The legend of the fortified church of Cisnădie tells us that a great treasure was once hidden inside. After numerous Ottoman attacks in the 15th century the village community built a secret chamber within the castle walls. Access was secured with a massive oak door, which could only be opened by pressing a hidden spring. From the outside, the entrance was camouflaged so well that only few insiders could find it. Not even the priests knew about it. Over the centuries, the knowledge of this hidden entrance got lost. At the beginning of the 20th century it was rediscovered and can be visited today.
In addition, not secretly hidden, but visible from far away visitors can spot the first clock tower in Transylvania, which is operated since 1425th, and the first lightning rod in Transylvania dating back to 1795.
The bell ringer of Cisnădie provides expert guided tours of the castle and the church affiliated museum and has many more stories and legends to share.
The fortified church of Axente Sever was not only the religious center of the settlement over the centuries, but also a secure place to deposit valuable goods. In the numerous storage buildings in the precincts of the castle wall, small rooms were assigned to each village family for storing grain, meat and other food. Corn was not stored on farms, but brought directly to the castle after harvest to protect it from possible attackers. A special procedure was the storage of the bacon in the so-called bacon towers, which were opened to families only on Sundays after church service. To ensure that no one was serving from another’s piece of bacon, each family scratched an individual sign on the freshly cut edges.
The storage rooms have been transformed into guestrooms in recent years so that today visitors can sleep inside the mighty castle walls. In addition, a museum was set up to report on the history of the village and the fortified church.
Over centuries the castle guardian had been one of the most important men in the Saxonian villages. In Ighişu Nou (German name Eibesdorf) he was provided with a dwelling in the gate tower of the church for him and his family. Among other things one of his tasks was to ring the bells three times a day, and additionally before and during church services, as well as in case of deaths. In case of a fire in the village the castle guardian also alerted all villagers with the alarm bell. In addition he was in charge of maintaining order and cleanliness in the precincts. The municipality members remunerated him with material assets and money for his services.
The position as castle guardian in Ighişu Nou remained occupied until a few years ago, although it had only been a part-time job after 1945, with the last guardian working in factories in Mediaş during the day. In the last few years the responsibilities of the castle guardian were taken over by the administrators of the parish house, which is now a homely guesthouse open for tourists all summer long.
Especially in the 17 and 18 centuries the community leaders in Biertan (German name Birthälm) fought a harsh fight against moral decline. They tried to stop increasing misconducts with strict rules and severe penalties. For example, it was prohibited to drink in bad company, or to linger around at the inn for too long. If “premarital immoral incidents” occurred between couples the wedding ceremony itself was conducted in an especially degrading manner. These and many others stories can be discovered by visitors to the Biertan fortified church. The so-called “Marriage prison” for divorcing couples survived until today, but only as a building. It is located in the precincts of the Biertan castle, which is one of the most impressive and largest fortified churches in Transylvania. The church dates back to the early 16th Century and is surrounded by three fortification walls and nine defensive towers. Once a year the meeting of the Saxons – the largest gathering of Germans still living in Transylvania and those who emigrated – takes place here. Inside the fortified church one can find a museum as well as a bookshop, and two guesthouses offer all year accommodation in the village.
Das Dächer-Programm der Leitstelle Kirchenburgen wurde im ersten Halbjahr 2009 fortgesetzt. An folgenden Kirchenburgen wurden Dachreparaturen durchgeführt, nachdem die Leitstelle die benötigten Fördermittel eingeworben hatte: Benzenz, Broos, Bussd bei Mediasch und Großscheuern. Des Weiteren wird die Leistelle noch in diesem Jahr an weiteren vier Kirchenburgen das Dächer-Programm fortführen. Es handelt sich um Mardisch, Paßbusch, Schönau und Schönberg. Dafür sind innerhalb des Büros Planungen erstellt worden und die Förderung für diese Maßnahmen ist zum großen Teil bereits durch einzelne private Spender sichergestellt. Zum Jahresende werden damit insgesamt 18 Kirchendächer gesichert sein.
Antrag für das EU Programm bewilligt
Das im Dezember letzten Jahres eingereichte Projekt zur baulichen Sicherung und touristischen Erschließung von 18 Kirchenburgen ist im August dieses Jahres genehmigt worden. Der Antrag war von der Leistelle Kirchenburgen mit einer Finanzierung vom Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit (BMZ) / der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) erarbeitet worden. Damit wurde zum ersten Mal in der bisherigen Geschichte der rumänischen EU-Förderung ein komplexes Projekt genehmigt. Nun folgt die Erarbeitung der technischen Planungen. Im Landeskonsistorium wurde die Projektleitung von der Leitstelle an Herrn Dr. Stefan Cosoroaba übergeben. Bei positiver Bewertung auch der nächsten Etappe wird die EU- Förderung rund 5,5 Millionen Euro betragen. Das Projekt umfasst die folgenden Kirchenburgen: Arkeden, Bodendorf, Deutsch-Kreuz, Eibesdorf, Hetzeldorf, Kerz, Kirtsch, Kleinschenk, Klosdorf, Malmkrog, Meschendorf, Mühlbach, Neithausen, Probstdorf, Schönberg, Trappold, Urwegen und Waldhütten.