The bastions of Brașov fortified old city

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

Brașov is just another town of Transylvania established by the Germans, in this case, the Teutons, who were defending this regional periphery. The necessity for defense walls grew in the 13 century with the invasions of the Tatars (Mongols), but the constructions were extended and improved for almost six centuries after. In the 15 century, 8 bastions were added, but only three survive.
Outside the 3 km of 12 m high walls there were four towers and other small fortifications on the hills, meant to observe the roads and delay the intruders. Such a fortification is the watch citadel on a neighboring hill. Two towers, named after two guilds – the knives makers and the shoe makers – are now destroyed, only traces of their foundations being found. The other two – The Black Tower and The White Tower – are still standing. Both have a square base, with the black tower being taller and more beautiful. Its name comes from a fire, just like is the case with the Black Church nearby, but today it is rather white, with nice stone surface and an unfortunate glass pyramid built recently on top.
Some of the eight bastions have disappeared completely, as is the case with that of the goldsmiths or of the belt makers.

The most interesting of the remaining bastions is that of the weavers, who has an interesting architecture, not to be found anywhere else in the country. It is extended to comprise two towers, a lower and a higher one, in an arch shape that makes it look like a small castle.
Graft Bastion is a combination of a tower and a gate, as it has an arched hollow space for waters to be evacuated. The name Graft comes from the German name of a canal. It was built by the saddle makers.

Some other bastions, still visible today, have round shapes. The tallest of them is the Drapers’ Bastion. The goldsmiths have featured this bastion with two meters thick walls and canons. Other smaller bastions of the same shape belonged to the tanners guild and to the rope makers.
Distinct from all bastions is the blacksmiths bastions, which could easily be mistaken with an administrative building of the city. The peaceful appearance should not get you the wrong impression, this bastion used to have canon holes or places to poor oil over the besiegers.

Today, the most appealing structures of Brașov’s fortifications are the monumental gates of the old city. These gates opened to different suburbs like Șchei. The finest gate preserved it Catherine’s Gate, named after a Catholic nunnery nearby. It has a Romantic look, with its four tile covered sharp towers, a number that used to symbolize that the leader of this city had the right to inflict capital punishments.

Today the fortifications are just another demarcation of the tourist area of the city that has in its center the Black Church and the Council Square.

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