The Prince of Wales paid a visit to Transylvania, part of northwest Romania where he owns several properties.
Prince Charles met President Klaus Iohannis in Bucharest on Sunday before travelling to Valea Zalanului the remote village where he owns a country retreat.
Charles admiration for the area began in 1998 when he first visited the area.
Instantly struck by the storyed culture of the area, Prince Charles noted that he was: “totally overwhelmed by its unique beauty and its extraordinarily rich heritage.”
Charles, well known for his dedication to the preservation of traditional rural communities both in the UK and abroad had a vision for this area.
In 2006, he bought and restored an 18th Century Saxon house in the Transylvanian village Viscri, the latter a chosen UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Charles then purchased a property in the village of Zalánpatak in 2010. The property was founded four centuries ago by the Kálnoky Family as a glass manufacturing area in the centre of the forest.
Unfortunately manufacturing ceased in the early 1900s, but 150 people still live there today.
The property contains several buildings and has a bit of forest and extensive flower meadows with mineral springs and small brooks.
Zalanpatak is abundant with native plants, mushrooms, insects and birds as well as bears and wolves can be spotted in the night.
“Ever since I first visited Romania in 1998, I have been doing my utmost to ensure a sustainable future for the Saxon villages of Transylvania and their people. Tourism clearly has a vital role to play in this,” Charles commented.
All of the buildings have been painstakingly restored and contain numerous Transylvanian antiques. Although modern facilities are needed to function, the architectural integrity remains.
It is suggested that the Royal Family and Vlad the Impaler are linked through Queen Mary, King George V wife and consort and great-grandmother to Prince Charles.
A further connection is possible as his great-grandfather’s cousin Marie married the Romanian crown prince and went on to rule the eastern European country after the First World War.
Some historians and academics inferred that the character of Dracula, created by writer Bram Stoker, is based on Vlad.
In 2011, Charles joked: “The genealogy shows that I am descended from Vlad the Impaler. So I have a bit of a stake in the country.” No word on if the pun was intentional or not.
Charles is Patron of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, which works to reestablish the cultural heritage, economy and nature of Transylvania’s Saxon villages.
The charity restored 180 medieval houses along with a few churches. It supports traditional rural practises such as wood fired kilns for handcrafted bricks and tiles as well as one of Prince Charles’s passions: organic farming.
Charles and his vision for the renovation of these buildings and surrounding area offers a positive future for this much-overlooked area whilst still keeping with rural Transylvanian ways of life.
Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr