If you’re planning to visit Transylvania, make sure you don’t miss Biertan, one of the most beautiful Saxon villages in Romania. It is a 2-hour drive from Brasov or 30 km / 19 miles from the medieval town of Sighisoara. One of the earliest settlements in Transylvania, Biertan was built by the Saxons who came to Transylvania from Germany around 1200, and their presence is still felt today in the local architecture and traditions.
Here are some of the things you will find in this lovely Saxon village:
The fortified church
The main attraction here is the Fortified Church of Biertan. It was built between the 15th and 16th century, in the Gothic style and with Renaissance influences. The church was the religious center for the Transylvanian Saxons and today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An interesting thing inside the church is the impressive door of the vestry, built in 1515. This door, a medieval technical masterpiece, has an ingenious locking system with 19 bolts that slide in four directions into the massive stone frame.
Inside the fortified walls of the church, you’ll find the Clock Tower. Its original mechanism was made in the 16th century and it was replaced with the current one in 1883.
Another interesting thing you’ll see here is the Matrimonial Prison. This was a room inside the fortress for couples who wanted a divorce. They were given a single bed, a table, a chair, a spoon, bread and water, forcing them to share everything and hopefully restore communication and give up the idea of divorce. This early mediation technique seemed to work quite well in the village, because for 300 years there was only one case of divorce.
Other things to do in Biertan
Besides exploring the fortified church and the inner courtyard, you can walk around the village, admire the unique Saxon houses and visit local artisans. One of the local artists is Ion Constantinescu and he lives close to the Fortified Church. His works have been shown in national and international galleries, and you can find beautiful paintings of the castle and much more at his workshop.
Since 1990, all the Saxons meet once a year in Biertan, on the first Saturday after September 15th. After the church service, they have a parade of folk costumes and a craftsmen’s fair to celebrate their traditions. This is a great opportunity for travellers to immerse themselves in an old European culture and discover a completely different part of the world.
How to get to Biertan
Coming from Sighisoara, follow the DN14 road to Medias. After about 18 km / 11 miles, you will reach the village Saros where you’ll see a sign pointing you toward Biertan. You’ll make a left on a secondary road and after an 8 km / 5 mile drive through beautiful scenery, you will reach Biertan.
Come visit this unique Saxon village
The beauty of the Saxon villages is in the unique stamp left by time and history over this part of Romania. The cobbled streets, the colorful, old houses, the slow pace of time, the friendly community — it’s all you need to feel both disconnected from the “real” world and also fully immersed into another culture.
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