The small village of Alma Vii is a rare presence even in a region like Transylvania that’s world famous for its traditional rural landscape and multicultural heritage. Forever shaped by the cultural identity of the Saxons who created throughout the centuries one of the strongest legacies in Romania, Alma Vii is today the core of a bold experiment of preserving this culture in the absence of the local Saxons who migrated after 1989.
Involving the locals in the conservation and interpretation of the Saxon cultural heritage are the stepping stones, and just like centuries ago, the medieval fortified church is the heart of the community and of its efforts of safeguarding it.
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. The fortified church was in this case also the main religious, spiritual and defensive outpost of the village. The monument is one of the hundreds of edifices of this type built by the Saxons colonists in the region, determined by the need to protect the borders of Transylvania from the frequent Ottoman attacks.
Initially, a small hall church dating from the 14th century, the monument was fortified in the beginning of the 16th century when the choir was heightened and loopholes and machicolations were added to it. A curtain wall with five towers was built around the church, dominated by the gate tower that during peacetime was used by locals as storage space for their bacon.
Following the decline 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 past 50 years, one in 1966 and a more recent one, finalized in 2016, when almost 70 medieval graves were discovered outside the ring wall.
Alma Vii is a must-see village 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 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 Nature 2000 site — shelters over 100 bird species, 70 species of butterflies and 50 species of mammals.
Alma Vii is a special place, it’s the very essence of what makes — Transylvania or the land beyond the forest — 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.