A Visit to the Fortified Church of Viscri, Brasov County

In this destination guide, we visit the Saxon fortified church of Viscri (Deutsch-Weisskirch) in Brasov County, Romania.

A walk around Viscri

In the previous chapter of this trip report, I already detailed my experiences exploring the lovely village of Viscri.

Although the postcard-perfect village is well-worth a visit in its own right, Viscri does have one big, unmissable sight: Its magnificent Saxon fortified church.

geese viscri
Geese playing around in the water along the main street of Viscri. ©Paliparan
viscri romania prince charles transylvania
Chickens, old farming carts: Viscri still has retained its traditional character. ©Paliparan
viscri romania
Walking through the village of Viscri. ©Paliparan
viscri street romania prince charles transylvania
A cobblestoned street in Viscri. ©Paliparan

Entering the fortified church

From Viscri’s main street it’s a short uphill walk on a cobblestoned street to reach the entrance to the fortified church.

Viscri’s fortified church is circled by a massive 7-metre high wall as well as a smaller outer ring wall.

You enter the church compound through the impressive gate tower on the southern side.

As the Saxon fortified church in Viscri is one of the best-known in Romania, it has a permanently staffed ticket booth so unlike the smaller churches across Transylvania you don’t have to call the caretaker to unlock the doors.

The entrance ticket for the fortified church costs 12 lei (€2.40).

fortified church viscri
The fortified church in Viscri is built on a hill in the centre of the village. ©Paliparan
saxon fortified church viscri prince charles romania
The impressive entrance gate to the fortified church. ©Paliparan
fortified wall
The church is circled by a seven-metre high wall. ©Paliparan
dog
Cute dog greeting me at the entrance gate. ©Paliparan

Viscri fortified church history

To get a good impression of Viscri’s Saxon fortified church you should first make a walk along the circular wall inside the compound.

The German name of Viscri (Deutsch-Weisskirch) refers to a “white church” which originally stood here when the Saxon settlers arrived in the middle of the 12th century.

This white church – nothing more than a small chapel – was originally built by the built by the town’s Hungarian inhabitants

In the 13th century the German settlers integrated the small chapel into a larger Romanesque church which they built on the same site.

Between the 12th and early 16th century, the church was fortified in stages as walls, towers and bastions were added one by one.

An imposing keep was built in the middle of the fortified complex and the church was enlarged and connected to it.

However, some features have been removed from the fortifications as well over time after they became obsolete due to the advances in modern weaponry

During more peaceful times in the 18th century, the parapet walk and some of the battlements were replaced by storage houses and some of the defensive levels inside the church were removed.

gate tower fortified church viscri
The gate tower of the fortified church of Viscri as seen from the inner courtyard. ©Paliparan
saxon fortified church viscri
Inside the premises of the fortified church. ©Paliparan
guard tower
The circular wall is flanked by grain storage rooms and guard towers. ©Paliparan
fortified church
Walking around the fortified church. ©Paliparan
keep fortified church viscri
The main keep stands right next to the church. ©Paliparan

Inside the church

Viscri’s fortified church follows a design which was typical for 12th and early 13th century German churches.

You will instantly notice the wooden galleries on either side of the church, as well as the simple wooden benches, which fortunately have some cushions and blankets on them to make it a bit more comfortable for the people sitting down.

The pipe organ behind the altar is a bit newer as this was built in 1817.

Originally, Viscri’s church was Roman Catholic but after the Protestant Reformation it became Lutheran.

viscri church entrance
The entrance to the church itself. ©Paliparan
viscri church altar pipe organ
The altar of Viscri’s fortified church with behind it the pipe organ. ©Paliparan
wooden gallery church
The church is flanked by wooden galleries. on either side. ©Paliparan
viscri fortified church
View of the church interior from the wooden gallery. ©Paliparan

Climbing up the tower

It is possible to climb up to the top of the keep – and this is something you should certainly do as it’s one of the highlights of the Viscri fortified church.

From the top of the keep you have an excellent view over the church fortifications as well as over the entire village of Viscri and the surrounding countryside.

When I arrived at the top, the sun was slowly setting over the hilly Transylvanian landscape, creating some stunning pastel colours in the skies.

keep
You can climb up to the top of the keep. ©Paliparan
viscri fortified church deutsch-weisskirch
Looking down from the keep towards the circular wall and gate tower. ©Paliparan
viscri saxon fortified church
From the keep, you not only have a great view over the fortifications below but also over the entire village of Viscri. ©Paliparan
gate tower
The gate tower as seen from above. ©Paliparan
red rooftops saxon village transylvania
I loved the ensemble of red rooftops. ©Paliparan
countryside transylvania
From the other side of the keep, you have some great views over the Transylvanian countryside. ©Paliparan
keep view
View from the keep. ©Paliparan
fortified church viscri
The village of Viscri and the local cemetery as seen from the keep of the fortified church. ©Paliparan
sky transylvania
The colours of the sky were magnificent this late afternoon in autumn. ©Paliparan

Conclusion

The Saxon fortified church in Viscri is one of the better-known ones in Transylvania and well-worth a visit.

It’s a well-kept church and the ensemble of guard towers, fortifications and other structures is certainly beautiful.

The interior of the church is interesting as well due to authentic elements such as the wooden balustrades.

However, the highlight of the fortified church is its massive keep, from where you have fantastic views over the village of Viscri and the rolling hills of the Transylvanian countryside.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘Visiting the Saxon Fortified Churches of Transylvania‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. The Fortified Church of Harman (Honigberg), Brasov County
2. The Fortified Church of Prejmer (Tartlau), Brasov County
3. The Fortified Church of Feldioara (Marienburg), Brasov County
4. A Visit to Rupea Fortress
5. The Fortified Church of Homorod (Hamruden), Brasov County
6. Racoș: Exploring an Extinct Volcano and Abandoned Castle
7. In the Footsteps of Prince Charles: A Visit to Viscri, Romania
8. A Visit to the Fortified Church of Viscri, Brasov County (current chapter)

** rest of the chapters to follow soon **

koen paliparan rhodes rodos

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.