The Transylvanian countryside around Sibiu is filled with a world of fortified churches, farms and horse-drawn carriages. We really wanted to check it out but did not want to join a tour, so we opted to rent a car. We hit the road with a bad road map and a few ideas as to where to go based on guidebook descriptions.
Our first stop was the Peasant Fortress of Slimnic, dating from the 14-18th Century. It was in ruins, but it gave it a lot of charm. We paid to go inside, where the caretaker of the fortress had converted it into a tiny farm.
(That chicken totally attacked me anytime I had my back turned to it!)
We drove around some more and stopped at the Axente Server Fortified Church & museum. It was in great condition, with the church still fully functioning. The museum was surprisingly good, with lots of Saxon history, details about fortified churches and about local culture. We even made it to the top of the bell tower this time! It was really worth the stop.
We detoured to check out Valea Viilor village after seeing a UNESCO sign for it on the road. The Fortified Evengelical Church, circa 1414, is apparently the most fortified church of them all. Unfortunately we could not find the mayor of the city to get the key to go inside – a common issue when trying to see these churches when not on a tour.
By then it was lunch time, so we drove around until we found a nice patch of grass to have our picnic – another advantage to the region having no fences! Unfortunately lunch didn’t last very long as it started to rain.
For the rest of the afternoon we just drove around village to village, without really stopping to get into churches that were closed anyway. The countryside was stunning, and so we didn’t mind it at all.
On our way back towards Sibiu the rain turned into hail and snow – you can check out the video we made in this separate post!
Eventually we made it back to town. We parked the car and I headed for the hostel, while Travis went to drop off the car keys at the rental place. Upon inspection, it turned out that during our drive back we had acquired a flat tire, something that the guy from the rental company happens about 25% of the time due to the bad roads. Travis ended up going with the guy to get the tired fixed for a grand total of about $10 US. It took forever, but at that price, you really can’t argue! And the guy gave us a bottle of homemade wine and a CD full of Romanian music, so it turned out pretty good for us in the end!