The Fortified Church from Cisnadioara: Over 800 Years of History
The fortified church from Cisnadioara — Michaelsberg in German — is one of the oldest monuments around Sibiu, one of the seven citadels founded by the Saxons of Transylvania centuries ago. It’s a rare example of Romanesque architecture in the region, especially its splendid western portal, that survived more than 800 years without major changes. Even if only for this reason, visiting the fortified church from Cisnadioara should be high on your list of attractions to see around Sibiu.
Over 800 years of history
Dedicated to Saint Michael, this three-nave basilica was built in the late 12th century on the highest hill of the village. It was mentioned for the first time in 1223, in a document of donation to the Monastery of Carta of the powerful Cistercian order. The church of Cisnadioara remained in the possession of the Cistercian monks until the late 15th century, passing afterward to the property of the Evangelical Church from Sibiu. For hundreds of years, it served, like all the other fortified churches of Transylvania, as a vital space for the protection of villagers in case of Ottoman attacks that took place frequently until the 18th century.
Its enclosing walls, now in ruins, were up to seven meters tall and had access doors, a wall-walk and spaces through which large rocks were thrown down the hill in case of a siege. It was the duty of every man of the village to roll a big rock uphill before getting married, an original way to supply constantly the fortified church from Cisnadioara for future attacks. You can still see some of the rocks in the court of the church.
While it stopped protecting a long time ago the locals, the Romanesque-style basilica and the ruins of its fortification represent today the main attraction of the village. Better preserved than many of the medieval monuments from Transylvania, a visit to the fortified church from Cisnadioara completes a tour of medieval Sibiu and its surroundings.
Visit also the Evangelical Church and the Ethnographic Museum from the village.
Save at least half a day for a visit at the open-air Astra Village Museum close to Sibiu.
Try local dishes like apple soup, onion soup or the mouth-watering Saxon dessert hencles.