Transylvania’s Towers Of Defense – Fortified Churches Of Transylvania
If you want to take in a fascinating experience of living among the wonders of nature and explore the beautiful creations of man, Romania is the place you would want to go. And the heart of Romania, if you ask from any native person, is Transylvania. The Transylvania region of Romania is filled with breathtaking views that can engulf your senses in every positive way. The fortified churches of Transylvania are just one of those beauties I am talking about.
The fortified churches of Transylvania are some of the most beautiful and wonderful monuments in Romania. I know that the castles of Romania are on the top of the list of any visitor who wants to visit the historical monuments of Romania; these churches are nowhere less fascinating. While the castles give you a taste of Romanian history from the nobility and royalty end, these churches show you the cultural and religious side of the place. That is why I suggest that these churches must be visited.
There are in fact hundreds of such churches spread across the country, out of which 150 are well known and preserved. But in this blog, we are going to look at the top 10 fortified churches of Transylvania which are highly popular, gorgeous and the most impressive monuments you must visit in your vacation in Romania.
Top 10 Fortified Churches Of Transylvania
As you know, churches have always been an integral part of the European culture, particularly of Romania. They have played an important role in the lives of the people of Romania in times of peace as well as war. With such an important constant in their lives, Romanians have kept these churches as their heritage. They have built, beautified and preserved these monuments. Be it the painted monasteries of Bucovina or the ones we are talking about right now, the people of Romania have built a lasting relationship with the symbols of national culture and heritage.
The Transylvania region consists of several counties or towns like Mures, Brasov, Sibiu, Alba etc. which all have these churches. In only two or three days, you can easily visit these churches. Here are the 10 most popular fortified churches of Transylvania that you should see.
The Fortified Church Of Viscri
The Brasov County is famous for the churches and the fortified church of Viscri is a well known name among the people living there. Viscri is an amazing travel destination and one of the most popular classic villages of Transylvania. This old village has become a trendy and attractive place in the Transylvanian region all because of the traditional houses, local artisans, Prince Charles’ visit and the joint effort of people and foundation like Mihai Eminescu along with the natural pasturelands of the county.
The first mentions of the church we get are in the 15th century but it may have been built before that. It was fortified in several stages over hundreds of years in portions saving the towers and fortification walls. One of the old towers of the church is now a museum of traditional objects of the Saxon community.
It is quite a bumpy ride to the church away from the main national road but worth it when you will see the beautiful church which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most attractive sites in Transylvania.
The Fortified Church Of Harman
Present a few kilometers outside Brasov, the fortified church of Harman is one of the strongest church in the historical country of Barsa. The church was built in the 13th century but was heavily strengthened and fortified multiple times between the 15th and 17th century. It is often seen as one of the most beautiful monuments built by the Saxons of Transylvania who were predominantly found in Brasov County.
The church has seven defense towers, strong covering walls, a chapel containing 15th century mural paintings and several storage rooms. You can also find a Baroque altar, furniture and decorations hundreds of years old and a small collection of oriental carpets in the church. It is definitely a beautiful church and worth visiting if you are touring the Brasov County.
The fortified church of Prejmer
If you would think of a fort of a king probably in movies that is almost impenetrable, this church is exactly that kind. The fortified church of Prejmer is located in Brasov County. The construction of this church started at the beginning of the 12th century by the Teutonic Knights. It was later donated to the Cistercian monastery from Carta in the year 1240 which proved to be a major impact on the church’s architectural style. It is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
This church is considered to be the strongest fortification in the Transylvania region. And why wouldn’t it be? It was attacked for almost 50 times but was captured only once in 1611. After it came to the Cistercian monastery, the church was enlarged and fortified with high and solid covering walls in the coming centuries. This is probably the only church which has numerous rooms and stores which were helpful at the times of attack where the villagers could live safely. If you are going to visit this church, you should also visit the Swamp Reserve and Eutrophic Forests in Prejmer.
The fortified church of Hosman
There is a route that goes from the Sibiu County in Transylvania to Agnita; the fortified church of Hosman can be found on that road. This is also an old monument that dates back to the 14th century but is somewhat less popular than other fortified churches; which is one of the reasons that it is vacant and is opened only if you request in advance.
The church is fortified with five towers, two high covering walls and a bastion. It has a tall tower with loopholes and a wooden wall-walk and the church looks like a strong construction on the whole. The Romanesque-style portal of the church with fantastic figures carved into it is the most remarkable feature of the church.
The church, as well as the village, were severely hurt due to the Ottoman attacks. Because of the attacks it was also once depopulated centuries ago. Still, it stands today and is an attractive site for visitors.
The fortified church of Biertan
The fortified church of Biertan is present in Sibiu County; just a 30 minutes drive from Sighisoara. It is one of the few churches where the altar, stone carved pulpit and pews are the original from the 16th century, still preserved. Like many other churches in this list, this was also included in the UNESCO World Heritage.
Biertan was once a very prosperous village and in competition with Mosna and Medias for regional control. To move ahead of other villages and to show its excellence, this wonderful fortified church was built by the Saxon community. Striking features of this monument are its unique locking system of the vestry door and the marital prison in one of its towers which are awe-inspiring for the visitors.
The fortified church of Alma Vii
Another great church in the Sibiu County is the fortified church of Alma Vii. Alma Vii is a small village which was first mentioned in 1289. The church was built two centuries later and fortified gradually over a period of several years to prepare it against attacks. The church was recently restored by the efforts of the Foundation Mihai Eminescu.
The typical architecture, green environment and the local traditions of the village make it an amazing attraction in this small village. If you want to experience nature and old Romanian traditions at a slow pace, the fortified church of Alma Vii is a great weekend destination.
The fortified church of Valea Viilor
In our list of the top fortified churches in Transylvania, next comes a popular one present in the Sibiu County, the fortified church of Valea Viilor. Built in the 15th century, the church is one of the strongest in the Transylvanian region, much similar to the fortified church of Prejmer. Its original architectural style, strong fortification walls and two strong and high defense towers tell for its toughness.
In medieval Transylvania, its defense system was considered one the most advanced and tough, at the same time the church is beautiful also. The choir and the nave beside the Western tower were heightened and loopholes and wall-walks were made. Interior corridors connected the wall-walks from the towers. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage, this fortified church is one which you must see in Transylvania. Be sure to plan your visit as it is open for visitors only from March to November until 5 pm.
The fortified church of Malancrav
The fortified church of Malancrav is also found in Sibiu County and is a must-visit destination. Its location is interesting as it is situated on a hill in the western part of the village which has the largest Saxon population in the whole of Transylvania region. This church was built in the 14th century which features a breathtaking Gothic altar. It has a genuine work of art which is more than 600 years old and decorated on top with a crucifix and the statues of Saint John and Saint Mary.
This church also has a collection of some rare and really interesting mural paintings of this region which are older than the Reformation time. This church is really beautiful and its location makes it even more interesting to see. If you want to enjoy the view of the village, you should go up the church tower and experience the beauty of the town in a panoramic view.
The fortified church of Saschiz
As you come out of Brasov and drive just a few kilometers from Sighisoara, you’ll find the magnificent tower of this church. We are talking about the wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site of the fortified church of Saschiz. The Tatar invasion in 1421 proved to be the inspiration for this church’s construction. The invasion was crushed but a few decades later, the Saxon community thought of building a fortified church which would strengthen their defense.
This church is present in Saschiz, part of the Mures County. There is also a peasant fortress made above the village in the 14th century which you can visit by walking up the ruins.
The fortified church of Calnic
Last in our list, but nowhere less than others, comes the fortified church of Calnic. This church is present in Alba County and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful monument was initially the residence of an aristocrat but it was sold to the local people in the 15th century. It was then that the castle was rebuilt, transformed into a fortified church with a small chapel built inside the enclosed space.
A wall curtain was made to fortify the castle and storage rooms were also created inside it. Two of the towers of the church and the chapel are the only parts you can visit. Just 15 km from Calnic, you can reach Sebes where you can see the Lutheran Church which is one of the most popular evangelical churches in Transylvania.
Although you may think these are a lot, there are more of such amazing and beautiful fortified churches in Transylvania. At these churches, you can find a wonderful blend of art, culture, spiritual and historical aspect of the region combining with the fact that these monuments were the defenses of their respective places where they proved to be a resort to the people in the hour of need for hundreds of years. Today they stand before us as a reminder of that history.
Romania, particularly Transylvania, is filled with the wonders of nature and man which you can experience in your trip to Romania. In your Transylvania tours from Bucharest, you can visit not only these but several other places which are as adorable and memorable as the ones shown here. Pick your choice of tour from our crafted tour packages and take yourself to a journey full of awe and wonder.