"> Mihai Eminescu Trust – Experience Transylvania

Mihai Eminescu Trust

The Mihai Eminescu Trust (the MET) was founded in 1987 in London.

The name of the Foundation (referencing Romania’s preeminent poet of the 20th century) relates to the initial purpose of the organisation: opening up Romanian intellectuals (philosophers, writers, artists) to Western European universities (especially Oxford and Cambridge) and to the influential personalities of the western world.

In the beginning the MET developed slowly, due to the inauspicious political context of the times. But an immediate need for intervention soon arose. The goal of Ceausescu’s “systematisation plan” was that many historically valuable villages would be wiped out, simply erased from the map.

In this context, the Foundation was supported by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles gave a speech to the London Civil Society about the importance of maintaining traditional villages in Romania. He said that the crisis taking place there was urgent and undeniable.

Since 1990, the Foundation has dedicated its activity to protecting historical Transylvanian heritage.

The Mihai Eminescu Trust projects

The whole village project, program for rural sustainable development

This is the most important and complex MET project, born out of the relentless ambition to restore an ancient, beautiful, and historically important area by rebuilding the villages found there. The whole village project is the initial MET project in Romania, starting in 2000 under the patronage of HRH the Prince of Wales.

The purpose of the project is to use local traditions to recreate the community, improving lives by building on traditional values. The village reaches the “unfading” stage by becoming a greater part of the community, learning the general needs of the residents and gathering solutions based on their suggestions. The community decides which actions take priority; all decisions are implemented by a local team, watched over and supported by the MET.

The rehabilitation of secular heritage

The first Mihai Eminescu Trust projects responded to specific needs of the local communities; but they also had a clear purpose: to preserve the natural heritage of the area.

Today, the MET has 12 ongoing projects. These projects have been developed alongside local and international organisations; partners that support our goal of rehabilitating the Transylvanian village and revitalising the local spirit.

Simply put, the MET gets involved in the villages’ renovation, restoring the village house by house – rebuilding the community from the ground up. We also rehabilitate public and community buildings, as they play a crucial part in the life of a traditional Transylvanian village.

The rehabilitation of religious heritage

Throughout our history, the church has been the central element of the village –   a place of worship and a last refuge; the last line of defence from outside invasion. Instead of castles, Transylvania had churches; fortified churches which helped them protect their lands. By investing in the renovation of the churches – we pay tribute to the sacrifices of the past. And focusing these churches – the beautiful and prominent section of the village – helps sustain both tourism and the region itself.

The development of local tourism

A basic question: once the village has been restored to its traditional beauty, then what do we do? Well, we invite others to see our work. We call upon travellers to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings; we welcome them into our traditional houses. As a trust, the MET emphasises responsible tourism. Tourism exposes newcomers to the beauty of our land; profits gained from tourism are then utilised to continue the restoration of the ancient villages, helping to preserve an irreplaceable section of the world.



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