Retrace the footsteps of Hutterite ancestors as you cross the Transylvania region of Romania; home to the small Hutterite community of Alwinz for nearly 150 years. See the orphanage built by the Jesuits to house the Hutterite children that they planned to abduct if their parents didn’t recant their Anabaptist faith. Envision the great escape that thwarted the Jesuit plan as the last 77 Hutterites, one-third of which were children under 12, fled over the Transylvanian Alps and miraculously escaped to safety, in a Muslim-controlled country. Also, explore the rich heritage of the Saxon Germans and Romanians with whom the Hutterites interacted. Marvel at the historic architectural beauty of medieval castles, churches and villages. Scenic Transylvania is where the Carinthian Lutheran converts with the family names of Hofer, Kleinsasser, Glanzer, Waldner, and Wurtz, joined the Hutterite families of Wipf, Tschetter and Stahl to form the nucleus from which the rejuvenated Hutterites would grow and prosper. Tour leader Rodney Hofer is the author of Hutterites in Romania: A Brief History and Guide. He is a wealth of passion and knowledge about Hutterite history.
Romania Hutterite and Cultural Tour
Saturday, June 5 Sibiu
Arrive in Sibiu, an important Romanian cultural centre located in the region of Transylvania and meet your fellow travelers. Depending on your arrival time, optional afternoon activities could include a walking tour or visiting sites and attractions near your hotel. Receive a tour orientation over dinner.
Sunday, June 6 Sibiu
Begin discovering Hutterite history in Romania at Casa Altemberger, which was Hermannstadt City Hall until 1948. Numerous Hutterites were jailed in this building. Then visit an orphanage built by Jesuits to house the Hutterite children they planned to abduct. At the Hermannstadt Penitentiary Workhouse, remember Mathias Hofer and three Carinthian teenage girls who were imprisoned there for 15 years. Your final stop of the day is the 200-year-old Brukenthal National Museum, the oldest museum in Romania, housed in the palace of its founder, the Transylvanian governor Samuel von Brukenthal.
Monday, June 7 Sibiu
At the Museum of Folkloric Traditional Civilization, gain insight into Romanian culture as you explore this open-air museum’s wealth of exhibits on traditional village life. Visit two of Romania’s many fortified churches at Cisnadie and Cisnadioara, both built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century. These strongholds protected villagers from Ottoman attacks until the 18th century. Depending on concert schedules, you may have the opportunity to listen to a noon-hour organ concert at the Evangelical Cathedral. This afternoon, explore Sibiu on your own, shop for souvenirs, or relax at your hotel.
Tuesday, June 8 Deva
Travel to Romos, the first village in which the Carinthian Lutherans settled. In Romos, visit the Parochial House, now a museum, where the German settlers hid when the town was raided during invasions. Be amazed by Hunedoara Castle, one of the largest castles in Europe, built in a Gothic-Renaissance style. Then continue on to Deva for the night.
Wednesday, June 9 Alba Iulia
Tour the ruins of Deva Castle, where three Carinthian Lutherans were imprisoned in the dungeon. Later, shop for quality leather and fur items at an outlet store in Orăṣtie. In Vintu de Jos (Alwinz), visit the ruins of a castle which was the site of positive and negative experiences for Hutterites. They were given sanctuary in the castle in 1622 but later the Jesuits used the castle as a prison for Hutterites. In Alba Iulia, one of the oldest settlements in Romania, dating back to the Roman Empire, take a self-guided tour of the wide, tree-lined streets of the citadel. Also, walk along the citadel walls.
Thursday, June 10 Alba Iulia
In Alba Iulia, enjoy a special opportunity to see Hutterite codices on an arranged visit at the Biblioteca Batthyaneum. View the spectacular changing of the guard ceremony at the Alba Iulia Citadel, then visit the New Gate of the city where Hutterite leaders were imprisoned in the citadel walls. See the 11th century Roman Catholic cathedral which once had a bishop who was a Hutterite landlord at Alwinz. Later, learn about Romanian Orthodox customs at an Orthodox cathedral.
Friday, June 11 Sighișoara
Visit the fortified church in Mălâncrav, a 14th century church featuring rare well-preserved Gothic frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible. The Romani (often referred to as gypsies) are the largest minority ethnic group in Romania. Visit some Romani craftspeople, either coopers (barrel-makers) or copper-smiths, in the village of Bratieu.
Saturday, June 12 Brasov
Admire the picturesque ruins of the Cârța Monastery, once inhabited by Benedictine monks. On your way to Bran Castle, drive through the Barza Valley as you follow the escape route of Hutterites travelling to Wallachia. Stop in Biertan to admire a UNESCO World Heritage designated church which is one of the largest of Transylvania’s fortified churches. Tour the famous Bran Castle, aka “Dracula’s Castle”, a stunning medieval stronghold that is now a museum. End the day in Brasov (Kronstadt)—a fortified medieval city which the Hutterites took great pains to avoid during their escape in 1767.
Sunday, June 13 Brasov
Drive to Sinaia and tour Peles Castle, often considered one of the loveliest castles in Europe, as well as the nearby Pelisor Castle—smaller than Peles but beautiful nonetheless. Take a winery tour at Azuga, known for providing the royal family with their favourite wines. Continue to the best-preserved peasant fortress of Transylvania—the Prejmer fortified church, also a UNESCO designated site.
Monday, June 14 Brasov
Begin the day with some time to shop and explore the city of Brasov. Then visit the impressive Black Church, so-called because a great fire in 1689 blackened the exterior of this massive Gothic-style structure.
Tuesday, June 15 Sibiu
Admire the picturesque ruins of the Cârța Monastery, once inhabited by Benedictine monks. At Cincu (known in German as Gross Shenk), remember Carinthian refugees Johannes Hofer and Christian Nägeler, both of whom died in this village in about 1760. Over a final dinner, reflect together on your experiences.
Wednesday, June 16
Depart for home.
For further information, please contact us. We would be happy to be of assistance.