One of the best known villages of Transylvania is Biertan, a small, but impressive, settlement in Sibiu county, located at 30 kilometres away from the medieval city of Sighisoara.
Biertan was among the first settlements established by Saxons in Transylvania. For almost three centuries, Biertan was the headquarters of the Transylvanian Saxon episcopacy, which approved the construction of one of Transylvania’s strongest village fortresses around Biertan’s fortified church.
The access to the fortress is through a covered staircase, very similar to the one in the medieval citadel of Sighisoara.
Tourists looking for adventure can take part in a medieval treasure hunt with clues, mystery and archery, or can explore the fascinating nature by bike. There are two important mountain biking routes- Biertan to Copsa Mare and Biertan to Richis.
The village of Biertan was first mentioned in an official document in 1283. From 1572 to 1867 Biertan was the seat of the Saxon Evangelical bishops of Transylvania. From 1993, Biertan is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
- Biertan’s medieval church
Located high on a hill in the middle of the village, the 15th century fortified church of Biertan is surrounded by quaint streets and vineyards.
The construction of the church made it impossible to conquer during medieval times. It has three tiers of 35-foot-high defensive walls, connected by imposing towers and gates.
Heavy doors and double exterior walls, representative features for the late-gothic architecture, complete the massive appearance of the church.
The entrance door is a true marvel of engineering. Its ingenious locking mechanism, that stirred quite an interest at the Paris World Expo in 1900, has 15 bolts that can be simultaneously activated by a key.
Inside, visitors will discover a beautiful altar built by artisans from Vienna and Nurenberg between 1483 and 1513. The altar has 28 panels and its three rings of walls stand up to 12 m tall.
The church’s organ was built in 1869 and has 1,290 pipes, as well as 25 registers. Also, this is the only fortified church in the region that holds regular services (once a month).
Tourist can also visit the Prison Tower that once served marital counseling purposes. Couples seeking divorce were locked in the Tower for two weeks, sharing one set of cutlery and one bed. After two weeks the couples had to make their final decision. The measure turned out to be effective: in 400 years only one couple decided to go through divorce.
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