Top 5 Transylvanian Saxon Fortified Churches

5. Grossau (Standard German)/Grīßau (Transylvanian Saxon dialect)


Grossau (Romanian: Cristian) is supposedly one of the oldest settlements of the Transylvanian Saxons, being settled at some point in the 12th century. However, the locality was first attested in a 13th century Latin charter as ‘Insula Christana’. The local Saxon church, erected on the site of a former Romanesque monastery, preserves elements of both Gothic and Romanesque architecture.

Grossau/Cristian Transylvanian Saxon church in Sibiu county, southern Transylvania, Romania. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

4. Weißkirch (Standard German)/Veiskiriχ (Transylvanian Saxon dialect)


This fortified church is one of the most spectacular of its kind in Transylvania. It was built during the early Middle Ages and during the 18th century it was surrounded by a second defensive wall.

The small village of Viscri, where this Transylvanian Saxon fortified church lies, is also known for being one of the most favourite touristic destination of Prince Charles of Wales, where he had also restored a couple of local Saxon houses in 2006 so as to preserve the unique rural way of life and promote tourism in Romania.

The entrance to the Weißkirch (Romanian: Viscri) fortified church, as seen in October, 2015.

3. Keißd (Standard German)/Keist (Transylvanian Saxon dialect)


The local fortified church of Keißd is one of the most spectacular and well preserved of its kind from Eastern Europe. It was built during the 15th century and was designated in 1999 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Keißd (Romanian: Saschiz) fortified church, as seen in December, 2005. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

2. Tartlau (Standard German)/Torteln (Transylvanian Saxon dialect)


Initially built as a stronghold by the Teutonic Knights during the 13th century during the German colonisation of Burzenland (Romanian: Țara Bârsei), the medieval town of Tartlau gradually developed under successive waves of Transylvanian Saxon settlers and went on to be the easternmost Transylvanian Saxon settlement in the region.

Tartlau (Prejmer) fortified church near Kronstadt (Brașov). Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

Tartlau got successively invaded throughout the Middle Ages by Hungarians, Ottomans, Mongols or Tatars. The town is renown for its unique fortified church (one of the most well preserved in Europe). The local church undergone a program of restauration during the early 1970s at the initiative of the Romanian government.

1. Birthälm (Standard German)/Bierthalmen (Transylvanian Saxon dialect)


Birthälm is a commune located in the northern part of the Sibiu county, southern Transylvania. The commune is reputed for being one of the most significant Transylvanian Saxon settlements with fortified churches. The local fortified church dates back to the 14th century and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.

Outside view of the fortified church of Birthälm (Romanian: Biertan), as seen in October, 2015.

Documentation sources and external links:

  • Cristian, Sibiu on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
  • Viscri on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
  • Saschiz on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
  • Prejmer on www.wikipedia.org (in English)
  • Biertan on www.wikipedia.org (in English)

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