About the Evangelical Fortified Church


The beginnings of Hărman are likely to be found between 1211 and 1225, as the Teutonic Order expanded the Burzenland as their own territory and brought German settlers to the newly established sites. Over the ensuing centuries, the site developed in a beneficial manner, facilitated by the establishment of a squiredom class of the Burzenland Saxons. The fortification around the church was greatly expanded from the 15th to the 17th centuries and one of the largest and still best-preserved fortified churches in the Burzenland emerged. During the major inter- Transylvanian turmoil regarding the maniacal price Gabriel Báthory in 1612, Hărman as the only commune in the Burzenland was able to defend itself to the end and remain faithful to the Brașov regime.

The Fortified Church

The Hărman fortified church, with its powerful defensive walls, seven protruding fortified towers, and the far-reaching visible bell tower, is a jewel among the Transylvanian-Saxon fortified churches. Although the fortifications lost their defensive capacity as early as the 18th century, they continued to serve as places for secure storage and safekeeping. For this reason, they were repeatedly repaired and survived over centuries until the present day. The Hărman castle complex displays the typical characteristics of a fortified church. Aside from the powerful bell tower with its embrasures, which until 1794 was also equipped with a guard’s walkway, the church itself is unfortified. The complex’s ability to defend itself is based upon the formerly tripartite circular wall with fortified towers, a circumferential moat, and a strong fortified gate.

The Chapel Tower

The original chapel building (around 1300) consisted of an underground floor with a separate entrance and a dual-bayed chapel floor. It was integrated into the late 13th-century oval wall that had already surrounded the Romanesque church. Because the existing circular wall was strengthened during the course of 15th-century fortification measures, the chapel was also expandet into a fortified tower.

Unusual in terms of its completeness and state of preservation is the 15th-century chapel painting. The painting presents a cohesive didactic image toward eternal salvation, which opens the door to immortality to those who have died.

The Church of St. Nikolaus

Particulary from the east, the church has retained the appearance of a 13th-century Romanesque triple-nave basilica. In displaying clear parallels to Cistercian architecture, it demonstrates the patronage of Cistercian in Cârța above Hărman from 1240 onwards.

The Bell Tower

In 1300, a massive bell tower with the width of the central nave was added to the western part of the church, so that the side naves surround the tower. Two flanking stair towers provide acces to the first two tower floors; the remaining six floors are accesible via a wooden staircase. With a height of 56 meters to the tower knob, the tower is the highest in the Burzenland. In 1794, its guard's walkway was removed and four corner turrets were added to the tower spire. They represent the city's legal power to inflict the death sentence.

Initially the fortified church had in operation 5 bells: two in the bell tower, one connected to the clock, as "small warnings and pulse bell", one in the choir tower and one in the ridge turret of the gate tower. In 1916/17, the bells from the bell tower and choir turret were commandeered and melted down. The present-day bells are from 1923 and 1925. The damaged large bell from 1923 was replaced in 1925 and is now located at the west portal as a memorial. The bell from 1608 in the gate tower is currently the oldest bell in Harman.

Church Features

The Baroque altar was completed in 1787 by the sculptor Franz Eberhard and the painter and Brașov native Mohr.

The wooden pulpit (late 18th c.) is suspended at the northeast corner of the nave, in front of the triumphal arch and is accessible from the sacristy.

The neo-Gothic, chalice-shaped baptismal font was cast in plaster in 1899 and originates from the cast-stone manufactory Ernst March in Charlottenburg/Berlin.

The wooden organ gallery at the west wall provides space for the organ and several simple rows of pews. The breastwork is decorated with five caskets, each one with a vine branch at the center. In 1754, the fitting of a small organ was consigned, with the result that the gallery probably emerged at the same time. From 1868-88, it was expanded and given its modern-day appearance.

The current organ was built in 1889 by the Brașov organ builders Karl Einschenk (1867-1951) and Josef Nagy and consists of five manuals, 19 registers, and one pedal.

The women’s benches of 1753 constitute a unique feature in the central nave. They are made without backrests from pine tree trunks and were designated for married women, who could not lean back on account of their attire.

The choir pews (18th c.) for the priest, the presbytery, and dignitaries display embellished silhouette profiles along the side walls and baldachin. The back wall is adorned by simple floral paintings.

Oriental knotted carpets decorate the choir walls and cover the breastwork of the organ gallery, as well as the front of the choir as trade goods in Transylvania.

Among the liturgical instruments is a Late Medieval chalice (15th c.) of partially gilt silver with a six-lobed base, a hexagonal shaft with inscriptions and a round node with relief surfaces, as well as a slightly curved cup, the last of which i9s probably a 17th-century replacement. In addition, an oaten and a pyx, both made of partially gilt silver, originate from 17th century. The pewter tankards are attributed to the 18th or 19th century.