Daytrip from Sighisoara to Biertan fortified church and Bethlen castle in Cris
Sighisoara is the perfect base for a daytrip to Biertan and Cris. As Cris was ahead along the way, that was our first stop. Arriving to Cris, the gate at Bethlen castle was closed. For a moment we thought our trip there was wasted, but that was before we realized that we could actually ring the doorbell, and the owners would come and let us in! Unfortunately, they did not speak English, but a few information boards were put up in different locations, giving at least the basic facts.
The majestic Manor house immediately blew me away, even though a closer look reveals only the shell remains. The cylinder shaped tower, adorned by statues of people in traditional costumes, is soaring at one end of the flower decorated brick facade.
Inside, the interior is all taken out, but in some rooms you can still see the traces of ancient times on the ceiling. The complex is in great need of renovation, but the antique wooden steps leading to the top of the tower are more or less intact. The grounds between the floors on the other hand, is a different story…
Back outside, the two dogs were lying peacefully at the stairs in the sun. The horse freely strolled around, while the owners chased the hens around the backyard.
Driving towards charming rural village Biertan you see the fortified church from far distance. The medieval church from the 15th century is on the UNESCO world Heritage list.
The wooden altarpiece is the largest in Transylvania, decorated with motives from different periods. The image in the middle shows a crucified Jesus. Although he is not hung on a cross, but on a vine! The symbolism is that he is the vine, while the people are the grapes. To the left of the altarpiece, there is a massive wooden door dating back to 1515. It lead into the sacristy where they hid the treasures. It has no less than 19 locks, so it was no picnic trying to break in there…
Going to church, the women wore wide dresses with brooches that had to hang down. Therefor, the benches did not have backrests. The married women were seated in one area, the singles in another. The men were often seated upstairs, while the children were up in the front so they could be observed at all times.
Speaking of being married. Back than that was meant to be for life (well, I believe it still should be the idea). If someone wanted to get a divorce, they were simply locked into a small room (known as the prison tower) together for two weeks, sharing one set of cutlery and one bed. I would have thought that this would for sure make them want to be separated even more, but no. Apparently, throughout the history, only one couple actually did go through with the divorce!