23 mar. 2013

Transylvanian country houses as seen by Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor (I)

*This article is written in English. The Romanian version will be available soon.

In summer 2011, in our researches on the web, we came across a book that was said to describe a young man’s travels through Central Europe, in the mid 1930’s. The book was called Between the Woods and the Water and it had been written by Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor. Luckily, one of us was studying in Berlin at that time, so we managed to find a copy of the book at the university library. What came next, amazed us: browsing the book, we found numerous accounts of Transylvanian stately houses and their owners, stories about their life style, about their relationships and rich depictions of their appearance and character. For us, it proved to be a real treasure, as today most to nothing remains to bear witness of those days, apart from some of the castles and mansions mentioned in the book, which are now mostly abandoned and derelict. 

Back in Bucharest, we decided to order the book as it hasn’t yet been translated and it’s rarely found in Romania. After the book arrived we started reading it thoroughly, pen in hand, browsing through our archive of photographs, both old and new, trying to retrace the author’s steps through the stately homes of Transylvania and to catch a glimpse of this lost world. What you will see in the following series of articles is the result of this work, which we hope will prove helpful for everyone interested. The articles contain excerpts from the book (in italics) combined with information on the stately homes mentioned and their owners, archive images and contemporary photographs.