Offer from host for bus
drive with Dutchie and Korean
visit to Medias
visit fortified church at Biertan
Dropped in Sighisoara
Dinner with Claire
We are going to Sighisoara today. It is a fairly simple trip by either bus or train. Telling our host this, he offered to take us for a small fee (about double what the bus would be), but would also take us past the old town of Medias, and Biertan, another of the Saxon fortified Churches. This sounded good to us, but for it to be even remotely economical we had to get the other two people at the hostel to agree to come…
They agreed. There was Claire from Holland, and another girl from South Korea.
It was going to be a while before he unloaded all his hunting gear from the back of his bus, so we went and grabbed a bite. The service was terrible, and very surprising, as up to now in Romania it has been excellent. It was only on our table though, so we just assumed that the waiter has a problem with tourists.
The bus was ready when we got back, and we set out.
The first stop was Medias, a cute little town that used to be surrounded by a wall, with a walled church at the top. Now there is only one little section left of the outer wall and a tower, but the centre of this 13th century town is still prety much intact. It is supposed to be one of the oldest cities in Transylvania, apparently starting in 1146!
St Margaret Church on top of the hill was stunning. The roof is a mosaic of coloured tiles in geometric patterns and is well worth a look on your way through.
Having a nice stroll around town and church is a good way to spend an hour or two, and we were not rushed for time while we were visiting.
Our next stop was Biertan. Biertan is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, having been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. It was founded sometime between 1224 to 1283 by Transylvanian Saxons (Germans imported by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire). The village settlement quickly developed into an important market town and by 1510 Biertan supported a population of about 5,000 people. Between 1468 and the 16th century a small fortified church was constructed.
This is what we were coming to see.
The place is stunning. Driving in it resides above town overlooking the valley. Up close it is just as impressive. Going up the covered staircase and into the church complex. Most of the hill is walled off, and we took a quick walk around it before going in proper. These churches are a mix between church and fortress, with large areas within the walls to house stock and people in times of need. Then there is the church perched on top of the hill. Going in, we saw a collection of some of the oldest Turkish rugs still in Romania, and painted walls, with a stunning wooden mezzanine floor. Going around the church, we ended up in a small back room. This is just being used for storage, and on first glimpses is not that interesting. When you shit the door, something special appears. The lock. The lock contains 19 locks in one. From the one key hole, it locks all 19 bars around the door, Similar to a modern safe. Apparently it won first prize at the Paris World Expo in 1900.”
After this, we were dropped in Sighisoara. The man from the Hostel knew some people here, and organised for us to stay with them. They live right on top of the hill in old town, and have a very nice place (that is the same cost as the hostel!). After settling in, we went out and met up again with Claire (the Dutch girl) for dinner. She is amazingly organised, and has her whole trip planned out with reservations for each place and train timetables and everything. A little jealous of her in that respect, but we know we could never travel that way, as what happens when you meet interesting people and want to spend extra time with them?