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The Fortified Church of Biertan, Sibiu County
The Fortified Church of Biertan, Sibiu County
The fortified church of Biertan is the best preserved church-fortress built by the Transylvanian Saxons. It dates from the beginning of the 16th century (various dates are given: 1490-1524; 1500-1525) on the site of a former structure documented as existing at 1412. The current church is Evangelical and has been the seat of the Lutheran Protestant Episcopate of Transylvania between 1572 and 1867.

The church is a hall-type structure, with a main nave and two side aisles. The church furnishings date from the beginning of the 16th century, as does the church itself. The altarpiece was painted between 1483 and 1513. It consists of 28 panels presenting scenes from the life of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The central panel is a Crucifixion. Near the altarpiece, in the choir, stand lime tree pews made by Johannes Reichmut of Sighisoara between 1514 and 1523. Impressive is also the door of the vestry (1515), with a unique locking system which closed symultaneously 19 (or 15) locks. It was the room which stored the treasure of the church and the village in the event of an attack.

The pulpit is also notable, being carved out of one piece of stone by Ulrich of Brasov in 1523. The wooden top of the pulpit dates from 1754. Besides woodwork and stonework, one also finds inside the church flags of the guilds and Oriental carpets dating from the 16th century.

The church of Biertan stands on a hill surrounded by two rings of walls, the first of which predates the church. The second ring dates to the beginning of the 16th century when the church was built. A third wall was then built to the west and the south in the late 16th century and early 17th century. All these walls still stand, and so do a number of towers which complete the fortifications.

In 1993 the fortified church of Biertan was included on the UNESCO Word Heritage List.
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