Biertan Fortified Church – center of faith and protection

Biertan Fortified Church is located in Biertan parish of Sibiu , in the Transylvania region of Romania. This Lutheran fortified church was built by the ethnic German Transylvanian Saxon community. Together with the surrounding village, the church is part of the villages with fortified churches in Transylvania UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This sanctuary impresses by its harmonious matching in locality, its esthetic and historic value and especially by the original substance preserved since the beginning of its existence. Biertan Fortified Church was built in 15th-16th centuries and was the episcopal see of the Saxon Lutheran Church from 1572 to 1867. It was built on the place of another old church, in the late Gothic style, with elements from the Renaissance architecture at some portals. This main edifice is a hall-church with three naves, with arches disposed in a network. This church has innovative defensive walls.

The Gothic shrine from the inside has the form of a triptych and was realized in more stages between 1515 – 1524.  Reychmut from Sighisoara made the pews between  1514 – 1523; today this pews are considered the most valuable from Transylvania. Another remarkable thing is the blocking system from the vestry door, built in 1515; this system simultaneously activates 19 locks when the door closes.  In 1977 the church was restored and consolidated because of the earthquake. The Church from Biertan preserved very well its previous aspect. Is embellished by walls painted and the basic structures are made of stone. It has the largest altar in Transylvania, carved in wood with 28 painted panels. This painting represents the Crucifixion of Christ, Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene embracing the Cross.

The Pulpit is sculptured out of a stone block and impresses by its paintings, also representing biblical characters. Frescos from the beginning of the 16th century can be seen on the Southern tower of the inner wall.

Biertan Fortified Church has Baroque and Renaissance style contribution. In the period when the chancel from Biertan was fortified, the consolidation of the ecclesiastical buildings continued in most of the parts. The western tower is heighten and endowed with stones having a defensive role. Because of the architectural forms and intermixed defense there were plenty of possibilities for defense Visitors can also admire the towers surrounding the church, namely the Clock Tower, the Bell Tower, the Gate Tower and the Bacon Tower. Within the grounds are several other interesting buildings, including the Prison Tower – which once served marital counseling purposes.

There is a legend that says that spouses who were arguing, before the divorce were closed for two weeks in the stronghold and forced to stand each other. They had available one spoon, a fork, a table, a bed, a chair and had no knife. For this reason, in 300 years an only divorce happened in Biertan.

Tourists will remain bewitched by this fairy tale scenery. It deserves to linger for hours to admire this architectural jewel.

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Adela Petrus
“At any age, man is a creature that feeds on stories. Therefore, the wealth measured in stories, gathered by the people across the globe, from house to house, from century to century, either spoken or in writing, exceeded any other human wealth” - Rabindranath Tagore


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