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The Evangelical Church from Saschiz
The evangelical church of Saschiz was built at the end of the 15th century (1493-1496) by the Saxon colonists who settled there. The monument is impressive due to the beauty of its vast proportions and the rigorous adaptation of fortification elements to the shapes of a place of worship. Above the nave and the choir there is a fortified floor as well as a lookout protruding above the massive arches.
From the outside, the building appears to be a bulwark, with imposing arches built above the massive stone and brick buttresses, elements characteristic to all Gothic monuments. The architectural beauty blends with the defensive destination of the fortified church and behind the arches one can still see the narrow gaps used for the discharge of arrows or missiles. Due to the significant distance between the centre of the village and the hill on which the fortress was built, over the years, the fortified church became the main refuge of the inhabitants of Saschiz.
The Clock Tower from Saschiz
The Clock Tower from Saschiz is one of the most beautiful medieval constructions in Transylvania, typical of the Saxon architecture from the 15th century, like the fortified church. To this day, the tower marks the centre of Saschiz. Its defensive function is given away by the narrow gaps used for the discharge of arrows or missiles and the 12 skylights that break up the line of the roof covered in beautifully coloured enamel tiles.
It is the roof with its four little corner turrets and its very sharp spire with the base in the shape of a bulb that reminds one of the elegant tower that served as a model: the Clock Tower from Sighisoara. Today one can admire the Evangelical Church and the Clock Tower only a few metres away from the European road (E60) that crosses the centre of Saschiz.
The Saxon Fortress from Saschiz
The Saxon fortress still dominates Saschiz and is a remnant of the troubled Middle Ages. Built in the 15th century on a forested hill about 2 km from the centre of the village, its aim was to protect the inhabitants of Saschiz (and six neighbouring villages that contributed to its building) from invasions. The local Saxon community was, once again, the builder of this fortress and so it is easy to notice the typical structure of this fortified building given that the majority of the Saxon defense structures were built around churches in the centre of the village.
Work started in 1347, as an inscription on the north-western wall clearly indicates. On the same wall, which is 7-9 metres tall, were built four corner turrets and two gate towers, all having a watch and defense purpose. The names of these towers – the School Tower, the Munitions Tower, the Princes’ Tower, the Gate Tower, the Priests’ Tower and the Watch Tower – reflect how well the community was organised at the time. Inside the fortress there was a chapel, now a beautiful ruin. The only intact feature is the 65 m deep well that is said to connect the fortress with the centre of the village via an underground tunnel.
As for its architecture, the fortress blends both the Romanic and Gothic styles, having been completed in the 15th century. This is evident from the roof shape and the narrow gaps used for the discharge of arrows and missiles which had mobile wooden beams that enabled a better aim of a moving target. The architectural details are overshadowed by the beauty of the ruin which projects its ghostly shape over the trees on the side of the road, inviting the passers-by to give free rein to their imagination among its walls.
Copper stills and wooden barrels: When the Saxons left Transylvania in the early 1990s it was feared that the production of stills and barrels would no longer be a profitable business. However, the business has diversified and now 10 liter barrels are being produced – suitable for most modern households.
Blacksmithing: Supporting this business to diversify, from horse shoes to a wide range of products such as door hinges or window frames, has contributed to the preservation of these traditional crafts. In Viscri two brothers have taken over blacksmithing from their grandfather.
Charcoal: A traditional charcoal burner’s life is downright dangerous. Charcoal has several uses, including for filters and as barbecue fuel.
Embroidery: This is a traditional craft, the area presenting many examples worth seeing. Many embroidered pieces have been passed down from one generation to the next and used in daily life: weddings, christenings and funerals.
Pottery: Up until the 1970s Saschiz was an old pottery centre famous for its blue pottery. The production stopped around the year 1970 and the traditional motifs, white on blue, were adopted by Corund (Korond) pottery, in the Szekely area, after being reversed (blue on white).
Wool crafts: Wool is washed manually, spun in thin threads and then woven on the loom into rugs, carpets or blankets, knitted into socks, pullovers or gloves, or felted into slippers, hats and handbags.
Using imported cotton, weavers also produce curtains, table cloths, napkins, scarves, etc. The traditional fiber for making such products is hemp but this has not been cultivated in the area in recent years. Experimental natural plant dyeing was introduced recently, avoiding the use of chemical pigments.
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