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Why Prince Charles is preserving Vlad the Impaler's Transylvania

Why Prince Charles is preserving Vlad the Impaler's Transylvania
A man uses a horse and wagon, still a common form of transportation here, to bring in the hay at one of the rural villages in the Transylvania region of Romania. (Anne-Marie O'Connor)

To stumble on this pastoral village, with its timbered homes' facades painted with folk art flowers, horse-and-buggy transportation and a public drinking trough where water flows into a hollowed log, is to thrill at finding something that feels undiscovered.

Except someone else has already traversed the back roads to this Transylvanian treasure: Prince Charles.

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The prince was in town in June to launch his Prince of Wales Foundation Romania, a charity to preserve the architecture, forests and folkways of rural Romania.

The project in part is aimed at drawing attention to the valuable architectural patrimony of the villages. In Viscri, the British prince appears to be succeeding.

Prince Charles became a staple of the Romanian nightly news, striding through fields with people who were scything hay by hand and piling it into tidy mounds that seem to have leaped out of a Van Gogh painting.

The foundation works for the preservation of historic estates and the peasant homes built around courtyards that house a well, barn and granary that reflect the traditional pursuits of the area's extended families.

Prince Charles and other preservationists offer restored homes as guest houses and vacation homes for travelers, with the hope that tourism can provide economic support for sustainable agriculture and the traditional way of life.

Prince Charles noted that as a descendant of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula, "I have a bit of a stake in the country."

"It's in my blood," he said.

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