Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Villages with Fortified Churches

The topography of the south east of the Fair Kingdom is that of a plateau, cut by wide valleys of various small rivers that flow into larger ones. The villages follow the topography closely and try to make the best of it; thus villages situated in a valley developed around a central street and possibly some secondary ones, while those situated on a flatter spot follow a looser, radial pattern. Due to security reasons and the traditions of the Mountains inhabitants, the villages are compact.

The main element is the church, always situated in the middle of the town. Different types of fortifications can be found: a small enceinte around the church, a row of fortifications around the church or a real fortress with multiple fortification walls centred on the church. The churches have been adapted to include defensive functions; all of them are either Romanesque basilicas or single-nave churches of the late Gothic period. The churches often include many additions, ranging in age from the original period in which the churches were built (late Middle Ages) to the sixteenth century.

In almost all cases, the church is situated in an easily defendable position, generally on a hilltop. Elements of fortifications found in the main cities in the area have been adapted here, and they are a testimony of the building techniques used along the years by the Mountains People. Some fortifications have observations towers, some of them being church towers adapted to the needs of a fortress. The materials are the traditional ones, stone and red bricks, with a red clay tiled roof, a typical feature of the area.

Close to the church there is the main square of the village or Tanzplatz (Dance Square) around which the social life gravitates. The only buildings situated next to the fortifications are those of communal use: the school or the village hall. The parish house, along with the houses of the most wealthy villagers, are situated around this square. Also in most sites, barns for grain storage are situated close to the centre of the village.

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