Photographer's Note

The Fortified Church of Birthälm

Biertan (German: Birthälm, Romani: Biyertan, Hungarian: Berethalom) is a commune in central Romania, in the north of the Sibiu County, 80 km north of Sibiu(Hermannstadt) and 15 km east of Mediaş.

The first documentary testimony about the village is from 1283 in a document about the taxes paid by the inhabitants of 7 villages. It is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, having been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. It was the see of the Lutheran Evangelical Bishop in Transylvania between 1572 and 1867.

The whole commune has a population of about 3,000 and the village of Biertan alone has about 1,600 people. It is one of the most visited villages in Transylvania, being the place of the annual reunion of the Transylvanian Saxons, many of whom now live in Germany.

The architectonic ensemble from Biertan impresses by a harmonious matching in locality, by its aesthetic and historic value and especially by the original substance preserved since the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, characteristics which determined its inclusion on The UNESCO List of World Patrimony.

The Church itself

The main edifice of the ensemble is a hall-church with three naves,with arches disposed in a network, built between 1492-1516 on the place of another old church.
The church is built in the late Gothic style with elements of Renaissance architecture at some portals .
The church is the last edifice of this kind (the hall-church) built in Transylvania.

As a result of the fortification work started after in the year 1515, and above the chancel there was built a fortified storey endowed with firing windows.

The church (including Vestry) is surrounded by walls, towers and secondary buildings as follows:

- Catholic Tower
- Mausoleum Tower
- Bell Tower
- Clock Tower
- Gate Tower
- Second Gate Tower
- Western Tower.

- Prison
- Castle Guardian Dwelling
- City Hall (used as Tower Gate)

- First wallring
- Second wallring
- Third wall

Stairways and access roads



Photo notes

I took the picture after sunset from a hill nearby the village at freezing temperatures in the first day of the year 2008. The weather was foggy and the sky was overcast, hence the paler color tones in the far background. I hope you like it!
In the picture, the towers visible are (from left to right, the two towers from top of the church not counted):
- Mausoleum Tower
- Bell Tower
- Clock Tower
- City Hall
- Gate Tower


ISOSpeedRatings - 100
ShutterSpeedValue - 10 seconds
ApertureValue - F 5.60
ExposureBiasValue - 0.00
Flash - Flash not fired, compulsory flash mode
FocalLength - 70 mm
ColorSpace - sRGB
White Balance - Auto

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Additional Photos by Eduard Baak (snowfalken) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 164 W: 4 N: 219] (1116)
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