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The ‘Honey’ fortified church in Transylvania and the story of its bells

Harman Fortified Church, one of the 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Romania, is located in Harman, Transylvania, just five miles away from Brașov.

Sit tight in the heart of Harman (Honigburg in German, meaning Honey Castle) village, this fortified church dates back to the 13th century when Saxons built the original structure. Strong walls and bulwarks surrounded the church and on its sides, massive towers were added.

One of the legends says that in the beginnings, there were numerous bee gardens in the neighborhood and that locals used to produce large quantities of honey, which was actually a valuable bargaining chip in early Middle Age.

The locality was first attested in 1240, 15 years after the Teutons had been chased away.

To have a clue about it, Harman fortress has never been conquered, but suffered great destructions over time. It was besieged and set on fire by the Turks in 1421 and 1423,  and was even besieged by general Basta or prince Gabriel Bathory in 1612. Besides, it got over 2 fires during 1500-1600 and 5 waves of plague between 1500 and 1800. It hasn’t got an easy destiny but however nobody has managed to conquer it.

As for the fortified church, the choir was built in a square shape with a vault resembling a cross. It was surrounded by two chapels, indicating the influence of the Cistercian style. This influence can also be observed in the still-standing original round windows with four lobes in the upper part of the church. The fortified church boasts two chapels.

The south chapel has been preserved in its initial state while the north chapel was rebuilt in the 15th century. The exterior vaults of the chapel are sculptured in stone and have a human face at each end.

An interesting fact is that in the church’s courtyard there is a monument-bell with quite a history behind. In 1914, the bells of Harman Church were melted down to be turned to towers. After the WWI, new bells have been ordered and brought from Austria, but one of them has never made it, as it broke on its way to Harman and when it finally got there was buried. 45 years later, it was dug up and turned into a monument dedicated to the heroes who died in the wars outside Romania.Harman_Biserica_fortificata_(4)

Visitating Hours:
April 15 to October 15 – Monday – closed, Tuesday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
October 16 to April 14 – Monday – closed, Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

The manager lives in the house next to the fortress, so all you need to do is to ring the bell and she will open the gates for you.

Admission fee: RON 7

About Alina Grigoras Butu