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On Dracula’s Footsteps III

Monday, 20 June

We left for Sibiu. Fivos chose a country road that passed through Agnita. It was an unimaginable splendor, valleys and fields, lush forests, magnificent trees, distant horizons, and old villages, untouched since the 19th century. Keeps and donjons of fortified evangelical churches, with their imposing ramparts, defended by secular oaks. Birds sang in fields abounding with wild flowers. Curiously, everywhere smelled like fresh manure yet it was a delightful time wandering between these old abandoned and lost monuments.

We took a detour through the village of Jacobean, dominated by an enormous donjon and a fabulous church. Unfortunately, everything was closed, but the ambiance both attracted and charmed us. The village of Jacobean hasn’t changed since 1820, with its beaten dirt roads, ravishing, multicolored old homes, and domesticated animals that move calmly and freely throughout the town.

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Everything changed as we approached Sibiu. The suburbs, with their communist era buildings, are a wound on Romania, of immeasurable unpleasantness and sadness. We reached the enormous fortified city. It was full of immense crowds of tourists, but fortunately there were large open spaces. Twisted squares lined with baroque palaces. We visited the sumptuous Brukenthal Palace. The décor was typical enough, the home was full of atmosphere and the paintings in the Brukenthal collection, aside from one or two trinkets, were rather disappointing. But there was an exoticism there. We passed by the Saint Maria Church while searching for a place to have lunch. I was inspired by the gothic architecture, so I decided to enter. Inside it felt very old, full of indentations, decorated with tombs of noble Germans in every corner, either immense stucco panoplies or somber funeral stones. It was a celebration of Teutonic nobles on the walls and the sanctuary had a lot of atmosphere. In Mika Square, which means the Little Square, we settled on a pizzeria, the essential for lunching this country, otherwise the service is never-ending wherever you go. Sadly, a folkloric orchestra set up right in front of us and began their country dancing, something I could never stand. I looked for an ATM and found myself in the Grand Square lined with magnificent residences, when I spotted a branch of the Piraeus Bank. Long live Greece! Sibiu was much less seductive than Sighisoara. There wasn’t any ambiance, it was hot, there were too many people.

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Sighisoara, Sibiu, they are charming, but they are not Romanian, they are German, Austrian, Hungarian. I was perplexed, and that is when Radu intervened. We connected through Facebook, and I invited him to join us. This erudite, a young university professor, knows everything, and I mean everything, about Romania: the history, the economy, the past and present. He is an endless encyclopedia and speaks with passion. Even if uninterested, you could listen to him for hours. He explained Romania to me. The heart of the country are the two provinces of Wallachia, in the south, and Moldavia in the east which roughly form a cresent. The center, the legendary Transylvania, has been occupied by foreigners since time immemorial, the Germans under the name of Saxons, the Hungarians, the Luxembourgish, the Polish. Entire villages exist where German and Hungarian, not Romanian, are spoken. Yet, in the 21st century, there is a strong Romanian identity. How? It is the miracle of the country.


by  Prince Michael of Greece

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