Deep in Transylvania, lies the small village of Viscri. Although it is not easy to reach this village, it is definitely worth the effort. Viscri is located on an unpaved road, several kilometres from the town of Busteni. Before reaching the village, you will be able to spot the famous fortified church from a distance.
Originally built around 1100, the medieval structure is now apart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The German colonists who came to Viscri in the 12th century found a white chapel which had already been built. They integrated this chapel into their new church, making it one of the oldest structures of this kind in Romania.
Over the years, the church was modified and extended several times. In the 16th century, the Saxons decided to fortify the church by building outer walls. In the 18th century, the church was enclosed by a second defence wall. Next to the church, you can find a cemetery with gravestones dating back to a much earlier medieval culture.
The admission to enter the Viscri Fortified Church is 5 Lei per person. It is free to walk around the church and simply visit the grounds. During our visit, the church was closed so we did not get to enter. But we later found out that the superintendent of the church, lives across the street from the fortress gate at house # 141. She apparently gives tours during the off-hours.
Despite it’s isolated and remote location, Viscri is now one of the most famous destinations in Romania, since being discovered by Prince Charles of Wales. In 2006, his Royal Highness bought and restored an 18th Century Saxon house in Viscri in order to preserve the unique way of life in these villages and promote sustainable tourism.
Since Prince Charles made his mark in Viscri, all of the villagers’ houses were declared historical monuments. The signs throughout the village make it clear that the residents of Viscri are expected to keep their houses looking in top condition. The Prince’s property is located in the centre of the village and is painted bright blue. Built in 1758, the house has a large yard and unique fountain area. Prince Charles comes to stay at his property every summer and often goes horseback riding in the surrounding hills.
In my opinion, the beauty of the fortified church is matched by these quaint village houses that are lined up alongside the main road. Although I imagine that most people visit this town with the intention to gawk at the fortified church, I spent more time admiring the village surroundings.
Upon entering Viscri, we decided to park the car across the road from Prince Charles’ house. From here, we slowly walked up the main road, admiring the beautiful architecture and laughing at the chickens and ducks running alongside us.
If you make it to Viscri during your trip to Romania, be sure to take your time and let yourself get lost in the village!