“In Europe’s Shadow is a masterful work of important history, analysis and prophecy about the ancient and modern rise of Romania as a roundabout between Russia and Europe. I learned something new on every page. Kaplan is a master.” –Tom Brokaw
The fortified churches are a unique and interesting phenomenon.
They are found in only a few locations throughout Europe, but Transylvania, once home to more than 3000 fortified Saxon churches, constitutes the most significant collection.
Some of them are in ruins, others derelict but most are still proudly staying, even in abandoned and forgotten villages.
The countryside of the Saxon Villages of Transylvania is one of Europe’s last medieval landscapes, having remained essentially unchanged over the centuries.
The special value of the Transylvanian village sites with fortified churches lies in the fact that they are outstanding examples of a specific vernacular tradition in south-eastern Europe, the well preserved homogenous settlements of the Transylvanian Saxons and Szeklers (Hungarian-speaking ethnic group mostly living in the counties of Harghita, Covasna and Mureş in Romania), which form a compact unit around their fortified church.
They are representative of a group of more than 200 preserved settlements with church fortifications that are unique in the world.
Seven of these villages with fortified churches are inscribed on the World Heritage List. They are dominated by their fortified churches, which illustrate building styles from the 13th to the 16th century.