Transylvania, or the Land Beyond the Forest, is one of the three provinces forming Romania, a land of history and legend that has fascinated travellers for centuries. It is the most ethnically heterogeneous and culturally mixed of the three, populated predominantly by Romanians ( who call it Ardeal), Hungarians (who call it Erdely) and Saxon Germans (who call it Siebenburgen,meaning ‘Seven Boroughs’ based on the seven towns they founded). The legend said that when the Pied Piper lured the children from Hameln in Germany, they vanished underground and emerged in Transylvania. But history tells a different story: In the 12th century,Saxon traders and farmers were invited to help defend the eastern frontier of Transylvania against invaders.
For more than eight hundred years the Saxons had been in Transylvania, defending the Carpathian passes, building their towns, fortifying their churches, where in times of war the village population would retreat during sieges, and keeping their way of life and ancient traditions. Today,in the cities and villages you are going to visit, there are only a few old Saxons left who still preserve their fascinating culture as large numbers of them returned to Germany after the fall of Romania’s communist regime in 1989. UNESCO and organisations such as the Mihai Eminescu trust together with local villagers have established restoration projects and sustainable activities to ensure the survival of this unique heritage of the fascinating “lost world”of Saxon Transylvanians.