As you leave Sibiu after passing by the International Airport the road offers a magnificent panorama; placed in a depression at the mountain foothills lies the village of Cristian, dominated by the slender tower of its fortified church.
The settlement was created eight centuries ago by the Saxons colonised in these parts of Transylvania. They erected a Romanesque basilica which was then fortified in the 15th century due to the numerous invasions. Thus, the small basilica turned into a true fortified gothic stronghold with two precinct walls and defensive towers.
Since those days, the church witnessed so many events… not only as a place of worship but also as the “soul” of the entire community, the place where all the villains were judged. The story says that around the 15th century the Romanians from Orlat and the Saxons from Cristian swore in front of the church that they would never use their weapons to settle their differences… and so it was.
The inhabitants of Cristian were mostly into agriculture and would come to the fairs from the burgh of Sibiu to sell their produce. Thus, in time Cristian became a flourishing settlement on the banks of the Cibin River. Maybe this was what attracted the landlers - Protestant colonists arrived in Cristian starting with 1734.
If until the communist times most of the population was of Saxon origin, starting with 1974 the Saxons from Cristian started to emigrate to Germany. Even if there are few of them still left today, the village still holds on to its old days charm.
Cristian is remarkable not only due to its beautiful fortified church from the centre, but also due to its stylish, vividly coloured, well preserved Saxon houses and especially to its storks. In 2007 the Friends of the Stork Association built 30 nests on the electric poles from the commune and turned Cristian into the settlement with the largest number of storks in Romania.
Did you know...?
In 1734 Charles VI the Roman Emperor deported to Transylvania Protestants from northern Austria - former Catholics who had embraced the evangelic Lutheranism. During the re-catholicisation process, as they refused to give up their religion, they were expelled. Almost 800 colonists arrived in this Transylvanian region and most of them settled in Cristian.
The name of “landler” comes from the German word “Land” which refers to a region in the north of Austria.
Cristian is also called Romania’s Capital of Storks.