It would appear that, as far as my Transylvanian adventure goes, I have left the most charming for last.

Although you don't really need much more than a day to see everything inside the old German Citadel of Sighișoara, it is a place you will be glad to have stopped by. And stopped by I did. From the Clock Tower, to the less fancy but mysterious Boot Tower and through the "Scara Acoperita" (Scholar's stairs) which leads you to the aptly-named Church on the Hill, it is a place where you travel back in time. If you can pretend the many tourists are German merchants and Wallachian Kings in exile (Vlad II Dracul, Dracula's Dad was here for a bit when he lost his Throne), then it's just like you were there, "back then".

Vlad Tepes, or Dracula, was actually born in Sighișoara, so he does steal the limelight of famous "Sighișoarans" a bit. But this citadel is also the city of a certain Johannes. Yes, another one. Not the one with the beard. Johnnes Kelpius, born Johann Kelp near Sighisora in 1667, was a musician and theologian of the most pious kind. And in his mid twenties, he embarked for the New World with 40-odd followers, to establish a retreat, to achieve and teach constant spiritual devotion. This is him, trying to leave his birthplace, despite some... er, issues?

 
 
Who are these faces I see
They rigidly follow the streets
A song, a prayer for a smile
their look stays stern all the while
Leave or Stay, a common phrase
And ev'ry day, a haze
Shall I follow the beast in me that cries?
Shall I desire only her eyes?

Now, I know what you're probably thinking. You're thinking, "Wait a second, Ben. The song is alright and all that, but, wasn't Sighișoara called Schässburg back then?". Well, first of all, er, let me congratulate you on your excellent Romanian knowledge! I didn't know you knew so much about Transylvanian history. Well done! And secondly, well, yes, creative licence I guess.

Despite predicting the end of the world in the year in 1694 (epic fail, there), Johannes' work and philosophy are extremely interesting for their time. This young man preached a faith not based on rituals, speeches in big churches with lots of echo and little biscuits you get at the end, but would rather lead his followers to focus on a constant, love-filled devotion. He actually wrote a very short book called "A Short Easy and Comprehensive Method of Prayer" which is in full, here. I actually read it! I - actually - read it! Only because it is very short. Let me share a bit of it with you here:

"When the worldly Love [materialisism] bears Rule in a Heart, we must conclude, that the divine Love is not there;  but when the divine and true Love of God [...] is well known in the Heart, and practiced, so must we conclude, that it is and bears Rule therein [that it's there, basically];  although the Heart with [materialistic] Temptations is uneasy, and seems to shew the contrary, which is grievous enough [which is a pain in the arse really]."

And that is precisely what the song is about. A battle between materialistic "worldy" cravings and devotion. I must add, creative licence jumps in here again, because there is no way of being sure Johann actually had that dilemma. He probably did though. Albeit, clearly, not when he wrote the book, as you will see if you do glide over a couple of pages in his Book.

 
 Johannes Kelpius, badly drawn

Johannes Kelpius, badly drawn

 

Pfoa. This is quite a long one isn't it? If you've come this far, feel free to leave a comment or something, you know, so I know. But I must mention briefly here a local festivity which enlivened my stay immensely: The Academia Sighișoara. This fine classical music festival, with dozens of free concerts over two weeks in various beautiful locations, deserves a special (musical?) note. And you can learn more here if you're planning your next summer in Transylvania!

So it's bye from me! And Johann says hi. Probably.

Get a postcard from Ben here -

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