Traveler in Romania – Viscri
Hai-Hui through Romania – diary of a traveler
Viscri – the village where time has patienceViscri is a village in Brașov County, Transylvania, Romania. Viscri is one of the six fortified churches introduced into UNESCO world heritage site. The place became known by it connection with Prince Charles, who started buying proprieties in Viscri in the ‘90s. Viscri is special and even symbolizes the idea launched by Prince Charles that the human life makes sense when it is in harmony with nature.
I have arrived to Viscri in the first days of May. It was a rainy day. In fact I think that the whole month of April had been rainy because the meadows and the forest were of a bright green. The green was the first one to impress you, the richness of green in which you could drench yourself going from the main road on the secondary one which was twisting and turning through the hills and trees. It was as a purification, a ritual that made you get cleaner to Viscri Fortress.
The first contact with Viscri was a strange feeling that I got in a deserted village. It seems that I was partially right because few Saxon families still live in that area. Being familiar with the lanes from the villages in the south of the Carpathians, I was surprised to see in Viscri large areas between the rows of houses. The village, although somehow forgotten both by time and people and pale under the drizzle, was recalling by the size of the houses and by its geometry of yore people’s richness and gentility.
I became aware of this richness when I got to the fortress, to the fortified church. Even if it is one of the small villages in Transylvania, Viscri Fortified Church is the living proof of the wealth of a free Saxon village with strict rules and with people who for centuries were concerned, beside their daily problems, about their safety and the safety of those who were to live on those lands.
The village seems to keep living in the medieval period. It is very well preserved and it creates an impression that somehow there you go back in time. At the first contact I was impressed by the not by chance whiteness of the walls. Viscri (Weiskirich, Veiskiriχ, Veeskirχ in Saxon dialect, Weißkirch, Deutsch-Weißkirch, Deutschweißkirch in German) means “The White Saxon Church”. In order to get to the church you have to walk on a path to the top of a hill. After a few steps in your way arise tall walls with towers’ tops covered in red tiles. As through a gate to another world you step into the fortress.
At the gate I have met an old Saxon woman. She was proud that she belongs to this group of people. She talked full of pathos with other Saxons who came from Sibiu using with lust and happiness her ancestors’ dialect. She was gentle; she seemed to sip from the place’s peace and watched the tourists which were amazed by the beauty of the village. Things were simple for her and she watched everything with detachment as if the place where she was coming from and where she was living in was the haven itself.
I stepped nervously into the tall tower and with quick steps I passed by the chapel, in which long time ago were held religious services, in order to get faster to see the view that I had already imagined. The whole village is visible from up there. You feel like you are on the top of the whole valley. As far as eye can see green stripes of land bordered by low hills stretches from the tower. It is the perfect place where to listen the silence. I have always imagined Viscri as a warm nest where people have time, where people are gifted and have peace to build. The tower is affected by the passage of time; it no longer rises straight to the sky, its walls are twisted, the wooden floors are ramshackle and so are the access stairs. In fact the whole fortress although well preserved seems fragile. I hope it will survive at least another thousand years.
The annexes placed in the marginal areas of the fortress are impressive too. There you can see various storage areas and rooms for defense with small windows designed especially so one would be able to shoot through it. At the beginning the building was a Romanic chapel, which was turned into a place of worship by Gothic influence and later, during several centuries it became the fortress that nowadays is. The protective girdle of the chapel and of the donjon gained over time a series of defensive towers equipped with firing windows. In order to enhance protection were built an exterior wall of low height and firing slits in the roof of the Gothic church. Viscri has gradually become a secure place, very well designed and capable to resist to a strong invasion.
From Viscri you leave thoughtful, you are sorry that such a beautiful world, a cradle of culture, rules, happy souls, creative emotions and power to build has disappeared, has entered into the shadow of time and that all that was left are the village with some authentic Saxons and the fortified church shadowed by age. Maybe the most powerful enemy of the fortress is the time which has not kidnapped only the greatness, but also the game, the tools and the fire burning in the harts of Homo Ludens and Homo Faber of this place.
Dear reader, go to Viscri to gather information and images which will take you back in time towards a special light, a world where people lived different, with more meaning, more simply and closer to the nature and the Creator.
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