s if not Europe’s most complex hydropower systems of the late 70s. The mountain and the lakes scenery is dramatic making us stop at every scene we encounter.
Finally we get to Obarsia Lotrului, a crossroad branching off in other 3 directions. We have a stop at Hanul Haiducilor where we can choose from many traditional Romanian dishes: pork meat cooked in fat, stuffed cabbage leafs, pork jelly, smoked pork with beans or cabbage stew, shepherd’s plates as starters.
Afterwards we begin our ascent to the alpine section of the road and we reach an altitude of 2200m. We make a stop in order to admire the grandiose landscapes: rocky peaks, alpine pastures, deep dark valleys.
We return to Obarsia Lotrului and carry on to Oasa and Valea Frumoasei with the intention to cross the mountains again to Transylvania at Sebes and Sibiu.