Forgotten Saxon Fortified Churches

On our way to Sibiu last December, we had multiple stops. I’ve already talked about two of them: the historic center of Medias, and Valea Viilor, with its’ UNESCO-protected fortified church. But there were others. We had five extra stops along the way, in villages I’ve never heard before in my life (even though I live 80-100 kilometers from them). The reason we stopped in these forgotten places was because they all had something unique to offer: HISTORY. All five stops had either ruins of an old fortress, or remains of medieval churches (some in better shape).

Even though they are long forgotten, they shouldn’t be. Just because they didn’t make it to a UNESCO-list, or a must-see list of travel experts, they still made MY list. Because I think they mustn’t be forgotten. They are part of our culture, our heritage and our customs. So here they are:

1. Fortified Church of Axente Sever ~Frauendorf~

The church is a solid edifice, located right on the main road that leads from Medias to Sibiu. It is first mentioned in 1322. Although we tried to enter the church twice in two days, there was nobody there to let us in. We rang the bell multiple times but there was no answer. We are planning to go back, since from what I understood, there is even a B&B located inside its walls, so it’s a pretty interesting fortification to see.

Axente Sever | Fortified Churches

Axente Sever Fortified Saxon Church

signpost of Axente Sever

signpost of Axente Sever

2. Slimnic Fortress ~Stolzenburg~

The fortress is unfortunately in ruins today. I’ve spotted it from the main road, and urged RP to stop the car so we can check it out up-close. Both gates were closed with some cable wire, but since this wasn’t exactly a fortified wall, we decided to enter (yes, I know it’s called trespassing). From what I’ve read, the church of the edifice was never actually finished, because of the Turkish invasions of the fifteenth century, so the locals decided to strengthen the fortress walls instead, for their own protection. We walked around the fortress, and there were some curtains hung in one of the windows of the only (apparently) fully closed space, so I think somebody might be living there (?).

Slimnic Fortress | Fortified Churches

Slimnic Fortress from the main road

size of Slimnic Fortress | Fortified Churches

size of Slimnic Fortress

tower remains of Slimnic Fortress | Fortified Churches

tower remains of Slimnic Fortress

3. Agarbiciu Fortified Church ~Arbegen~

We saw the signpost stating that there was a fortification nearby, and decided to turn on the road leading to it. Once in the village, we asked some villagers where the church was. With a puzzled face they asked “Which church??”… After thinking a bit, they successfully directed us towards the Fortification, which was yet another dead end. A signpost that looked a thousand years old, nobody in sight, no bell on the door, no neighbors, no nothing. From what I read, the church was constructed in the 15th century and has a lovely Gothic interior..which we didn’t get to see. At least it was pretty from the outside.

Agarbiciu Fortification | Fortified Churches

Agarbiciu Fortification

Agarbiciu Church up-close | Fortified Churches

Agarbiciu Church up-close

signpost at Agarbiciu Fortification | Fortified Churches

signpost at Agarbiciu Fortification

Agarbiciu Fortification | Fortified Churches

Agarbiciu Fortification

4. Buzd Fortification ~Busd~

Located at the exit of Medias towards Sighisoara, down a small asphalted road, the village of Buzd was first mentioned in the 14th century. The fortification had 6-7 meters tall walls, of which only ruins can be seen today (the maximum is a segment with 3-meters high walls). The church is also on a fast track toward degradation – there hasn’t been a service held here since 1990. Sadly, there are only two more Saxons living in the village today.

remains of the Saxon Church of Buzd | Fortified Churches

remains of the Saxon Church of Buzd

"entrance" to the Saxon Medieval Church of Buzd | Fortified Churches

“entrance” to the Saxon Medieval Church of Buzd

RP climbed the set of stairs leading up to the entrance (which was in total darkness btw), but naturally nobody opened the door.

remains of the Medieval Church of Buzd | Fortified Churches

remains of the Medieval Church of Buzd

5. Brateiu Fortified Church ~Pretai~

Well, the fact that this one wasn’t open was kind of our fault (I hope!), since it was already dark when we got there and it was past five. The church was constructed in the 14th century, fortified in the fifteenth century, and from what I saw, is still in pretty good shape today. It is located in the village of Brateiu, very close to Medias.

Brateiu Fortified Medieval Church | Fortified Churches

Brateiu Fortified Medieval Church

So, this whole experienced has left me a little angry and sad at the same time. Angry, because neglect has led to the destruction of these cultural values, which have been carefully constructed for decades by our ancestors. And sad, because of what I know, there’s nothing to be done. The conservation of such edifices in Romania is pretty rare unfortunately (they’re actually happy if they can renovate the bigger tourist attractions), I guess financial problems must have a say in it…

If you want to explore some other place in this area, check out Sibiu, the UNESCO-protected Valea Viilor medieval fortified church and Carta Monastery as well.

What do you think? Should conservation only be about the major attractions?

Or should smaller, local attractions benefit of this privilege as well?

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Forgotten Saxon Fortified Churches Transylvania Romania

9 Responses to “Forgotten Saxon Fortified Churches

  • I don’t think money is the biggest issues when it comes to conserving and renovating tourist attractions in Romania, I think they simply don’t care. Which is such a shame, we have a lot of beautiful places that could attract many tourists year after year….

    • Yeah, it is pretty sad.. we should really start doing something about this, before everything gets even more out of hand

  • galanda23
    7 years ago

    I love the fortified churches in Transylvania. I just visited Biertan last summer.

    • Biertan was also in our schedule, but sightseeing in Sibiu took much longer than we anticipated, so we had to skip it. But I’m looking forward to seeing it sometime soon, I’ve read/heard/seen great things about it 🙂

Trackbacks & Pings

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    7 years ago
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  • UNESCO: Valea Viilor Medieval Fortified Church - CityoftheWeek :

    […] curious about exploring the surroundings, take a look at Medias Historical Center, Sibiu, the Forgotten Saxon Fortified Churches and Carta […]

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  • Back in Sibiu - CityoftheWeek :

    […] you have enough time, you might want to check out the The Astra Museum Complex in Sibiu, some Forgotten Fortified Saxon Churches and Medias Historical […]

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