Discover Churches and Castles from Burzenland – Transylvania
Prejmer Fortified Church – Harman Fortified Church
Bran Castle – Rasnov Fortress
As a consequence of the invasions that come from Asia, the Hungarian King Andrew II emitted a donation diploma in 1211 where he gives the strategic S-E region of Transylvania, called Burzenland (Țara Bârsei), to the Teutonic Knights, in return for defending the southeastern border of Hungarian Kingdom against the nomadic Cumans. This crusaders, the Teutonic Knights, were under the Pope’s subordination.
The donation diploma emitted by king Andrew II of Hungary was approved and completed by Pope Innocent III, one of the most influent and powerful pope in the middle ages, with his Papal Bull emitted in 1211. The first settlements established or strongly developed by the knights in Transylvania were Feldioara, Brasov, Codlea, Rasnov and Prejmer.
The Teutonic Knights plan of defence was building five Castles (quinque castra fortia), Rasnov Fortress included. Build as a wood-and-earth shelter fortress on top of a 120 m hill in 1211, was a success in decreasing the threat of the nomadic Cumans in Transylvania. Rasnov Citadel built as a strategic fort was able to refuge, for short time, population from Rasnov and other 2 nearby villages in case of an invasion. In the beginning of 16th century the Saxon population from Rasnov inhabited the citadel until the ending of 17th century that gave Rasnov Fortress the looks of a medieval fortified saxon village.
Nowadays Rasnov Citadel is one of the most visited place from Romania and gather tourists from all over the world with extraordinary stories and amazing landscapes.
Prejmer village is situated in the Burzenland (Țara Bârsei) in a flat marshy area at approx. 18 km from Brasov. Primary colonization settlement, documented in 1213, Prejmer founded, by tradition, by the Order of the Teutonic Knights. Following the chase of the Knights from Burzenland in 1225 by the Hungarian King Andrew II, the town passed under the patronage of the Cistercian monks of Cârţa (Kerz).
Prejmer had an early right to hold a fair, possessing “jus gladi” witch means ”the right of sward” translated into death penalty but just under the control of magistrates from Brasov also people from Prejmer had the right to choose their free representatives.
The village was divided into districts on ethnic grounds, this division being respected until the beginning of the massive emigration of the Saxons.
The center of gravity of the settlements is the market, with the most important construction, the Evangelical Church. Surrounded by a powerful oval-shaped defensive wall with five cracked towers, doubled by a defense wall and moat. The enclosure includes commission rooms, parochial house, school, fountains, cemetery. Prejmer became the strongest stronghold in the southeastern rural environment Europe.
Nowadays an UNESCO World Heritage monument, Prejmer Fortified Church has the oldest triptych altar in Transylvania, dating from 1450. This fortified church was never conquered by the enemies, today it has the gates wide open for tourists an I would be glad to show you this well preserved fortified church.
The beginnings of Hărman are likely to be found between 1211 and 1225, as the Teutonic Order expanded the Burzenland as their own territory, many German colonists came to the newly established sites. The first official mention was in 1240, the Church has a particular appearance of a 13th century Romanesque triple-nave basilica, and a massive 9 floors bell tower, being the highest in Burezenland. As early as the 13th century, the church was surrounded by an oval wall, which was bilaterally connected at the east to a chapel building. Only in the mid-15th century as a result of frequent Ottoman attacks, the complex was expanded into a fortified church. Therefore, the already existing churchyard wall was strengthened and remodeled into the 10-to 12-meter high main circular wall with a roofed guards walkway with embrasures and machicolations.
The Chapel Tower, is just behind the church, built as a a separate chapel in 1300 it is integrated into the defence wall. Because the existing circular wall was strengthened during the course of 15th century, the chapel was also expanded into a fortified tower.
Bran Castle built as a customs point on the most traveled merchant road linking Transylvania to Wallachia, Bran Castle stands on a 60 m high cliff overlooking a narrow mountain crossing. It was buit between 1378 – 1382 in a Gothic architectural style. Due to it’s placement and similarities to the description in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, Bran Castle becomes the legendary Castle of count Dracula. The name of the famous vampire, Dracula, is associated to the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler the bloody despot of 15th century Wallachia, who is surrounded by many other legends and stories.
On 1st of December 1920, Bran Castle, was received by Queen Marie of Romania. Seven year later it became a royal residence, it was the favorite retreat of the Queen. The castle was inherited by her daughter Princess Ileana and it was later seized by the communist regime.
Today Bran Castle is a “the Rockstar” of the Romanian tourism being the most visited sight from Transilvania.