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Bisericile Fortificate ale Sa[ilor din


The Fortified Churches of the

Transylvanian Saxons
Descrierea CIP a Bibliotecii Na]ionale a României
Biserici Fortificate ale Sa[ilor din Transilvania / Augustin Ioan [i Hanna Derer;
versiunea englez`: Constantin Lucian [i Ioana Luca;
ed.: Arpad Harangozo. - Bucure[ti:
Noi Media Print, 2004
ISBN: 973-7959-14-0

I. Derer, Hanna
II. Lucian Constantin (trad.)
III. Luca, Ioana (trad.)
IV. Harangozo, Arpad (ed.)
Bisericile Fortificate ale Sa[ilor din Transilvania

The Fortified Churches of the

Transylvanian Saxons

Augustin IOAN

Bisericile sa[ilor din Transilvania îndeplinesc toate

criteriile prin care putem recunoa[te buna arhitectur`
pentru comunitatea de pretutindeni. Fenomenul – pentru
c` sutele de biserici fortificate permit extragerea unor
tr`s`turi comune [i simptomatice – poate fi folosit cu
prisosin]` didactic` spre a înv`]a [i a celebra buna
întocmire a unei cet`]i [i, mai cu seam`, a spa]iului s`u
central, destinat cultului. În economia inevitabil strâmt`
a unui asemenea text introductiv nu pot fi celebrate toate;
iat`-le îns` pe cele cu gradul de generalitate cel mai
semnificativ, în opinia unuia care le descoper` la fel de
fascinat, ca parte a propriei tradi]ii profesionale.
1. Sanctuarul este, prin chiar defini]ia lui de loc sfânt,
un loc al ascunderii. Acel „dincolo“ pe care îl verific` ([i îl
edific`) spa]iul sacru, spa]iul lui „Cel`lalt total diferit“ (R.
Otto) înseamn`, printre altele, [i loc de ascundere
ocrotitor. Str`in`tate radical`, loc straniu, locul sacru
este în acela[i timp [i teritoriul ocrotirii. Dreptul la
sanctuar a fost [i este respectat înc` în ceea ce prive[te
l`ca[ul de cult, dup` cum înc`lcarea lui poate produce
efecte devastatoare. Prin urmare, în chiar defini]ia
l`ca[ului religios întâlnim ideea de ocrotire. Dublate de
fortifica]iile proprii, bisericile sa[ilor transilv`neni
func]ioneaz` drept centru viu al comunit`]ii care se
ascunde pe teritoriul ei în caz de primejdie. Fortifica]ia
pare c` nu face altceva, în plan simbolic, decât s` traseze


Augustin IOAN

The Saxon churches in Transylvania meet all the

criteria by means of which we can recognize good
community architecture everywhere. Accordingly, and
given that hundreds of fortified churches are still in
existence, we can easily identify significant features that
can be put to good didactic use: while celebrating the art
of citadel construction, they also teach it to us, together,
and more importantly, with that of erecting the central
worship space. In the limited space allotted to an
introductory text I cannot possibly do justice to all the
fascinating aspects of these churches; while still being
excited to discover them all as part of my own professional
tradition, below I will dwell only on those that I deem most
1. The sanctuary is, by its very definition as of a holy
site, a place of concealment. That “beyond” which the
sacred space confirms (and defines), the space of “the
wholly other” (R. Otto), also signifies a protecting place. As
radical strangeness, as a place of the strange, the sacred
place is at the same time the territory of protection. As far
as worship places are concerned, their right to provide
sanctuary was and still is respected, and violating it may
have tragic results. Consequently, the very definition of a
religious abode implies the idea of protection.
Strengthened by fortifications, the churches of the
Transylvanian Saxons acted as the living center of their

cu precizie, s` fac` vizibil` [i defensiv` limita spa]iului communities, which could take shelter on their territory
sacru. Din acest punct de vedere, ele sunt amplasate în in case of danger. Symbolically, these fortifications seem
vederea ocrotirii limitei (Carpa]ii o fac vizibil` [i mai u[or to have had no other role but mark out precisely and
de ap`rat) dinaintea înaint`rii musulmane. visibly the limits of the sacred space. From this point of
2. Avanpostul este dublu orientat: view, they may be said to have been erected with a view to
a) în sus: plasate pe punctele cele mai înalte ale a[ez`rii, protecting the borderlands (which the Carpathians make
visible and easier to defend) in front of the Muslim
2. As outposts, they had a two-fold orientation, both
upwards and eastwards. Situated on the highest spot in the
settlement, equally visible for the eye looking up and for
that gazing from anywhere on the territory towards the
center, the Transylvanian fortified churches can be said to
be an outpost on a vertical axis. On the other hand, located
on the “fair ground” (Alberti) that enables epiphany
(Aristotle), these churches also act as outposts of
Christianity in front of the Tartar and Turkish invasions. It
was first the Teutons who wanted to advance to and defend
vizibile deopotriv` pentru ochiul privind de sus, cât [i de the eastern border of Christianity; subsequently, it was the
cel privind dinspre localitate spre centrul ei înalt, biserica fortified churches and citadels of the Germans and
fortificat` este un avanpost pe vertical`. Szecklers and the Romanian villages in Bistrita that took
b) spre est: localizate pe „locuri mândre“ (Alberti), care s` over this role of “first defensive line”.
îng`duie epifania (Aristotel), bisericile sunt de asemenea 3. The fractal character of the ensemble. Fortification
plasate ca avanposturi ale cre[tin`t`]ii în raport cu serves as a differentiating criterion in the typology of
invaziile t`tare [i turce[ti. A fost ideea teutonilor, aceea de Saxon churches: it is either the surrounding wall that is
a avansa [i p`stra prin arme limita estic` a cre[tin`t`]ii fortified (with one or more successive layers) or, on the
r`s`ritene, pentru ca, ulterior, cet`]ile [i bisericile contrary, it is the wall and the church that are fortified,
fortificate ale germanilor, secuilor [i ale satelor române[ti thus making up a multi-shaped defense system. In turn,
bistri]ene s` preia aceast` func]ie de „prim` linie the outer wall(s), the wall turrets, the guard zone in the
defensiv`“. church attic, or the bell tower usually situated on the
3. Caracterul fractal al ansamblului. Fortifica]ia este narthex become defensive locations that permit developing
de altfel un criteriu de departajare a tipologiei bisericilor complex retreat strategies, as well as easy communication
s`se[ti: zidul perimetral este fortificat (cu unul sau mai between the various defensive positions. Even the gates,
multe rânduri succesive), sau, deopotriv`, zid [i biseric` with their highly sophisticated locking systems, are part
sunt fortificate, articulate într-un sistem de ap`rare and parcel of the defensive system, illustrating on a small
plurimorf. Pe rând, zid exterior (unul sau mai multe), scale the complexity of the ensemble.
turnuri, drum de straj` în podul bisericii, turnul situat de On the other hand, this fractal-like feature also defines
regul` pe pronaos, devin dispozitive care îng`duie life within the precincts when the whole community is

strategii complexe de repliere [i comunicarea între forced to take shelter between its walls. G. Oprescu calls
diferitele pozi]ii defensive. U[ile chiar – cu extrem de this “normal life in miniature”: between attacks or while
elaborate sisteme de încuietori – fac parte integrant` din preparing for an invasion, each member of the community
sistemul de ap`rare, repetând în mic complexitatea transferred inside, on a reduced scale, his or her life
ansamblului. Pe de alt` parte, fractalitatea devine o “outside”. Oprescu writes: “After battle, each inhabitant
tr`s`tur` care define[te via]a în incint` în cazul replierii continued his trade as best as he could.”
a[ez`rii în`untrul ei. G. Oprescu o nume[te „miniatura 4. Co-presence defines, in the good tradition of
vie]ii normale“: în intervalele dintre atacuri, sau în architecture, the way in which these churches and their
a[teptarea lui, fiecare membru al comunit`]ii î[i defensive walls have evolved in history. First, we notice
prelungea în incint` ([i la scar` redus`) via]a din afara ei: plural functionality. Moreover, we also notice the co-
„Fiecare, în afara orelor de lupt`, î[i continua, cum putea, presence of architectural modes. From the 13th century,
meseria“. when fortifications could be seen by the rulers as a
4. Coprezen]a define[te, în buna tradi]ie a dangerous attempt of a settlement or another to acquire
arhitecturii, modul în care aceste biserici [i zidurile lor (and assert) its autonomy, up to (in extreme cases) the 19th
ap`r`toare au evoluat de-a lungul istoriei. În primul rând, century, both fortifications (as long as they were effective
este vorba despre o func]ionalitate a pluralit`]ii. Dar, mai in war) and churches changed constantly their
mult, este vorba despre o coprezen]` a modurilor appearance, either by the successive addition of vertical or
arhitecturale însele. Din secolul al XIII-lea [i pân` – în horizontal layers, or, in recent centuries, by restoration.
cazuri extreme – în secolul al XIX-lea, când fortificarea
putea fi considerat` de regalitate un primejdios mod de a
dobândi ([i de a afi[a) autonomia a[ez`rii, deopotriv`
fortifica]iile (atâta timp cât ele au fost eficace din
perspectiva artei r`zboiului) [i bisericile, [i-au schimbat
chipul, fie prin ad`ugare succesiv` de straturi pe vertical`
sau pe orizontal`, fie, în secolele din urm`, prin
restaurare. Construirea nou` era adeseori urmarea
devast`rii [i distrugerii, dar nu mai pu]in semnul unui
statul comunitar nou sau al unei prosperit`]i recâ[tigate.
5. Arhaicitatea este o tr`s`tur` eviden]iat` de aproape
to]i cercet`torii fenomenului transilvan. „Întârzierea“ de
decenii (sau chiar secular`) pe alocuri cu care arhitectura Rebuilding often followed devastation and destruction;
acestor – în majoritatea cazurilor – hallenkirchen nu este however, it also signified a new community status or
exclusiv produsul unei retard`ri în raport cu stilurile regained prosperity.
occidentale eponime. De altfel, într-un concert polifonic 5. Archaism is a feature highlighted by almost all the
al straturilor succesive, a fi la zi cu ultimul stil researchers of this Transylvanian phenomenon. The
arhitectural din marile ora[e mittel-europene reprezint` decade-long (and sometimes even century-long) “delay” in
ultima dintre preocup`rile locuitorilor sa[i. Un anumit the architecture of these (mostly) hallenkirchen is not
„autism“ arhitectural este cu siguran]` expresia exclusively due to lagging behind with reference to the

eficacit`]ii necesare într-un astfel de program: ap`rarea eponymous Western styles. In fact, as witnessed by the
nu face cas` bun` cu extrovertirea decorativ`, cu polyphonic concert of the successive layers of their
flamboaian]a împodobirii. Aceasta este adeseori redus` la churches, being in tune with the latest architectural styles
detalii (arcatura de intrare, ancadramentul ferestrelor, in the great Central-European cities comes last among the
nervurile tavanului) sau, cel mai adesea, la concerns of the Transylvanian Saxons. A certain
somptuozitatea altarelor din lemn pictat. architectural “autism” is, assuredly, the expression of the
Severitatea acestor biserici este probabil tr`s`tura efficiency that is required by their building program:
„modern`“ cea mai izbitoare, morfologic [i decorativ defense does not go well with extrovert decoration or
vorbind. Etnicul are aici o contribu]ie neîndoielnic`, dar flamboyance. These are often visible in details (entrance
nu e singura cheie de în]elegere a fenomenului. arches, window framing, ceiling structures) or, more often
than not, in the sumptuousness of painted wood altars.
The austerity of these churches is probably the
“modern” feature of these churches that is most striking
from the point of view of morphology and decoration. The
ethnic element has a definite contribution here, but it
does not represent the only key to understanding this
architectural phenomenon. The austerity of some
Lutheran (formerly Catholic) churches may be explained
also on a religious plane. Painting was either neglected
(and frequent reconstructions no doubt influenced the
discontinuation of the tradition), or deliberately banned.
Austeritatea unor biserici catolice devenite în timp These churches also reflect the self-image of a middle-
luterane se explic` astfel [i în cheie religioas`. Pictura a class, socially compact community, that lacked not only
fost fie neglijat` (succesivele refaceri au influen]at aici personalities interested in making grandiloquent
hot`rârea de a mai continua sau nu tradi]ia anterioar`), architectural gestures but also the tradition of the
fie deliberat evacuat`. Bisericile sunt îns` [i imaginea aesthetic “plus value”.
unei comunit`]i de clas` mijlocie, omogen` social, f`r` The vital investment was in durability, in that
vârfuri interesate de gesturi arhitecturale grandilocvente stabilitas of Vitruvius, and not in venustas, or
[i, f`r` îndoial`, f`r` o experien]` a „plusvalorii“ estetice. unprotective beauty. Moreover, we have here an essential
Investi]ia, vital`, era aceea în durabilitate, în acea kind of archaism, a relationship of the worship place to its
stabilitas vitruvian`, iar nu în prea pu]in ocrotitoarea site that Heidegger would have liked: it would have
frumuse]e (venustas). În plus, este vorba despre perfectly illustrated his concept of pro-posing the ground
arhaicitate esen]ial`, de o priz` la sit a templului care i-ar in a work, illustrating it by this very German example.
fi pl`cut lui Heidegger, pentru c` i-ar fi ilustrat de minune The location of the churches on high spots suggests
conceptul de pro-punere a p`mântului în oper` într-o efficiency and the absence of preconceived aesthetic ideas.
realizare, iat`, germanic`. A[ezarea pe curbele de nivel ale Making do with the means ready at hand was not only
în`l]imii sugereaz` eficien]` [i lipsa unor preconcepute required by the existing material conditions, but also
teze estetice. Adecvarea la mijloacele avute la îndemân` deliberate: stone is imposing, resistant, and discourages

este nu numai dictat` de condi]iile materiale, ci este [i those who confront it. Archaism is also connected to the
deliberat`: piatra este impun`toare, rezistent`, sacredness of the central object and the precinct.
descurajant` pentru cel ce o înfrunt`. În fine, este vorba Churches are bearers of a tradition (which is, for
despre o arhaicitate ]inând de sacralitatea obiectului instance, signaled by the preeminence of the basilica-type
central [i a incintei înse[i. Biserica trage dup` sine o with one or three narthexes) that deliberately delays any
tradi]ie (pe care, de pild`, preeminen]a tipului bazilical cu attempt at aggiornamento. Let us notice here that
una sau trei nave o reclam`) care îi întârzie – cu bun` heretical movements and later Protestant reforms (which
[tiin]`! – orice tentativ` de aggiornamento. S` observ`m include that of Luther) take as a basis the return to
numai c` mi[c`rile eretice [i apoi cele protestante (c`rora origins, founding principles, or arché. In other words, the
bisericile-cetate luterane le apar]in) se întemeiaz` în architectural concerns of the Transylvanian Saxons who
numele întoarcerii la origini, la principii fondatoare, la designed and/or built their fortified churches were not for
arché. Cu alte cuvinte, preocup`rile arhitecturale ale a single moment influenced by the transience of fashion
sa[ilor transilv`neni care au proiectat [i/sau construit but rather focused on lasting duration. This testifies to an
bisericile lor fortificate nu au fost nici o clip` luminate de essentially defensive behavior. All “besieged”
efemeritatea modei, ci de durata lung`, singura communities which are in “exile”– be it of a geographic,
p`str`toare. Este un comportament el însu[i religious, or ethnic nature – adopt it instinctively by
funciarmente defensiv. Comunit`]ile „asediate“, aflate în “going back to strong codes” (Cezar Radu). The use of the
„exil“ , fie acesta geografic, religios, etnic – îl adopt` old idiom, the charm of the old customs, the obsessive
instinctiv prin „replierea pe codurile tari“ (Cezar Radu). appeal to old architecture: these are the ways by means of
Limba veche, obiceiurile vechi, revizitarea obsesiv` a which communities such as that of the Transylvanian
arhitecturii ancestrale – iat` c`ile prin care comunit`]ile Saxons or those of any diaspora have used in order to
de felul celor ale sa[ilor din Transilvania, dar [i ale survive, even at the risk of going out of historical time.
oric`rei diaspore de oricând, au în]eles s` supravie]uiasc`, The fortified churches of Transylvania are an
fie [i cu riscul ie[irii din timpul istoric. excellent case-study for the principles of good
Bisericile fortificate din Transilvania sunt un excelent architecture of any time that I we have listed above, as
studiu de caz pentru toate principiile bunei arhitecturi well as for many others. An extensive bibliography which
din totdeauna pe care le-am enumerat mai sus, dar [i a the text of Associate Professor Hanna Derer Ph.D. reviews
multor altora. O literatur` de specialitate consistent`, pe below may be profitably used to probe deeper into this
care textul urm`tor, al conf. dr. arh. Hanna Derer o invoc` fascinating topic. Unfortunately, an unhappy trend to
[i o completeaz` ea îns`[i, poate fi folosit` pentru keep the topic of Saxon fortified churches in the field of
aprofundarea pe mai departe a temei acesteia, fascinante. academia and away from the broad public seems to be
Din nefericire, exist` parc` tendin]a nefericit` de a prevailing. What is sorely missing—and what this volume
monopoliza [tiin]a despre bisericile fortificate, în loc ca ea prepared by the NOI Media Print Publishing House
s` fie pus` la dispozi]ia [i cuno[tin]a publicului celui mai attempts to supply—is a book capable of stirring,
larg. Ceea ce pare s` lipseasc` – iar acest volum al Editurii educating and illustrating in a professional and pleasant
NOI Media Print î[i propune s` suplineasc` – este way a wider (and perhaps more efficient) interest in the
existen]a unei c`r]i care s` trezeasc`, s` educe [i s` heritage treasure represented by the fortified churches of
ilustreze profesional, dar în acela[i timp cu savoare, Transylvanian Saxons.

interesul mai amplu ([i mai eficace, poate) pentru The forsaking of their villages by the Transylvanian
comorile de patrimoniu pe care le reprezint` bisericile Saxons may be said to be a new exile, this time in a
fortificate s`se[ti. different direction: this is a belated “homecoming”.
Deja, abandonarea satelor de sa[i transilvane este un However, as it takes place by abandoning real homes and
nou exil, de data aceasta de vector opus – o târzie real churches, it is a “homecoming” more at the level of a
„întoarcere acas`“ mai degrab` în imaginarul simbolic, symbolical imaginary. This new Saxon exile has also
cât` vreme ea se petrece abandonând casa [i biserica reale. triggered off what appears to be the inexorable decay of the
Or, acest exil a adus cu sine [i o inexorabil` parc` respective villages and churches. Their perenniality
decrepitudine a satelor [i bisericilor respective. required a continuity of generations seeking to defend and
Perenitatea lor presupunea continuitatea de genera]ii preserve them. The institutionalized conservation of this
defensoare [i p`str`toare. Conservarea institu]ionalizat` a tradition, entrusted only to one or two states or one
foundation or another, does not represent, unfortunately,
a long-term solution. The interest of tourists, desirable (to
a certain extent) and profitable, should be accompanied by
the continuous concern for the further preservation of
these constructions and maybe even by a much to be
wished for true homecoming of their creators, the Saxons
of Transylvania.

acestei tradi]ii, abandonat` doar în seama unui stat (sau

dou`), a unei funda]ii sau a alteia, nu este, din nefericire,
o solu]ie pe termen lung. Interesul turistic, de dorit pân`
la un punct [i de valorificat, va fi dublat de grija pentru
p`strarea lor pe mai departe [i, de ce nu, de o dezirabil`
întoarcere acas` a sa[ilor transilv`neni.



Terra Ultrasilvana, Transilvania – „]ara de dincolo de Transylvania, the “Terra Ultrasilvana,” or “the land
p`duri” – poate fi considerat` una din cele mai sugestive beyond forests”, may be said to be one of the best
ilustr`ri ale conceptului de „peisaj cultural“. Una dintre illustrations of the concept of “cultural landscape.” As such,
componentele esen]iale din acest punct de vedere este one of its essential components is represented by the rural
constituit` din a[ez`rile rurale fondate de sa[i cu settlements founded by the Saxons some eight hundred
aproximativ 800 de ani în urm`. years ago.
Numi]i ini]ial flandrenses, teutones [i ulterior Calling themselves Flandrenses, Teutones, and finally
saxones, primii 2000-3000 de coloni[ti sosi]i la solicitarea Saxones, the first 2000-3000 colonists accepted the
regelui maghiar Geza al II-lea s-au stabilit în secolul al invitation made by the Hungarian King Geza II and settled
XII-lea pe valea râului Hârtibaciu. Sa[ii nu au constituit in the valley of the Hârtibaciu river in the 12th century. The
singurul grup stabilit în Transilvania la cererea [i cu Saxons were not the only group that settled in Transylvania
sprijinul coroanei ungare. La începutul secolului al XIII- at the request and with the support of the Hungarian Crown.
lea Ordinul Cistercian fondase deja o aba]ie, în timp ce As early as the 13th century, the Cistercian Order had already
cavalerii teutoni edificau cet`]i pentru ap`rarea grani]ei founded an abbey there, and the Teutonic Knights had also
de sud-est a regatului de atunci. Dar prezen]a acestor dou` erected fortresses for the defense of the south-eastern border
comunit`]i a fost de scurt` durat`. Purt`torii sabiei, of the Hungarian kingdom. However, the presence of these
cavalerii teutoni, au fost expulza]i de însu[i regele two communities was short-lived. The sword-bearing
maghiar dup` numai 14 ani de la sosire. Reprezentan]ii Teutonic Knights were expelled from Transylvania by the
crucii, c`lug`rii cistercieni, r`mân pân` la reform`, dar Hungarian King only fourteen years after their arrival; the
influen]a lor se diminueaz` considerabil înc` din secolul defenders of the Cross, the Cistercian monks, did not leave
al XV-lea. În consecin]`, singuri me[te[ugarii [i until the Reform, but their influence diminished
agricultorii sa[i r`mân în Transilvania [i capacitatea considerably as early as the 15th century. Thus it was only the
acestora de asumare a noii lor patrii este atât de dezvoltat` Saxon craftsmen and farmers that came and stayed in
încât ei asigur` [i continuitatea a[ez`rilor fondate de c`tre Transylvania; they identified so much with their new
Ordinul Cistercian [i de c`tre cavalerii teutoni. homeland that they were able to secure the continuity of the

Dezvoltarea comunit`]ii s`se[ti din Transilvania a fost settlements founded by the Cistercians order and the
probabil accelerat` de c`tre „scrisoarea de aur a libert`]ilor“ Teutonic Knights.
sau „Andreaneum“ emis` de regele maghiar Andrei al II-lea în The development of the Saxon community of
anul 1224, documentul cel mai complex, care confer` cele Transylvania was most likely encouraged by the “Golden Bill
mai extinse drepturi unor coloni[ti stabili]i în estul Europei. of Liberties” or the “Andreaneum” issued by the Hungarian
La ob]inerea acestor drepturi [i libert`]i excep]ionale King Andrew II in 1224; this most complex document gave
[i-au adus contribu]ia [i reprezentan]ii micii nobilimi s`se[ti, extensive privileges to the colonists settled in eastern
a[a numi]ii Gräven. Ace[tia au fost elimina]i din structura Europe.
social` abia în secolul al XVI-lea [i re[edin]ele fortificate The Saxons’ enjoying these exceptional rights and
construite de ace[tia au fost preluate la rândul lor de c`tre liberties was also made possible by the activity of the
comunit`]ile locale libere, supuse exclusiv [i direct coroanei representatives of the petty Saxon nobility, the so-called
ungare. Gräven. However the Gräven disappeared from the social
Condi]iile prielnice generate de „Andreaneum“ [i efectele fabric in the 16th century, when the fortified dwellings built
sale nemijlocite au încurajat probabil valul de colonizare by them were also taken over by the local free communities,
intern` de la jum`tatea secolului al XIII-lea. O alt` ipotez` exclusively and directly subjected to the authority of the
referitoare la acest fenomen se bazeaz` pe informa]iile de Hungarian Crown.
natur` istoric` despre incursiunile t`tarilor, dintre care cele The favorable conditions generated by the
mai devastatoare au avut loc în anii 1241-1242, respectiv “Andreaneum”, as well as its immediate effects, probably
1285. În orice caz, prin colonizarea intern` comunitatea contributed to an increase in internal colonization first
s`seasc` î[i extinde aria de existen]a înspre nord-vest, pe v`ile visible in the second half of the 13th century. Another theory
celor dou` Târnave, majoritatea a[ez`rilor de aici fiind seeking to explain this phenomenon focuses on existing
atestate documentar de la începutul secolului al XIV-lea. historical information about the Tartar invasions, the most
Colonizarea intern` ofer` o explica]ie posibil` [i pentru devastating of which took place in 1241-1242 and later in
identitatea ]esutului din a[ez`rile aflate în cele dou` zone de 1285. At any rate, by means of internal colonization the
reziden]` a sa[ilor. Format din imobile de tipul Fränkischer Saxon community of Transylvania extended its area towards
Gehöft, ]esutul a[ez`rilor rurale s`se[ti se caracterizeaz` prin north-west, to the valleys of the two Târnave rivers, most of
parcele adânci a c`ror parte situat` spre spa]iul public de the settlements there being attested by documents at the
circula]ie este destinat` locuin]ei principale [i anexelor beginning of the 14th century.
acesteia pentru ca în partea posterioar` s` fie situate cl`dirile Internal colonization also provides a possible
cu func]iuni legate de practicarea agriculturii, gr`dina de explanation for the structure of the settlements present in
legume [i livada. Terenurile agricole propriu-zise sunt situate the two residence areas of the Saxons. Made up of dwellings
în afara a[ez`rii. Cl`dirile situate în partea dinspre strad` a of the Fränkischer Gehöft type, rural Saxon settlements are
parcelei sunt dispuse cu latura scurt` spre aceasta, în timp ce characterized by large building lots, whose side adjacent to
edificiile din spate sunt deseori dispuse cu latura lung` the public circulation area was occupied by the master
paralel` cu axul str`zii. house; the backside was occupied by farming-related
¥esutul a[ez`rii astfel structurat este dominat, într-un fel constructions, the vegetable garden and the orchard. The
sau altul de biseric`. Ini]ial, aceasta a fost o cl`dire de cult farming land proper was situated outside the settlement.
uzual` care poart` caracteristicile etapei stilistice în care a fost The buildings situated on the side adjacent to the street have

edificat`. Probabil c` biserica era situat` în interiorul unui their shorter side facing the street, while the constructions
areal sacru definit ca atare printr-un element de delimitare at the back often have their long side parallel with the street
simplu. axis.
În anul 1395 are loc prima incursiune organizat` de The settlement thus textured is, one way or another,
c`tre turci. Ace[tia vor continua s` devasteze zona sudic` a dominated by the church. Initially, this was an ordinary
Transilvaniei timp de aproape un secol. În fa]a acestui worship place bearing the stylistic mark of the period in
pericol, ora[ele, constituite ca atare de la începutul veacului which it was erected. The church was most likely situated
al XIV-lea, încep s` cl`deasc` sisteme defensive urbane. Satele, within a sacred space defined as such by simple marking
având posibilit`]i limitate, adopt` o alt` elements.
solu]ie, bazat` pe construirea unui In 1395, the first Turkish
„punct“ fortificat capabil s` protejeze expedition took place. For almost a
via]a [i bunurile cele mai de pre] ale century the Turks devastated
comunit`]ii. periodically the southern area of
Biserica reprezenta singurul Transylvania. Confronted with
edificiu de dimensiuni suficient de mari constant danger, the cities, organized
pentru a ad`posti întreaga popula]ie a as such in the early 14th century, began
a[ez`rii rurale. În consecin]`, edificiul to create their own urban defense
de cult este modificat pentru a putea systems. With their limited resources,
func]iona ca ultima ([i unica) redut` în the villages had however to adopt a
cazul unui atac. În plus, biserica different defense solution based on a
prezenta un avantaj suplimentar în fortified “spot” capable of protecting
raport cu modul în care se desf`[urau the life and the most precious assets of
incursiunile turcilor. Organiza]i în the community.
grupuri mici [i extrem de mobile, The church was big enough to
ace[tia atacau cu o rapiditate care f`cea give shelter to the entire population of
imposibil` retragerea s`tenilor într-un the respective settlement. As a result,
loc fortificat situat la distan]` de the worship place was altered so as to
a[ezare. A[ezat` în centrul de greutate be used as a final and unique defense
al satului, biserica constituia deci un in case of attack. Moreover, the church
punct accesibil oricui într-un interval de timp redus. offered an additional advantage in relation to the pattern of
Modalit`]ile folosite pentru fortificarea bisericilor au fost Turkish invasions. Organized in small, extremely mobile
diverse [i variate. Studiile dedicate acestui subiect nu au putut groups, the Turks attacked so quickly that it was impossible
identifica principii valabile pentru anumite zone sau anumite for the villagers to withdraw to a fortified place situated at a
perioade de interven]ie. În consecin]`, fiecare dintre cele peste distance from the settlement. Standing at the very center of
200 de biserici de sat care au existat [i din cele peste 150 care the village, the church represented therefore a refuge that
s-au men]inut pân` în prezent constituie un unicat. anybody could reach in a short period of time.
O privire de ansamblu demonstreaz` îns` c`, practic, au The techniques used for the fortification of the churches
fost elaborate modalit`]i de fortificare pentru fiecare were quite diverse. The studies dedicated to this topic were

component` a bisericii. Astfel, turnul clopotni]`, situat în not able to identify general principles valid for all areas or
mod tradi]ional în partea de vest a cl`dirii de cult, a fost periods. As a result, each of the 200 village churches ever
transformat în turn de ap`rare prev`zut cu guri de tragere [i built (and each of the more than 150 that have lasted to this
un drum de straj`. La rândul s`u, corul a fost uneori day) may be said to be unique.
supraîn`l]at în forma unui turn cu caracter defensiv. Alteori However, it may be safely stated that different
fortificarea corului a fost dublat` de techniques were devised for the
construirea unui nivel de ap`rare peste fortification of every element of the
altar care deservea guri de tragere [i church. Thus the belfry, traditionally
guri de aruncare. Nu rareori bisericile situated in the western part of the
au fost prev`zute cu dou` turnuri worship place, was turned into a
defensive – fosta clopotni]` în vest [i un defense tower with openings and a
turn nou cl`dit deasupra corului. În guard walk. As for the choir, this was
fine, exist` numeroase exemple în care itself reshaped sometimes into a
toate cele trei componente volumetrice defensive tower. In other cases, the
majore, turnul clopotni]`, partea de fortification of the choir was doubled
nave [i absida altarului, au fost by erecting another defense level over
transformate, deseori existând peste the altar, with ports and loopholes. It
extradosul bol]ilor din partea median` a was not uncommon for churches to be
bisericii un nivel unic [i amplu de provided with two defense towers – the
ap`rare. belfry in the west and a newly erected
Începând din secolul al XV-lea, tower above the choir. Finally, there
bisericile astfel fortificate încep s` fie are also numerous examples when all
dotate [i cu incinte defensive propriu- the major volumes, i.e., the belfry, the
zise. În func]ie de posibilit`]i [i narthex and the altar apse, underwent
necesit`]i [i în func]ie de nivelul atins various transformations: thus there
de armele folosite pe scar` larg`, au fost construite incinte often existed a single and quite vast defense level over the
simple, duble sau triple, turnuri de diferite tipuri, bastioane, extrados of the vaults in the middle part of the church.
[an]uri [i zwinger-e. Împreun` cu biserica – fortificat` sau As of the 15th century, the churches thus fortified began to
nefortificat` – aceste dot`ri formeaz` un sistem complex în be equipped with defensive enclosures proper. As
care î[i g`sesc locul [i cl`diri cu alte func]iuni decât cele circumstances permitted or required, and in relationship to
religioase [i strict de ap`rare, în special depozitare de alimente the sophistication of weaponry in use, simple, double, or triple
necesare în cazul unui asediu. enclosures were erected, together with towers of different
Evolu]ia ansamblurilor constituite de bisericile fortificate types, bastions, moats, and zwingers. Together with the
a continuat pân` în secolul al XVI-lea. Existen]a lor a permis church (fortified or not), these formed a complex system that
supravie]uirea (în bune condi]ii) a comunit`]ii sa[ilor din also included buildings that had no religious or defensive
Transilvania, teritoriu râvnit [i deci transformat adesea în functions, e.g. those meant for storing food in case of siege.
câmp de r`zboi. Nici încorporarea sa în Imperiul Austriac în The ensembles of fortified churches continued to evolve
anul 1699 nu a îmbun`t`]it situa]ia. Documentele until the 16th century. Their existence enabled the survival of

demonstreaz` c` sa[ii au folosit cu succes bisericile fortificate the Saxon communities in Transylvania, a territory much
[i în r`zboaiele curu]e încheiate abia în deceniul al treilea al coveted and therefore often turned into a battlefield. Its
secolului al XVIII-lea. inclusion in the Austrian empire in 1699 did not change
De[i de atunci bisericile fortificate nu au mai trebuit s` much the situation. Documents attest to the fact that the
îndeplineasc` func]iuni defensive, ele au fost intre]inute în Transylvanian Saxons successfully used their fortified
continuare cu grij`. Recunosc`toare, comunit`]ile în cauz`, a churches during the anti-Habsburg wars concluded only in
c`ror identitate fizic` se conservase [i datorit` bisericilor the third decade of the 18th century.
fortificate, le-au atribuit acestora, chiar [i dac` neexplicit, After those events the fortified churches were no longer
valoarea de identitate cultural`. required to fulfill defensive purposes, but they were still
preserved with much care. The Saxon communities, whose
identity had also been preserved with the help of their
fortified churches, gratefully (albeit not manifestly so)
treated them as a cultural identity markers.
The situation of these unique ensembles in the
European heritage worsened only the after the events of
1989 in Romania. Most of the Saxons emigrated to Germany
in the early 1990s, causing the demise of their more than
800-year-long civilization and culture, as well as that of their
exceptional architectural legacy, which resents the absence
of its users or at least of those users that identified
themselves with it.
Situa]ia acestor ansambluri cu valoare de unicat în Given the unique qualities of the fortified churches that
patrimoniul european s-a înr`ut`]it abia dup` evenimentele enrich so much the diversity of Romania’s cultural heritage,
produse în România în anul 1989. Majoritatea sa[ilor au efforts for safeguarding them have been made since the
emigrat înc` de la începutul anilor ‘90 în Germania, cauzând beginning of the above-mentioned Saxon exodus.
moartea civiliza]iei [i a culturii lor vechi de peste 800 de ani A first step was taken on a legal plane. Listing these
[i un patrimoniu arhitectural de excep]ie care sufer` în churches as historical monuments was only the first step: at
absen]a unor utilizatori sau a unor utilizatori care se present six fortified churches of the Transylvanian Saxons
identific` cu el. are on the UNESCO list. Programs meant to revive the
Având în vedere calit`]ile bisericilor fortificate care respective rural communities are being carried out for the
îmbog`]esc diversitatea patrimoniului cultural situat pe villages of Biertan/Birthäm and Viscri/Deutsch-Weiskirch;
teritoriul României înc` de la începutul exodului men]ionat, the programs are financed by the World Bank. The
au fost ini]iate, [i se desf`[oar` în continuare, eforturi pentru Câlnic/Kelling ensemble was taken over by the Romanian
salvgardarea acestora. Academy and made into a research center. Solutions are also
Un prim pas l-au constituit desigur m`surile de natur` being sought for the conservation of the ensembles at
juridic`. Clasarea ca monumente istorice a reprezent în acest Prejmer/Tartlau, Säschiz/Keisd, and Valea Viilor /Wurmloch.
sens numai primul pas – în prezent [ase biserici fortificate ale In other cases funds were collected by the local
sa[ilor din Transilvania se afl` pe Lista UNESCO. Pentru dou` communities, while experts also contributed by

dintre acestea, Biertan (Birthälm) [i Viscri (Deutsch- volunteering their services. The work at the
Weisskirch) se deruleaz` programe de revigorare a Hozman/Holzmengen site was carried out with the
comunit`]ilor rurale, programe finan]ate de c`tre Banca assistance of the students in architecture in Bucharest.
Mondial`. Ansamblul din Câlnic (Kelling) a fost preluat de It should be pointed out that all these efforts rely on the
c`tre Academia Român` [i transformat într-un centru de information gathered and organized for seven years as part
cercetare. ßi desigur se caut` solu]ii pentru conservarea of a joint German-Romanian program, in which the
ansamblurilor din Prejmer (Tartlau), Saschiz (Keisd) [i Valea Institute of Architecture and City Planning in Bucharest had
Viilor (Wurmloch). the honor and pleasure to participate.
În alte cazuri au fost adunate fonduri de c`tre The interest aroused by the mapping, inventory and land
comunit`]ile locale [i speciali[tii contribuie sub form` de surveying campaigns appears to be of long standing and has
voluntariat. ßantierul încheiat de la Hozman (Holzmengen) as a result many graduate or post-graduate papers that
s-a desf`[urat [i cu ajutorul studen]ilor-arhitec]i din attempt to identify the functional potential of the ensembles
Bucure[ti. for contemporary use or try to devise the best ways to
Trebuie men]ionat c` toate aceste eforturi concrete se preserve and restore them and highlight their value.
sprijin` pe o documentare complet`, efectuat` timp de [apte
ani printr-un program germano-român la care din nou
Institutul de Arhitectur` [i Urbanism din Bucure[ti a avut
onoarea [i pl`cerea de a participa.
Interesul stârnit de campaniile de cartare, inventariere [i
relevare este unul de lung` durat` [i se concretizeaz` prin
lucr`ri de diplom` pentru înv`]`mântul superior sau
postuniversitar, care încearc` s` identifice poten]ialul
func]ional al ansamblurilor private de utilizare contemporan`
sau încearc` s` conceap` modalit`]i optime de conservare,
restaurare [i punere în valoare.
Agnita / Agnetheln

Biseric` în stil gotic, construit` în jurul anului 1409, pe temelia unei This Gothic church was built around 1409, on the foundation of the
foste bazilici romanice. Zidurile cet`]ii au fost demolate pân` în anul former Roman basilica. The fortress walls were pulled down by 1870.
1870. În turnul cizmarilor, aflat la sud-vest, se p`streaz` [i ast`zi In the Boot-makers tower, situated in the south-western side, home-
sl`nina ag`]at` de tavanele din bârne. made bacon is still hung on the crossbeams, like in the medieval
Alma Vii / Almen

Biseric`-hal`, construit` în secolele XV-XVIII. În secolul

al XIX-lea s-au f`cut modific`ri în interiorul ei.

The hall-shaped church was built between the 15th and

18th centuries. In the 19th century, many changes were
made inside.

Un [ir de guri pentru aruncarea smoalei topite au fost

f`cute în peretele corului supraîn`l]at.

A number of narrow apertures through which molten

tar could be dropped on invaders were made in the
wall of the overhead choir.

Agarbaciu / Arbegen

Biserica a fost construit` în secolul al XIV-lea [i

fortificat` în secolul al XVI-lea. Ultimele modific`ri au
fost f`cute în secolul al XIX-lea.

The church was erected in the 14th century and it was

fortified in the 16th century. The last alterations were
made in the 19th century.

Apold / Trappold

Biseric` înconjurat` de dou` ziduri de incint`, puternic

fortificate. A fost construit` pân` la finele secolului al
XV-lea. Turnul de deasupra intr`rii, denumit al ßcolii
Vechi, se învecineaz` cu Turnul Ov`zului.

The church is surrounded by two well fortified

enclosure walls and was built before the end of the 15th
century. The tower above the entrance is known as the
Tower of the Old School and stands close to the Oat
Mobilierul din lemn, pictat cu motive
decorative [i alegorii biblice într-un
stil tipic picturii s`se[ti.

With its decorative motifs and Biblical Altarul, executat în stilul Ludovic al XVI-lea. Tabernacolul, o bijuterie lucrat` în piatr`.
allegories, the furniture is painted in
the typical style of Saxon paintings. The Louis XVI altar. The tabernacle, a true jewel cut in stone.
A]el / Hetzeldorf

Vedere general` a bisericii fortificate [i a

localit`]ii. Biseric` gotic`, ridicat` în
secolul al XIV-lea [i fortificat` în secolul al

General view of the fortified church and

the village. The Gothic church was erected
in the 14th century and fortified in the 15th

Portalul de vest în stil gotic. Arcadele sunt

decorate cu motive vegetale. Arhitectura [i
sculptura sunt realizate în mare m`sur` de
artistul Andreas Lapicida din Sibiu.

The western Gothic portal. The archways Altarul bisericii din Atel are o structur`
are decorated with vegetal motifs. The poligonal`.
architecture and sculpture are mostly the
work of master Andreas Lapicida of Sibiu. The altar of the Atel church is polygonal in shape.

Axente Sever / Frauendorf

Biseric` atestat` documentar din anul

1305. Imagine de interior: altarul

The church was first attested in

document from 1305. Inside view: the
Neo-Baroque altar.

Vedere aerian` asupra bisericii fortificate [i a împrejurimilor. Este de remarcat

o particularitate ce îi confer` caracterul atipic: turnul masiv construit pe nav`,
o raritate arhitectonic`.

Aerial view of the fortified church and its surroundings. Attention should be
drawn to an unique feature of the church wich gives its unusual aspect – the
massive tower rising above the nave, a very rare architectural feature.
Bazna / Baassen

Biseric` gotic` cu p`r]i

romanice de secol XIII.
Zidurile de împrejmuire
construite în secolele XV [i

Gothic church with Roman

elements dating from the
13th century. The enclosure
walls were built in the 15th
and 16th centuries.

Sta]iunea de tratament
Bazna, vilegiaturi[ti –
începutul secolului al XX-

The „Bazna Resort“.

Holidaymakers, early 20th
Biertan / Birthälm

În localitatea Biertan (jud. Sibiu), atestat`

documentar înc` din anul 1283, se afl` una dintre cele
mai puternice cet`]i ]`r`ne[ti din Transilvania. Întregul
ansamblu fortificat, cuprinzând trei incinte înt`rite cu
[ase turnuri [i trei bastioane de ap`rare, domin` a[ezarea,
fiind amplasat pe o colin` situat` la vreo 25 m deasupra
acesteia. Construit` între anii 1490-1522, cetatea a suferit
unele transform`ri în secolul al XVII-lea. Prima incint`
era prev`zut` cu un zid de aproape 12 m, 7 turnuri (dintre
care patru au fost distruse în 1704 în urma asediului
curu]ilor) [i bastioane, unele, ca cel de vest, f`când
leg`tura cu a doua incint` (acestea nefiind concentrice).
U[a de intrare a bisericii, construit` în 1515, are un
sistem ingenios de închidere pentru 13 încuietori, ac]ionat
simultan cu ajutorul unei singure chei. În interiorul
bisericii se g`se[te un superb altar poliptic (compus din 28
de panouri), cu sculpturi policrome executate în lemn
(1515-1524), incontestabil cea mai pre]ioas` lucrare de
acest gen din ]ara noastr`. Se p`streaz` stranele originale,
decorate din 1514 cu intarsii realizate de Johannes
Reychmuth. Amvonul bisericii, din piatr`, atribuit
me[terului Ulrich din Bra[ov, este decorat cu reliefuri
inspirate din ciclul patimilor Mântuitorului. Este renumit
lapidariul bisericii unde sunt strânse lespezi de mormânt,
unele lucrate de cunoscutul sculptor ardelean Elias
Nicolai (secolul al XVII-lea).
Biertan / Birthälm

One of the strongest peasant fortresses in

Transylvania is situated in the village of Biertan, in
the Sibiu county. This fortified complex was first
attested in a document in 1283. The ensemble, which
is made up of three enclosures strengthened by six
towers and three defense bastions, dominates the
village standing on a 25-meter-high hillock. Built
between 1490 and 1592, the fortress underwent some
alterations in the 17th century. The first enclosure had
a 12-meter-high wall, 7 towers (4 of which were
destroyed in 1704 during the siege of the anti-
Habsburg fighters), and bastions. Some of these, for
instance the western one, connected the outer
enclosure with the second one.
The church door, built in 1515, has a ingenious
locking system with 13 locks operated simultaneously
with a single key. Inside the church there stands a
splendid polyptych altar (made up of 28 panels), with
polychrome sculptures in wood (1515-1524). This is
undoubtedly the most valuable piece of its kind in
Romania. The original pews, decorated with inlaid
patterns in 1514 by master Johannes Reychmuth,
have been preserved. The stone pulpit attributed to
master Ulrich of Brasov is decorated with reliefs
inspired by the Passions of Christ. The lapidary of the
church is also famous for its tombstones, some of
which were carved by the well-known 17th century
Transylvanian sculptor Elias Nicolai.
Boian / Bonnesdorf

Biseric` de tip hal` din secolul al

XV-lea. Construit` în stil gotic, a
fost fortificat` [i supraînal]at`

The hall-shaped church dates

from the 15th century. Initially a
Gothic church, it was
subsequently fortified and
Br`deni / Henndorf

Biseric` evanghelic` de tip hal`

din secolul al XV-lea.

The hall-shaped Evangelical

church dates from the 15th century.
Bradu / Gierelsau

Biseric` evanghelic` fortificat`,

atestat` documentar în anul

This fortified Evangelical church

was first documented in 1315.

Bune[ti / Bodendorf

Biseric` evanghelic` fortificat`.

Fortified Evangelical church.

Bruiu / Braller

Biseric` atestat` documentar din anul 1307. Este o bazilic` romanic` din
secolul al XIII-lea, transformat` în secolul al XV-lea, când i s-au ad`ugat
elemente gotice.

This church was first documented in 1307. It is a 13th century Roman basilica,
which was altered in the 15th century, when new Gothic elements were added.
Altarul bisericii, în stil renascentist
târziu, probabil realizat la sfâr[itul
secolului al XV-lea, începutul
secolului al XVI-lea.

The church altar, in the late

Renaissance style, was probably
created in late 15th and early 16th
Chirpar / Kirschberg

Biseric` evanghelic` construit` în secolul al

XII-lea, a fost ini]ial o bazilic` romanic`. Pe
latura de vest are un turn-clopotni]` cu ceas.
Construc]ia ini]ial` este din piatr`; toate
modific`rile ulterioare sunt u[or de observat,
fiind executate din c`r`mid`.

The Evangelical church erected in the 12th

century was initially a Roman basilica. On its
western side there stands a clock-tower. The
initial construction was made of stone; as
such, all subsequent modifications, made in
brick, may be easily noticed.
Cinc[or / Klein-Schenk

Biseric` de tip hal`, construit` [i fortificat`

în secolul al XV-lea. Corul [i altarul bisericii.

The hall-shaped church was built and

fortified in the 15th century.
The choir and the altar of the church.
Cincu / Gross-Schenk

Piatr` funerar`.


Altarul cu o pictur` renascentist`

realizat` la 1721 de pictorul
Vincentius din Sibiu, o
capodoper` ce reprezint` scena
revela]iei Sfântului Apostol Toma
(Toma necredinciosul).

The altar has a Renaissance

masterpiece, the 1721 work of
painter Vincentius of Sibiu: it
represent the Revelation of St.
Thomas’ (Doubting Thomas).

Biseric` romanic` transformat` în

secolul al XV-lea în stil gotic. Una
dintre cele mai mari biserici
fortificate din Transilvania.

The Roman church was remade in

the Gothic style in the 15th
century. It is one of the largest
fortified churches in Transylvania.

Cisn`die / Heltau

Biseric` din secolul al XII-lea, ini]ial bazilic` romanic`, fortificat` [i

transformat` în stil gotic dup` devastatoarea incursiune turceasc` din 1493
în “scaunul” Sibiului. Planul bisericii are trei nave, cor [i absid`, navele
laterale terminându-se în absidiole. Pe latura de vest a fost în`l]at un masiv
turn-clopotni]` (cu patru niveluri), încorporat navei, deasupra corului
p`trat când absida semicircular` a fost modificat` poligonal, apoi câte un
turn de flancare deasupra celor dou` portaluri laterale. Acestea au fost
supraetajate la 1500, odat` cu în`l]area (7 m) acoperi[ului turnului central.
Clopotni]ei i s-au ad`ugat cele patru turnuri de col] în anul 1591. În
secolele XV-XVI au fost construite cele trei ziduri de incint` înt`rite cu 7
turnuri de ap`rare. Din pricina acestor adaosuri biserica a devenit o mas`
compact`, maiestuoas`, cu putere m`rit` de rezisten]`, turcii nereu[ind s-o
cucereasc` în 1658.
În biseric` se p`streaz` fragmente de picturi murale de sfâr[it de secol
XV. Predela altarului poliptic reprezentând Apari]ia lui Iisus (Vincentius -
1525) împreun` cu alte obiecte de cult ce au apar]inut acestui l`ca[ se
g`sesc la muzeul Brukenthal din Sibiu. Deasupra intr`rii sudice a bisericii
se afl` un frumos portal de gresie.

Cisn`die / Heltau

The 12th century church was

initially a Roman basilica that was
fortified and altered in the Gothic style
after the devastating Turkish invasion
of 1493 in the Sibiu area. The church
has three naves, a choir and an apse,
and the lateral naves end in absidioles.
A massive four-level belfry was erected
on the Western side and incorporated
into the nave above the square choir,
when the semicircular apse was
reshaped into a polygon. Then flanking
turrets were added over each of the two
lateral portals. These were elevated in
1500, when the roof of the central
tower was also heightened by 7 meters.
In 1521, the four little corner turrets
completed the belfry. In the 15th and
16th centuries, the 3 enclosure walls
strengthened by 7 defense towers were
erected. All these additions made the
church into a compact, majestic mass,
increasing its ability to withstand
attacks. The Turks were unable to
conquer it in 1658.
The church shelters fragments of
late 15th century murals. The predella of
the polyptych altar showing “The
Appearance of Jesus” (Vicentius, 1525)
as well as other cult objects that
belonged to this worship place are now
on display in the Bruckental Museum
in Sibiu.
A beautiful sandstone portal
stands above the southern entrance of
the church.
Curtea interioar`
The inner courtyard

Cisn`dioara / Michelsberg

La biserica evanghelic` cu hramul Sfântul Mihail

se face referire într-un document din 20 noiembrie1223,
prin care aceasta era donat` m`n`stirii cisterciene de la
Carta, fiind incontestabil cea mai veche biseric`
romanic` din România. Aceasta se ridic` pe o colin`
înalt`, de aproximativ 100 m, cu flancurile abrupte,
înconjurat` de fortifica]ii ce alc`tuiesc o incint`
circular`, cu un turn înt`rit deasupra intr`rii (o parte
dintre ziduri se mai p`streaz` [i ast`zi), fiind una dintre
cele mai vechi cet`]i ]`r`ne[ti din Transilvania.
Dispozi]ia planimetric` a bisericii (bazilica scurt`,
cu trei nave acoperite doar de [arpant`) [i decora]ia
portalului sculptat (1260) indic` influen]a arhitecturii
renane. Spre r`s`rit, biserica are un corp p`trat, boltit
în cruce [i o absid` semicircular`, navele laterale cu
ogive terminându-se în câte o absidiol`. Partea cea mai
interesant` a bisericii o constituie portalul romanic (pe
latura de vest) datat cu dou`-trei decenii mai târziu
decât întreg edificiul. Pe aceasta latur` au fost prev`zute
[i dou` turnuri, r`mase îns` neterminate. Întreaga
cl`dire a fost realizat` din piatr` brut`.

The Evangelic church dedicated to St. Michael is

first referred to in a document from the 20th of
November, 1223, which mentions its donation to the
Cistercian monastery at Carta. This makes it
undoubtedly the oldest Roman church in Romania. It
stands on a 100-meter-tall hill with abrupt sides and is
surrounded by fortifications that make up a circular
enclosure which has a fortified turret above the
entrance. Some of the walls have been preserved to this
day. This is one of the oldest peasant fortresses in
The plan of the church (a small basilica with three
naves covered only by a framework) and the decoration
of the carved portal (dating from 1260) bespeak the
influence of Rhineland architecture. To the East the
church has a square cross vaulted body with a
semicircular apse, the lateral naves with diagonal
vaulting ribs ending in absidioles. The most interesting
part of the church is the Roman portal (on the western
side), which is two or three decades later than the rest
of the edifice. Two turrets were also to be erected on
this side, but they were never completed. The whole
building was erected in stone.

S`soaice în zi de s`rb`toare.
Saxon women at a holiday.

Portalul romanic de vest.

The western Roman portal.
Cloasterf / Klosdorf

Fotografie de epoc`, de la începutul

secolului al XX-lea.

Early 20th century photograph.

Biseric` de tip hal`, terminat` în

anul 1523. Fortifica]iile dateaz` din
aceea[i perioad`. Biserica se g`se[te
pe strada principal` a satului.

The hall-shaped church was finished

in 1523. The fortifications date from
the same period. The church lies in
the main street of the village.
Cop[a Mare / Gross-Kopisch

Imagine de arhiv`
Archive image

Biseric` fortificat` din secolul al XIV-

lea. Este interesant jocul [arpantelor,
unele prelungite peste navele
excentrice. Intrarea se face printr-un
turn fortificat, cu ceas.

The fortified church dates from the

14th century. One notices the
frameworks, some of which extend
over the eccentric naves. The access
to the church is made through a
fortified clock tower.
Cristian / Neustadt

Biserica evanghelic` actual` se ridic` peste o veche

bazilic` romanic` de secol XIII, din care s-au mai
p`strat fragmente incluse în noua biseric` în stil
gotic din secolul al XV-lea. Fortifica]ia s-a f`cut
în secolul al XVI-lea, cu dou` rânduri de ziduri
înt`rite cu turnuri.

The present day Evangelical church rises over an

old 13th century Roman basilica, fragments of
which were included in the new 15th century
Gothic church. The church was fortified in the
16th century, when two outer enclosures
strengthened with towers were added.
Darlos / Durles

Biserica evanghelic` din Darlos, în stilul gotic târziu. În

ziduri p`streaz` fragmente de reliefuri din stele funerare
romane. A fost ridicat` în secolul al XV-lea.

The Evangelical church of Darlos is built in the late

Gothic style. Reliefs from Roman funerary steles have
been preserved in the walls. The church was erected in
the 15th century.

Portalul de vest în stil gotic.

The western portal in the Gothic style.

Dealu Frumos / Schönberg

Biseric`-cetate, a c`rei construc]ie a început din sec al

XIII-lea (bazilic` romanic`), transformat` în biseric` de
tip hal`, în stil gotic, în secolul al XV-lea, prev`zut` apoi
cu turnuri de ap`rare la col]uri (cca. 1522).

The construction of the citadel church was initiated in

the 13th century, when the Roman basilica was erected.
This was made into a hall-shaped Gothic church in the
Portalul bisericii cu o u[` a
15th century. Defence towers were subsequently erected
c`rei feronerie este inspirat`
on the corners. (c. 1522).
din vechile motive

The portal of the church

and a door whose metalwork
is of old German inspiration.
Biseric`, detaliu de interior: inscrip]ie ctitorial` baroc` în
predel`, imagine biblic`: Iisus pe cruce. În lunete, imaginea lui
Michaelis Kleinii [i alte notabilit`]i ale vremii. Datat`: 23 iunie

A detail from the inside of the church, with the Baroque

inscription in the predella and a Biblical image showing Jesus
on the Cross. In the groins, one notices the portraits of
Michaelis Kleinii and other notables of the time. The date is the
23rd of June, 1721.

Orga bisericii, decorat` în stil baroc.

The church organ decorated in the Baroque style.
Ghimbav / Weidenbach

Biseric` gotic` de tip hal` (secolele XIV-XV), ref`cut` în anul 1775.

The hall-shaped Gothic church (14th -15th century) was rebuilt in 1775.

Altarul neoclasic (sfâr[it de secol
XVIII) din marmur`. În centru, un
altorelief pictat reprezentându-l pe
Iisus înving`tor.

The marble Neoclassical altar (late

18th century). In the centre, a high
relief represents Jesus, the Victor.
H~rman / Honigberg

Vedere aerian` asupra ansamblului Aerial view of the fortified complex.

fortificat. Ast`zi au mai r`mas [ase Six of the seven towers mentioned by
turnuri din cele [apte semnalate de Emil Sigerus (1854-1947) have been
Emil Sigerus (1854-1947). Era preserved. Moats with drawbridges
înconjurat` cu [an]uri de ap` peste once surrounded the fortress.
care erau coborâte pun]i mobile.
Planul cet`]ii
The plan of the fortress

Biserica în stil romanic (1280-1290), construit` de The Roman style church (1280–1290) was erected by
c`lug`rii cistercieni, a fost ref`cut` ulterior în stil gotic. În the Cistercian monks and subsequently remade in the
jurul bisericii s-a construit (1500-1520) o puternic` cetate Gothic style. Between 1500 and 1520, it was surrounded by
]`r`neasc`, alc`tuit` dintr-o incint` cu ziduri de form` a strong peasant fortress, made up of an enclosure with
oval` (5 m grosime [i 12 m în`l]ime), înconjurate cu oval-shaped, 5-meter-thick and 12-meter-high walls. The
[an]uri adânci, str`juite de [ase bastioane. De-a lungul enclosure was surrounded by deep moats and defended by
zidurilor, au fost construite înc`peri etajate, menite s` six bastions. Along the walls, the locals built shelters
g`zduiasc` popula]ia în caz de primejdie. meant to protect them in times of peril.
În interiorul bisericii s-au p`strat câteva capiteluri Several Roman capitals have been preserved inside
romanice, iar în sacristie câteva console, sculptate cu the church and some consoles sculpted with grotesque
capete grote[ti. Tot aici exist` o capel` funerar` cu picturi heads have been preserved in the sacristy. The church also
murale de factur` gotic` (1460-1470), având ca tem` houses a funerary chapel with Gothic-like murals (1460-
Judecata de Apoi. Dup` incendiul din 1593, biserica a fost 1470) showing scenes from the Last Judgment. After the
supus` unor ample refaceri, dobândind aspectul actual. 1593 fire, the church was restored and received its present

Turnul bisericii, de[i impresionant, nu juca un
rol de ap`rare.

Although impressive, the bell tower did not

play a defensive role.

De jur împrejurul bisericii, localnicii [i-au construit înc`peri în care
combatan]ii î[i protejau familiile [i avutul în caz de atac.

Around the church, the locals erected shelters meant to protect their
families and belongings when the fortress came under attack.

Portalul gotic al bisericii Altarul neoclasic

The Gothic portal of the church The Neoclassical altar
Homorod / Hamruden

Biseric` fortificat`
The fortified church

Altarul [i orga bisericii

The altar and the organ of the church

Imagine de la începutul secolului al
XX-lea, cu turnul de est [i localnici.

Early 20th century image showing the

eastern tower and local people.

Fragment de fresc` în stil romanic,

aflat` în corul bisericii.

Fragments of the Roman frescoes

preserved in the church choir.
Ho[man / Holzmengen

Biserica romanic` (secolul al

XIII-lea), modificat` în secolul al
XV-lea [i fortificat` pe la 1500.

Roman church (13th century),

altered in the 15th century and
fortified around 1500.

Detaliu original din portalul


Detailed view of the original

Roman portal.
Iacobeni / Jacobsdorf

Biseric` evanghelic`, o bazilic`-

hal` realizat` în stilul goticului
târziu (secolul al XV-lea).
Fortificat` în jurul anului 1500.

The Evangelical church is a

hall-shaped basilica in the late
Gothic style (15th century).
It was fortified around 1500.

Fotografie de epoc` (început de

secol XX).

Early 20th century photograph.

Ighi[u Nou / Eibesdorf

Biseric`-hal`, de secol XIV,

realizat` în stil gotic. Turnul de
vest ce are aceea[i în`l]ime cu
biserica, reprezint` specificul
acestei construc]ii.

14th century Gothic hall-shaped

church. The western tower
stands at the same height as the Fotografie de epoc` (început de
church, giving this construction secol XX).
its unique character.
Early 20th century photograph.
Malancrav / Malmkrog

Cel mai valoros ansamblu de pictur` mural` gotic`

se p`streaz` în biserica din Malancrav. Este realizat
în anul 1405.

The most valuable Gothic mural paintings are

preserved in the Malancrav church. They date from

Fereastr` de piatr` în stil gotic.

Stone window in the Gothic style.
Biserica este construit` în a doua parte a
secolului al XIV-lea.

The church was built in the second half

of the 14th century.

Biseric` evanghelic` ridicat` în secolele

XVII-XIX, vedere general`. Zidurile
înt`rite sunt construite în secolele XV-

General view of the Evangelical church

erected between the 17th and the 19th
centuries. The fortified walls were built in
the 15th and 16th centuries.
Merghindeal / Mergeln

Biseric` romanic` realizat` la sfâr[itul secolului al

XIII-lea (cca. 1280). Cele dou` turnuri a[ezate la est [i
vest, confer` edificiului o simetrie lateral` foarte
pregnant`, mai pu]in obi[nuit` la construc]iile
religioase. Fortifica]iile au fost ad`ugate ulterior (în
secolele XV-XVI).

The Roman church was erected at the end of the 13th

century (c.1280). The two towers situated on the
eastern and western side give the edifice a very strong
lateral symmetry, which is less common in the case of
religious buildings. The fortifications were added at a
later date (15th-16th centuries).

Altarul bisericii
The altar of the church
Mesendorf / Meschendorf

Biseric` gotic` de tip hal`. La vest

se remarc` turnul cu ceas. Zidurile
fortificate au fost construite în
secolele XV-XVI.

Gothic, hall-shaped church. One

notices the clock tower on the
western side. The fortified walls
were built during the 15th and 16th

Vedere de ansamblu asupra localit`]ii.

General view of the area.
Mo[na / Menschen

Biseric` zidit` între anii 1480-

1486 în stil gotic. Este
înconjurat` de o puternic`
centur` de ziduri, înt`rit` cu
turnuri de ap`rare (secolul al

The church was erected

between 1480-1486 in the
Gothic style. It is surrounded by
massive walls strengthened with
defence towers (16th century).
Movile / Hundertbücheln

Bazilic` romanic` de secol XIV, transformat`

ulterior [i fortificat` în secolul al XV-lea.

A Roman basilica dating from the 14th century

and was subsequently transformed and fortified
in the 15th century.

Netus / Heithausen

Biseric` fortificat` din secolul al XV-lea (cca. 1448).

The fortified church dates from the 15th century (c. 1448).

Nocrich / Leschkirch

Zidurile de ap`rare dateaz` din

seclolele XVI-XVII. Biserica este
mai recent` (1802) [i a fost
construit` pe locul celei de secol

The defence walls date from the

16th and 17th centuries.
The church is of a more recent
date (1802) and was built on the
site of an older church dating from
14th century.

Fotografie de epoc`, reprezentând primirea

clopotelor cu tot fastul, la data de 24 aprilie 1926.

Early photograph showing the welcoming of the bells

on the 24th of April, 1926.
Amvonul bisericii cu basoreliefuri [i ornamenta]ii
vegetale aurite, având influen]e jugendstill.

The pulpit of the church is decorated with

bas-reliefs and golden vegetal ornamentations
influenced by the Jungenstill style.
Prejmer / Tartlau

Vedere aerian` asupra bisericii [i cet`]ii. Cetatea era înconjurat` de

[an]uri cu ap`, por]i de fier [i poduri batante. Construc]ia din
secolul al XIV-lea, este una dintre cele mai impresionante din

Aerial view of the church and the fortress. The fortress was
surrounded by moats, iron gates and drawbridges. The 14th century
construction is one of the most impressive in Transylvania.

Planul cet`]ii
The plan of the fortress

Prejmer / Tartlau

În interiorul cet`]ii existau

locuin]e-fagure, servind drept
ad`post familiilor în timpul

Inside the fortress there were bee-

hive dwellings used by families
when the fortress came under

Corul [i altarul bisericii, cu o pictur` datând

din jurul anului 1450, probabil realizat` de un
maestru vienez (Erhardus?).
Detaliu din zidul exterior, Altar în stil gotic, reprezentând scena
prev`zut cu firide [i arcade ce au R`stignirii.
c`p`tat func]ie decorativ`.
The church choir and altar. The altar features a
Detailed view of the outside wall; painting from around 1450, probably the work
in time, the niches and archways of a Viennese master (Erhardus?).
retained only a decorative role. The Gothic altar depicts the scene of the
Detaliu de mobilier de interior: strane ornamentate cu
motive florale.

Detailed view of interior furniture: pews decorated with

floral motifs.

Sa[i [i s`soaice în costume de s`rb`toare. Fotografie de la

începutul sec al XX-lea.

Saxon men and women wearing traditional garb. Early 20th

century photograph.

Richis / Reichesdorf

Portalul de vest al bisericii. Construit` în Orga cu ornamenta]ii baroce a fost

a doua jum`tate a secolului al XIV-lea, adus` în anul 1788.
este o bazilic` gotic` cu trei nave.
Lucr`rile executate în piatr` sunt The organ, decorated with Baroque
remarcabile. elements, was set up in 1788.

The western portal of the church. Built

in the second half of the 14th century, the Altarul în stil baroc, realizat în 1775.
church is a Gothic basilica with three
naves. The stonework is remarkable. The Baroque altar dates from 1775.

Roades / Radeln

Cetate ]`r`neasc` din secolele XIII-XVI, fotografie de

epoc` (în jurul anului 1900).

The peasant fortress dates from the 13th-16th

centuries; early 20th century photograph (c. 1900).

Imaginea actual` a bisericii evanghelice. Se remarc`

aspectul arhaic, u[or greoi, datorat propor]iilor

The church as it stands nowadays. One notices its

archaic, slightly bulky aspect, due to the proportions
of the edifice.
Ro[ia / Rothberg

Bazilic` romanic`, construit` în prima

jum`tate a secolului al XIII-lea;
interiorul incintei.

The Roman Basilica was built in the

first half of the 13th century – view of
the inside enclosure.

Saschiz / Keisd

Planul cet`]ii

The plan of the fortress

Vedere aerian` asupra cet`]ii ]`r`ne[ti [i a împrejurimilor.

Aerial view of the peasant fortress and its surroundings.

Biseric` fortificat` (1493-1496, construit` pe vremea invaziilor
turce[ti), azi evanghelic`, este str`juit` de un turn izolat la circa 10
m de fa]ada nordic`, ridicat în 1832, având [i el func]ie de ap`rare,
asem`n`tor în partea sa superioar` Turnului cu Ceas din Sighi[oara.
Construc]ia actual` a bisericii este amplasat` pe ruinele unei
biserici romanice din care s-au p`strat câteva piese sculptate,
capiteluri [i console, ce servesc ast`zi drept suporturi pentru vasele
de flori de pe altar. Sanctuarul însu[i a fost transformat în
fort`rea]`, cl`direa c`p`tând aspectul unui bloc masiv, trufa[, cu un
acoperi[ dintr-o singur` bucat`, f`r` nici o deosebire între nav` [i
cor, cu adev`rata p`dure de bârne la interior – pentru a-l putea
sus]ine [i f`r` turn la apus. Atât turnul cât [i biserica au fost
afectate în urma cutremurelor (1977, 1986, 1990).
The fortified church was built between 1493 and 1496 at the
time of the Turkish invasions. The present day Evangelical church is
guarded by an isolated tower, standing at about 10 meters away
from the northern façade. It was erected in 1832 for defense
purposes. In its upper part it resembles the clock tower of
The present building stands on the ruins of a Roman church,
from which only a few sculpted pieces were preserved (capitals and
consoles): these serve today as flower holders on the altar. The
sanctuary itself was turned into a fortress, the building having the
aspect of a massive, proud block: it has a one-piece roof, which
covers uninterruptedly the nave and the choir and is supported by a
great number of beams, making a western tower unnecessary.
Both the tower and the church were damaged in the earthquakes of
1977, 1986, and 1990.
ßeica Mare / Gross-Schelken

Ini]ial bazilic` romanic` de secol XIII, biserica a

fost transformat` într-una de stil gotic în secolul al
XV-lea, o dat` cu ridicarea fortifica]iilor.

Initially a Roman basilica built in the 13th century,

the church was reshaped in the Gothic style in the
15th century, when the fortifications were also

Slimnic / Stolzenburg

Vedere aerian` asupra cet`]ii. Localitatea este

atestat` documentar în anul 1282, odat` cu cetatea.
Biserica este construit` în secolul al XIV-lea [i
ref`cut` în 1792.

Aerial view over the fortress. The village is attested

at the same time as the church, in 1282. The
church was built in the 14th century and rebuilt in

Exteriorul corului bisericii.

The church choir viewed from the outside.

Soala / Schaal

Biseric` fortificat`, construit`

în secolul al XV-lea.

The fortified church was built

in the 15th century.

Detaliu de incint` [i

A detailed view of the

enclosure and its

Somartin / Martinsberg

Biserica fortificat`. Vedere general`.

Fortified church. General View.

Stej`ri[u / Propsdorf

Cetate ]`r`neasc` cu biseric` în stil gotic de secol XIV.

Peasant fortress with a 14th century Gothic church.

ßura Mic` / Klein Scheuern

Bazilic` romanic` de secol XIII, Altarul bisericii în stil baroc ]`ranesc

refacut` [i fortificat` în anul 1506.
The church altar is made in the Saxon
A 13th century Roman basilica, rebuilt
peasant Baroque style.
and fortified in 1506.
Valchid / Waldhütten

Biserica fortificat`, construit` în

anul 1390 în stil gotic. Are
turnuri la fiecare col], cel cu ceas
fiind cel mai deosebit. Cetatea a
fost devastat` în timpul
r`zboiului civil din anul 1605,
odat` cu localitatea. Altarul [i
orga au fost ref`cute între 1809
[i 1811.

The fortified church was built in

1390 in the Gothic style. There
are towers in each corner; the
clock tower is the most
remarkable. The fortress and the
town were destroyed during the
Civil War in 1605. Both were
rebuilt. The altar and the organ
date from 1809-1811.

Viscri / Deutsch-Weisskirch

Biseric` evanghelic`, ini]ial o bazilic` romanic`, transformat` ulterior într-o biseric`-sal`

(cu altar semicircular) de dimensiuni mici. Impune prin zidurile sale, atât ale sanctuarului,
cât [i cele ale primei incinte, cu un turn gigantic de la apus ([ase etaje) construit în 1494.
Zidul primei incinte, bine p`strat, are patru turnuri, dintre care unul deasupra intr`rii [i dou`
bastioane apropiate unul de celalalt. Între acestea se putea comunica printr-un drum acoperit
f`r` a te expune pericolelor pe timpul luptei.
În interiorul bisericii se p`streaz` un capitel cu ciubuc care, împreun` cu arcul triumfal,
provin din biserica romanic`, justificând datarea acesteia la începutul secolului al XIII-lea.

Viscri / Deutsch-Weisskirch

The present Evangelical church was initially a Roman basilica that was subsequently
remade into a small-size hall-shaped church with a semicircular altar. Most remarkable are its
walls, both those of the worship place and those of the first enclosure: they include a huge 6
level western tower built in 1494. The walls of the first enclosure are well preserved and
include 4 towers, one of which stands over the entrance. Two bastions stand close to each
other, and communication between them was possible by means of a covered walk that
provided shelter during battles.
Inside the church, a capital has been preserved. Just as the triumphal arch, it was part of
the Roman basilica. This can be dated to the early 13th century.

Intrarea la Sfânta Liturghie.
Entering the church for the Holy Mass.

Vulcan / Wolkendorf

Biserica evanghelic` din Vulcan a fost

ini]ial o bazilic` romanic` din secolul
al XIII-lea.

The Evangelical church of Vulcan was

initially a 13th century Roman basilica.

Imagine din interiorul incintei.
View from the inside.

Din vechea bazilic` au mai r`mas doar

ferestrele [i bolta de la intrare, restul fiind
modificat ulterior în mai multe etape.

The windows and the entrance archway are the

only original elements that preserved; all the
other were subsequently changed at different
Text / Text
Augustin Ioan
Hanna Derer

Grafic` / Graphic Design

Iulian Capsali
Augustin Ioan

Gabriel Nicula

Fotografii / Photos
Dan Ioan Dinescu
ßtefan Petrescu
Mircea Savu

Legende / Captions
Mihaela Dâmbean
Dana Voiculescu

Versiune englez` / English version

Ioana Luca
Constantin Lucian

Director de proiect / Project manager

Arpad Harangozo
Ovidiu Morar

Tip`rit la R.A. Monitorul Oficial