Saxon Fortified Churches Tour

The German-speaking Saxons are behind a cultural and architectural legacy that is still very much visible throughout Transylvania. These villages and towns, all of them on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list consist of fortified churches and unique homes hidden behind traditional gates. We offer you a 2-day long tour that takes you through the most important and beatiful of these villages, presenting their history and architectural wonders.

In the 13th century the Kings of Hungary encouraged the colonization of the Sub-Carpathian region of Transylvania (Erdély) by a German-speaking population of artisans, farmers, and merchants, mainly from the Rhineland. Known as the Transylvanian Saxons, they enjoyed special privileges granted by the Hungarian Crown, especially in the period preceding the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Despite living in a country where the majority of the population consisted of ethnic Hungarians or Romanians, the Transylvanian Saxons were able to preserve their language and their customs intact throughout the centuries. Their formidable ethnic solidarity is vividly illustrated by their settlements, which remained resistant to external influences.

Their geographical location in the foothills of the Carpathians exposed the Transylvanian Saxon communities to danger when the Ottoman Empire began to menace the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Their reaction was to build defensive works within which they could take shelter from the invaders. Lacking the resources of the European nobility and rich merchants, who were able to fortify entire towns, the Transylvanian Saxons chose to create fortresses round their churches, enclosing storehouses within to enable them to withstand long sieges.

Biertan is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, having been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. The Biertan fortified church was the seat of the Lutheran Evangelical Bishop in Transylvania between 1572 and 1867.
The first documentary testimony about the village dates from 1283 in a document about the taxes paid by the inhabitants of 7 villages and so it is believed to have been founded sometime between 1224 to 1283 by Transylvanian Saxons.

Sighișoara is considered to be the most beautiful and well preserved inhabited citadel in Europe, with authentic medieval architecture. In Eastern Europe, Sighișoara is one of the few fortified towns that are still inhabited. The town is made up of two parts. The medieval stronghold was built on top of a hill and is known as the “Citadel” (Cetate). The lower town lies in the valley of Târnava Mare river.

Central Sighișoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small medieval fortified city. It has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Each year, a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel in July.

Sighișoara played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of Central Europe for several centuries. Sighișoara became one of the most important cities of Transylvania, with artisans from throughout the Holy Roman Empire visiting the settlement. The German artisans and craftsmen dominated the urban economy, as well as building the fortifications protecting it. It is estimated that during the 16th and 17th centuries Sighișoara had as many as 15 guilds and 20 handicraft branches.

Viscri is one of the villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, designated in 1993 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The origins of the fortified church date from 1100 when the Székelys built a small church with a single hall and semicircular apse. Around 1185 the church was taken over by Saxon colonists, the eastern part of the church was rebuilt and in 1525, the first fortifications with towers were added. In the 18th century the church was surrounded by a second defense wall.

In 2006, The Prince of Wales bought and restored two 18th century Saxon houses in the Transylvanian villages of Mălâncrav and Viscri to help protect the unique way of life that has existed for hundreds of years and promote sustainable tourism.

The Saschiz fortified church was built by the ethnic German Transylvanian Saxon community at a time when the area belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary. Initially Roman Catholic, it became Lutheran following the Reformation. Together with the surrounding village, the church forms part of the villages with fortified churches in Transylvania UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Construction of a large fortified late Gothic church began in 1493 on the site of a Romanesque basilica, and the main structure was completed in 1496. The church was dedicated to Saint Stephen of Hungary.
The large structure, built of quarried stone, is a hall church strengthened by 22 high buttresses. The nave is very wide and long, while the choir is closed on three sides. Among the church’s features are the two arched portals at the north and south sides, the upper windows with their delicate Gothic details, the Baroque altar and its floral decorations made of carved wood, and the 1786 organ.

You can read reviews about the Transylvanian Fortified Churches by fellow travelers here.

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Saxon Fortified Churches Tour

The German-speaking Saxons are behind a cultural and architectural legacy that is still very much visible throughout Transylvania. These villages and towns, all of them on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list consist of fortified churches and unique homes hidden behind traditional gates. We offer you a 2-day long tour that takes you through the most important and beatiful of these villages, presenting their history and architectural wonders.

In the 13th century the Kings of Hungary encouraged the colonization of the Sub-Carpathian region of Transylvania (Erdély) by a German-speaking population of artisans, farmers, and merchants, mainly from the Rhineland. Known as the Transylvanian Saxons, they enjoyed special privileges granted by the Hungarian Crown, especially in the period preceding the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Despite living in a country where the majority of the population consisted of ethnic Hungarians or Romanians, the Transylvanian Saxons were able to preserve their language and their customs intact throughout the centuries. Their formidable ethnic solidarity is vividly illustrated by their settlements, which remained resistant to external influences.

Their geographical location in the foothills of the Carpathians exposed the Transylvanian Saxon communities to danger when the Ottoman Empire began to menace the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Their reaction was to build defensive works within which they could take shelter from the invaders. Lacking the resources of the European nobility and rich merchants, who were able to fortify entire towns, the Transylvanian Saxons chose to create fortresses round their churches, enclosing storehouses within to enable them to withstand long sieges.

Biertan is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, having been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. The Biertan fortified church was the seat of the Lutheran Evangelical Bishop in Transylvania between 1572 and 1867.
The first documentary testimony about the village dates from 1283 in a document about the taxes paid by the inhabitants of 7 villages and so it is believed to have been founded sometime between 1224 to 1283 by Transylvanian Saxons.

Sighișoara is considered to be the most beautiful and well preserved inhabited citadel in Europe, with authentic medieval architecture. In Eastern Europe, Sighișoara is one of the few fortified towns that are still inhabited. The town is made up of two parts. The medieval stronghold was built on top of a hill and is known as the “Citadel” (Cetate). The lower town lies in the valley of Târnava Mare river.

Central Sighișoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small medieval fortified city. It has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Each year, a Medieval Festival takes place in the old citadel in July.

Sighișoara played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of Central Europe for several centuries. Sighișoara became one of the most important cities of Transylvania, with artisans from throughout the Holy Roman Empire visiting the settlement. The German artisans and craftsmen dominated the urban economy, as well as building the fortifications protecting it. It is estimated that during the 16th and 17th centuries Sighișoara had as many as 15 guilds and 20 handicraft branches.

Viscri is one of the villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, designated in 1993 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The origins of the fortified church date from 1100 when the Székelys built a small church with a single hall and semicircular apse. Around 1185 the church was taken over by Saxon colonists, the eastern part of the church was rebuilt and in 1525, the first fortifications with towers were added. In the 18th century the church was surrounded by a second defense wall.

In 2006, The Prince of Wales bought and restored two 18th century Saxon houses in the Transylvanian villages of Mălâncrav and Viscri to help protect the unique way of life that has existed for hundreds of years and promote sustainable tourism.

The Saschiz fortified church was built by the ethnic German Transylvanian Saxon community at a time when the area belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary. Initially Roman Catholic, it became Lutheran following the Reformation. Together with the surrounding village, the church forms part of the villages with fortified churches in Transylvania UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Construction of a large fortified late Gothic church began in 1493 on the site of a Romanesque basilica, and the main structure was completed in 1496. The church was dedicated to Saint Stephen of Hungary.
The large structure, built of quarried stone, is a hall church strengthened by 22 high buttresses. The nave is very wide and long, while the choir is closed on three sides. Among the church’s features are the two arched portals at the north and south sides, the upper windows with their delicate Gothic details, the Baroque altar and its floral decorations made of carved wood, and the 1786 organ.

You can read reviews about the Transylvanian Fortified Churches by fellow travelers here.

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