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Legends were always attractive to me, and I have invariably found it fascinating to hear what strange things people used to believe in. Luckily, there is no shortage of legends in Romania. Wanting to discover more ancient stories of my country, I found the village of Saschiz. Mere 21 km away from the citadel of Sighișoara and its Clock Tower, Saschiz is an overlooked area in the center of Romania with a lot of charm and history. In Saschiz, travelers can find two eye-catchers that will make everyone glad to have taken a scenic route through Romania: the Fortified Church and the Giant's Fortress.
Housing around 2000 people, the village of Saschiz can be traced back to the 13th century and is mostly of Saxon heritage. As you may know, the Saxons were people of German ethnicity who colonized many regions, including Transylvania from the mid-12th century to the mid-19th century. The imprint of the colonists can still be seen today, and Saschiz is one of my favorite places that showcase their traditional buildings.
Historians say that Saschiz developed pretty quickly due to its inhabitants. Skilled shoemakers, carpenters, and ceramists were well known in the surrounding areas and thus ensured that Saschiz had a good reputation and gathered new people to its gates every day. The fortified church and the Giant's fortress were and continue to be two good reasons to visit this overlooked jewel of an area that not many know about.
Saschiz is an area surrounded by forests and hills. At the base of these hills lies an unmistakable attention magnet in the middle of the village, the medieval fortified Church of Saschiz. Built in a Gothic style in the 13th century with a Baroque altar and pulpit, this church was named after Saint Stephen of Hungary and was used as a haven by the locals in times of war. Its fortified protective walls contained six towers, only one of them still standing today. There is currently a fence surrounding the church, replicating where its defensive walls used to be.
The medieval Clock Tower is the only remaining tower of the fortified church. It was built out of stone and bricks, is 48,5 m tall and has six interior levels which are accessible through wooden stairs. Looking at the tower, now in peaceful surroundings, can make us forget that while the battles raged in the area with the Ottoman army, it was used only for defensive purposes. Solely after the year 1677 was the Clock Tower transformed into a belfry. Following its completion, two fires destroyed it almost entirely. Only thanks to a lengthy restoration process, which started in 1832, are we able to enjoy the Clock Tower as it is today. This magnificent tower is on the UNESCO list since 1999 and is considered the symbol of Saschiz.
The second eye-catcher of Saschiz is the Giant's Fortress. Only 4 km away from the center of Saschiz, this fortress is also called the Peasants Fortress due to it being a place of refuge in the past. It is a 13th-century ruin that offers wonderful panoramic views of the area and the fortified church. Located on a 681,5 m high plateau, the fortress covers 5000 square meters and has six towers. Locals tell tales about a once 50-meter-deep well from inside of the ruin, that supposedly used to connect the fortress to the fortified church. Today, the well is only 2 m deep and still keeps visitors wondering about the true role it played.
The root of the fortress name lies in an ancient story. It is said that once the giants roamed the area of Saschiz, and that they enjoyed living in silence. A couple of locals passed the area and made a lot of noise. Therefore, the giants lifted them up with their wagons and animals, wanting to scare them. The locals were soon released so that they could tell all the residents of Saschiz to keep the peace or face the rage of the giants.
Whether you are interested in legends like me, or simply see the beauty in overlooked places, Saschiz is certainly worth taking a scenic route through Romania. The eye-catchers of Saschiz, the Fortified Church and the Giant's Fortress are two examples of Romanian hidden beauties, which would be a pity not to visit.
Cover picture © Credit to:istock/Calin Stan
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