Not far from Sibiu, at the foothills of the Carpathians, there is an area made of 18 old villages where the
time seems to stand still and the old traditions are very well preserved. The people living in the highlands are mainly shepherds and transhumance
(taking the sheep to the mountains in summer and bringing them back to the village or to warmer climates in winter) is still practised.
To this day, it is a custom to wear the traditional folk costume - black and white, with a particular round shaped hat without borders worn by men at celebration times.
Glass painting is a tradition in this area, connected to the Romanian Orthodox Church which is the main religion faith of the inhabitants.
This is Mărginimea Sibiului, the place where the morning wake up call is the sound of cowbells and horse-drawn carriages; the place where the fragrant piles of hay and the flocks of sheep scattered on the green pastures will make one dream of a fairyland.
We can start the guided tour with a short visit to the Open Air Museum, the largest open air ethnographic exhibition in Europe, spreading across a 96 ha area of which an area of 40 ha is covered by the permanent display of dwellings from various parts of the country, peasant industrial installations and traditional means of transportation.
If it’s Sunday we’ll continue the trip to Gura Raului village where we can take part at the religious service, or just simply admire the locals, heading to the church, proudly wearing their traditional black and white costumes.
The next visit is The Painted Icons Museum in Sibiel, the largest existing exposition of icons on glass in Transylvania, a miracle of an artistic treasure inspired by the richness of the Orthodox Christian tradition and the creativity of the Romanian peasant painters.
We will continue our journey driving to the shepherd villages in the mountains, where we’ll visit the Pastoral Museum in Jina, where our host, Mrs Ileana Morariu, the former teacher in the village, will reveal to us the the authentic way of living that has been perpetuated for centuries by the local community. She can also prepare for us a traditional lunch, like the meals the shepherds are still having, up in the mountains, at their sheepfold.
For active travellers, we can add to our trip a short walk, of about 2-3 hours, in the highlands near Rasinari or Jina, to enjoy the natural scenery and with some luck, meet the sheep flocks grazing on pastures.
1. Astra Open Air Museum
2. Gura Raului Church
3. Painted Icons Museum from Sibiel
4. Pastoral Museum in Jina