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