The people now known as the Pennsylvania Dutch originated as Anabaptists in sixteenth-century Switzerland, under the leadership of Menno Simons. His unorthodox advocacy of adult baptism and literal interpretation of the Bible led to the order’s persecution; they were invited by William Penn to settle in Lancaster County in the 1720s. Today the twenty or so orders of Pennsylvania Dutch include the “plain” Old Order Amish (a strict order that originally broke away from Simons in 1693) and freer-living Mennonites, as well as the “fancy” Lutheran groups (distinguished by the colourful circular “hex” signs on their barns). Living by an unwritten set of rules called Amish Ordnung, which includes absolute pacifism, the Amish are the strictest and best known: the men with their wide-brimmed straw hats and beards (but no “military” moustaches), the women in bonnets, plain dresses (with no fripperies like buttons) and aprons. Shunning electricity and any exposure to the corrupting influence of the outside world, the Amish power their farms with generators, and travel (at roughly 10mph) in handmade horse-drawn buggies. For all their insularity, the Amish are very friendly and helpful; resist the temptation to photograph them, however, as the making of “graven images” offends their beliefs.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Beer and bison burgers: a foodie's guide to Denver

Beer and bison burgers: a foodie's guide to Denver

Countless cities are credited with a burgeoning food scene – but Denver, the Wild West capital of Colorado, stands out from the crowd. In 2016, a stagger…

19 Sep 2017 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
Where to stay in Las Vegas: a first-timer’s guide

Where to stay in Las Vegas: a first-timer’s guide

Shimmering from the desert haze of Nevada like a latter-day El Dorado, Las Vegas is the most dynamic, spectacular city on Earth. At the start of the 20th centu…

01 Sep 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month