Introducing: Random Transylvanian villages

Criş [pronounced: Krish], Biertan [Bee-air-tun] and Şaroş [Shah-rosh] are more or less random villages in Southern Transylvania. Biertan is more well-known (at least it has a Wikipedia entry), something Criş and Şaroş don’t have. I checked them out on a small road trip with two friends, just before the new year, so – if you go to Transylvania and just take any random road to the left, or the right, below is something you may find.

I found out about the Criş castle long after I had left home.

Former headquarters of a Hungarian noble family, Bethlen, it was confiscated by the Communist authorities and used as storage space for agricultural products of the local C.A.P. – state-owned “production community”.

After the Revolution in 1989 they started restoring it, but it stopped as soon as a descendant of the Bethlen family claimed the castle. And frozen it is today.

In summer there are greater chances to find a ghostly guard, who for 2-3 RON can give a quite educated tour. This time all we saw was a little smoke coming out randomly – we didn’t insist.

I knew about Biertan, German Saxons had their annual meetings there. But i didnt visit it for years – it was “way too far”, as much as anything farther than a 5 minutes walk. Unbelievable how small one’s Universe can be. I visited eventually, the imposing church-fortress,

UNESCO heritage,

fom the big village lost between the hills, carrying signs of fading glory.

Landscape is picturesque, the road serpenting through forests and pastures. It is a quality of the Transylvanian highlands – although conceptually the landscape is the same – hills – actually their shape is never the same, after every road curve there is something different awaiting the traveller. That’s how one doesn’t get bored. In addition, if you’re lucky, you might spot, like we did, wildlife gems on the side of the road: fox, deer or even a very rare wild cat.

To get to Biertan, there is a side road you have to take from E60, in the middle of the village Şaroş, a.k.a. Şaroşu pe Târnave. It also has a fortified church

which would probably be known better if it wasn’t in the shadow of Big Biertan. The landscape was like taken from a poem (Iarna pe Ulita), with kids thoroughly enjoying sledging on a hill behind the church.

– „Nenea, nenea,” (=sort of an “uncle” you say to older people you don’t necessarily know) “give me 2 lei, pleease!”
– „We don’t have money. And we are from Romania”.
– “Then take a picture of us!”
– “Very well.”

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