Calnic Fortified Church: The UNESCO Heritage of the Saxons

Diana Condrea
Diana Condrea
Diana is a tourism consultant, tour guide, travel writer and amateur photographer, focusing on sustainable tourism practices and destinations. You can find Diana Condrea on Twitter and Google+

Calnic Fortified Church is included in our UNESCO World Heritage Tours. More tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

The fortified church of Calnic is one of the unique monuments from Transylvania included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located in the center of a small village, first mentioned in 1269, this medieval site is one of the must-see attractions you can visit close to Sibiu and Alba Iulia.

Calnic Fortified Church

Calnic Fortified Church

From aristocratic residence to fortified church

Built as a private residence sometime in the 13th century by the nobleman Chyl de Kelling, the monument from Calnic was initially a small castle with a 14 meters high keep, surrounded by 7 meters enclosing walls that also featured a wall-walk and a gate tower. In the good tradition of the time, a moat circled the entire construction to make enemy access even more difficult.

The site from Calnic remained the private property of the family until 1430 when it was sold to the villagers who transformed it into a proper fortification that could save their lives during the numerous raids of the Ottoman armies. The preferred solution was the fortified church, a distinctive defensive architectural model widely used by the Saxon colonists, in charge of defending the borders of the region since the 12th century.

Calnic Fortified Church

Calnic Fortified Church

The villagers heightened the existent fortified walls and added storage rooms on their inner part on three levels. A small chapel — the church and its religious function was the other fundamental element of the fortified church — was built in the interior court. Locals continued strengthening the site, and, in the 16th century, a second fortification wall replaced the moat, while the keep tower also known as Siegfried Tower was heightened two levels.

Today, this impressive tower is a museum for ethnographic and medieval art collections with valuable pieces of furniture, ceramics, traditional clothes, religious objects, carpets and wooden sculptures. For the best panoramic view of the monument and of the village, don’t hesitate to go up in the Gate Tower, also known as the Bell Tower after its four church bells.

If you want to discover more of the history and patrimony of the village, follow the small path that will take you from the fortified church to the 15th-century evangelical church, also included in the UNESCO Sites.

Fortified churches in Transylvania

Calnic Fortified Church

Calnic Fortified Church survived not only the Ottoman sieges, the most dreaded menace of the time, but also the passing of time, and is today one of the most important cultural and historical attractions in Transylvania. It’s also a great starting point for a journey of uncovering and understanding the importance of the Saxon heritage in the ‘land beyond the forest’.

Travel tips

Visit the nearby citadel of Alba Iulia, one of the main historical attractions in Romania.

Take a one day trip to Sibiu, one of the most visited cities in Transylvania, and Sebes, another medieval town with centuries-old monuments.

You can visit the fortified church every day, from 10 am to 5 pm in winter and from 9 am to 7 pm in summer.

Calnic Fortified Church is included in our UNESCO World Heritage Tours. More tours on www.uncover-romania-tours.com

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