THE URBAN TREASURES INHERITED FROM THE SAXONS
Richiş – Mediaş: 23 km – 28 min, cost ~ 9 RON ,(http://distanta.ro/Richiş/46.157293.24.347148)
In the proud city of Mediaş we will visit the ancient fortress, the merchant guild towers, the medieval fortresses from the surrounding area and savour a good wine. Mediaş is one of the oldest cities of Transylvania, founded in 1146, according to some historical sources. Mediaş and its surroundings are the shelter of dozens of well-preserved medieval fortresses, two one them part of the Unesco World Heritage. Mediaş Fortress has 17 towers and bastions, 7-meter tall walls, with three main gates and four secondary gates of access (in the old Medieval fortress).
The most important sites here are: the Tailors’ Tower, the Tower of Trumpets (68.5m), the Tower of Bells, Schuller House (1588), the Forkesch Tower, the Stone Masons’ Tower, the Ironsmiths’ Tower. Also, in 1444, the Franciscan Order commands the construction of the Franciscan church and monastery, included today in the Franciscan complex. This shelters artefacts of great value: the treasury of Şeica Mică, the treasury of Panade and other marvellous pieces of popular ceramics.
In 1476, after a conflict with the king of Hungary, Matia Corvinul, the ruler of Ţara Românească (Romanian Country), Vlad Ţepeş is imprisoned here at the Saint Margaret fortified church. Also in the fortified church of Mediaş, Ştefan Bathory is elected the King of Poland. Bram Stoker in his famous novel “Dracula” mentions “the golden wine of Mediaş”, the Mediaş area being anciently called “The Wine Country” or “Weinland”, as it appears on the map of the humanist Johannes Honterus (16th century). Even the city’s coat of arms bears the fame and emblem of its tasty grapes.
Richiş-Sighişoara: 35 km-34 min, cost ~13 RON, (http://distanta.ro/Richiş/Sighişoara)
Transylvania and Siebenburgen would not be renowned worldwide were it not for these 7 great cities. But out of all of them, Sighişoara undoubtedly has the most devotees of medieval history and culture. Included in the Unesco heritage in 1999 (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/902/), one of the most important touristic attractions of Romania, Sighişoara is the only inhabited medieval city of the country, one of only 3 remaining in the entire Europe!
Sighişoara Fortress was fortified with a 930 m long wall that surrounds the hill and with 14 defence towers of which 9 survive today: Ropemakers’ Tower, Butchers’ Tower, Furriers’ Tower, Cobblers’ Tower, Clock Tower and Tanners’ Tower.
Vlad the Impaler stayed in Sighişoara between 1431 and 1435 as an envoy of the King of Hungary at that time. But the story of Sighişoara is told and projected each year. For 16 years, at the Medieval Art Festival, Sighişoara puts on the splendid garments and reminds every one of its passion for crafts, the artists and knights of times gone by.
Richiş – Sibiu: 68 Km•1 h 8 min, cost ~ 25 RON, (http://distanta.ro/richis/sibiu)
An unparalleled promoter of human and cultural development, from medicine, to education, arts and transportation to the metal industry. Being declared the European cultural capital in 2007 along with Luxembourg, the Sibiu fortress is the noble darling of Transylvania, at the head of Saxon administration s of Siebenburgen, a true promoter of Transylvanian intellectual and cultural capabilities. Attested as early as 1191 and structured in 19 merchant guilds in the medieval era, it was the town where most medical and technological breakthroughs were made, being the most important German fortress of Transylvania in the 14th century.
In 1292, the first hospital in Romania is attested. In 1380 – the first certification of a school in Romania.
In 1494 the first Romanian pharmacy is opened, the Lutheran Catechism is published in Sibiu, the first book printed in Romanian. In 1692, Sibiu becomes the capital of Transylvania, the most notable constructions of this period are the Brukenthal Palace and the Trinity Romanesque Catholic Church. The historic centre of Sibiu is in the process of being put on the UNESCO heritage list. Do we need to add that Sibiu is today the seat of the largest foreign investments in Romania?
Richiș – Brașov: 133 Km•2 h 8 min, cost ~ 50 RON, (http://distanta.ro/richis/brasov)
Braşov does not require any introduction. With so many historic, climatic, positioning privileges, so many mountain resorts and touristic attractions, we don’t talk about Braşov, we dream of Braşov. A medieval and artisan city, solid and very well preserved, it was founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211. In 1395, at the plea of Sigismund of Luxembourg, the fortress of Braşov was erected, with impressive bastions 110m from each other. Today, sections of the ancient walls of the fortress can be seen as well as a few bastions and towers which remained intact. In those days,Braşov was the favourite meeting place of the rich, of those with political power and of the guilds of goldsmiths, weavers and drapers.
It also has plenty of touristic attractions. We mention: the Weavers’ Bastion, the Scaffold’s Crucifixes (the oldest dating from 1291), the renowned Black Church – from 1377, the Saint Bartolomeu Church – 13th century, the Black Tower, the White Tower and the Graft Bastion, Catherin’s Gate from 1559, and many museums, monasteries, protected natural parks and recreational areas. Dreams are events for which we prepare. The preparation for Braşov has come to an end, make it happen.
Richiş – Cluj-Napoca: 145 Km•2 h 32 min, cost ~ 54 RON, (http://distanta.ro/richis/cluj-napoca)
The modern and occidental Cluj of today reveals here and there, as a tempting courtesan, her undergarments, the marvellous late medieval treasures. Cluj Fortress is attested since the beginning of our era as one of the localities of Romanesque Dacia. The denari – a treasure consisting of silver coins in a clay pot with a lid were discovered here in 1268. A millennium later, around 1270 it is called the Royal Fortress, ever since King Stephen V of Hungary reigned the land. The main activity of the inhabitants forced to pay the excessive dues was, in this century, agriculture, with the regime of the Roman-German King Sigismund of Luxembourg, moving onto free crafts and trade.
This extensive trade from Cluj all the way to Vienna, Venice and Turkey, respectively Moravia led to the significant increase of the power of merchant guilds. The most notable constructions of this period are: the Franciscan Romanesque Catholic Monastery and Church – erected between 11th – 12th centuries, the Saint Michael Romanesque Catholic Church, the Tailors’ Bastion, Shoemakers’ Bastion, Locksmiths’ Tower and Firefighters’ Tower. Although the lures of Cluj are so wide that some people come here and never return to the land they came from, calling it home, the beauty and importance of these cities that make up the old Siebenburgen do not stop at its borders.
Richiș – Bistriţa: 163 Km•2 h 49 min, cost ~ 61 RON, (http://distanta.ro/richis/bistrita)
It is known that churches had not only the role of spiritual protection but also a very strong administrative and defence role in the era of medieval pilferages. We find this representation of the need of defence and physical and spiritual protection nostalgically transposed in Bistriţa.
The medieval fortress of Bistriţa was initially built in 1241. Devastated on two different occasions by the Mongols and then rebuilt with tall walls, 10m high and 1.5 wide. In 1465 it had 18 towers and bastions from which the Coopers’ Tower survives today with the three levels and 35 m high. The Evangelic Church built in Gothic style, with a 75m-tall tower, the tallest in Romania, the Convent Church – 1280, Sugălete – a complex of 13 superposed buildings linked by spacious entrances forming a gallery with 20 arches supported by 21 pillars, etc.
The fortress is defended by merchant guilds – 22 guilds of goldsmiths, butchers, locksmiths, coopers, wheelmakers, ropemakers etc. each guild being in charge of a defence tower. Bistriţa has also preserved its architectural monuments and archaeological sites that make the historical journey in the story of this borough not only fascinating but also alive and palpable.
SEBEŞ and ORĂŞTIE
Richis – Orăştie: 162 Km•2 h 4 min, cost ~ 61 RON, (http://distanta.ro/richis/orastie)
Sebeş, a place as full of history as the cities already mentioned, the third city of commercial importance during the early days of the Saxon seats, pillaged by the Mongols and rebuilt by the surviving inhabitants, left us plenty of medieval treasures as testimony, from the end of the 14th century being completely surrounded by masonry fortifications with 7 towers, the most famous being the “Student’s Tower” – the only surviving tower of a devastating Turkish attack; it is followed by the Octagonal Tower, located next to the Franciscan Monastery, the Semi-circular Tower and the Cobblers’ Tower.
Among other historical and natural marvels that must be visited here we mention: The Evangelic-Lutheran Church built in Gothic style and renovated in Renaissance style; the Zapolya House Museum; the Saint Jacob Chappel, Saint Bartolomeu Church; Binder House; Râpa Roşie – a geological reservation, at approx. 3 km from the city, and in the surroundings: Scărişoara Cave, Întregalde Gorge and Detunatele. At Oraştie we first, first of all, the astonishing Fortified Complex, known under the name of the Dacic Fortresses in Oraştie Mountains, on the Unesco world heritage list since 1999. (www.whc.unesco.org/en/ist/906/)
A place devastated by Mongol, Turk, Tatar predators, internal wars, the plague, pilferages and crimes, has also known a great statute. One of the Saxon seats was located here and a true sanctuary for locals – visit the Evangelic Church of Augustan confession and the Reformed Church. In the heart of the city there are the ruins of the fortress, with the defence wall with representative medieval fortifications.
Medieval Villages With Churches Part Of The UNESCO Heritage
First and foremost come and visit the world heritage of the Transylvanian fortified churches, the villages that, for more than a decade, belong to the world, not only to Romania. Below, the medieval villages from the UNESCO heritage from Richiş to each of them, fortified churches and other objectives we kindly recommend to visit, in your journey in Transylvania.
Take A Journey At High Altitude On The Transfăgărășan Road
Jeremy Clarkson experienced this together with the team from TopGear, and described the Transfăgărășan as one of the most beautiful in the world. From here you take a 151 km journey at more than 2000m altitudes, crossing natural reservations and the Bâlea glacial lake, serpentines that take your breath away. Ford company also filmed the Transfăgărășan, calling it the most spectacular driving road in Europe. We invite you to discover the videos below.