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Brochure: Rugs in Transylvania, June 2020

As Transylvania is one of the best places in the world to view a comprehensive group of historic rugs, it is only natural that HALI Tours will be returning with Stefano Ionescu in 2020 to offer exclusive access to this important treasure trove of Ottoman textile art.

The huge number of so-called ‘Transylvanian’ rugs that have survived in Saxon churches have kept Stefano Ionescu returning to Transylvania, from his adoptive home in Italy, for the past 15 years. The presence of these 16th- and 17th-century Ottoman rugs from Anatolia—including ‘Holbein’, ‘Lotto’ and Selendi types—and the circumstances surrounding their arrival and survival in Transylvania, offer a fascinating tale of intrigue that spans historic cultures.

This HALI Tour offers a unique chance to enjoy and study them in the atmospheric places where they have survived for the past 350 years. While our guide is the world expert and leading authority on such rugs, he is not the only scholar who has been beguiled by them—and the landscapes—of this timeless region. Michael Franses described it as ‘a treasure house set in Paradise’ and the well-travelled, eminent May Beattie named St Margaret’s Church in Mediaş as ‘the best place on earth to study white ground rugs’. But this is not the only church to contain fabulous rug riches in astonishing context and condition—so more than ten others are included, alongside museums, castles and magnificent medieval towns, set against the scenic backdrop of the Carpathian Mountains. Little-known Italian velvets, early embroideries, local costume and folk kilims previously thought to be from Bessarabia will also be encountered. Romanian, Saxon and Hungarian people from local communities will augment the cultural experience, as we meet with Lutheran pastors, carpet collectors, museum curators, scholars and artisans along the way.

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