A recent BBC article features the beautiful region of Târnava Mare in Transylvania, lovingly describing its „age-old traditions” and ways of living.
It is part of Country Rambles, a BBC Travel series that embraces rural life, helping travelers reconnect with nature, learn a handcrafted skill and live more sustainably – all while experiencing local culture.
„I heard them before I saw them, the soft jangle of metal bells carrying on the warm evening air. Weary hooves scuffed up clouds of dust as the herd trudged up Viscri’s dirt-road high street, stopping to gulp water from a trough beneath a gnarled walnut tree. Routine kicked in, and they peeled away through arched gateways and into their own cobbled courtyards, where they’d be milked and fed for the night.”
Travel writer Keith Drew describes what life is like in the medieval villages of Viscri, Criț, Biertan, and Saschiz – a culturally intriguing rural area, which was settled by the Saxons in the 12th Century and is located between the historical cities of Sighişoara, Braşov, and Sibiu.
„The area has a fascinating barely-changed-in-centuries feel to it; horse-drawn carts are the main method of transport and residents eke out a sustainable existence from smallholdings or shepherding.”
He writes of the area’s artisans – men and women who are keeping alive the traditional practices of blacksmithing, pottery, slipper-making, and shepherding – and of the enterprises that are helping them, such as the Mihai Eminescu Trust, which is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Transylvanian villages, and the apprenticeship training center set up by the Prince of Wales, who has a house in Viscri and has been a regular visitor to Transylvania for more than 25 years.
„It is an almost ancient way of living, and it offers visitors a glimpse into a world that no longer exists in other parts of the globe.”
Readers are encouraged to come experience the region for themselves…
To stay in one of the traditional Saxon houses:
„Experience Transylvania has a network of Saxon guesthouses in Viscri, Criț and a number of other villages in the area, which have been faithfully restored and decorated with original furnishings. Most of the houses are managed by local families trained by the Mihai Eminescu Trust.”
Meet the artisans:
„Learn the techniques involved in making Saschiz pottery at a workshop with the Atelier de Ceramică Saschiz, bookable through Fundația ADEPT. You can arrange visits to blacksmiths, slipper-makers and charcoal-burners, and to the shepherds in the hills around Viscri, Criț and Saschiz via Experience Transylvania and Fundația ADEPT.”
Explore the villages by bike:
„Transylvania Bike Trails is a network of 100km of tracks through the meadows and forests of Târnava Mare. A popular circuit links Viscri, Bunești, Criț and Meșendorf. Bikes are available to rent from Viscri 125, Bike Check Inn in Bunești, Casa Kraus in Criț, and Tei in Saschiz.”
And see the fortified churches:
„Viscri’s main attraction is its fortified church, which gives the village its German (Deutsch-Weißkirch, or German White Church) and Hungarian (Szászfehéregyháza, or Saxon White Church) names. One of seven fortified churches in Târnava Mare that have been inscribed on Unesco’s World Heritage list, it was built in the 12th Century, fortified in the 15th and then further strengthened over the next 200 years with an outer wall and defensive towers.”