Cisnadie Travel Guide

  • Inside the Church - Altar
    Inside the Church - Altar
    by LoriPori
  • Defence Walls
    Defence Walls
    by LoriPori
  • Defense Walls
    Defense Walls
    by LoriPori

Cisnadie Things to Do

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Altar 4 more images

    by toonsarah Written Jul 15, 2013

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    After we had walked right round the exterior of the church, we entered. It was cool inside, and the interior at first struck me as quite simple, although not unattractively so. But as explored I found plenty of rich-looking delights. Most striking, not only for its position but also its size, is the altar and triptych, which was painted by Vincentius Cibiniensis (a renowned Transylvanian artist) in the 16th century. Near this is the impressively ornate pulpit (photo two) and, on the wall above the choir, some faded frescoes. At the opposite end of the church, to the left of the door as you enter, is another old altarpiece, this one from the 18th century, and nearby a beautifully painted old pew dated 1762. I wondered if perhaps all of the pews once looked like this? If so, it must have been an impressive sight.

    The church was fortified to protect the local villagers from invading Ottoman Turks. Adela explained that during masses, the men would sit near door in case of attack. The children were safely upstairs, the women and older men towards the front. The church has a secret room where valuables could be concealed during times when invasions threatened. Today it is empty, the treasures it once held (the so-called "Treasure of Cisnãdie") having been since 1915 kept in the Brukental Museum in Sibiu. There are photos of some of the pieces displayed around the church however (chalices, reliquaries etc.), and they look very rich.

    Do take the time to have a good look around inside this church, as it will certainly repay you. We didn’t pay an entry fee as this was included in our bus tour, but I am sure it must be reasonable – probably just a few Lei.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

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  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    The church 4 more images

    by toonsarah Written Jul 15, 2013

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    The Lutheran church of St. Walpurga dates from the 12th century (the first documented mention is from 1349) but has undergone many changes since then. Most important of these was the fortification of the church in the late 15th century, which was done to protect the local Saxon people against the repeated Ottoman raids. At that time it lost its original Romanesque style and became much more Gothic in appearance. The building itself was strengthened, a central tower added, and it was surrounded by three concentric with raised corridors for defence purposes, towers and bastions, and moats that could be filled with water. The latter are these days filled in, but much of the wall structure remains, as you can see in the sketch map I copied from the leaflet I bought there (for just 2 Lei).

    When we visited the church our guide Adela first took us for a walk right round the exterior, so we could admire these walls. She pointed out a section where a small room had been created, which she explained had been used as a school for the children during those times when the villagers had to seal themselves inside for fear of an impending invasion. We could easily see the ramparts where the armed guards would have patrolled, and the slits used for firing at the enemy outside.

    As we looked up at the tall tower, which has been replaced several times (this one dates from 1751), Adela explained that it had several times in the past been struck by lightning. So in 1795 the first copper lightning rod in Transylvania (and indeed the first east of Vienna) was installed here, based on that previously introduced in Hamburg.

    One thing I especially liked as I wandered round was to see and photograph the many fascinating small details of the building – old inscriptions painted on its walls, plants growing out of the tiled roof and so on. I was pleased that in restoring and maintaining the building so well, those responsible for it had not destroyed its character.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

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  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    by LoriPori Written Jul 4, 2013

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    Saturday, June 22, 2014
    Approximately 10 km from Sibiu, CISNADIE (German name - Heltau) was the first stop on our VT Bus Tour. The most important sight of Cisnadie is the fortified church which is located in the town center.
    Originally built in the 12th century as a Romanesque basilica, the church was fortified during the 15th century to protect the local population of Saxons against repeated Ottoman raids.
    The fortification process included constructing fortified towers and the building of a double structure of defense walls, a moat and several defensive towers along the walls.
    The Tower is 32.5 meters high and over the centuries, has been hit by lightning several times. Because of this and using German technology, the first ever lightning rod in Transylvania, was installed.
    Another point of interest, told to us by our guide, was that the treasures of Cisnadie were hidden in a wall. She showed us a little door that opened up and inside was s very small space only a small person could crawl through.
    Over all, the fortified church is very well taken care of and there are ongoing repairs and restorations.

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Cisnadie Off The Beaten Path

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    by toonsarah Written Jul 15, 2013

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    A couple of kilometres from Cisnãdie is another fortified church, albeit much less well preserved, in Cisnãdioara. Visiting this one is also a pleasure, though for different reasons, but it is harder work, at least on a hot day. When we were here this region was experiencing a freak heatwave, and instead of the usual June temperatures of the mid 20s, we had mid 30s – in the shade! Climbing the path (not too steep, steps in parts) up to the hill-top fortification was hot work, even when shaded by trees for much of the way, and the last part, in the blazing sun, even hotter! But those of us who made the effort were rewarded with a cool breeze at the top, and an even cooler church in which to sit and regain our composure and our breath.

    The church (though not currently functioning as such) is dedicated to St Michael and is known in German as Michelsberg, so is another Mont St Michel / St Michael’s Mount to match with those in France and England. It was first built high on this hillside in the 12th century although most of what remains today dates from the 13th century or later. It sits on a small plateau at the top of the hill, surrounded by its protective wall. Inside there is little to see of its former decoration, apart from some traces of faded frescoes (look for some red markings above the door, for instance). Near where the altar would once have stood the walls are lined with memorial stones for German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers killed in the First World War, whose graves were moved here in 1940. When we were here the church was being used for film showings, as part of Sibiu’s International Film Festival, so temporary seating filled much of the floor space. We were glad of the chance to sit down after our climb, but I think it would have been easier to appreciate the size and general atmosphere of the church had it not been there. The church is in much need of restoration (or at least preservation) work, with the roof in a particularly poor state of repair.

    Back outside I braved the sun and took a walk behind the church to see the extent of the walled-in area. I found an old well, and some magnificent views which well repaid my efforts. These walls and towers were added in the second half of the 13th century. Because of the way that the land slopes away steeply from this plateau, they are much taller on the outside than inside (four to six metres as opposed to just two or three),so don’t let what appears to be from the inside a relatively low wall fool you into thinking the fortifications were weak.

    Near the church itself you will spot some large round boulders. Adela explained their significance. It was formerly the custom here that each young man from the village who was to be married had to carry one of these huge boulders up the hill, by whatever means he could devise (but always single-handed), to prove his strength and ingenuity. Furthermore, the boulders could subsequently be thrown down upon an advancing enemy, thus serving a double purpose. Once at the bottom, after use in such an attack, they were ready to be hauled back up by the next hopeful youth, and so the cycle continued.

    All too soon it was time to leave and walk back down through the wooded part of the hill (ah, shade!). Of course, gravity made the walk down much easier, and I was soon back at the foot of the hill. Near the entrance to the site is a small shop selling cold drinks which were a very welcome reward for our efforts, and very reasonably priced. The shop also has a terraced area so you can sit under its shady umbrellas and relax after your exertions.

    See the location of the church in Cisnãdioara on Google maps – zoom in and you will see the path that leads through the woods and up the hill.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

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