That the courtyards of Kézdivásárhely are unique is a fact, as proven by the most outstanding specialist in the field. In the present time, such settlements, of man-made origin, do not exist (at least, we do not know about them) in Transylvania, especially in such good conditions. These yards are used as small streets, the inner buildings being populated by families. They offer a spectacular, quasi-Sicilian image. Every tourist is amazed by this sight. With the new urbanization plans their number diminished, but still there are more than 60 street-like narrow alleys or courtyards – it is a yard and a street for the inner houses. Some of these courtyards are open; some have arcade-like entrances, while others are closed with gates. The city’s Guild History Museum is in a courtyard closed on both sides.
Géza Vámszer describes the courtyards as those Kézdivásárhely yard which metamorphosed into streets. Other cities in Szeklerland probably had these kinds of yards, but they all disappeared as a consequence of urbanization and renovation of the cities. In 1960 Kézdivásárhely had 71 courtyards, most of them opening from the main square of the city. Some time ago, every courtyard was a narrow in-lot, reaching to the parallel street, in the back of the main square. The house of an artisan or monger was in the front of the in-lot (facing the main square), followed by outbuildings (farm-buildings), in the back of the lot a rear exit let to the parallel street. The narrowness of the lot did not allow its lengthwise division; the growing families built their houses along the lot, this is how the courtyard became a like a street. In 1834, after a fire which destroyed the area around the main square, the authorities tried to rebuild a modernized city center. However, the citizens were keen on their courtyards and insisted on keeping them, so the rearrangement of the city became a failed plan. The courtyards were the family name of the inhabitants. Later, after foreigners were also admitted to these “yard communities”, the city’s management denoted the courtyards with numbers. Entered from the main square, through the gate of the artisan’s house, inside the narrow yard, on one side, the small, one level family houses can be found. Houses can be seen on the other side the walls of the neighboring courtyard. One courtyard has 10-12 houses.
From a touristic point of view, these courtyards make the city unique and attract tourists. The elder of the city recall how the narrow lots next to the main square were bought one after the other. The merchants, buying the lots were close to the fairs in the city square and they just exposed their merchandise in front of their own houses.
I have studied these courtyards since the 1960s and, as far as I remember, they did have not changed since then. There are tourist groups who come to here just to admire this unique way of urban living. In my perspective, these yards are unique and wonder-worthy. The smaller and larger buildings of the courtyards do not represent outstanding values, but their ensemble and how it was preserved until the present times is an important architectural monument.