Alma Vii: Awakening a World of Saxon Traditions
Considered by many the best kept secret of Transylvania, the small community of Alma Vii is a rare presence even in a region that’s world famous for its traditional rural landscape and multicultural heritage. Documented for the first time in 1298, Alma Vii is one of the many villages founded by the Saxon colonists who settled the south-east of Transylvania starting with the 12th century.
Forever shaped by the cultural identity of the Saxons who created throughout centuries one of the strongest heritages in Romania, Alma Vii is part today of a unique and bold experiment of preserving this culture in the absence of the Saxon community that migrated entirely after 1989.
Involving the locals in the conservation and interpretation of the Saxon cultural heritage are the stepping stones for the survival of the priceless legacy of Alma Vii. Just like centuries ago, the medieval fortified church is the heart of the community and of its efforts of safeguarding it.
The fortified church, between God and armies
The fortified church from Alma Vii is one of the 300 monuments of this type built by the Saxons colonists, a singular architectural expression determined by the need to protect the borders of Transylvania from the frequent Ottoman attacks. Beyond its main religious function, the church also became the refuge of locals who strengthened it and equipped it for armed combats.
Initially a small hall church built in the 14th century, the monument was fortified in the beginning of the 16th century when a defense level with loopholes and machicolations was added to the choir. A curtain wall with five towers was raised around the church, dominated by the gate tower that during peace time was also used by locals as storage space for bacon.
Along the centuries, the monument was modified and adapted to the military development of the time. Following the decrease of the Ottoman threat and the incorporation of Transylvania into the Habsburg Empire, the church regained its dominant spiritual function. The organ was installed in the 18th century, the altar in 1851 and the fortifications were no longer used for military purposes.
The fortified church from Alma Vii went through two ample restoration processes in the last hundred years, one in 1966 and a more recent one, finalized in 2016, when almost 70 medieval graves were identified outside the ring wall.
Things to do in Alma Vii
Alma Vii is the destination if you want to unwind and have some extra quality time with your loved ones. Located at the end of a country road, the village is far from any urban headache. If you’re planning for a more active vacation, rent a bike and explore the village, the meadows and the forests. Visit the local carpenter and ironmaker, learn how charcoal is done traditionally, taste cheese directly from a sheepfold and indulge yourself with all the home-made local delicacies you can eat. If you’re interested in more nature-based activities, you should know that the area of the village, protected as a Nature 2000 site, shelters over 100 bird species, 70 species of butterflies and 50 species of mammals.
Alma Vii is a unique and special place, it’s the very essence of what makes Transylvania, or the land beyond the forests, a magical destination for your vacations. A destination for all seasons and for all ages, Alma Vii is more than you expect to find. We hope you’ll have a wonderful time discovering one of the best kept secrets of Transylvania.
Book your visit in advance as there are limited accommodation options in the village.
Bike to Richis and Biertan to visit more fortified churches.
Save a couple of hours to visit Valea Viilor and its UNESCO Heritage Site and the small city of Medias.