With a history that goes back to the 12th century, Viscri is maybe the most famous village in Romania. Prince Charles’ visits, its fortified church, and the activity of the Mihai Eminescu Trust helped this small village reinvent itself in the past years. Its promotion was such a success that Viscri is right now one of Romania’s must-see attractions.
Viscri is best-known for its white fortified church, first mentioned in 1400 as Alba Ecclesia. Like most monuments of the time, the church went through different construction phases. The local Szekler population was the first to build a small church on the site in the early 12th century. Decades later, the German colonists took over control of the land and started a new chapter in its history.
During the 13th century, they built the main tower on the west side and enlarged the nave of the church towards the east. Its fortification started later, during the 15th century, and is partially preserved until today. Parts of its fortification elements were demolished after the Ottoman threat disappeared or were used for more peaceful purposes like storage rooms and kindergarten space.
In the last couple of years, the village was part of an ambitious community project of reviving traditions that almost disappeared. Thanks to it, you can visit local artisans that carry on practicing skills usually performed only during museum events. The community was so successful in its rediscovery traditions that today they’re part again of local life.
The blacksmith brothers will show you how they make horseshoes and nails the old-fashioned way, while the hard-working Gheorghita will explain how he burns hand-made bricks and tiles in an incandescent earth oven. Plus, locals still use horse carts. You can always go for a ride to the pastures outside the village, while in the evenings you’ll enjoy a mouth-watering dinner prepared with fresh local ingredients.
More than just a tourist attraction, Viscri is the best example of well-done community tourism. It offers plenty of activities for all those curious to discover the typical village life of Transylvania. We hope this will be the norm and not the exception. It also depends on us to encourage this model by visiting destinations based on the values of responsible tourism.
You can book the traditional Saxon house of Prince Charles, Casa Printul de Wales.
One day is enough to take a walking tour of the village, but stay two or three days to visit also its surrounding villages.
Various cycling trails cross Viscri and you can rent a bike from the village or Bunesti.