Biertan Fortified Church

In the heart of Transylvania, in the village of Biertan in Sibiu county we found on of the most beautiful fortified churches in Romania. Just 10 km away from the national highway linking Mediaș to Sighișoara, Biertan is usually unknown to tourists and many don’t know that this treasure exists.

We first visited in the summer of 2012…by mistake. In 2012 we were in tour of Transylvania and when I established the route of our tour I saw by mistake a picture of this fortified church and so I included Biertan in our itinerary 🙂 It was definitely  worth it! It’s an impressive building. The sheer size and the architecture astonish you as soon as you get a glimpse of it.

Biertan Fortified Church

The second time we visited was December 2014 but this time it wasn’t a mistake or a chance, we really intended to get here :)) We had a clear target: a nearby hill! What??!! Yes, we wanted to climb a nearby hill in order to take a photo from one of the best angles to photograph this monumental fortification. Unfortunately when we got here we couldn’t visit the interior. It was closed until April 2015.
We arrived in Biertan after passing Mediaș. Then we turned right on DJ 141B road in the village of Șaroș pe Târnave. You have 8 km to go from here. Before you actually enter Biertan you can observe from a distance this imposing building. It’s a really impressive sight, I tell you. See the photos below 🙂

Biertan Fortified Church – from a distance
Biertan Fortified Church – view from on top of a hill, South side
Biertan Fortified Church – view from on top of a hill, South side

This medieval ensemble is made from the church and several fortifications surrounding it. It’s placed right in the centre of Biertan on a small hill. The church was built between 1490 and 1520 in late Gothic style. It’s the last medieval church in Transylvania built in this style. The ensemble is huge and you can enter it from 3 directions: North, South and West.
Inside the church you have to look for the sacristy door which has a very famous locking mechanism made up from 19 locks which still work today. The locking mechanism was designed in 1515 by local craftsmen  and was awarded a prise at the Paris World Exposition in 1900. The church is surrounded by 3 layers of defence wall, 6 towers and 3 bastions. This fortification is considered to be the strongest one in Transylvania!

The polyptych altar, built between 1483 and 1515

Divorce is taboo in Biertan

In the Eastern tower you can visit the prison, but this is no usual prison. Couples on the verge of divorce were locked here for two weeks. They were given one bed, one plate, one glass, one spoon, no knife :)) They had to share everything during the brief imprisonment. This brutal approach had pretty good results because in the 300 years this weird prison was active only one couple maintained its decision to divorce 🙂 I don’t think this approach would be socially acceptable today :))

Couples prison

So next time when you’re near Sighișoara, Mediaș or Sibiu you might want to visit this beautiful fortified church from the medieval period. It’s in an excellent shape, it’s grand and if you climb one of the hills surrounding Biertan you’ll get a brilliant panorama over this fortification. Below you can find more pictures from this astonishing place: 

view from the South
view from the East
defence walls
West entrance

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