Malancrav: The Village Where Time Almost Stood Still

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer. You can find Diana on LinkedIn

Visit Malancrav with our Transylvania tours

Malancrav is a must for travelers curious to discover authentic and rural Transylvania. Surrounded by forests and rolling hills, it dates from the early 14th century, and it’s today the village with the largest German ethnic population in the region. This cultural bridge to its past makes Malancrav one of the most interesting villages to visit in Transylvania.

Malancrav

View of the village

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Past and present of Malancrav

Contrary to other free Saxon villages from the area, such as Viscri or Crit, Malancrav was the property of the Apafi family. This meant that locals were part of the serfdom system that was abolished only in the 19th century. Still, because of the isolation of the village, news traveled slowly, and serfdom lasted in Malancrav for 12 more years.

Its history, traditional architecture, ethnic diversity, and local life combine to create a unique experience. Plus, its fortified church and the recently restored Apafi Mansion are among the most beautiful in the region.

Malancrav

The Parish House

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The fortified church with unique frescoes

The fortified churches are the distinctive element of Transylvania’s cultural and historic heritage. Seven of them are UNESCO Sites, including the one from Biertan, just a short drive from Malancrav. These landmarks are maybe the best places to see in the region if you want to understand its history, marked by sieges and attacks of the Ottomans.

Malancrav Church

Scene from the altar

The 14th-century fortified church of Malancrav lost most of its original fortifications, but it’s unique for its ample interior frescoes that cover 20 meters with 53 Bible stories. This is the largest Gothic fresco in Transylvania, a region where very few pre-Reformation church paintings still exist. The altar is another precious piece, donated hundreds of years ago by Mihai Apafi.

If you’re not afraid of heights, climb the five wooden staircases to the church tower. You’ll have a fabulous view of the entire village.

You can also admire frescoes in the towers of the fortified churches from Harman, Biertan, and the Church on the Hill (Sighisoara).

Read also 10 Fortified Churches from Transylvania You Should See

Malancrav Church

A scene with the death of the Virgin Mary

The Apafi Mansion, a rare local example of conservation

Saved from a sure collapse by the Foundation Mihai Eminescu Trust, Apafi Mansion is the highlight of the village. The mansion, only a few meters away from the church, was for centuries the property of the Apafi and later of the Bethlen family.

Confiscated by the communist authorities, the house was in ruins in the early 21st century. After years of restoration, the mansion is now a one-of-a-kind guest house, overseeing the village and its revived traditions.

Malancrav

Apafi Mansion

Local traditions and flavors to experience in Malancrav

Many traditions still carry on in Malancrav, and you’ll easily find something interesting to do in this timeless village. Thanks to a local project, you can join one or more of the numerous workshops that cover traditional ways of cooking, weaving, and carpentry techniques.

You can also learn more about making fresh and tasty apple juice by taking a tour of the local eco orchard, another project that supports the village’s sustainable development.

Malancrav

Horsecart ride

Malancrav is also a great base for longer vacations in Transylvania. You can take day trips to visit UNESCO Sites like Sighisoara, Saschiz, Biertan, Darjiu and Viscri. Plus, several cycling and walking routes connect it to nearby villages, including Sighisoara via Stejareni and Cris.

Read also Cycling in Transylvania: Five Itineraries from the Saxon Land

Where to stay

Book your stay in the guest houses managed by the Foundation Mihai Eminescu Trust. This way, you support the conservation of the village’s cultural patrimony.

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