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Fortified church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A fortified church is a church that is built to serve a defensive role in times of war. Such churches were specially designed to incorporate military features, such as thick walls, battlements, and embrasures. Others, such as the Ávila Cathedral were incorporated into the town wall. Monastic communities, such as Lérins Abbey, are often surrounded by a wall, and some churches, such as St. Arbogast in Muttenz, Switzerland, have an outer wall as well. Churches with additional external defences such as curtain walls and wall towers are often referred to more specifically as fortress churches or Kirchenburgen (literally "church castles").

Most fortified churches may be found in parts of Europe where there was much hand-to-hand warfare, for example in the Dordogne region of France, fought over by France and England in medieval times, and in Transylvania, during the Ottoman invasions. Fortified churches were also built in places controlled by colonial empires, such as one in the Philippines at the scene of the Siege of Baler.

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  • ✪ Walk in Brasov - visiting Transylvania # 11. Harman Fortified Church - prt.2- HÖNIGBERG - Brasov.




Although many fortified churches in various styles existed in the lands of Belarus, only a handful survived until the present. The most famous include Christian Orthodox churches in Muravanka, and Synkavichy, as well as Catholic fortified churches in Kamai and Ishkold'. In addition to Christian churches Belarus also has the ruins of several fortified synagogues, of which the Chief Synagogue in Bykhaw is most notable.[1]


About 65[2] fortified churches are found in the Thiérache region of France.


Several fortified churches have been preserved, especially in the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse. Examples are the churches of Kleinbreitenbach in Plaue, Kößlarn, Grafengehaig, Großrückerswalde, Mittelsaida, Büchenbach/Erlangen, Kriegenbrunn/Erlangen, Morsbach/Künzelsau, Espendfeld/Arnstadt, Finkenbach-Gersweiler, St. Wolfgang in Rothenburg, and the fortified church of Wenkbach.


A rare surviving example of a fortress church used for defensive purposes is the Church of St. Andrew in Kraków, one of the oldest and best preserved Romanesque buildings in Poland. Located at ul. Grodzka street, it was built by a medieval Polish statesman Palatine Sieciech in 1079–1098. St. Andrew was the only Romanesque church in Kraków to withstand the Mongol attack of 1241. Along the lower part of the broader section of its façade are small openings that served as defensive windows during military siege.[3]


Some medieval fortified churches, monasteries, and cathedrals survive in Portugal. These buildings were built either in Romanesque or Gothic styles. Romanesque examples are the Lisbon Cathedral and the Old Cathedral of Coimbra. Gothic examples are the Church of Leça do Balio and the Guarda Cathedral.


The southeastern Transylvania region in Romania has among the highest numbers of existing fortified churches from the 13th to 16th centuries.[4] More than 150 villages in the area count various types of fortified churches, seven of them being included in the UNESCO World Heritage under the name of Villages with fortified churches in Transylvania.


During the Ottoman-Habsburg Wars from the late 15th to the late 17th century, the Slovene Lands were subjected to constant Ottoman raids, which reached their peak in the late 15th and early 16th century. During that period, around 300 village churches were fortified in the territory of present-day Slovenia, with another 50 in the neighboring area of southern Carinthia. [5] They were known as tabors (which in modern Slovene means "camp"). A dozen of such churches remain today, the most famous of which are the Holy Trinity Church in Hrastovlje, Mount Saint Mary near Ljubljana, and Podbrezje in Upper Carniola. In some cases, entire villages were fortified. Remaining examples are Šmartno in the Gorizia Hills, and Štanjel.

United Kingdom

There are medieval fortified churches near the Anglo-Scottish border, where defence was an important consideration until the 17th century when the two states were united in personal union. All Saints Church, Boltongate in Cumbria is an example. Also in Cumbria, St Michael's Church, Burgh by Sands has a defensive tower, and originally had two.

Defensive towers can also be found on the England–Wales border, for instance, St Michael's Church, Garway.[6]

Gallery of prominent examples

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ (in Russian) List of fortified churches in Belarus
  2. ^ (in French) Les Églises fortifiées de la Thiérache - Guide de découvertes / Sites de Mémoire, balades et circuits - Coll. Guide Pays côté Histoire, éd. Chamina, 2006, format 14 x 21 cm, 48 p. - ISBN 2-84466-110-6
  3. ^ (in Polish) "Kościół św. Andrzeja w Krakowie." Short history and photographs
  4. ^ Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania. UNESCO World Heritage Centre 1992-2010
  5. ^ Drago Bajt & Marko Vidic, eds., Slovenski zgodovinski atlas (Ljubljana, 2011), p. 95
  6. ^ Resources,
This page was last edited on 30 August 2019, at 13:17
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