Travel Planner: Biertan & Copsa Mare, Dobrogea vineyards, caves & mosques
My job allows me to spend quite some time traveling across Romania and despite this, it has been hard for me to see Romania through the eyes of the tourist. Of course, there are the usual comments every time the services in hotels or restaurants don't live up to expectations or when, due to the lack of infrastructure, we reach our destination with a delay. But I have to admit, apart from all these, we have a surprisingly beautiful country, there are great areas I haven't imagined I would find here. And there are special and unique accommodation places.
Guest post by Anca Nichifor, personal travel planner
I have recently discovered all these with a group of French tourists for whom I have organized a tailor made tour in Romania. I was happy to see them enchanted by their experience in Romania and that we managed to show them the beautiful side of the country. It was due to them that I discovered hidden gems in Romania and I will share with you some of the things that impressed me.
Biertan and Copsa Mare are two villages I enjoyed a lot and where I will definitely go back any time I will feel the need for something authentic.
Copsa Mare or Gross Kopisch, how it is called in German, is a fortress village, with solid buildings dating back from the 16th century. The village is calm and the locals will be happy to tell you about the history of this settlement. The church, a replica of the one in Biertan, is their pride. You can relax by cycling in the surroundings of the village or horse riding, chatting with the villagers from the traditional farms in the area while eating the home made dishes. All these will make you the prisoner of these places.
Biertan first appeared in a document in 1823. Which is hard to tell given that most of the buildings were renovated. Locals live in a different time and they look suspicious at every car and group of tourists passing on the street. Still Biertan has its own charm and the fortified church in the center of the city, which looks as if time hadn't passed by, has kept the beauty of the old days.
The medieval restaurant in the center square is a must visit place. The menu, the decorations and the atmosphere will let you into the authentic medieval spirit.
You can find housing in pensions set up by foreign investors. Houses were renovated and have the needed utilities and the comfort of a hotel, but with the Saxon style and architecture. The furniture is traditional, old and new combine perfectly and the pastel colors send you day dreaming, wishing time stopped its turn.
There will be a traditional culture and food festival in this area at the end of July.
Dobrogea. You don't need to go to France for an a la carte wine tasting. In Dobrogea, a French lady is happy to share her experience in the wine making business and teach you what a good wine is. The Clos de Colombes vineyard are a nice surprise and the food from the vineyard restaurant go together hand in hand with the wines.
And if you're in the area, there are some hidden gems you shouldn't miss.
Limanu cave, a former refuge during attacks in the old days, a hide away for thieves and house for wanderers. The story goes its galleries go as far as Bulgaria and Turkey and at least some of them were dug by men.
La Adam cave is the only one in Romania in the top of European caves with a big historical value.
Esmahan Sultan mosque (in Mangalia), standing there since 1525, is the oldest mosque in Romania. It has gone through changes in time, but it stayed as important in the Turkish and Tatar community, which still use it for their daily prayers. The stories from the mosque's past are interesting and Halil Ismet, who is the spiritual leader of the community, will be happy to tell you these stories.
This is the Romania I know. Or better yet, the piece of Romania I have seen, and that I want to share with the others, especially with the foreigners.
I am anxious to discover new places. Nice places and beautiful people, and tell their stories to the French, English, German, Spanish.