The village of Richiş, in the commune of Biertan, in central Romania’s Sibiu county, has turned into the most international in the country.
Residents of twelve nationalities live in the 700-inhabitant village, according to a recent feature by Recorder.ro.
The village is known as Rechesdref in the Saxon dialect, as Reichesdorf or Reichersdorf in German, and as Riomfalva in Hungarian. The first documentary mention about it dates back to 1283, and the village also hosts a 500-year old Saxon church. Today, German, French, Dutch, Italian, Swiss, Lithuanian and American citizens live in the village alongside the Romanian and the Saxon population.
The village grew to accommodate many foreigners as these came to invest in local property. They refurbished the local Saxon houses, opened bread-and-breakfast accommodations and started promoting a simpler lifestyle. The prosperous village now has a tourist point, plenty of options for traditional food products, and even a literature festival.
The practice of traditional crafts is alive in the village, and one of its residents is restoring old churches and houses in the area of Sibiu. Christian Rummel worked on the restoration of the Biertan fortified church, of the Evangelical Church in Sibiu and of many parochial houses. He also came up with the idea of three-day tours in the villages between Sibiu and Sighisoara. Tourists can take a Transylvanian Express tour by carriage through Richiş, Biertan, Atel and Pelisor.
Richiş and the wider commune of Biertan appeared in international media for their idyllic and unspoiled setting. In 2012, Financial Times ran a feature on the cheap houses available in Transylvania’s idyllic 800-year-old Saxon villages. At the time, a ten-room house in Richiş, on a plot of land that included an orchard and vineyards, cost around EUR 45,000.
In its turn, Biertan also received increased media coverage. This year, BBC presented its “medieval remedy for divorce.” The village hosts a horror film festival, a music festival, and is also home to the library Lada de Breasla. The village also appeared in 2014 in a commercial for German discount supermarket chain Aldi. However, it was presented as a place named Julbacken, in Scandinavia.
Biertan has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. According to data compiled by the Romanian Evangelical Church, the Saxon church in Biertan was the third most visited such church in Romania, after the Black Chuch in Brasov and the Evangelical Cathedral in Sibiu.
The Saxon heritage of the area has caught the interest of UK’s Prince Charles. The prince is a fan of the Transylvania region, where he visits often. He owns several properties in Viscri (Brasov county), Valea Zălanului (Covasna), Mălâncrav (Sibiu), and Breb (Maramures).
In addition to its historical richness, the area of Sibiu also stands out with its gastronomy. The region was designated a European Region of Gastronomy in 2019.
Directions on how to reach Richiş from Sibiu, Medias, and Sighisoara here.
(Photo source: Richis Facebook Page)