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Katalin Solymosi

Using the concept that landscapes are ideas formed by viewers about their physical surroundings, this article examines visitors' landscape perceptions of two peripheral regions of Europe: Gyimes in the Romanian Eastern Carpathians, and Las Hurdes in the Northern Extremadura of Spain. Both are characterized by exceptional, historically-evolved cultural landscapes and a population that culturally or ethnically differs from the national mainstream surrounding them. Based on literature review, expert consultations, and a questionnaire survey conducted in the research areas, I conclude that due to historical developments, socio-economic settings, and ethnic differences, the outsiders' view of these landscapes can be strongly distorted. In the tourist, misinformation and wishful thinking create a “mental map” that does not represent reality. I also note that along with having a possible impact on inhabitants' landscape perception and their strong regional identity, the outsiders' view might influence policy decisions and therefore the general development of a region.