Idea #237 – Visiting the Saxon fortified churches in Transylvania
Fortified churches in Transylvania are characteristic from Saxon villages and sicules, situated in the southeast of the Transylvania. We counted formerly more three hundred and there remains today approximately hundred and fifty. They played a role at the same time, religious, and military, during more than five centuries and constituted one of the systems of the densest medieval fortifications and the best protected from the European continent.
Sicules settles down as frontier officers in the southeast of the Transylvania during the XIth century. The Saxon villages of Transylvania appeared from the middle of the XIIth century, when king Géza II settled German colonists in the region to protect the oriental borders of the kingdom of Hungary against the coumanes invasions. After the installation of the Teutonic Knights in the region at the beginning of the XIIIth century and according to the agreements concluded with Hungarian kings, the Germans obtained a particular status among the populations of the province and their civilization formed an important community of farmers, craftsmen and traders. Being situated in a region constantly under the threat of the Ottoman invasions and tatares, the latter raised fortifications of varied diverse size.
The most important cities were completely strengthened and the smallest communities built fortifications around their church, to which they added defensive towers and stores allowing to keep their goods of values and to help them to support long seats. Churches played a defensive role until 1788, a date of the last Ottoman raid in Transylvania. Various types of fortifications can be observed : Church with donjon, church with covered way and chambers of defense on the nave, the churches closed by surrounding walls, churches within a complex of fortifications looking like real small fortified castles, with multiple flankings. The used materials are traditionally the stone and the red brick, with some red clay to cover tiles, specificity of the region. Because of their originality, several of these fortified churches are classified on the UNESCO world heritage list.
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