Welcome to the first post of Romania Month, where I’ll be highlighting some of the country’s more notable attractions.
I want to start by drawing attention to the fantastic cover and the fantastic thing on the fantastic cover, namely the mother of all Saxon fortified churches in Biertan.
Located in southern Transylvania, within easy day-tripping range of Sighisoara and (less so) Sibiu, Biertan’s truly awesome 15th-century Saxon double-walled church was the site of the Lutheran bishop from 1572-1867 and was declared a Unesco World Heritage site 1993.
No less amazing inside, the church’s sacristy once held treasures that were kept safe by its Doctor Evil-caliber formidable door, outfitted with 19 locks! The astonishing engineering of these locks won first prize at the Paris World Expo in 1900. (Yes, I have a picture and no I’m not posting it. I don’t want to ruin the suspense!)
The church grounds hold several other buildings, including a small bastion which was famously used (according to legend) as a last-ditch effort to discourage couples wanting to divorce. The unhappy couple would be locked up in the bastion for two weeks with only one bed and one set of cutlery. Apparently this method was so successful that only one couple decided to go through with their divorce in 400 years.
Once you’ve absorbed the church’s over-stimulating enormity, take the edge off by visiting Crama Biertan, a scrappy winery on the south end of town. With a little luck and eyelash fluttering, you may score a short tour (in Romanian), otherwise the shop sells bottles starting at one euro.
How come I’d never heard of Biertan?
Long time, first time.
If I win the book, I will go to Romania, I will go to all the places you recommend, and I’ll write Lonely Planet and tell them you were the reason I went.
Biertan has everything a day tripper needs: amazingly old kick-ass fortified church that takes a while to explore, quaint village surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, and a winery staffed by men willing to hand out samples to the ladies. It was one of my favorite stops in Transylvania. The new cover definitely does it justice!
I totally need this…. but soon! I’m leaving for an epic road trip (including Romania) in two weeks.. wheee! I think I’ll put Biertan on the list!
@Oana – Well, aside from that amazing church, Biertan itself is not much of a destination. Very few sleeping choices and they’re either wildly over-priced or the back room in some pensioner’s home. Only one real restaurant to speak of, just below the church, and it’s the nauseatingly kitsch crap that Romanians seem to think all tourists love. Like Katie says, it’s a day-tripper dream, but you don’t wanna spend the night there.
@Sam – Thank you and welcome!
@Katie – Testify!
@Maia – Oh no, in guidebook terms, you couldn’t have planned this trip at a worse time. The old LP Romania (& Moldova) guide is, well, old. The new one drops at the end of May or the beginning of June, depending on who you ask. The current LP Eastern Europe (with chapters on Romania and whatever other countries you plan to hit) is pretty well up to date, though.
Now that right there is a real Saxon fortified church. I want to visit.. with my new free Romania guide!
I dont really have anything to add, but Id love to win the book!
Yea well stand in line cause the first book is mine Jerod!
Leif..you are wrong…in Biertan are many places where you can stay… ;) just search… http://www.biertan.ro…for more info…ask me :D…the people from there are kind…like all true romanians