Lesser-Known Transylvania: Viscri and Biertan
Back in the 12th century, the Hungarian ruler Geza the Second invited German settlers to choose colonies in what we call today Transylvania. Their purpose was to defend the kingdom and prevent other rulers from attempting to occupy it. These were the Transylvanian Saxons, which created the beautiful fortifications around their towns. One of the most popular medieval citadels you can still observe today in Transylvania is Sighisoara.
But did you know two lesser-known settlements wear the imprint of Saxon occupation?
Well, if you want to add to your travel bucket list lesser-known areas from Transylvania, this article will help you with your itinerary!
Viscri, the hidden jewel of Transylvania
Recently, Viscri was proudly included amongst UNESCO World Heritage sites. And we can say that a mere visit to this beautiful area will tell you why it is considered worthy of the world’s best sites. There are plenty of traditional houses that preserve the centuries-old Saxon heritage. But the most iconic landmark in Viscri remains the fortified church. This is a Lutheran fortified Church, one of the last ones standing up in Transylvania. It was the first construction of the village, and it was followed by several fortifications done back in the 12th century.
It is a unique site to visit, which is why we highly recommend you stay here for a day or two. Nearby you will get the chance to discover the fortified church of Saschiz and Rupea Fortress. And the best part about Viscri is that it is bike-friendly. Hence, you can rent a bike and explore several villages around it.
Biertan, a must-see for those exploring the Transylvanian Saxons heritage
Biertan is a small commune in Sibiu County, being an important part of Transylvania. If it were to travel to Biertan from Sibiu, you would have to drive around 80 km to reach the site. Overall, Biertan is considered to be the most important Saxon village in Transylvania, as it was enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. The commune has three small villages: Biertan, Copsa Mare, and Richis, each of them standing out due to their medieval fortified churches.
The Biertan fortified church consists of a hall church with three naves that resemble quite well the original design of the early Romanesque style. Anyhow, since there were plenty of restoration processes done to the building, today, you can see influences from the Baroque era and Saxon cultures. It is one of the first churches to be fortified in the area, as back in the day, the king believed it is easier to fortify the existing church, rather than create a new citadel.