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Trav­els in Tran­syl­va­nia

Lucy Abel Smith (Blue Guides, £8.95)

TRAN­SYL­VA­NIA, now part of Ro­ma­nia and one of the most un­spoilt re­gions of Europe, has three par­tic­u­lar ap­peals to the imag­i­na­tive trav­eller. It is the land of Drac­ula’s cas­tle and wolf-in­fested forests, it is home to a great num­ber of spec­tac­u­larly painted churches and monas­ter­ies and it is the back­ground to a large num­ber of tra­di­tional ‘Saxon’ vil­lages, with their dis­tinc­tive houses, dome-shaped haystacks and horse-drawn carts.

Lucy Abel Smith, who has a house in Tran­syl­va­nia and is an art his­to­rian with a special in­ter­est in cen­tral Europe and the Balkans, con­cen­trates her at­ten­tion on the painted churches and the Saxon vil­lages. She ex­plains how, in the 12th cen­tury, the Hun­gar­ian kings who ruled the re­gion in­vited set­tlers from North­ern Europe—who be­came known as Tran­syl­va­nian Sax­ons—to farm the re­gion and later to act as a buf­fer state

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