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27-02-2015, 13:18

Saschiz, the Village of the Three Medieval Fortifications

Category: History / Transylvania

Saschiz, the Village of the Three Medieval Fortifications Saschiz has a most intriguing story. This South Transylvanian village was founded by the Székelys who colonized the area after the Hungarian Kingdom conquered Transylvania. At the time, Saschiz was placed under Saxon dominion, while the Székelys migrated to the Eastern Carpathians. Living under constant threat of Cuman, Mongol, Tatar, Turkish, Wallachian or Moldavian invasions, the residents of Saschiz built a genuine medieval citadel. In those days, Saschiz was known as the "Village of the seven churches." Not all have survived and nowadays the settlement is known as the village with three fortifications. The most important of them is the fortified church, part of UNESCO’s patrimony. There is also a defence tower, located in the vicinity of the church. The third fortification is a peasant fortress, built using the contributions of seven villages, including Saschiz, which according to local legend was connected to the fortified church through an underground tunnel, which started from the well drilled in middle of the fortress.
The Saschiz village was documentarily attested in 1308. For a while, Saschiz rivalled Sighisoara. A clerical organisation which governed the ecclesiastical province operated in the village. This released the Transylvanian Saxons from the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic bishop of Alba Iulia. As a historical detail, the importance of Saschiz is also shown by the fact that in 1663, Prince Michael Apafi I summoned the Diet of Transylvania to the Saschiz church.
The construction works of the fortified church began in 1493 on the former site of a Roman Basilica. The place of worship, dedicated to Saint Stephen, was completed in the first half of the sixteenth century, but the present form of the church dates from 1677. The Saschiz Church received, in the period prior to the Lutheran Reformation, the right to grant indulgences to pilgrims. From the beginning, another floor was added on top of the fortified place of worship and equipped with firing slits and a wooden guard road for the church defenders. This fortified floor is built from brick. The walls of the church have 22 buttresses and battlements. The defence of the fortified church was facilitated by the fact that access inside was only possible through the two defence towers. There are also two narrower walls, which were designed to limit the impact of projectiles fired upon the place of worship.
The Church conceals real art treasures, such as a baptismal font from 1709, an altar bought in Vienna in 1735 or an organ purchased in Brasov in 1780. The defence of the church was completed with a defence tower, located just 10 metres away from the fortified church. The tower is a replica of the Clock Tower in Sighisoara and has firing slits. Two kilometres away we find a peasant fortress with walls nine metres high, equipped with four corner bastions and two stone towers. This complex system of fortifications made Saschiz one of best defended settlements in Transylvania.

Travel info: The Distance Bucharest - Saschiz is 282 kilometres. From Cluj-Napoca to Saschiz it is 175 kilometres.
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