That we love Sibiu is no longer a secret. Neither is that we love the whole county of Sibiu, with all its history, culture and diversity. And what’s not to love about it – beautiful landscapes, traditions that are still being kept, houses with old and well preserved architecture, villages with so many stories to be told around the fire, rich and diverse cuisine, rural life at its best. In a world that’s going too global, these villages keep to their local diversity.
To celebrate all this, we’re starting a series of 5 blog posts to tell the story of each of the 5 regions of the Sibiu county – each with its outdoors, history, culture, architecture and gastronomy. All combined to give you the right feeling when stepping for the first time on this land.
The Târnavelor Region
The area and its surroundings
The Târnavelor Plateau, in the North-East part of the Sibiu County, the hills area bordered by the two Târnava rivers, is an area with hills ranging from 300 to 700 meters high and river valleys. More than 70% of this area is occupied by pastures and meadows, where animals are grown, and hills where vineyards enjoy the sun.
For relaxing in the shade on a hot summer day, the oak trees forests surrounding the hills are the perfect solution. The Târnavelor Region is a Natura 2000 protected area, with a very diverse flora and fauna, waiting to be explored.
The history and traditions
People have settled on the valley, between this beautiful hills, so green and fresh in the spring time, for many centuries. As for the Hârtibaciu Valley, the area has been inhabited by Romanians, but Saxons started coming in as early as the XII century. During the centuries they built beautiful houses and massive stone fortified churches that are still standing even today and that give this plateau a mystic air. Some of the villages to be mentioned are Biertan, Richiș, Alma Vii, Moșna or Mălâncrav, with Mediaș being the main town around.
One special mention here should go to the Armenians who settled in the Dumbrăveni village and who contributed to the local history, culture and gastronomy.
The Târnavelor Plateau in the Sibiu County is also know as the „Weinland”. Villages like Biertan, Richiș and Saroș were famous for the terraced vineyards they had and for the local wine they produced called “Neuburger”. It was brought by the cistercians in the XII century and in Richiș some locals still produce it. For a while, around 100 years ago, it was the most famous wine in Transylvania.
As the hills offers so much grass, people would have cows and buffaloes (which is something specific only to Transylvania, you won’t find buffaloes anywhere else in Romania). From the buffaloes the people would use the milk. The Bazna pig is another emblematic product of this area.
The gastronomy of the area is extremely diverse and is the living proof of the mix that the area had in terms of nationalities and cultures: Romanians, Saxons, Hungarians, Armenians, Roma. Sour apple soup, with vegetables, cream and egg, boiled luce with almond and horseradish sauce are just some of the local recipes that have been passed from generation to generation for hundreds of years.
In terms of local producers, like with the other regions of the Sibiu County, the Târnavelor Plateau has so much to offer. From pork, to goat cheese, to cow cheese, to homemade mustard, to homemade syrups, jams and alcoholic drinks – everything having the most authentic taste, that combined with the beautiful houses, the green hills and forests and the stories of the locals give this area the charm it deserves.
Cund – Manufactura de brânză – home made hard cheese (they aren’t in the Sibiu County, but they are close by and we visited them recently and had such a nice experience tasting all their cheese assortments).
You will find a full list of local producers from the Sibiu county, including the Târnavelor Region in the local guide that the Tourism Office from Sibiu recently published.
Activities and events
As for the other two regions of the Sibiu County, the Târnave Plateau has a lot of activities to keep you busy when visiting. It’s a very nice destination even for families with kids, and a good opportunity for the kids to get in touch with nature and the traditional countryside – with animals and farms, with fresh fruits and vegetables.
There are some yearly events in the villages, based on what seasonal ingredients are available – Cabbage Festival in Moșna, Apple Celebration in Mălâncrav, Pork Festival in Bazna, Christmas Fair in Mediaș.
My Transylvania Association brings local tastes back to life and they organize brunches in some of the villages of the Târnave Plateau. So if you want to experience the gastronomy of the area, these events are exactly where you have to be. You can see all the available events and book a place on eat-local.ro.
One of the main attraction of this area are the fortified churches and almost each village you will pass through will have one. Check out Biertan, Richis, Moșna or Alma Vii. They are what gives this area its personality and the people in charge of each church will have so many stories to tell you about their villages. A list of all the fortified churches can be found HERE.
If you want to explore more the area before and during the trip in the Târnave Plateau (and beyond), there’s a mobile app called Colinele Transilvaniei (Transylvanian Hills) that gives you all the info you need – places to visit, outdoor, bike tours, accommodation, crafts and others.
Find some local craftsmen and see them do their job. There are plenty in this region and just to name a few: Felt craftsman – Elias Jordan, Copșa Mare 144; Carpenter – Christian Rummel, Richiș; monuments restorer – Sebastian Betghe, Apold.
Visit Mediaș – Mediaș is the main city in the Târnave Plateau and it’s a must when in the area. The have a beautiful synagogue (where from time to time they do all sorts of events) and there’s a local tour agency (Dianthus) that does some nice biking tours.
What I totally love about the Sibiu County is that you can chose to spend your vacation nights in one of the lovely guesthouses, where the hosts will give you such a nice welcome. The houses still maintain the original structure and they are a true delight for the eyes. For some of them the hosts will even cook dinner and breakfast with local products, for a full rural experience.
Casa Noah from Richiș
Villa Rihuini in Richiș
Prod – Cross Country Farm
Bazna – Bassen Guesthouse