The Prince of Wales has bought and renovated properties in rural Romania to help protect the unique way of life that has existed for hundreds of years through the promotion of sustainable tourism.
His Royal Highness has a long-standing interest in Romania and has visited the country regularly since his first visit in 1998.
The Prince has said that he was particularly moved by the plight of the remarkable fortified Saxon villages in Transylvania which were built centuries ago by German settlers, who were encouraged to go there to help withstand Tartar and Turkish invasions.
Sadly, due to mass migration, many of these villages have ageing populations and are in decline.
On his first visit to Transylvania, The Prince was immediately struck by the precious legacy of this area and said he was "totally overwhelmed by its unique beauty and its extraordinarily rich heritage."
The Prince of Wales is well-known for his commitment to preserving traditional rural communities and their way of life, both in the UK and overseas.
In 2006 The Prince of Wales decided to buy and restore an 18th Century Saxon house in the Transylvanian village Viscri, the latter a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 2010, The Prince purchased a property in the village of Zalánpatak which was founded four centuries ago by the Kálnoky Family as a glass manufacturing area in the heart of the forest.
The manufacturing ended in the early 1900s but around 150 people live there today.
The Prince of Wales owns the property that had originally been built for the former judge who was overseeing the manufacture of glass and the village as a whole.
The property comprises several buildings, and has a patch of forest and extensive flower meadows with mineral springs and small brooks belonging to it.
The property in Zalanpatak is characterized by its rich biodiversity with native plants, mushrooms, insects and birds. Large mammals including bears are often seen and wolves can be heard howling during the winter nights.
Guests are looked after by local staff and the resident ecologist. Activities depend on the season and range from bear-tracking over horse and cart trips, wild flower botany, mushroom picking, hiking or simply relaxing.
His Royal Highness said: "Ever since I first visited Romania in 1998, I have been doing my utmost to ensure a sustainable future for the Saxon villages of Transylvania and their people. Tourism clearly has a vital role to play in this."
All of the buildings have been sensitively restored, and have a number of Transylvanian antiques. They remain very much in keeping with the surrounding architecture, but with modern facilities where possible for the comfort of tourists who wish to explore the unique culture of this forgotten part of Europe.
Through the renovation of these buildings His Royal Highness aims to help provide a sustainable future for the people of rural Transylvania whilst enabling residents to maintain their traditional way of life.
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