Due to Prince Charles and Mihai Eminescu Trust, hidden gems such as Viscri village are increasingly sought by tourists, charmed by the beauty of the area, the simplicity of life, the Saxon traditional well preserved architecture and customs of a community which is almost exctint (27 Saxons out of 500 inhabitants). It seems that here, all stand still and that medieval times come alive in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. This Romanian top destination, known world-wide helps every modern tourist to get away from it all ,to escape from the hussle and bussle of a city and come back to traditions, to bygone eras when aproximately one millenium ago the first Saxon settled down here coming from Luxembourg and built a strong community who resisted to all obstacles. The impressive heritage is perfectly preserved and shows the typicall quaint colourful Saxon houses with painted blinds, which line up on each side of the road and the simple white romanesque fortified church which stands out in the centre of the village.
But what’s the connection with Prince Charles? Well, it’s this royal member who, under the patronage of Mihai Eminescu Trust, refurbished all the houses in the specific of Saxon comunnity without spoiling the traditional elements saying: “Do not change anything, keep and love this place as it is”. All the villagers’ houses were declared historical monuments. The property bought by Prince Charles is located at number 163 – an ordinary house, built in 1758, painted in blue, with a large yard and a specific fountain area. He comes here every summer and uses to go riding in the surrounding hills, until Rupea and Homorod.Overmore, the village and the fortified church are included on the UNESCO Heritage List since 1993.
Location– The village is situated in the centre of Romania, close to Sighisoara (40 km). So as to reach Viscri, you have to quit the main road (E60) in Bunesti,turn right and you have 8 km to drive till you get to the remote village which succedded in keeping up its exact local atmosphere. You’ll be amazed seeing an isolated place tucked away under Transylvanian oak and beech forests and sheltered from the busy life of a city.
What you should first do is to scroll down the streets and gaze in front of each Saxon house, analyse its design, mix up with the locals, take some unforgettable photos of unique properties marked with MET inscriptions (Mihai Eminescu Trust) and the year of renovation and decorated with traditional elements. When I visited Viscri, there where many British, Spanish, German, French tourists that enjoyed their visit and that were astonished by the charming Saxon culture represented by houses and by the landmark of the village, the white fortified church. Get into souvenir shops and buy homemade products: marmadelades, syrups, traditionally painted items-furniture, pots, clothes and what are very popular here are the warmy handmade feltshoes made of wool which take 3 hours to skillful women to make, puting layer over layerof wool (in total 7 layers). Difficult and meticulously work! At a table, in a Saxon yard, take a meal and why not spend a night there like Prince Charles. Who knows if you aren’t lucky and bump into the royalty.
And here we are, in front of the most iconic place in the village- the fortified church, considered one of the most picturesque churches in Transylvania. Climb the path towards the chuch and stay for a while admiring the massiveness of the semicircular white defense walls which are completed by the donjons. Like a real peasant fortress resisting to the enemies! If you contemplate the fortified church from the outside, it is the towers and the height of the massive walls which stand out and the small church almost totally disappears behind them. Today, this impressive fortification houses a traditional Saxon museum. For a fee (4 lei adult and 2 lei child/student) payed to a friendly German,you can discover its heritage and how the Saxons have lived. The central church surrounded by the defesive walls seems so small but inside, you’ll gaze at the simplicity of the motifs (faded a bit by the patina of times) inspired from the Transylvanian Saxon popular art. The interior of the church recalls the atmosphere of a traditional Saxon house, rich in folklore art. Sit on the old wooden benches and indulge your ears with a pure, relaxing and divine concert of the organ pipe.
Then, entirely fullfilled, head to the rear of the church and climb the narrow and steep staircase to the tower of the chuch (not indicated to the claustrophobics). It worths the effort.Tired,with your feet trembling due to the difficult climb, you’ll be prized with a fantastic view of the meadows (so appreciated by the Prince Charles grace to their various types of plants) of the green forests and especially of the wonderful village. The panoramic view from the tower is a highlight in Viscri. Downside, surround the church and see the traces of history, the inscriptions dating back to 12th century. And the beautiful flowers of the right side corner.
Your last thing to do here is to visit the Saxon Museum, several rooms displaying the Saxon culture-furnitures, papers, items, clothes, an exhibition of an interesting community who left their landmark in many parts of Transylvania. Again, you have to ascend some stairs so as to arrive in the towers of the defensive walls from where you’ll delight yourself with an amazing view and from where you can distinguish the extraordinary circular shape of this fortress. Wowww! And now, your visit to the church has ended.
All in all, subject of many reportages and stories throughout the British and international mass-media, including the hit series of travel movies Wild Carpathia, the village of Viscri has come to the spotlight of Romanian tourism, thousands of foreign visitors arriving in the private guesthouses each year, some of them thanks to the publicity from Prince Charles. So if travelers from the four corners of the world want to evade and meet an authentic place where people still live in perfect communion with nature, then they should give Viscri a chance. Hope you’ve enjoyed my article! Thanks for stopping by and go to Viscri!