Fortified churches were built across the whole of Europe, from the Pirinei mountains to the Carpathians, from Scandinavia to Spain, but those in Transylvania were the biggest and the strongest of them all. And while those in the west and the centre of Europe disappeared, those in Transylvania survived, as a necessity of life, until late in the 19th century. The fortified churches developed as a new original architectonic concept, with a life of their own, reflecting the essential features of the Transylvanian Saxons: energy, perseverance, courage, and solidarity.Fortification started in 1241, after a great attack by the Tartars, who destroyed and burned everything in their way, decimating the population and setting back development of the province for many years. That was when the Saxons, the first to recover from the shock and pain, adjusted from being simple peasants working the fields to become creative builders and architects. The need to survive taught them how to build walls that cannot be destroyed or conquered. The Saxons built and fortified more than 300 churches, most of them in the southern part of Transylvania, close to the border of the kingdom. Today only about half of them can still be seen in old villages, spread all over Transylvania. At that time, they were important centers of Catholicism.