On a side street in Dumbraveni, Romania, in a neighborhood full of gypsies, you’ll find the city’s old Roman-Catholic church. It’s over 1,000 years old, and it’s not being properly maintained, as is the case with many of Romania’s historic buildings. Looking at the building itself, it’s hard to believe it’s stood there for a millenium, but there it is. Sure, there are architectural details which date the building, but it’s not imposing, certainly nothing of the scale of the Armenian-Catholic church just a few blocks away from it.
When we got there, it was locked up. The front door — now made of iron — was bolted. The sign marking it as an historic monument was torn. The back doors were nailed shut, and so were the windows. One of the doors was even walled in.
I walked around the building, trying to avoid human feces that marked the grass courtyard, and noticed that even though the cellar doors were nailed shut, I could pry one of them ajar and squeeze through.
My sense of adventure got the better of me, and I went ahead. I grabbed a little LED flashlight from the car, and headed inside. It was clear the vaults underneath the church had been looted and vandalized, numerous times. There were countless footsteps in the sand, and trash left there by hooligans. Important architectural details, like the columns you see in one of the photos, were either shattered and on the floor, or downright missing.
The grave you see below, one of several built into the supporting walls of the vaults, has been desecrated, along with others. If you look carefully, you’ll see human bones among the rubble.
There was an iron door with intricate relief work, which leads to an inner sanctum. It was bolted shut, and I could see a serious amount of time has passed since it was opened.
There is a lower level to the vaults, partially uncovered here. I’m not sure if the walls below are stable enough for someone to go inside. I would have doubts about venturing there.
The intricate design of the mold on the vault walls is a possible indication that they were painted once.
There you have it. I’m not sure of this church’s fate. No caretaker was in sight when I was there, nor were there visible signs that the church was being cared for.