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Biertan (German: Birthälm, Romani: Biyertan, Hungarian: Berethalom) is a comune in central Romania, in the north of the Sibiu County, 80 km north of Sibiu (formerly Hermannstadt in German) and 15 km east of Mediaş. Biertan is one of the most important Saxon villages with fortified churches in Transylvania, having been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1993. It was the see of the Lutheran Evangelical Bishop in Transylvania between 1572 and 1867.

The commune is composed of three villages: Biertan, Copşa Mare (Gross-Kopisch; Nagykapus) and Richiş (Reichesdorf; Riomfalva), each of which has a fortified church.


The first documentary testimony about the village dates from 1283 in a document about the taxes paid by the inhabitants of 7 villages and so it is believed to have been founded sometime between 1224 to 1283 by Transylvanian Saxons. The village settlement quickly developed into an important market town and by 1510 Biertan supported a population of about 5,000 people. Between 1468 and the 16th century a small fortified church (die Kirchenburg) was constructed and developed. After the medieval period the town declined in importance with the rise of neighbouring Sighişoara (formerly Schäßburg in German), Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Mediaş (Mediasch).

In the census of 1930 Biertan had 2331 inhabitants, of whom 1228 were Transylvanian Saxons. During World War II many men were conscripted into the Romanian army and later the Waffen-SS. After the war many Transylvanian Saxons were expelled from the region. Following the collapse of Communism in 1990 many more left for Germany.

Today the whole commune has a population of about 2,500 and the village of Biertan alone has about 1,600 people. It is one of the most visited villages in Transylvania, being the historically important place of the annual reunion of the Transylvanian Saxons, many of whom now live in Germany.


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