fortified churches of Transylvania
From over 150 fortified churches still preserved in Transylvania, only 7 are included in UNESCO. This itinerary wants to visit all this 7 UNESCO monuments that are representative for the technology and uniqueness of this architecture. The purpose of this religious and military strategic buildings was a very precise one: to have a defensive citadel where to gather and be able to resist the invaders and the other function was to be the religious center of the community. There 7 fortified churches are spread on a wide area in Transylvania covering 5 counties: Brasov County: Prejmer Fortified Church and Viscri Fortified Church; Mures County: Saschiz Fortified Church; Harcghita County: Dârjiu Fortified Church; Sibiu County: Valea Viilor Fortified Church and Biertan Fortified Church; Alba County: Câlnic Fortified Church. The itinerary can be done in 2 days like we did it, but we recommend at least 3 days because otherwise you will always be on a hurry and can not enjoy the rural rhythm of life. Bonus for this trip is the Axente Sever Fortified Church which we visited and we also stayed over night in the defensive buildings around the church that were re-purposed as accommodation. The itinerary will also take you in a visit to the rural life where things haven't changed so much in the last decades, where life has the same pace and occupation as their ancestors. One of the most visited villages in Transylvania is Viscri due to their efforts to preserve and promote their heritage and lifestyle. My favorite ones are Biertan and Prejmer.
Prejemer is one of my favorite of the 7 fortified churches in this itinerary. I loved it because of the representation on the village inside the defensive wall. All houses had an equivalent room in this citadel. So people had 2 places they belonged, in their house and in their house during invasions. This defines a very structured society, everyone knows their place in the community. The defensive wall with their build-in rooms have 4 stories high and create a very contrasting picture: the black wood beams against the perfect white of the wall. While the village was conquered and destroyed more than 50 times, the citadel resisted all the attacks, but is was breached once. The church itself dates back to the 13th century and it has a Greek cross plan, the only one of its kind in Transylvania. I find this strange because half of the parishioners could not see the priest from their seat because they were seated on one of the 2 wings that are perpendicular to a typical church layout length.