The Transylvanian Saxon fortified church of Birthälm
The Transylvanian Saxon fortified church of Birthälm (Romanian: Biserica fortificată din Biertan) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Transylvania, Romania. Along with six other fortified churches (five Saxon ones and a Székely one), it is part of UNESCO’s list of ‘Villages with fortified churches in Transylvania’.
The inscription of these medieval landmarks to UNESCO dates back to 1993 and the extended list with seven of the best preserved fortified churches in Transylvania was successfully submitted in 1999. These fortified churches consist each of a UNESCO World Heritage site along with the neighbouring village.
In the case of the fortified church of Birthälm, located in the county of Sibiu (German: Kreis Hermannstadt), the church along with the commune of the same name (in Romanian known as Biertan and in the Transylvanian Saxon dialect known as Bierthalm) is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the first of its kind to be submitted to UNESCO as early as 1993.
Founded by the German settlers known as the Transylvanian Saxons during the 15th and 16th centuries, the church features a Late Gothic predominant architectural style with Romanesque elements. Initially Roman Catholic, the church turned Evangelical Lutheran when the Saxons of Transylvania decided to become Lutherans after the Reformation.
In the proximity of the fortified church there are Franconian-styled houses built by the same Saxons. Additionally, Birthälm was the see of the Transylvanian Lutheran Church for roughly three centuries, namely from 1572 to 1867.
This archaeological artefact is an evidence of the usage of the Latin language by a Romance population that emerged from the Romanisation of the Dacians in the former Roman province of Dacia after the withdrawal of the Roman administration and military. This artefact is exhibited at the Brukenthal National Museum in Hermannstadt (Romanian: Sibiu), the seat of the same county in which Birthälm/Biertan is located.