Fortified Saxon Churches Trip Romania
The Saxons or Transylvanian Saxons, (German expression Siebenbürger Sachsen) are a population of German ethnic origin, settled in the southern and northeastern Transylvania since the mid-12th Century. The settlement of the Saxons in Transylvania was initiated by the Hungarian King Géza II (1141-1162) for different reasons. Some of them included military and some other included economic reasons.
In Romania there are about 250 fortresses and fortified churches built by the Saxons from the 14th to the 18th Century. They are a living testimony to the way of life and the organization of Saxon society at that time.
The main towns inhabited by the Transylvanian Saxons were the seven fortresses (“sieben Bürgen”) which gave Transylvania its German name, “Siebenbürgen”: Bistrita (Bistritz), Brasov (Kronstadt), Cluj (Klausenburg), Mediaș (Mediasch), Orăștie (Broos), Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Sighișoara (Schburg).
What are we left with after the Saxon influence?
If you have ever wanted to know more about the history of Transylvania, you should know that we cannot separate it from the strong Saxon influence.
The landscape of the Saxon villages in Ardeal, Transylvania, shaped for centuries by generations of Saxon craftsmen, together with the multitude of flora and fauna species little affected by pollution, the traditional way of working with nature, the old traditions left behind, all have made Transylvania a ‘back to the roots’ destination for the Saxons, but also an impressive holiday destination for Romanian and foreign tourists.
Today, the Romanian countryside shaped by the Saxons has become a rarity in Europe, even if only the stories and houses of the old Saxon villages remain. But something just as important has remained behind. Their beneficial influence.
The fortified churches of Harman and Prejmer – once upon a time, places of refuge
Prejmer is the strongest fortified church in Eastern Europe, so it is no coincidence that it is one of the 7 fortress churches in Romania included in the UNESCO heritage. There are stories that the surrounding dwellings were connected to the fortress by a series of tunnels, which allowed the inhabitants to take refuge here in times of hardship.
The Fortified Church of Harman is open daily, so there’s no excuse not to visit if you’re in the Brasov area. If you’re lucky, you can also catch an organ concert, an experience to be tried at least once in your life.
Viscri woolen handmade items
Sighisoara, the “Pearl of Transylvania”
Viscri and Sighisoara – places where history has stayed alive
Set back from the main road linking Brasov to Sighisoara, the village of Viscri is home to one of the most spectacular Saxon fortified churches. It is also one of the seven listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was here, among the locals, in the late 1990s, that the Viscri Natural Wool Socks project was initiated by two Germans who settled here. Socks crocheted from old woolen sweaters by the women of the village were originally given in exchange for food (sugar, oil or bread). Today about 125 women from the village participate in this project. The socks, gloves, hats and sweaters they knit are sold all over Germany, as well as in the local village café.
Sighisoara, or the “Medieval Pearl of Romania”, is located in the heart of Transylvania. It is among the few medieval towns that exist in the world today. It’s also well-preserved and inhabited. It has multiple sights to visit and is steeped in history.
Are you passionate about history? Visit with us the villages with Saxon fortified churches
If you want to learn more about Transylvanian history, and immerse yourself in an unforgettable experience, we invite you to join our Fortified Saxon Churches Trip Romania. The first trip we suggest will take you to the world of the Prejmer and Harman Fortified Churches, as well as the Rasnov Fortress. (link)
And if you resonate with the idea of visiting a real medieval town, we invite you to our Viscri and Sighisoara Cultural Tour, where the traditions are still alive even today.
Both are one day trips from Brasov, so if you feel they are right for you, get in touch with us. We’ll explain everything you need to know so that you arrive safely in Brasov and enjoy these experiences.