Originally, the old fortification of Brasov had 3 entrance gates. They were, at the same time, massive bastions, built to keep invaders outside the city walls . To these, two more were added lately. Only two of the five survive to tell the story of medieval Brasov: Ecaterina’s Gate and Schei Gate. Both of them are on the south-west part of the fortress. The others, mainly located on the northern side of the walls were demolished in the 19th century, just like the wall itself, mainly because they came in the way of traffic.
The Ecaterina’s Gate
Sirul Beethoven, Brasov
Ecaterina’s Gate was built in 1559 for defensive purposes. It is the only original city gate to have survived from medieval times. In fact the fairy-tale looking tower is only a part of the original gate; documents talk about the existence of a wooden structure which was demolished in 1827. The original structure can be seen at he Weaver’s Bastion where the large model of Brasov in 1600 is displayed.
Old documents mention it also under the name of Porta Valacce,the Vallah’s Gate because it was the only entrance for the Romanians living in Schei. They were not allowed to use the other four entrances. During the Saxon rule of the 13th to 17th century Romanians were forbidden from owning property inside the fortress walls and such they settled outside the wall in the neighborhood named Schei. Romanians could only enter the town at certain times and had to pay a toll at the gate for the privilege of selling their produce inside the citadel.
The four small corner turrets (also seen in other Transylvanian towns) symbolize the fact that the town had judicial autonomy, and the “right of sword” (ius gladii) which was the right to decide on capital punishment. Above the entrance the tower bears the city’s coat of arms, a crown on a oak tree trunk and roots. The Gate represents a transition in style. Underneath the four symmetrical corner-spires there is a small neo-classical front-piece with an inscription. The Renaissance, which had begun 100 years earlier in Central Europe, was beginning to make its mark in Transylvania.
The gate was in the care of the tailors’ guild.
The Schei Gate
The other remaining gate of the town is Schei Gate (Poarta Schei) right next to Ecaterina’s gate. The structure that we can see today was built in 1827, in Baroque style, and replaced the old Schei Gate which was heavily damaged by fire. The gate looks like a triumphal arch with three openings. Above the small arches on both sides of the gate there are inscriptions in Latin.