Welcome To Transylvania, Romania, European Union

Top Fortified Churches

 

The historic province of Transylvania is a multicultural land, where Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, and other ethnic groups have lived together for centuries. Some of the most striking and valuable treasures of Romania are owed to the German populace that settled in Transylvania starting with the 13th century, known as Saxons, or “sasi” in Romanian.

Probably the best known elements of Saxon heritage are all the fortified churches in Romania, some of which were inducted in the UNESCO World Heritage for their great cultural and historical value. 

We take a look at ten of the finest fortified churches in Romania below.

 

Completed at the end of the 15th century, the Fortified Church of Saschiz, Mures County, harmoniously combines defensive and religious elements in one coherent ensemble. This small Saxon village nearby Sighisoara has been made famous by Prince Charles of the United Kingdom and his family, who visits it often and made many efforts for its preservation.


The Fortified Church of Prejmer, in Brasov County, is the largest and most heavily defended fortified church in Eastern Europe. The fortification complex is a national monument, while the church itself is one of the seven Romanian fortified churches that are protected by UNESCO. 


One of the few fortified churches in Transylvania built by Szeklers, not Saxons, the White Church was fortified in the second part of the 13th century, when a basalt tower and a surrounding wall were added. The edifice was expanded and restored throughout the Middle Ages, with the latest addition being an 18th century wall.


Located in the heart of the Transylvanian Plateau, Biertan is one of the first Saxon settlements in Transylvania, first documented in 1224. Made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1933, the Fortified Church of Biertan was built in several stages, the first beginning in 1490. 


One of the few dungeon citadels in Transylvania, the Calnic fortification features a 20 meter tower with a cellar and a total of four stories. A chapel was erected within this fortification, while the village’s Evangelical church is actually found outside of it, in the village cemetery. One of the main attractions of the village is the small, bur exquisite organ fabricated in 1867 in Vienna.


Built in 1265 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Fortified Church of Cincu in Brasov County is precious both through itself and through the valuable collection of historic artifacts that it hosts. Benefiting from an excellent natural position, on a small hill between two rivers, the church only needed fortifications on one side.


Legend has it that the villagers of Copsa Mare wanted to show their neighbors in Biertan that they too could build an imposing fortified church. At the end of the 16th century, the older church of Copsa Mare was heavily fortified, with massive walls, defensive towers, and other elements, making it one of the best protected of all Romanian fortified churches.


The Fortified Church of Mosna was completed in 1486, standing out through its five defensive towers of which the highest is seven levels tall and contains three bells, with the oldest dating back from 1515. The southern tower hosts a small exhibition of objects representative for the Saxon community, but also a collection of archeological findings from the area, such as coins, tools, and weaponry.


The church of Apold is known for its beautiful Gothic architecture, strong defenses, and especially for the valuable paintings on wood that adorn its interior. The famous Johan Theiss, an organ maker from Sighisoara, created the church’s monumental old organ, attached to the altar.


Historian and architects consider the monument defensive constructions surrounding the Valea Viilor Fortified Church as some of the finest in all of Transylvania. The church is believed to be as old as the early 12th century, and, underneath it, ruins of a much older Roman basilica have been uncovered.