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German: Heltau
Transylvanian Saxon: De Hielt
Panorama of Cisnădie
Cisnădie town hall
Historic center
Fortified church
Coat of arms of Cisnădie
Location in Sibiu County
Location in Sibiu County
Cisnădie is located in Romania
Location in Romania
Coordinates: 45°42′46″N 24°09′03″E / 45.71278°N 24.15083°E / 45.71278; 24.15083
 • Mayor (2020–2024) Gheorghe Huja[1] (PNL)
277.13 km2 (107.00 sq mi)
454 m (1,490 ft)
 • Density80/km2 (210/sq mi)
Time zoneEET/EEST (UTC+2/+3)
Postal code
Area code(+40) 02 69
Vehicle reg.SB
Cisnădie on the Josephine Map of Transylvania, 1769–73

Cisnădie (Romanian pronunciation: [t͡ʃisnəˈdi.e]; German: Heltau; Transylvanian Saxon dialect: De Hielt; Hungarian: Nagydisznód) is a town in Sibiu County, Transylvania, central Romania, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt). It comprises the main town of Cisnădie and one village, Cisnădioara (German: Michelsberg; Hungarian: Kisdisznód).

Located along Argintului and Ursului streams, at the foothills of the Cindrel Mountains, the town is known for its Transylvanian Saxon heritage, as well as for the communist-era carpet factories.


Cisnădie was mentioned for the first time in a document from the year 1204 under the name "Rivetel". In the 12th century Saxon colonists settled here and in 1323 the German name Heltau is mentioned.[3] The town flourished, particularly the guilds of blacksmiths and wool weavers (weaving remained the traditional occupation of the town population until the 20th century, when large textile factories were built).

Cisnădie shared most of Transylvania's eventful history. The town suffered several raids, starting with the 1241 raid of the Mongols and continuing with Ottoman attacks. The plague did not spare the town, neither did the fire nor various political agitations throughout the passing of time.

In 1806, under Emperor Franz of Austria, Cisnădie/Heltau renewed its market rights, thus enabling it to prosper.

In 1945, large parts of the German population were deported to the Soviet Union.

In 1948, all factories were nationalized by the communist regime. After its downfall in 1989, most of the factories collapsed. Since the 2000s onwards, the economic situation has been ameliorating.


Historical population
1948 7,284—    
1956 12,246+68.1%
1966 14,979+22.3%
1977 20,135+34.4%
1992 17,807−11.6%
2002 17,204−3.4%
2011 14,282−17.0%
2021 22,277+56.0%
Source: Census data

According to the 2011 census, there was a total population of 13,410 people living in the town. Of these, 97.1% were ethnic Romanians, 1.5% ethnic Germans (more specifically Transylvanian Saxons), 0.7% Hungarians, and 0.3% Romani.[4]

Administration and local politics

Town council

The town's current local council has the following multi-party political composition, based on the results of the votes cast at the 2020 Romanian local elections:[5]

    Party Seats Current Council
  National Liberal Party (PNL) 7              
  Save Romania Union (USR) 6  
  Social Democratic Party (PSD) 2              
  PRO Romania (PRO) 2              
  Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (FDGR/DFDR) 2              



In Cisnădie, there are the SC Pralin SRL, the chocolate factory of Florin Bălan.


The most important architectural sight of Cisnădie is the fortified complex located in the town centre. Originally built in the 12th century as a Romanesque basilica, the church was fortified during the 15th century, after the 1493 Turkish invasion, to protect the local population of Saxons against repeated Ottoman raids.[6] The fortification process included the construction of fortified towers over the two side entrances and the choir, the building of a double structure of defence walls, a moat and several defensive towers along the walls. Simultaneously to the fortification work the church itself suffered a gothicization process. The altar inside the Lutheran church, which forms the centre of this complex, is a wing altar/triptych from 1520, realised by the school of Veit Stoss Jr.[3]

The complex is very well preserved and besides being a medieval architectural place of interest, it offers a variety of theme exhibitions:

  • the "Cisnădie/Heltau throughout 12 centuries" Museum located over the old ossarium;
  • the Museum of Medieval Defensive Structures located in the northern side tower;
  • the Museum of the History of the Communist Era;
  • some alternating art expositions.

Cisnădioara village

The medieval fortified Evangelical Lutheran church of the local Transylvanian Saxon community in Cisnădioara (overview from January 2020)

Cisnădioara (German: Michelsberg; Hungarian: Kisdisznód; Transylvanian Saxon dialect: Mächelsbärch) is a village located 2 km west of Cisnădie. Initially, it was listed as one of the ten possessions of the Cistercian abbey at Cârța. The fortified church, dedicated to Saint Michael and built entirely of stone, was first referred to in a document dated 20 November 1223, which mentioned its donation to the abbey. The oldest Romanesque style church in Romania, it stands atop a 100-metre high hill, surrounded by circular fortifications, with a defensive turret above the entrance.

Some of the original walls have been preserved to this day. The layout of the church, composed of a small basilica with three naves, as well as the decoration of the carved western entrance portal, dating from 1260, attest to the strong influence of Rhineland architecture.[7] Another church in the valley, dedicated to Saint Mary, was first mentioned in 1428 as a Gothic style church, but it was rebuilt in the 18th century in the Baroque style.[7]

Image gallery


  • Augustin Ioan, Hanna Derer. The Fortified Churches of the Transylvanian Saxons. Noi Media Print, 2004


  1. ^ "Results of the 2020 local elections". Central Electoral Bureau. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Populaţia rezidentă după grupa de vârstă, pe județe și municipii, orașe, comune, la 1 decembrie 2021" (XLS). National Institute of Statistics.
  3. ^ a b Fabini, Hermann (2015). The Church-fortresses of the Transylvanan Saxons. Sibiu: MonuMenta. pp. 126–127. ISBN 978-973-7969-19-4.
  4. ^ "2011 census data" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
  5. ^ "Rezultatele finale ale alegerilor locale din 2020" (Json) (in Romanian). Autoritatea Electorală Permanentă. Retrieved 2020-11-02.
  6. ^ "Kirchenburg" (in German). Lutheran Church in Cisnădie. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b Fabini, Hermann (2015). The Church-fortresses of the Transylvanian Saxons. Sibiu: MonuMenta. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-973-7969-19-4.
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