Day 7 – Viscri

Today we’ll visit Viscri. It’s less than 2 hours drive from Brasov, passing through Saxon-style villages.

*

The Village of Viscri is relevant because it’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Metaphorically speaking, this place is “frozen in time” – you’ll have the chance to see an original Romanian village, just the way it was 200 years ago. You’ll get in contact with the warm heart of Romanians, witnessing various craftsmen doing their job ‘the old way’.

Because the site is on the list of UNESCO monuments, no modern buildings are allowed, no fancy colors on the old houses and not even new asphalt. Everything is kept in Viscri as it used to be and this is truly great.

Even the road towards the village is giving us an idea of what we’ll going to find there.

r0902151657

*

The village resembles a fortress – originally, the settlement was close to the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s border and it was designed to defend the border and to resist against Turkish attacks. The houses are one next to the other, glued together. They have tall and strong gates, and the windows are almost ten feet from the ground. Since the UNESCO project is to preserve the authenticity of the place, the village’s streets are still unpaved and pot-holed, and backyard birds are freely walking around, pecking for food.

*

However, the buildings – most of them dating back to the 1800’s – have been carefully restored, preserving their original Transylvanian charm and character.

You’ll be accommodated in a typical house (altered for receiving guests, carefully restored while keeping the authenticity of an old Transylvanian house) and you’ll get a sense of connection with the Romanian spirit of friendship and welcome. Perhaps that’s why Prince Charles of Wales spends a couple of days each year in these places, actively advocating the beauty of Romania all over Europe!

 

.*

The infrastructure is kept to a minimum, so we don’t expect technical perfection – but the guest-houses are beautifully furnished with authentic antique furniture, the beds have specially manufactured mattresses of pure wool and the bathrooms respect the western standards of comfort (the bedrooms have their own bathrooms, now). In order to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, the rooms have no radio or TV.

*.

Luckily enough, there is Wi-Fi in the dining room! You’ll be able to check your emails and post messages on your Facebook page while sitting by the fireplace… Nice…

p0902151820d

*

… and that’s me…

*

Here, in Viscri, you’ll have the opportunity to visit one of the 6 Fortified Churches in Romania, protected by UNESCO. Moreover, HRH The Prince Charles of Wales got directly involved in protecting this place, actively contributing for restoring the village and the church (among other projects). He even purchased a 150 years old house in this village, which – at least from outside – is no different from all the other houses of the village.

 

*

He declared that he is fond of this region’s traditions, culture and unspoiled landscapes – perhaps because, as he mentioned, one of his great-great-great mother is Transylvanian! “The genealogy shows I am descended from Vlad the Impaler, so I do have a bit of a stake in the country.” (The Telegraph )

In the documentary “Wild Carpathia” he appears as a true ambassador of the Romanian beauty.

Take a look at what he has to say about Romania (Wild Carpathia 2 – go to min 43.05 and Wild Carpathia 3 – go to min 6.30, to watch and listen HRH Prince Charles of Wales talking about Romania).

***

As we accommodated in our room, took a quick shower and rested a little bit, the time arrived to have lunch. Among other traditional specialties, we will enjoy fresh curd and other types of cheese, smoked bacon and greaves, real organic salad (this place has its own vegetable garden!) and “tuica” (i.e., Romanian traditional equivalent of tequila).
By the way, I asked and they also cater for vegetarians or special dietary requests.

*

After we finish the meal and we rest a bit on the backyard, we’ll take a tour around the village. We can walk, take our coach, or hire a local horse-drawn carriage (just for the fun of it…).

2015-10-08_105742

*

The road has a lot of pastoral traffic, mostly village carts and livestock (the animals had lovely bells around their necks) going to the meadows each morning and returning at dusk. It is like going back a century or two.

Moving around, you will notice women sitting on a bench in front of their houses and knitting and you’ll also notice that, on the houses’ gates, there are displayed lots of wool socks, gloves, hats, slippers, sweaters and comforters. This is because ‘wool weaving’ was the main occupation of the women from the village, since old times. They are still doing that today – most of the knitted products are exported to Germany – as a way to make an income while preserving the genuineness of the place. Everything is simple and hand made.

*

A question that probably appears on your mind is “what other old occupations are still active today and practiced in the village?”

Well, there is a blacksmith shop, where Istvan – the village blacksmith – makes horseshoes, window and door locks, nails and hinges, along with any other iron product needed in a household.

fierar

*

There is also a brick-maker running a brick and tile oven, on the south side of the village.

*

The entire place is a tale, a true heaven… people are doing the same things they did back in time. It’s all about preserving habits and traditions instead of embracing the new, the modern. People are coming to Viscri from all over the world because “they have the NEW but it’s the OLD that’s hard to find“, as somebody noted… Hard working people, authentic peasant life, stunning landscapes, hundreds of years old houses. That’s the mix that created the modern Viscri legend.

*

Turning back “home”, since it’s already evening, we will witness an interesting “movie”: the cows turning from grazing to their homes, all on their own, and precisely identifying their home courtyard and entering the open gate. They never enter the wrong courtyard. How do they know where to enter?!

 

 

*

Knowing that this is the time when the cows have to be milked, perhaps it would be an interesting experience for us to see how it is done. We will find a courteous householder who agrees to let us watch. Moreover, we could buy some fresh milk that we later boiled and mixed it with fresh polenta and cheese… a delicacy…

*

End of the day… the darkness of the evening starts to cover the houses and the surrounding hills… you can almost “hear the silence”… the peacefulness… the tranquility… the connection, with self and with nature…

 

*

Good night…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements