Fortified Churches


To pass from the military and civil style to the ecclesiastic style it will be to study first another style of the rural construction which exist isolated in Austria , Germany and France : the fortified church.

This style of construction appear in the southern areas of Transylvania, from the necessity of the german communities, to defend in front the ottomans attacks which was a permanent danger for them.

Prejmer Fortified Curch Because the construction of a stone building need financial efforts for the all members of the community, the germans decided the fortification of the churches which they need anyway. In this way appeared around the churches bastions and towers or defensive coridors. In some situations like for exemple Prejmer (view photo) and Harman the defense corridor was built inside of the wall which offered a perfect protection for the defenders. On the inner wall it was built small rooms, one for eatch family from the village where they kept provisions and weapons to resist in case of attack. The most representative exemples are the ones from Prejmer and Harman. The large number of those fortifications in the southern Transylvania give to the ecclesiastic arquitecture an particular exemple and illustrate the volume of this phenomenon. The majority of those churches are built in the gothic style of arquitecture.

The main influence of construction belong to the Cistercian church from Carta`s abby, ( photo down) had a transept, a polygonal coire, the central nave covered with rib-vaults, the lateral naves with groin vaults and was ended at the west side with a portal in pointed arch, decorated with a round window.

The coire had low butressesand the headstones, decorated with vegetal or imagines of Virgin Mary which was the protector of the cistecians. The capitals, had decorations, and the coire`s windows are polilobs.

Fortified Churches The influence of the Cistercians is all over Transylvania, and you can identify this to the all high churches with low buttresses and polilobs windows like the fortified ones. The plan with transept from the Evangelic Cathedral ( St. Mary Church ) from Sibiu supposed a lower visual and hearing quality of the ones which was sitting on the lateral sides of the nave.

One of the most important places was that so called “Fat Towr” where, because of the thickness of walls during the summer season it was pretty cool so, the ham, or the fat, smoked before, were prepared like in a huge refrigerator by the entre community, and after the Sunday religious Service, the ones which had ham in the tower were going to cut a piece of it.

Also, after the religious reform of Martin Luther because some families still remain caholics, them receive a fortified tower of the church to made a catholic chapel inside, so until today in those towers you can see frescoes or what remain from it, like a sign that there were a catholic chapel.

In a word the most important fortified churches in Transylvania are Prejmer, Biertan, Malancrav, Richis.

Richis Fortified Church