Deep in the heart of Transylvania, between Brasov and Sighisoara, visitors have the chance to discover the oldest, best preserved and perhaps most spectacular village fortress in Romania. Located on a hill and surrounded by forest, the fortress looks like something out of a fairy-tale.
With stone foundations and wooden upper sections, the fortress comprises two barricading walls and four towers. Carefully restored, this medieval building is perhaps the best presentation of Saxon influence to be found in Transylvania and also the only village in Romania included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
“Do not change anything, keep and love this place as it is”- that’s what Prince Charles said when he first came to Viscri, charmed by the beauty of the area and the simplicity of life. Thanks to the work of Prince Charles and Mihai Eminescu Trust, who made an incredible effort to gain funding for the renovation and restoration of all the constructions, the time stood still in Viscri and the medieval times come alive in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
Viscri is a small village, with no more than 500 inhabitants, from which only about 27 are Saxons. Nowadays, the houses are the same shade of blue they were centuries ago and tourists can admire authentic Saxon furniture and eat from traditional Saxon dishes.
The history of the village begins in the 12th century, when the wild, wooden lands of Transylvania were populated with Luxembourg settlers by the order of king Gesa II. They built an important number of villages and fortified churches, impregnating an astonishing cultural aura to the area.
Viscri is one of the villages the Saxons built in Transylvania, and of course, a special one, due to its great fortified church which is part of UNESCO World Heritage.
From the documents, Viscri was a free community, never being part of a noble property. Around AD 1500 the village had 51 households, 3 sheperds, 1 teacher and 2 poors.
During the centuries, the Saxon community was a brave one, fighting with the barbarians that threatened their peace and land, until the communist regime. After a series of numerous afflictions brought on them, shortly after the 1989 revolution, the large majority of families left the village to return in the Western Europe after a stay of 900 years.
However, few of them decided to stay and fight to preserve the rich heritage embedded in their parent’s land. Their efforts were sustained by the Prince Charles of Whales.
- The Old Saxon Church
The main tourist attraction in Viscri is the fortified church. Built around 1100 AD by locals known as the Szekely’s, the church was taken over in 1185 by Saxon colonists and used as a place of worship until 1525 when the first defensive structure was added.
After the first defensive tower was added, the church was under renovations for the next 300 years. Sometime in the 18th century a second wall was built as added protection to the current wall and a defense corridor to keep people safe when they were moving around the church grounds was also added.
By the 18th century there were school rooms added, storage space for corn and other grains was built and the church started to use the space more practically. By the 19th century it was clear that the Viscri Fortified Church was no longer needed for defense and its purpose slowy started to change.
The last restoration took place during ’70 years, when the fortress and the church took the formerly magnificency.
Today, the impressive fortification houses a Traditional Saxon Museum. Tourists can admire a multitude of objects that belonged to a community who left their landmark in many parts of Transylvania.
From the towers of the defensive walls, visitors will delight themselves with an amazing view over the surroundings.
- The Landscape
Transylvania it’s a wild territory. Large meadows, wilde forests of oak and beech, rolling hills are waiting to be discovered.
- The Feltmakers
A group of women was teached to make felt. Yes, they are making feltshoes and hats by hand, from wool to the final product. You can buy nice things at a good price
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