The hidden gems of Europe

Look out the window: concrete giants compete in the number of stories and show off their metallic structures; underground and elevated passages are more and more ingenious; and highways ever longer and wider - the heritage we will leave to future generations.
When you are tired of seeing how the criteria of functionalism interfere even with art, your salvation is the past. It takes you to the age when people painted their monasteries with thoroughness and faith, Saxons were imposing their principles of a beautiful and well-organized architecture, and Tzars were building impressive palaces.
The Medieval Age is a fascinating story, which happened differently in geographically very close areas. Even if they are neighboring countries and have had similar histories (marked by long-lasting conflicts with the Ottomans), Bulgaria and Romania looked differently in the Middle Ages and so do they in the present.
Bulgarians pride themselves with Sofia, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo, where the orthodox religious architecture dominates the remains of an architecture imposed by the Ottomans during the 500 years of domination. In Veliko Tarnovo, perhaps the most charming city in Bulgaria, Ottoman-style or traditional picturesque Bulgarian houses pile like in a hive on the mountains surrounding the city. From the Tsarevets Hill (Imperial Hill) one can admire a beautiful view of the former medieval capital and walk through the ruins of the imperial palace.
If you drive north, Romania brings not only a change of scenery, but also a different heritage. Bucovina, an ancient Romanian land, is home to some of the most impressive monasteries. Legend has it that prince Stefan the Great swore to build a monastery after each victory against the Ottomans. The monasteries built by him do not impress with grandeur, but through the beauty of detail, the scenes painted on exterior walls and the vivid colors.
Beyond the Carpathians, in Transylvania, there are no painted churches and monasteries, but Saxon fortified churches and citadels instead. The German spirit is everywhere, from hidden inner courtyards, to tall houses with massive gates, and large squares and churches with high towers. On the narrow cobbled stone streets, in Sighisoara, near the Black Church in Brasov, or on a stroll through Sibiu, you will get the rare feeling that the present has faded away and you are in an old world, of centuries past.
Come to Bulgaria and Romania for a trip back in time, back to the Middle Ages!
Price: €1875 per person in twin/double share

Departures: 24th of June; 23rd of September

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