Discovering Haferland region. Day 2: Viscri and Saschiz
After countless snack meals and picnics and other meals in the first day, the second day in Haferland seemed to be a lot more active. Of course there was a picnic but we had to actually work for this one. And by work I mean hike for about 1km up to Saschiz citadel. The hike was not bad at all though but the heat….well let’s just say we survived :-).
Of course, views like these made it much easier to handle the heat!
There was a portion of the hike through the woods though and that was very pleasant actually and a very good place for a pit stop (especially for the people that actually had to carry all the food!!).
But … the view on the way and from the top was totally worth the hike!
Within the walls of the citadel, we found a nice spot in the shade so we “camped” there. Time to eat now (2 hours after breakfast…). And as you can see, all very light food…so 100kcal melted by the hike were immediately compensated with a bite of “slana” (a Romanian style bacon, that you HAVE TO TRY!).
The village of Saschiz dates from the middle ages apparently and today it is a UNESCO World heritage site, due to its magnificent fortified church. Build in a Gothic style, the church served not only as a place of worship but also as a safe haven during troubled times.
One of my favourite things about evangelic churches is the fact that they all have an organ. I was fascinated by this instrument since I was a child and this was the region where it all started for me, more precisely in the Black Church in Brasov . So you can imagine how happy I was when they started playing it in the fortified church of Crit! It was such a beautiful concert!
If you are aware of Prince Charles’s love for Romania, there is a chance you heard about Viscri. This is the place where His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales bought his first property. He was charmed by this little village forgotten in the Saxon part of Transylvania from the moment he arrived here. I must admit that until now I did not know that Prince Charles actually had Romanian roots. But thanks to Ruxandra Hurezean‘s book “The story of Transylvanian Saxons. Told by them”, I discovered not only this but also many other interesting stories.
Let me just give you a few examples from the book as the stories are too beautiful not to mention some:
“…around here we call them summer Saxons. They come, sit on benches in the sun and then they go. I cannot go. I have still many things to do here…I have a saying: do not leave the place of suffering but instead, make the suffering leave that place. I have here a church older than Berlin itself. When the frogs were leaping in the German swamps, we were singing in German and playing in Latin (languages). Here, in Transylvania. Europe can learn from Romania” – Eginald Schlattner, cultural ambassador of Romania since 2002.
“…I feel lucky having lived my childhood here in Saschiz’s small lanes and its hills….Something from here does not exists in Europe any longer, or at least not in Germany. The nature is not the same, nor is the warmth of the people. When we got there (i.e. in Germany) and we started getting to know the Germans from here, they were surprised by the display of friendship that we were showing. They said they’ve never seen so much brotherhood and warmth between acquaintances. We had this gift from our home country (i.e. Romania)” – Anneliese, Saxon from Romania living now in Germany.
Going back to Viscri, it is a very charming village with colourful houses and I am not surprised that Prince Charles fell in love with it. I remember reading a recent interview with him and when he was asked why Romania, what it is about Romania that draws him so much, his answer was : “…you, my Romanian friends; your cultural and nature patrimony, your traditions, but also your capacity for innovation and change…. These are the things that make you truly special in the entire world ”.
You have to visit these places yourself to really understand though. Haferland is one of those regions in Romania that got stuck in time. When visiting this place you will definitely feel transported in a another world maybe from another century even, when agriculture was the most important activity, when most of the work was done manually, when people lived in close communities, when horse power literally meant horse power (1-2 depending on how many horses you had 🙂 ) and when everything was “bio”. Yes this world still exists in nowadays Romania (and not only in Haferland) and it should be treasured, understood and supported as these are our roots, part of our identity.
Here are a few photos from Viscri, including the fortified church, another UNESCO world Heritage site.
So that was our amazing 2 days itinerary through Haferland. I hope you enjoyed my visual story as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
A few final thoughts:
- If it looks like we ate a lot in this trip is because we did! And if you decide to visit Romania you have to be prepared for this. Food is the main way for us to show our hospitality. And we NEVER take NO for an answer. So my tip for you is diet before (and probably after) your visit to Romania. You are welcome! 😉
- Do not believe all the cliches . Go and see it with your eyes. For example, there is no secret that there are mostly negative cliches about Romania but everybody that has visited was very positively surprised and they all want to come back. That should say something about reality vs. what’s propagated by word of mouth
- This is one of my favourite quotes from the same book I mentioned above: ” if the history quits offering life lessons to the people, it is because history itself cannot go to them…”. So we need to go and follow our own history for it to help us further!