The Fortified Church of Apold
The village of Apold, Mureş County, Transylvania, is an ancient place first mentioned in an official record of 1309, with archaeological proof existing that it had been set up as early as the XI century, even before the settlement of the Saxons in Transylvania.
By the year 1500 the village of Apold was under the jurisdiction of the city of Sighişoara and constituted one of the most prosperous communities in the area, counting 89 homes, four shepherds, one mill and two abandoned houses. The records of Sighişoara indicate that, between 1504 and 1507 the Saxons of Apold were granted certain tax exemptions, presumably to help them finance the building of the fortifications that we see today.
An exact chronology of how this church was built is difficult to establish, mainly because of the numerous changes it suffered. Most scholars agree that the first constructive elements were probably erected around the XIII century, whereas the entire complex was completed by the XVI or even XVII century. There is even an official record of construction works being carried out in 1504 at the existing church of the Apold village, which means it had been built some years before.
To strengthen the church against various invaders, builders increased the height of the steeple and equipped it with battlements, and, at its fourth level, which had served as bell chamber, reduced the size of the windows and added more battlements. The walls of the nave and of the choir balcony were also elevated, so as to transform the entire church into one defensive structure. Still, the main defensive element remained the steeple, due to its solidity, its impressive height, and the thickness of its walls. Also for defensive purposes, the church was surrounded with two rows of walls outlining an interior court of irregular shape. These walls were initially much higher than what is visible today, but have been damaged in time.
As far as architecture is concerned, this church appears to have been built towards the end of the Gothic period, probably on top of an older Romanic stone basilica. It’s safe to assume that, at first, the church didn’t have a steeple; this structure was added at a later date, part of it being basically incorporated into the western side of the church. Inside, the church initially had a flat ceiling, which was later replaced with a vault supported by four interior pillars erected in two rows. The steeple has a pyramid-shaped roof and is home to three metal bells manufactured around the XVI century.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes the fortified church of Apold such a magnet for tourists. It could be the Gothic architecture of the church, the impressive defensive structures erected around it, the paintings on wood that can be admired inside or the monumental old organ attached to the altar, created by none other than the famous Johan Theiss of Sighişoara. Whatever the reason why one would chose to visit it, they wouldn’t be disappointed, as the site would allow them to breathe in the air of ancient history and civilization.