Top Five Transylvanian Saxon Fortified Cities You Should Visit In Romania

Here’s a personal top of five Transylvanian Saxon fortified towns/cities you should definitely visit while travelling in Transylvania, central Romania. All these fortified cities were founded during the High Middle Ages by the Transylvanian Saxons, a predominantly German ethnic group which is part of the broader group of the Germans of Romania. These fortified cities are also reputed tourist attractions which you should consider if and when visiting Transylvania. Last but not least, these medieval fortified Transylvanian Saxon cities are a very important part of both the Transylvanian Saxon and Romanian cultural and historical heritage in Transylvania, central Romania.

5. Rosenau (German)/Rusenå (Transylvanian Saxon)

The Rosenau (Romanian: Râșnov) citadel located in Brașov county/Kreis Kronstadt. Image source:

The Rosenau citadel (Romanian: Cetatea Râșnov) was built in 1215 by the Teutonic Knights. The German name of the citadel stems from the German word ‘rose’. During the 19th century, the ancient Roman fort of Cumidava was discovered in the proximity of this present-day fortified city.

4. Mediasch (German)/Medwesch (Transylvanian Saxon)

The town was founded in 1146 by the Transylvanian Saxons, being thus one of the oldest urban settlements in Transylvania. Mediasch received the ‘civitas’ (i.e. city in Latin) status during the 14th century. It is also the hometown of Stephan Ludwig Roth, a Transylvanian Saxon scholar who argued in the 19th century that Romanian should have been the official language of Transylvania as well as a national hero for both the Transylvanian Saxons and Romanians. A high school in the town bears his name as well.

The clock tower of Saint Margarethe’s church in Mediaș/Mediasch. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Additionally, he also supported a strengthening of the German element in Transylvania, encouraging more potential colonists from contemporary Germany to permanently settle in this fortified town. Mediasch/Mediaș is also known for the local football team C.S. Gaz Metan Mediaș (which almost made it to the group stage of the 2011–2012 edition of UEFA Europa League, before being eliminated by FK Austria Wien in the play-offs). It is located in south-eastern Transylvania, in the northern part of Sibiu County/Kreis Hermannstadt, central Romania. It has a series of beautiful and picturesque fortifications such as the Forkesch Tower. On a personal note, after I did a genetic test in 2023, I learned the fact that all my ancestors on the Romanian side arrived in Mediasch/Mediaş from contemporary Germany during the 19th century, being therefore among the last waves of German settlers in Transylvania.

Below you can watch a short video depicting the town:

3. Schäßburg (German)/Schäsbrich (Transylvanian Saxon)

The Clock Tower (German: Der Stundturm) in Schäßburg (Romanian: Sighișoara) located in Mureș county/Kreis Mieresch, the tallest and best preserved medieval structure of the town which lies in the historic centre. Image source:

Schäßburg is one of the most oldest urban settlements in Transylvania and also one of the most fortified of its kind. It is reputed for being the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler (often erroneously depicted as ‘Dracula’ in popular culture, starting with the namesake novel written by Irish author Bram Stoker which might have actually been based on an Irish legend instead), a Wallachian prince during the Middle Ages. The historical centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Major touristic attractions include the Clock Tower, the Dracula house, or the historical town centre.

2. Hermannstadt (German)/Härmeschtat/Hermestatt (Transylvanian Saxon)

Panoramic view of the city centre of Hermannstadt/Härmeschtat (Romanian: Sibiu) located in Sibiu county/Kreis Hermannstadt. Image source:

A reputed touristic attraction and former European Capital of Culture in 2007 alongside Luxembourg City, Hermannstadt (Romanian: Sibiu) is the most important Transylvanian Saxon urban settlement in the area of southern Transylvania. The city was ranked 8th by Forbes in a top of most idyllic places to live in Europe, just after Rome, Italy! Nowadays, it is also one of the most culturally-thriving cities in Romania.

1. Kronstadt (German)/Kruhnen (Transylvanian Saxon)

The Black Church in the city of Kronstadt (Romanian: Brașov) located in Brașov county is the largest Gothic-styled Evangelical Lutheran cathedral from South-Eastern Europe. Image source:

Kronstadt (which in German means ‘crown city’) was built by the Teutonic Knights during the round of the 13th century. The crusaders were given land by the then King of Hungary Andrew II in the region of Burzenland (Romanian: Țara Bârsei), south-eastern Transylvania. Being initially a crusader stronghold, Kronstadt was therefore designed as a seat of the Teutonic Knights, but it eventually turned into one of the most significant urban centres of the Transylvanian Saxons.

In spite of the fact that the Teutonic Knights were evicted from the fortress in 1225, the German colonists (stemming from Rhineland, Flanders, and Moselle from modern day Germany, Luxembourg as well as Belgium) remained in the city and subsequently developed it. The main demand of the Kings of Hungary towards the Transylvanian Saxons for the right of possessing land in Transylvania was to protect the eastern frontiers of the Kingdom of Hungary, mine (especially around Bistrița/Bistritz area), and enhance trade (all of which they successfully did).

The city is also reputed for its Gothic cathedral, the Black Church (Die Schwarze Kirche in German) which is the largest Gothic cathedral in South-Eastern Europe. Additionally, the two other largest ones are also located in Transylvania: the second one built in Klausenburg/Kleusenburch (Romanian: Cluj/Cluj-Napoca) and the third one in Schäßburg/Schäsbrich (Romanian: Sighișoara). Kronstadt is also one of the most populous cities in Romania.

Documentation sources and external links:

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