The Cistercian Monastery of Cârța

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One of the most impressive medieval monasteries in Romania is located between the cities of Sibiu and Făgăraș, in southern Transylvania. Although today is mostly ruins, the Evangelical community managed to restore the eastern part of the church, the choir and the apse, part that it is still being used in the present.

Reconstituire_pentru_manastirea_cisterciana_din_CartaThe monastery was founded around 1200-1206 by the cistercian monks, who came in Transylvania under the protection of the hungarian kings. The first construction was a wooden basilica, and later in that century, the monastery was rebuild in stone, in romanesque and early gothic style.

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This monument is very important for the medieval art of Transylvania because its art and architecture influenced most of the other medieval churches, like the fortified churches of the saxons, and one of the most common taken decorations is the rose window.

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Unfortunately, all that remains are the ruins of the nave, the well preserved choir and apse, and the ruins of the eastern part of the abbey. The western facade of the church is still standing, along with the watch tower, built later, in the XVth century, when most of the transylvanian fortified churches were built.
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Between the  western facade and the restored apse and choir, there is an inside courtyard, in which are located the tombs of a few german soldiers of the world war I, the statue of Roland, made in 1928, and the local lapidary.

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The inside of the choir and apse is very well preserved, and it is still being used in the present by the evangelical community. The abbey was built under the protection of the Virgin Mary, her representation being visible in the keystone of the vault, in the apse.

DSCF4832The Cistercian Monastery of Cârța is one of the most important medieval monuments in Transylvania, being the only cistercian abbey still standing in Romania. It was the main influence in the local medieval architecture, and one of the most important and active religious centres in Transylvania, until the XVth century, when it was dissolved by king Matthias Corvinus. Although it is mostly ruins, the remains of the abbey are well preserved and definitely worth visiting.

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Where it all began…

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It all started in 2006, (I was just 13 years old) when my family and I went in a short trip in Italy, our first one abroad. We went just to see our relatives there, but in these days my parents decided that it’s a waste of time if we don’t visit anything important from the area.

So we went to Rome. I was shocked, though I felt so comfortable (you can see that from the pictures) that I cannot believe it yet.

We only had two days to visit the Eternal City, so in the first one we went to Vatican and we managed to visit just the Saint Peter’s church. I cannot tell you, there’s nothing bigger than that mass of marble, bronze and stone. Okay, maybe from the outside you cannot realize how big it is, but when you are inside it, you cannot believe that all that thing is real. We went first of all onto the dome, to see the panoramic view of the city, and after that in the interior of the dome, from where we saw the people down in the church like tiny ants. After all, we visited the inside of the church, with all the chapels, the famous St. Peter’s Baldachin and right before exiting the church, we only saw a bit of Michelangelo’s Pieta, because of the large crowd of tourists ahead. You can say that we saw very few things in one day, but in that summer (as always) it’s full of tourists. As I don’t have yet the pictures of Vatican, here’s a small video made by my father about our trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B6VH4_v1fo

The next day we went to see the Roman Forum. We went from the Trajan’s baths, to  the Colosseum, went through the Roman Forum, through Campidoglio and finished the tour at the Trajan’s Column, near Altare della Patria. We also had a short encounter with the Fontana di Trevi, in which we threw coins, as everybody does. I will let the pictures speak about this magnificent 2-days tour through this stunning city.

Though I haven’t seen much of Rome, and I knew nothing about History and Art, it was enough. This was my first encounter with the History and it was critical, even if I only had 13 years old.

I hope that this passion that grows every day will never fade.

A Jewel of Transylvania: the Evangelical Church of Dârlos

The evangelical church of Dârlos is one of the many transylvanian fortified churches, built by the saxons in the Middle Ages. Although many of these small fortresses still have the defensive walls and towers, the church of Dârlos is a special one. It has only the church itself, without  defensive walls or towers, but what makes it so special is the decorative programme that still remains. DSC06401

The church is still standing in its original form, except for a few changes that have not affected it very much visually.  It is a church hall built in the gothic style, with a simple, poligonal apse. On the western part, above the entrance, it is located the belfry, a small wooden structure. The western facade is a simple one, with few decorations, but very important for the art history of the area.

DSCF3002Along with the architecture, simple yet beautiful, the church amazes with its sculptural programme, where we can see different techiques in different parts in the edifice. The most important decoration is on the western facade, where it’s located the main portal, with very detailed vine and oak leaves decorations on the column capitalsDSCF1412

At last, probably the most important decoration of the edifice is the mural painting, dating back to the XVI century. Executed in a powerful byzantine style, the painting is visible mostly in the interior of the choir and apse, but also on the exterior walls, like the western portal and the top of the choir and apse walls. DSCF2822

The main problem here is that this monument is not so well known by the tourists, and it is in a poor state of conservation. It has visible cracks in the walls and the painting is slowly disappearing at the exterior part of the walls. It is in urgent need of restauration, and conservation, because it is plenty of work to do. What can we do now is to admire and promote this monument, so that everyone could enjoy such a wonderful piece of medieval art.