Why does the one-of-a-kind Viscri village appeal so much to tourists, especially the Prince Charles?

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.

the fortified church

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.

Saxon house

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.

Mihai Eminescu Trust

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.

souvenirs

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.

inside the fortress

inside the church

 

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.

view from the tower

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.

Saxon museum

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!

A beautiful part of Romania- Coltesti village!

A fairy land in the Alba county which promotes nature, agrotourism in such enchanting villages. Coltesti village,situated in an idyllic place (with the Piatra Secuiului mountains looming into the horizon and on the other side lovely hills, yellow fields) welcomes many holiday-makers who take advantage of the scenic landscape while they are tasting traditional Szeckler food. (at Coltesti Mansion;the same location in the next lines) Cherish yourself with appetizing Goulash ( stew of meat, noodles and vegetables, seasoned with paprika). Not to mention the possibility of winding yourself down during this relaxing trip.

              Get inside and become mesmerized by the traditional architectural style represented everywhere ( on the chairs, tables, walls) It’s something like red-green flowery paintings which embelish every corner of the room. Outside, admire the view and must take some photo to remind you a bit of such picturesque landscapes. If you are attentive you’ll catch the glimpse of the Coltesti Fortress far way into the background( if you are staying in front of the Coltesti Mansion). For accommodation this Mansion will cater for demanding customers.

            Not far from Coltesti village (50 km) there’s the Rimetea village another worth visiting place ,this time for beautifully adorned houses which stand out due to their remarkable facades( restored with the support of EU).  Each house is decorated with the local iron features, in the taste of the 19th century middle class.They are  awarded with Europa Nostra Medal (A conservation project launched in 1996 by the Transylvania Trust Foundation, with a subvention offered by the Local Council of the Budapest, who established a close relationship with the village.)

       A large rectangular square stood in the centre of the village, surrounded by richly ornamented houses. There drink a pure water coming from a mountain spring. Have a stroll in the village,and admire the Orthodox Church and the Unitarian one . Wander through the small lanes getting accustoumed to that atmosphere. Want to know more about their traditions, go to Ethnological Museum near the Orthodox Church. Must-buy some traditional items (painted pottery showing their  flowery models).

            Plan your visit to Coltesti-Rimetea and you’ll be pleased with your selection! Thanks for stopping by!

Sibiu (Hermannstadt) at Christmas!

         Interesting, isn’t it? Yes, Sibiu is a city full of surprises, history at every step, and above all, Christmas atmosphere due to its remarkable Christmas market which can easily compete with every  age-old famous Christmas market in the world. I’ve spent such enjoyable moments there that  I want to share with you and why not convince you to go there and live them. Let’s go!

        

           After parking my car, I began to discover this medieval Romanian city. Climbing some stairs, I was rewarded with thesight of  Sibiu’s fortress placed on a quiet street(Strada Cetatii). I remained impressed about a caffe overlooking Thalia Theatre. Then, I went past the Pottery Tower and Mercer’s Tower , I wandered around narrow streets leading to the city centre. 

Sibiu's fortress

            Sibiu was the European capital of culture in 2007!!!      

           I have a stroll down  the main boulevard. Hustle and bustle atmosphere, people heading towards the Grand Square or window-shopping  or discovering Sibiu like me by foot . Here are some photos from the avenue. You could also go shopping(a lot of brand name stores along the avenue).

            Baroque building

       

           One cannot help but be impressed by the highlight of Sibiu- Grand Square. Beside enchanting little houses whose stalls  were filled with all delights you want, the thing which stroke me the most was a huge chandelier dominating the Christmas market like  a curtain of fairy lights. I began to go past every stall so as to feel the  spirit of Christmas and to buy something which would stay with me forever as a souvenir.

Grand Square

            To make alive my childhood, I bought some ginger bread( so many types that you’d be confused which one to buy) and I sipped a cup of  hot punsch (it was non alcoholic)made of cinnamon,lemon,apple,orange. A real delight! And because I’m a  bit shopaholic I bought some lovely earings showing Santa, snowmen and Christmas bows.Wonderful!

              The last but not the least thing, which I was moved by, was the Christmas tree which was beautifully adorned with yellow lights,Christmas balls,bows, decorations. In one word-amazing!

          

            Do you think that my trip has ended here? No! I continued my journey heading to the Small Square after going past the remarkable Town Hall and the Brukenthal Museum. Not to mention that, my eyes were also attracted by the spine of the Evangelical Church which unfortunately was in renovation. Next time I’d surely have a tour inside it. Then I arrived at  the Small Square, I crossed the Liars Bridge, another important attraction in Sibiu, took some photos and indulged my eyes with beautiful buildings.

           

           

              At evening, I mingled through the crowd, eager to experience the Sibiu’s Christmas market which was worth 1000 words. All the city centre was decked out for Christmas. I remained astonished! It came across to me as a lively carnival of lights, happiness, nice people, Christmas decorations. I loved it so much!And it is important to know that it lasted till the end of the year. It’s time for CHRISTMAS!

             

            I’m sure you’ll enjoy visiting Sibiu so why not pack your luggage and set off! Have a nice trip! Thanks for stopping by!

 

TOP 10 WONDERFUL SIGHTS IN ROMANIA

           What about a relatively unspoilt country with traditions passed down from generation to generation, with amazing tourist attractions  and with breathtaking landscapes? In short, that’s Romania, a land of diversity  which will appeal to all of you.

           1. Peles Castle

Dream at royalties, at luxury lifestyle inside an astonishing castle? Well, go to this castle which is located in a mirific place (Sinaia, Prahova  County). Peles Castle is a reminder of Romanian Royal Family who has intensely left his mark here. (though it’s a blend of different styles~ Neo-Renaissance and Gothic Revival similar to Schloss Neuschwanstein from Bavaria.). It can compete with almost all well-known castles. Get inside and become mesmerized by its amazing chambers made of wooden,marble,ivory.

peles castle

           2. Alba Carolina Fortress

A vast complex where you can have a relaxing stroll while admiring the National Unification Museum, Orthodoxe Cathedral and on top of that, watching the changing of the guard (beautiful costumes,horses,parade,every day at 12 o’clock PM). Overmore, your sight will be holded by the impressive gates (especially the third one-beautifully adorned.) Not to mention that, it’s one of the largest Vauban complexes in Europe, which welcomes numerous tourists from all around the world who are eager to take part at an interactive lesson of history.

a vast complex

           3. Hunyad Castle

A amazing castle perched on a rock, surrounded by a valley and connected with the land through a bridge. This defensive fortress expresses strenght, grandeur, beautifulness. Nowhere in the world will you take so wonderful photos than in front of the castle. Here there’s also a legend related to a fountain which was dug by twelve Turkish prisoners to whom liberty was promised if they reached water. After 15 years they completed the well, but their captors did not keep their promise. It is said that the inscription on a wall of the well means “you have water, but not soul”. Have a tour in this landmark!

           4. Bran Castle

Who hasn’t heard about the Dracula novel written by Bram Stocker whose myth is related to this  castle? For creepy experience and for souvenirs promoting Dracula’s figure;  visit Bran Castle. However, the truth is that the castle was the residence of queen Mary of Romania who has left her mark on the remarkable castle. Either you are interested in the myth or in the history as it was, opt for Bran and you won’t regret it. (wonderful location beside being situated in a touristy resort, Bran).

           5. Turda Salt Mine

Whether you come here to take advantage of the benefits of salt  or you want to indulge your eyes in out of this world things, try Turda Salt Mine. There are its curiosities that make it stand out among other salt mines. You believe it or not, there’s a natural lake at the bottom of the mine where you can have a boat ride while being fascinated by a huge salt cascade whose name is Maria Theresa (shine bright like a diamond),by UFO alike pavilions. There’s also the lift which brings you from the top of the mine ( breathtaking views over the lake) to the bottom. Overmore, its modern characteristics,facilities (playground for children, different sports) make it one of the most interesting salt mines in the world.

Turda Salt mineTheresian Cascade

           6. Sibiu

A remarkable Saxon city with a lot of tradition in the background, which reflects elegance due to its beautiful historical centre. The cobbled alleys will take you a step back in history. Whether you are an art lover(Bruckenthal Museum- said by many to be the second best museum in Romania)or you are interested in traditions (ASTRA  Museum) or animals( Zoo), or you may simply want to wander (I recommend you the Great Square and Huet Squarehome to a jumble of Gothic buildings) Sibiu should be added to your bucket list. Don’t miss to cross  the Liers Bridge!

the great square

           7. Transfagarasan Road

It is the only road that crosses the Fagaras Mountains (the highest mountains of Romania – Moldoveanu peak – 2544 meters ) and connects Muntenia with Transylvania.  The road climbs to 2,034 metres altitude. The most spectacular route is from the North. After driving on winding curves (sometimes you may be scared but it’s a thrilling experience) you’ll be awarded with the spectacular Balea waterfall and finally with Balea Lake where it’s also a chalet and where during winter there’s a church and a hotel made of ice. Memorable experience!

transfagarasan

          8. Sighisoara –a stunning medieval town

Central Sighisoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small medieval fortified city and it has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Each year a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel in July. Sighisoara is a popular tourist destination due to its well-preserved walled old town. In the Old Centre you’ll discover its medieval treasures which make it one of the most interesting medieval fortresses in Europe. Don’t miss the Clock Tour which offers you a beautiful view from the balcony, Vlad Dracul House, the Town Hall. And climb the Covered Staircase so as to arrive on the hill. Worth visiting!

sighisoara

          9. Transalpina Road

Transfagarasan Road may be the most Romanian explored road by driving tourists  due to its winding curves and spectacular sights, but few travelers realize that there is an even higher mountain road just waiting to be explored. That’s Transalpina Road located in the Parang Mountains. It’s nicknamed the King’s road because of Carol II. The road has its highest point at Urdele Pass, where the elevation is 2,145m above sea level. I think that’s a stomach-churning experience generally recommended to adventure seekers. But it’s worth visiting due to its picturesque views. Keep calm and drive on Transalpina!

Ranca Resort

            10. Biertan Fortified Church

A village fortress which is so impressive. Let your steps get inside where you’ll be overwhelmed by peacefulness. Its remarkable door system was awarded at the Paris World Exposition 1907. Overmore, it is  included on UNESCO list of World Patrimony and falls into the category of church fortresses.

door system

            I hope you’ll enjoy visiting these places. Thanks for stopping by and I wait for your opinions. Have a nice trip!!!