Two Romanian guest houses traditionally restored by HRH
The Prince’s Transylvanian connection
A FUNNY THING happens at about 7pm in the southern Transylvanian village of Viscri. The main street is suddenly flooded with animals – cows, goats, sheep, horses, donkeys – hustling, bustling, chatting and jostling each other as they return home after a day spent grazing in the surrounding common land. And then each peels off to its owner’s house.
This traditional spectacle no doubt delighted the Prince of Wales when he first visited this remote village in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in 1998. The area was almost entirely inhabited by Saxon Romanians from the 12th century until the Ceauşescu regime collapsed in 1989, triggering a mass exodus back to Germany – many homes were simply abandoned. Today, the population is mainly Romanians and Romas.
What really struck the Prince was how extraordinarily well preserved the village was – paintings from the 13th and 14th centuries showed just how little this bucolic scene had changed – and, after buying a home here in 2008, he restored it using traditional local methods. To demonstrate that heritage is an asset that can be tapped into sustain-a-lime-washed. bly, he opened it as a seven-bedroom guest house.
In 2015, he launched The Prince of Wales’s Foundation Romania, which aims to support architectural heritage preservation, farming and sustainable development here; his guest house, known simply as The Prince of Wales House, is its headquarters. The foundation’s work is timely in an area where, of 180 fortified churches (including an extraordinary one in the middle of Viscri itself ), 80 have fallen beyond repair in the past 20 years.
The Prince of Wales House dating back to the 17th century, is cosy, comfortable and decorated in a simple, vernacular Saxon style, each bedroom furnished with local antiques and textiles. Like other houses in the village, every two years its façade must be freshly In the barn is a café and lecture room (courses for Romanians in traditional crafts and rural skills are held at different times during the year). Guests spend time walking in the hills – you can find 250 types of wild flower no longer found anywhere else – exploring ancient villages and churches. All the food served is what the locals eat (try the wild-boar salami), often with a twist – slow-cooked Mangalitza pig with chocolate, celeriac mash with black truffles. And there is excellent local wine.
In 2012, the Prince bought a second property in the even more remote Zalán Valley, which is also run as a guest house, with seven rooms in three cottages. In a tiny village in the mountains, surrounded by thick forest, still inhabited by brown bears is where he comes to really get away from it all.
The Prince of Wales House in Viscri was bought in 2008 and restored using local methods 1