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The Fortified Church of Biertan, Transylvania (In Pictures)

Here's the latest set of photographs from my recent trip to Romania to attend my film screening at the ClujShorts International Short Film Festival in the colorful city of Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania. After the screening, we took a guided tour of the city of Sibiu (check out the photographs) and then we headed over to Biertan, a commune in central Romania and one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania.

The village of Biertan (German: Birthälm), first mentioned in an official document in 1283, is home to one of the largest and most impressive medieval strongholds in Transylvania. The 15th century fortified church of Biertan is perched high on a hill in the middle of the village. The King granted the town the right to bear arms when the Ottoman army was frightening the surroundings and the Transylvanian Saxons chose to build fortresses around the churches instead of the towns. Three tiers of 35-foot-high defensive walls, connected by towers and gates, encircled the complex, making the church impossible to conquer during medieval times. In 1993, the Fortified Church of Biertan was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (a building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, or mountain that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] as being of special cultural or physical significance).

Sadly, when we arrived in Biertan, we found ourselves in the midst of a steady light rain. I was, however, able to snap off a few photographs under my umbrella that will give you an idea how remarkable this place is to visit (imagine it on a sunny day!).

Enjoy the photographs...

Fortified Church of Biertan

Here's a shot of the Fortified Church of Biertan from the outside. You can clearly see the three 35-foot-high walls that surround the church...

Fortified Church of Biertan

A long staircase takes us up to the main chapel...

Fortified Church of Biertan

The stone pulpit, which shows scenes carved in relief, dates to 1523...

Fortified Church of Biertan

The altar was built by artisans from Vienna (Austria) and Nurenberg (Germany) between 1483 and 1513 and is the largest multi-paneled wooden altar in Transylvania...

Fortified Church of Biertan

Fortified Church of Biertan

Just a door? Not exactly. Richly decorated with inlay work, the door of the sacristy has a complex lock and was awarded at the World Exhibition of Paris in 1900 (about 400 years after it was built!). Its central system blocks the door in thirteen points, ensuring the safety of the valuables kept within. In time of war, the thesaurus of the church and that of the village was kept in the vestry and that is the reason why the door was well secured.

Fortified Church of Biertan

Fortified Church of Biertan

The wooden bell tower is located north of the church, while the mausoleum tower contains the headstones of the priests who built the church as well as the bishops buried at Biertan...

Fortified Church of Biertan

The grounds contain a "matrimonial prison" where couples wishing to divorce were confined so they could be sure they wished to end their marriage. The lockup lasted for two weeks, although the pair could leave early if they reconciled. They had to share a single bed, plate and spoon. During the three centuries that bishops resided at Biertan, just one couple ended up divorcing(!)

Fortified Church of Biertan

Passageway between the fortified walls...

Fortified Church of Biertan

Fortified Church of Biertan

Spectacular views looking over the fortified walls...

Fortified Church of Biertan

Mrs. Perez and I seeking shelter from the steady rain.

Kidney Transplant

Special thanks to our tour guide Emanuel Enache of yourguideintransylvania.com for his enthusiasm and passion even during a soggy day!

Kidney Transplant

Hope you enjoyed the photopgraphs - check out my other photosets from my trip to Romania by clicking any of the images below...

Cluj-Napoca

Sibiu Transylvania

Bucharest

Art Museum Romania

Kidney Transplant

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