The ICon Arts Academy classes take place at about 15 km away from Sibiu, in an area rich in touristic and historic sites, wonderful landscapes and remarkable people: Cisnadie (Heltau) and Cisnadioara (Michelsberg).
Cisnadie was founded by German colonists, later to be referred to as Saxons (sasi), brought here by the King of Hungary, at the foot of the Magura Massif (1304 m), to protect the kingdom’s borders.
The name of Heltau was first mentioned in a document from the year 1323; however, the current name of the town, Cisnadie, was first documented in 1204.
The destiny of this town is not much different from that of other Saxon settlements. Throughout history they were attacked by the Ottomans (and others), they were faced with plague epidemics and went through the Reformation of the Catholic Church. However, Cisnadie was the site of some important first time events: The first clock tower of Transylvania was built here in 1425 and the first lightning rod in Transylvania was mounted on the church tower in 1797, built after the design of Magistrate Raimarus of Hamburg. In the same year the first street lamp post of South-Eastern Europe was built here.
This year, Cisnadie is celebrating 810 years of existence.
As far as touristic sites are concerned, The Museum of Textile Industry is worth a visit, being the only one of its kind in Romania, where visitors are welcome to discover and become acquainted with Transylvanian traditions.
A longer visit should be paid to the Evangelic Church of Cisnadie. It was built in the 13th century as a Romanesque basilica with three naves and suffered many alterations in time; in the 15th and 16th centuries it was transformed into a Gothic church. The church was surrounded by three walls containing defence aisles, towers and ramparts, as well as floodable ditches. Nowadays, the ditches are filled up with dirt, but the aisles and some of the towers have survived the test of time: the Guard’s Tower, the Town Hall Tower, The Lard Tower, The Sickle Makers’ Tower, The School Tower and the tower within the parish garden.
This well-preserved monument also hosts two exceptional and very precious church organs and large halls, making it the perfect space for the ICon Arts classes and concerts.
At about 5 km from Cisnadie is Cisnadioara (Michelsberg), yet another old Saxon settlement, first documented in 1223 when Magister Goulinus donated the fortified basilica uphill to the Cistercian monastery of Carta.
The Basilica was raised in honour of Saint Michael – thus the name of the settlement, “Michael’s burg” – and it is one of the oldest fortified churches and an excellent example of the Romanesque style in Transylvania.
While the small town hosts the participants in the Academy and some of the workshops, the extraordinary acoustics of the basilica offers the ideal background for the closing ceremony of the ICon Arts Academy, in the first Sunday of August.