Mediaș: the lesser known medieval town

This town in the north of Sibiu county is home to many well-preserved historical sites. Monuments, churches, old walls and towers carrying a distinct historical significance are all part of the charm of Mediaș. Many of the town’s attractions are very well preserved, even to the smallest details, despite their age.

It stands 56 km away from Sibiu, in a hilly area, at the intersection of the Moșna and Târnava Mare rivers. The area was inhabited since ancient times, and several archeological discoveries attest to this. The city’s first documentary mention is from 1267 and, in time, it knew a multicultural population of Saxons and Székely.

The Ottoman incursion in Transylvania between 1437 and 1438 brought about a marked decay of the economy and demography of the seat of Medias. As many other villages and small towns, it too resorted to fortifying churches as it was unable to secure the defense of high-length walls. In a first stage, in the middle of the 14th century, the town erected walls on a limited surface, consolidated by two towers. After 1400 the existing walls are expanded in height and three more towers were equipped with water moats and guarded roads to protect the area surrounding the St. Margareta church. The ensemble made up of these fortifications carries the name of the Castle.

The St. Margareta Church (pictured) is one of the sites tourists can visit while in town. Set at the center of the entire fortifications complex, it was first mentioned in 1447 as “Die Evanghelische Pfarrkirche der Heiligen Margarethe aus dem Marktflecken Mediasch.” Some of the paintings inside the church represent the coat of arms of the Batoreşti family and of Matei Corvin. The gothic style construction accommodates works by P. Demosch and S. Möss (1679), while the 1678 organ was designed by Sibiu Saxon craftsman Johann West.

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The tower of the construction, known as the Trumpets Tower, is erected on the old structure and stands as a symbol of the town and of the Târnava Mari middle region. At 68.5 meters tall, the tower was among the first constructions in the world up until 1969. The bell dates back to 1488 and signals the hours with the help of a mechanically-actioned hammer.

The many towers of the medieval Mediaș are among the city’s top attractions. The Bells Tower, also called the Gates Tower, used to host the church bells, the oldest one being inscribed with the year 1449. It was initially built out of stone and brick and, at the 1695 repairing works, only bricks were used for the upper levels. The Tailors Tower, given to the care of the tailors’ guild, had dumping holes, highlighted by support consoles and arches surrounding them.

The Tower of Maria has battlements giving it a distinct personality and served as a chapel during pest epidemics. The Tower of Ropers stands on the west side of St. L. Roth house and became the ‘bacons’ tower during the 19th century because the entire Saxon community would store the smoked bacon here. The School Tower can be found at the west of the Ropers Tower, while the Parochial House, built on the outside of the first defense wall of the Castle is the oldest built housing in Medias. The House of the Chaplain was built perpendicular to the wide side of the parochial house, creating the sensation of an interior yard. The covered stairs, a way to access the castle, has a vault built in the late Gothic style and has on its levels access doors to the old prison and kinder garden.
The old city hall, firstly documented in 1583, was built above several vaulted rooms, at the level of the Ferdinand I square. It is here where several landmark houses are located. The Schuller House is remarkable partly because of the restoration works performed by Hermann Fabini. It was first documented in 1588 and served as a residence for the descendants of the Schuller family. A pub and inn functioned here for a long time. Today it hosts a range of cultural and artistic events. Another stop could be the Rosenauer House, built in 1621 in the style of the Transylvania Renaissance. During the renovation works between 1790 and 1793 the façade was improved with rich stuccos. Also to see is the Schuster Dutz House, which belonged to the Saxon poet, was built around 1690 and used to house a pharmacy between 1783 and 1900. In its turn, the Guggenberger House hosted until 1790 a school for a religious order of the Piarists. 

All in all, plenty of sites to see. And when they are exhausted plenty more await in the surroundings, where many fortified churches can be found.

Photos: Wikipedia,