An evening party

These are photographs taken at a recent evening party held by Christian Rummel at his place in Reichesdorf (Richis) here in Transilvania. Christian worked his way up from apprentice to craftsman and journeyman and is now a master carpenter working out of Reichesdorf. He is in demand all over Southern Transilvania.

He was one of the instructors who led the recent restoration workshop at our Kirchenburg (fortified castle-church) in Magarei (Pelișor), which we are restoring through our non-profit NGO, Asociatia P.A.T.R.U. This particular workshop focused on the reconstruction of the staircase to the clock tower using medieval methods and tools. I’ll have photos from that workshop posted to our NGO’s website in a few days.

In one of the photos, you’ll be able to see an old Saxon who is the guide and caretaker of the Kirchenburg in Richis, and whom we met 10 years ago, when we first visited that church. I’ll let you compare the photos from the two posts and discover him among the people by the fire.


The fortified church in Richis

This church in the village of Richis (“Reichesdorf” in German and “Riomfalva” in Hungarian) was built sometime between 1350-1400 and it initially functioned as a Cistercian abbey. The abbey did not have a bell tower to begin with because the Cistercian order was not allowed to have them. In 1400, it became a Catholic church and a bell tower was built as a separate structure from the church. In 1500, the fortified wall was built around the church, to defend it from invading tartars and turks.

Sometime between 1540 and 1550, the Saxons became Evangelicals and converted the decorations of the church to what they deemed as a more austere place to worship. They tore some of the medieval ornamentation, particularly the sculptures, and they whitewashed the walls, inside and out. It was only in 1957, when the newly arrived priest led an effort to scrape away the lime whitewash and restore the church that the early gothic motifs were rediscovered.

The church interior is abundant in unique animal, vegetal and human motifs. The most captivating is the “green man”, a symbol of nature’s fertility. Another symbol of the natural wealth in the region is the very name of the place, Reichesdorf, which means “wealthy village”. Should you visit, you’ll want to see the 1775 baroque altar made of sculpted wood, illustrating the Crucifixion.

The local guide of the church is Mr. Schaas, one of the few Saxons left in the village, whom you’ll see in the gallery I’ve published here. He always welcomes visitors and is glad to tell the story of the church to you.

Enjoy the photos!



Mark Treon and I sat down for a conversation about Romania on 7/8/15, in my studio. Mark has been coming to Romania since 1991, has made over 30 trips to the country and has also adopted a child here, which has bound him even closer to the country. He is now renovating three Saxon homes in the village of Richis and plans to turn them into an inn.

This is the tenth episode of “Romania Through Their Eyes”, a show featuring interviews with foreigners living in Romania. The show’s purpose is to get their impressions about the country and to start a dialogue which will lead to a greater understanding of the issues facing Romanians and Romania.

Music: “Ballade no. 4 in F minor, Op. 52” by Frederic Chopin, performed by Frank Levy. Track is public domain, obtained from

Released 7/13/15

Romania Through Their Eyes

Romania Through Their Eyes – Paul Hemmerth

This (long-awaited) episode presents the story of Paul Hemmerth, a Saxon born and raised in Romania during Ceausescu’s regime, who emigrated to Germany with his family at the age of fourteen, and who came back, drawn inexplicably by the land of his birth, to spend as much time as he can, each year, in the Romanian countryside.

Paul has a website called SlowlyPlanet, where he promotes slow tourism — travel at a leisurely pace, where you can take in all that you see. We filmed the episode at Casa Noah, his B&B in Richis (Reichesdorf), a village near Medias in Southern Transilvania.

Various occurrences (some of which couldn’t be helped) delayed the release of this episode. The hard drive on my editing computer died, and the repairs took almost a week. We also had some scheduled travel abroad, and that delayed us by another week. Further shooting for the episode introduced an extra day or so to the workflow, and the extra editing time introduced by the show’s new format added another three full days to the schedule.

I really do hope you’ll enjoy the new format. It’s a lot more work for me during the filming and especially during the editing, because of the two-camera setup, but it makes the show more engaging. Just to give you a quick idea of the data behind the show, the raw footage comes to about 44 GB of 1080p video. The final version of the episode is 4.3 GB of 720p video, and it’s about 55 minutes long.


Episode RTTE-005-DE-HD
Released 6/19/11

There’s an official Facebook page for the show, so head on over and give it a Like if you want to be kept up to date with day-to-day details about the filming of RTTE. There’s also an official website for the show. Also don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, where the show’s episodes are posted, along with other interesting videos I create.