Photographer's Note

This picture shows the fortified church of VISCRI, a small but very beautiful village in Transylvania (more precisely in Brasov County, Bunesti commune).
In Transylvania you can find seven villages that are dominated by their beautiful fortified churches, which illustrate building styles from the 13th to the 16th century.

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Transylvania, with its name coming from Latin – ultra silvam (beyond the forest), is one of the most interesting and surprising regions of Romania.

The fortified churches are an unique and interesting fenomenon.
They can be found in only a few places throughout Europe and there were more than three hundred Fortified Saxon Churches in Transylvania.
Some of them are extinct, some of them are on the virge of extinction but most of them are still proudly standing, even in abandoned and forgotten villages. Some of them (seven to be more precise) had a better fate and they were declared heritage sites and are now on the UNESCO list: Biertan, Viscri, Saschiz, Prejmer, Valea Viilor, Câlnic and Dârjiu.

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Transylvania, a hilly region situated in the centre of Romania, represents a very special cultural landscape. Bearing the mark of a centuries long mingled life of the Romanians, Hungarians and Germans, it has a unique feature: nowhere else in the world are there to be found, preserved, in such a narrow space, so many reinforced churches and fortress-churches, witnessing such a varied material expression of the defence technique. The origin and development of church reinforcements are, undoubtedly linked to the troubled history of Transylvania, starting from the Tatar invasion, in 1241 - 1242, passing through the Turks' repeated forays - from 1395 - to the devastating Mohacs defeat of 1526.

All along those bleak years, the churches naturally did their best to protect themselves from the neverending wars waged around the principality of Transylvania until the beginning of the 18th century.
The grographic density and, above all, the high number of these buildings - of which, over 150 survived to this day - can be considered a phenomenon characteristic of the historical, legal, religious and social environment of those who built them: the Saxons of Transylvania.
During one of the many attempts of the Hungarian crown to occupy Transylvania, king Geza the 2nd (1141 - 1161) decided to bring German colonists to the country, especially from the Cologne archdiocese, who later on would be called Saxons. After other immigrants came in, the colonisation of the present Saxon localities would end with a few exceptions, before 1300.
From a religious point of view, these communities were linked to the Saxon church.
From 1542 to the Reformation, the Saxon church of Transylvania - which had adopted the Augsbourg religion - preserved (and still does) the characteristic of a popular church.

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Additional Photos by Paul VDV (PaulVDV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5254 W: 17 N: 12725] (51132)
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