A day trip out from Brasov, we hired a private guide to go to Sigisoara with a stop in the historical town of Viscri.
Viscri’s white fortified church was first mentioned in 1400 as Alba Eccelsia, ‘White Church.’ There was actually a church prior to the arrival of the Saxons between 1141 and 1162. In the choir area, there are four Romanesque parts that survived. Saxons built the main tower and enlarged the church in the 13th century and later started fortifying it during the 15th century.
Inside the chapel, alongside the pews are hand painted pictures
We climbed the narrow tower stairs to the top for a view of the small village. It was dimly lit in the beginning, then dark as we felt our way up the small steps and once to the outlook, we thought….. ‘could’ve just stayed at the bottom!’
Inside there are quite a lot of artifacts depicting the Saxon life.
The village is preserved as a testament to the way of life in a Saxon village. The roads are gravel or dirt. The houses must be maintained on one of the original colors and many villagers still use horses and wagons. Viscri is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Prince Charles, now King Charles III owns a home in the village and has been instrumental in providing local homeowners funding to preserve the village. For those who follow the Royals, (I’m not one), you can purchase tickets and visit the home he has there.
A town where you can be a Viking but cannot play an instrument. LOL.
We continued our journey north in Transylvania to Sigisoara. Sigisoara is another UNESCO World Heritage site located on the Tarnava Mare River. Built in the mid 12th century by German (Saxon) craftsmen who were invited by the King of Hungary, Geza II to settle the area, the town is one of the few fortified towns in Romania that are still inhabited.
The houses are colorful and in many of them the ‘eyes’ are watching. The ‘eyes’ are actually dormers on the roofs of many Transylvania houses and are used to ventilate attics where at one time families stored items that needed a dry environment. At first glance, it definitely looks like eyes are watching you, or watching over the town squares.
We walked up to the church on the hill and then wandered down through the wood covered walkway. The walkway was built for high school students to make it up to the school during inclement weather.
The Clock Tower is one of the highlights of the town. Locate at the main entry to the citadel, the tower reaches 210 feet high and originally built in the 14th century. The clock that survives now is from the 1600’s.
We climbed up the tower that Museum of Historie and briefly enjoyed the overlooking view and after coming down, we went through the tower’s History Museum.
And for you Vlad the Impaler/Dracula lovers…… Here’s a picture of Vlads dad’s house ….. now a restaurant but they kept the dragon which was the symbol used by the Dracul family.
Feldioara Fortress – Transylvania
Our last stop was at the Feldioara Fortress. The Fortress dates back to at least 1225, built by the Teutonic Knights. The Teutonic Knights were Catholic crusader’s who came to Transylvania in 1211 to help defend what was then Hungary against the Cumans. The fortress was destroyed in 1430 by the Turks and again in 1457 by Vlad the Impaler.
Interestingly, the hill where the fortress was built was inhabited long before then as there have been artifacts discovered from the Neolithic time. In the courtyard, all of the signs are transcribed into English which was wonderful.
Inside the tower, there were numerous displays from earlier times, including traditional costumes. Unfortunately, unless you read Romanian, the displays do not have additional language translations.
The restoration project uncovered the foundation of a monastery that is presumed to be related to the 1240 donation to the Cistercian Order. The Cistercian Order was a very strict Catholic organization. At some point in time, the monastery lost it’s importance and the building was turned into a food cellar.
At one point while we wandered up on the walls, down below someone was shouting into a bullhorn and at first it was a bit alarming because we had no idea if this was some sort of warning, announcement, or perhaps an emergency. Hilariously, it turned out that it was a chicken salesman going up and down the dirt roads of the village announcing that he had chickens for sale!