Fortified Churches of Romania

more than a year ago
It seems like keeping away from the crowded areas will continue to be a good idea for the near future. If you're interested in a piece of Romanian history, but want to see a slice of natural landscape as well, here's our tour of the Fortified churches of Romania.
Image credit - tourinromania.com

We head to the center of Romania, in an area full of history, tradition and legends. The Transylvanian rural landscape has always delighted Romanian and foreign tourists alike. And in this special natural setting rise some of the most beautiful fortified churches-fortresses, hundreds of years old. More than 200 such monuments have been identified in Transylvania. Today we will mention some of the most beautiful and interesting, with the recommendation to make a route that includes as many as possible.

The first stop is in a village that is first shown in documents as old as 810 years ago, from 1209 - Alma Vii. Here is the church that was to be built two centuries later. To get there, you will travel a country road. At its end, on top of an easy hill, stands this monument, a testament to the existence of the Saxons in the area, but also to the Transylvanian multiculturalism. The fortress has four towers restored within a project financed with funds from Norway, the state of Lichtenstein and Iceland. Each tower has it’s own theme.
There’s the Clock Tower or the Gate Tower, the Bacon Tower, the Ice Tower and the Grain Tower.
Temporary exhibitions may also be set up on certain floors.
Image credit - Zsolt Deak

Tourists may also visit the very simple peasant houses, with the original furniture, or certain pieces that we’re saved and refurbished. Currently, no services are held at the fortified church in Alma Vii, but the village community gathers here for important events. For example, Christmas :)

At 73 km from Alma Vii, in Cisnadioara, you will find the oldest Romanesque monument in Transylvania. The fortress is different from the others in Transylvania and in that it has not undergone many subsequent changes. This is despite the turbulent times she has gone through over time, Built in 1180, with the surrounding walls added in 1241, before the Mongol invasion. They lived here for about 300 years. At one point the church was donated to the Cistercian monastery of Cârţa in 1223. Over the centuries it was used, of course, as a church in the beginning, a fortress of archers, an arsenal,even a prison for a while. It is now more open to visitors. Services are held three or four times a year.  So, like the fortified church in Alma Vii, the Citadel of Cisnadioara can be a perfect Christmas destination.
Image credit - Pinterest

But one of the best preserved fortified fortresses in Transylvania is that of Frauendorf Axente Sever. Here, you can see the life-size catapult and a ram with which the gates were broken. The fortress dates from 1322. It is special because the bell is above the choir. In Transylvania, there are about 300 evangelical fortresses, but usually the tower is on one side and the church on the other. Next to the altar are the names of those who fell in World War II, and next to them the names of those who fell in World War I. The name and house number they lived in the village are written in. The altar is in Baroque style, from 1777. From the same period as the upper organ. It is functional and used, just like the the church, once every two weeks. The priest from Mediaș comes, goes to the surrounding villages, collects one, two ethnic Germans and holds the service in German. 
fortified churches of romania © Jordi Joan Fabrega / Flickr
Image credit: Jordi Joan Fabrega / Flickr

Viscri is a name that became known throughout the world after Prince Charles fell in love with the village and its surroundings. The houses here are very old, painted in pale colors, with shutters on the windows, some even hundreds of years old. The central point of interest remains the fortified church, an impressive example of Transylvanian defensive architecture.  At first it was just a small church, and since then our ancestors have had to think of a way to defend themselves against Ottoman, Mongol, Tatar, and Turkish invasions. The entire population of the village, in case of danger, could take refuge inside the church. It has a very small, very simple organ, built in 1817 by a Transylvanian organ builder.


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