About the Area

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MET GUIDED TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

A wide range of guided tours of the villages and places of special interest as well as activities are available from the Trust.

Contact:
Andrea Rost
  -  0040 723 150819 / guesthouses@mihaieminescutrust.org  
MET (Sighisoara Office)  -  0040 265 506024 
 

For more detailed information see: MET Guided Tours

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Transylvanian Saxon Heritage Trail: Saxon Greenway

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The Saxon villages display a remarkable, unspoilt harmony between people and landscape.   The steeply rolling topography has defined the pattern of development in each village, from the linear street pattern in Viscri to the trifurcate pattern in Roades.   The valley systems in which Roades and Crit have been built allow for a central village 'square', whereas the single valleys in Viscri, Floresti and Mesendorf have led to a main street with subsidiary cross-streets.   These villages are enclosed and neatly protected by steep valley sides.   Where landform is less steep, development follows a looser pattern, as seen in Roandola and Laslea.

Houses and bridge

The houses also follow a clear pattern: they sit end-on to the street, painted in a rich variety of ochres, greens and blues, with distinctive hipped roofs.    A stream typically runs down the street and pear trees are planted on either side.   The houses themselves are built to a format, with their cobbled courtyards, winter and summer kitchens, vegetable patches and colossal timber frame barns enclosing the rear end of the courtyard.   Behind the barns lie a further vegetable plot and an orchard, usually with a row of walnuts at the far end to act as a fire break and provide insect free shelter from the sun.

Yellow and Green Houses


Arable and pasture land extends from the backs of the villages up to woodland, which in most cases crowns the high ground.   As in much of mediaeval Europe, the egalitarian Saxon communities divided their arable lands into strips.   A family might  own a number of separate strips, some distance apart from each other, on which different crops could be grown, depending on the lie of the land and the soil quality.  Unlike the rest of Europe, this method of strip farming is very much alive in the Saxon villages.   Village livestock is grazed communally on the meadows, controlled by cowherds and shepherds rather than fences.

cowscomingouttoplay_big

AAsheep

Where the land is steep, row upon row of terraces have been fashioned out of the valley sides to maximise agricultural potential.   These terraces were once intensively cultivated and would have been the mainstay of cereal, vegetable and wine production.   Now that village populations have drastically diminished, many of the terraces are no longer cultivated and support an abundance of wild flowers and grasses.   With the reduction of open cultivated land, the terraces and ungrazed meadows succumb to the forces of ecological succession: pioneer grasses and wild flowers first colonise the uncultivated land, followed by scrub and finally woodland, which is the natural climax vegetation in Transylvania.

AAwoodstock

The oak, hornbeam and beech forests, which would have covered much of the landscape prior to the arrival of the Saxons, were cut back to make way for agriculture and now cling only to the higher ground.   Where previously farmed land has become disused, the woodlands are advancing back down towards the villages, slowly recolonising the land that was cleared by the early Saxon settlers.

Krestel Family About Area 370
The Krestels

Each village has its own distinct character, but there is a certain unity that defines the 'Saxon-ness' of the villages: the fortified churches, the 'dancing circles', the houses and barns, the streetscape, the exemplary harmony between man and landscape and the centuries-old agricultural methods that survive to this day.   The rhythm of the villages is still set by the daily ritual of milking the cattle, watching their lazy stroll through the village and out to pasture and then their return to be milked at dusk.

AADancing1

AADancing 2
Annual Saxon gathering in Biertan

 

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MET GUIDED TOURS AND ACTIVITIES

The Trust is able to provide a wide range of guided tours to places of particular interest, as well as making available activities that add to the pleasure of exploring this unique part of Transylvania.

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BIODIVERSITY GUIDES

The Trust can offer a choice of four people, one botanist, one landscape specialist, a geologist and an ornithologist. Places to visit range from the beautiful ancient oak plateau of Breite (close to Sighisoara) to rich flower meadows and old growth forests in the Viscri and Malancrav areas. They could provide a car or minibus if necessary.
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THE APAFI MANOR

Manor (04)

A guided tour of the Trust's recently restored Apafi Manor. This remarkable building situated in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, was once owned by the princely Hungarian Apafi family. It is set above the village of Malancrav beside a historic church with rare 14th century frescoes and altarpiece.
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WALKING TOURS

These can be carefully crafted walks to suit individual preferences in any area in the Saxon Village in the wide circumference of Rupea to the south or Medias to the north. Equally, we can arrange to meet people with transport at the end of  chosen walk.
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HORSE-RIDING

Gentle ambling animals can be provided in Malancrav, good horses in Viscri  - or we can put you in touch with three riding establishments.
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SAXON DANCES

Andrea Dancing

The renowned Saxon Dance Group from Sighisoara, led by Andrea Rost, can perform an evening or afternoon of Saxon dancing. Duration anything between half an hour to 2 hours depending on wishes. Andrea has performed at the Romanian Embassy in London and in many other famous venues. These wonderful performances are thoroughly recommended by the Trust.
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HORSE AND CART TOURS

Ecotourism Walking

These can be arranged to travel into the hills and tracks around Biertan, Viscri, Laslea, Malancrav and Floresti. The Viscri tour is particularly recommended, as it includes a visit to the local charcoal makers and the brick and tile kiln close to the village.
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TRADITIONAL VILLAGE FARM

Farm Courtyard

In the Saxon villages most families still have their own small farm, with a few cows or buffaloes, sheep, pigs and chickens. Every morning and evening, the cows are milked and cheese is made at certain times of the year. Before Christmas, a pig is slaughtered in the courtyard and the meat is processed on site - an occasion for much merriment, eating and drinking of fiery palinka. You can choose to visit one of these traditional farms, which have largely disappeared in other parts of Europe.
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MALANCRAV ORGANIC ORCHARD

The MET manages a 100-hectare organic apple and plum orchard in Malancrav, with many historic varieties of fruit trees and a rich biodiversity. Our guides will lead you on a gentle walk through the orchard, pointing out interesting and rare species of flowers, birds, butterflies, small mammals and reptiles, and explaining the qualities of the surrounding traditionally-managed landscape. At the end you will stop at the orchard office, where you can buy organic apple juice.
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BRICK & TILE KILN (Viscri and Malancrav)

Firing the Viscri Kiln

Traditional bricks and tiles, made from local clay and fired in a kiln, have been the basic building materials in the Saxon villages for many generations. The handmade fish-scale shaped tiles, with their wonderful diversity of patterns and shades of red, give the village roofs their unique charm and character. With the help of the MET, two local families have re-started this tradition and are now producing bricks and tiles in Viscri and Malancrav. You can witness the various stages of the process and - at certain times of the year - the spectacular four-night non-stop firing of the kiln.
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SHEEPFOLD & CHEESE MAKING

Milking Sheep

CHARCOAL MAKERS 

Charcoal Burners Viscri


BLACKSMITH/CARPENTRY WORKSHOP 
WEAVERS 
BARREL MAKERS
EMBROIDERERS

Visits to all these can be arranged in many villages in the areas of Malancrav and Viscri.
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FOR ALL GUIDED TOURS, contact:

Andrea Rost
  -  0040 723 150819 /
guesthouses@mihaieminescutrust.org  
MET (Sighisoara Office)  -  0040 265 506024 
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MET Guesthouses, contact
:
Andrea Rost  -  0040 723 150819 / guesthouses@mihaieminescutrust.org   

See:
Guesthouses

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The Saxon Greenway – Transylvanian Saxon Heritage Trail

The trail starts from the picturesque medieval citadel of Sighisoara, a UNESCO World Heritage site recognised as an outstanding example of a small fortified city. The trail passes through a number of traditional Saxon villages, renowned for their castle-like stone churches and colourful houses with lime-washed facades and tiled roofs, nestling among narrow valleys, wooded hills and rich flower meadows.
Using county and local roads, as well as old carriage lanes, the Saxon Greenway is the best way to understand and enjoy – at a slow pace – the landscapes of high aesthetic and conservation value of the Sighisoara - Târnava Mare area, recently included in the European Natura 2000 ecological network.

Drumul Asezărilor Săsesti – Drumul patrimoniului sasilor transilvăneni porneste din cetatea medievală a Sighisoarei, care face parte din Patrimoniul Mondial UNESCO, fiind recunoscută ca si un exemplu excepțional de oras fortificat. Traseul străbate un număr de sate tradiționale săsesti, renumite pentru impunătoarele lor biserici fortificate si casele colorate, cu fațate frumos văruite si acoperisuri de țiglă arsă, ascunse între văi înguste, dealuri împădurite si pajisti bogate în flori.
Folosind drumuri județene si locale, precum si vechi drumuri de țară, Drumul Asezărilor Săsesti reprezintă cea mai bună modalitate de a cunoaste si aprecia, într-un ritm lejer, peisajele de mare valoare estetică si naturală ale zonei Sighisoara – Târnava Mare, recent inclusă în rețeaua ecologică europeană Natura 2000.

The Saxon Greenway

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