10+ reasons to visit Transylvanian Highlands
Maybe you've heard about the Saxon villages and fortified churches of Transylvania, the favourite Romanian place of HRH Prince Charles of Great Britain. Maybe you know about the UNESCO heritage sites of Sighișoara, Biertan or Viscri. You probably don't know that Transylvanian Highlands is a High Nature Value area, a Natura 2000 site, the second biggest in the country after the Danube Delta. A visit to Transylvanian Highlands will constantly surprise you. Here are a few reasons why!
1. Time flows by its own rules here
Bordered by three rivers (Târnava Mare, Hârtibaciu and Olt) Transylvanian Highlands reveals a varied but enchanting landscape: high hills, slow slopes, eagles, bears, fairy tale fortified churches and villages, good healthy food, made from local ingredients, craftsmen, traditions, tales and legends. It is the perfect place to travel in time and into your soul. Everything invites you to rest and enjoy nature: gentle or more rushing hills, decorated with hundred of thousands of tireless butterflies and magic flowers with healing properties. The oak and sessile oak forests offer you shade and coolness on hot days. They also invite you to discover footsteps of protected wild animals that live here like the mighty bear or the delicate deers. The hidden villages, scattered over the hills, still retain their former charm, when some of them were important medieval privileged seats like Agnita or Cincu.
The people of Transylnian Highlands have beautiful and varied tales that you can't find in books or on the internet, but which will surely fascinate you. Their connection to nature is unique and dates back centuries - harmony and respect govern these secular connection and that make this place the "last truly medieval landscape in Europe" (Dr. Andrew Jones).
2. You will often stumble upon centuries-old oaks, with stories and legends
The 400 and 600 years old trees with diameters up to 1.8 m, are patiently waiting for you in many places. The Breite plateau, near Sighisoara, is the most well-known, as the largest and best preserved forested pasture habitat with oaks and secular oaks in central and eastern Europe. In other places, look for Crulici's Oak (Saschiz), the Old Tree (Dăișoara) or Banciu's Oak (Alma Vii) - each has its own story.
Intriguing and silent, they draw your attention with their appearance of mounds or ridges of earth, arranged in groups, close to the villages of Apold, Saschiz (near Sighisoara), Movile (near Agnita) or :ona (near Făgăraș). They are special thanks to the floral biodiversity and are an attraction for geomorphologists (specialists or enthusiasts) but also a great subject for tales and local legends. Some are rummored to have been man-made. Although biologists are sure they are natural, archeologist have not yet established who build them and for what purpose - they could be Scythian or Pre-Dacian tombs
Acvilla pomarina is a migratory predator that prefers Transylvanian Highlands because of the old forests, where they make their nests. You have a good chance of spotting at least one of the 128 pairs we know about – it is the most significant population in Romania.
5. Water migratory bird that nest in Transylvanian Highlands
The lakes in Brădeni (25 km from Sighișoara) or the new Olt Delta, on the accummulation lakes in the south border of the destination, mark an in important stage of one of the three main european migration corridors (north-south). Transylvanian Highlands is one of their favorite nesting place for the migratory birds coming to the area. A birdwatcher's heaven, these places will suprise you with species you normally only see in the Danube Delta.
Plants with a specific smell that you hate or adore, but that will not leave you indifferent. The first community of cultivators in Romania, the Saxons, brought them here in the Middle Ages, in the village of Hoghilag (or Halvelagen), just 16 kilometers from Sighisoara. The inhabitants of Hoghilag have also devoted a festival to these flowers, in the begining of August.
7. Orthodox churches painted by the Grecu brothers
In Hârtibaciului Valley, you can visit several Orthodox churches, painted by two brothers with a special story – simple peasants, painters and craftsmen, with an original mark on the unique interior paintings of 12 churches on the Olt bank – four of them are in the Transylvanian Highlands at Săsăuș (dedicated to The Assumption of Virgin Mary), Fofeldea (dedicated to „St. Basil the Great“), Țichindeal (dedicated to Pious Paraschiva) or Ilimbav (the painted Orthodox Church).
8. Castles and medieval mansions
Transylvania was a place where properties were divided among 100 noble families. Of Hungarian, French, Croatian, Jewish or Czech origin, the medieval castle owners left behind a lot of stories and legends.
9. Visit local museums and multicultural private collections
Feel the multiculturalism of the Transylvanian Hills, through a visit to the interpretation center for traditional culture in the fortified evangelical church of Alma Vii, learn about the Flight of the Loles, at the Hârtibaciului Valley History Museum. Visit in Alțâna a collection of over 1000 objects from this area, donated by ethnic Romanians, Saxons, Hungarians and Roma. In Seliștat, Brădeni or Dăișoara, you can find unique private collections and in Biertan you can stop at the Dowry Box - a library with a story to tell.
10. Transilvanian Brunch was invented here
Transylvanian Highlands is the place of the first ever Transilvanian Brunch, a highly sought cultural and gastronomic event that takes place since 2008 in the last Saturday of the month, from April to September. Transilvanian brunch is a complex experience that takes you to into a discovery journey of the village, as it is now, with its past, present and future - all combined with tasty simple food and outdoor socializing.
11. 500 de km of tourist trails will help you stay active while discovering the secrets of Transylvanian Highlands
On foot, by bike, in the saddle or by cart, the best way to discover Transylvanian Highlands is outdoor. Enjoy the nature, the wonderful forests, the impressive wild life, a tasty picnic with local food - admire the beautiful views of the multicultutal villages, that the trails will offer you
12. Feel the authentic village life
The guest houses where you can stay overnight offer you privacy, but also the space you need to enjoy, even for a few days, the simple life, with your family or close friends. You can choose a various range of possibilities: famous villages like Saschiz, Viscri, Mălâncrav, Bazna or Biertan or the ones of the beaten track (but just as charming) like Apold, Colun, Alma Vii, Floresti, Stejărișu, Bărcut or Cloașterf. The owners of these houses work hard to the details to respect the rules of the pandemic context and to offer you the safety and comfort of a house away from home.