Dumbrăveni ((before 1945 “Ibașfalău”; German: “Elisabethstadt”; Saxon dialect: “Eppeschdorf”; Hungarian: “Erzsébetváros”) is an historically significant town in Transilvania. Archaeological digs revealed proof that it was an inhabited place as early as the Paleolithic. We fast-forward through history to come to the time of the Hungarian colonization/occupation of Transilvania, when in 1214, it became part of a region controlled by the Hungarian rulers.

In 1552, the Apafi family obtained all of the land around the town of Dumbraveni and Grigore Apafi became the ruler. He immediately began the construction of a castle in the center of the town, a castle of which I will talk in a future post. The interesting part of it is that the castle adjoins the Armenian Catholic church, or rather that the church ended up being built next to it hundreds of years later.

The Armenians were invited to colonize the region in 1671 by the Apafi family. As they were very good merchants and the town was already a market town, they (and the town) quickly prospered. In turn, they gained a good amount of autonomy and in 1766, they started the construction of this large church right next to the Apafi Castle. The construction ended in 1783 and the church was dedicated to St. Elizabeth, in concordance with the town’s new name (at the time) of Elisabethopolis. (source)

As a structure, the church is striking. You’d have to visit a Western European town to find its equivalent. Scale-size, it is much larger than the churches of its time in Romania. One thing you’ll notice right away is the facade is asymmetric, and that’s because the top of one of the towers was knocked down by a storm in 1927. Instead of re-creating the cupola, the town decided to cover it with a flat roof.

The church altar and statues were made by sculptor Simon Hoffmayer. The church hall houses a valuable collection of books, about 2200 volumes on religion, language and natural sciences from the 16th-19th centuries, written in Italian, Armenian, Hungarian, and French Altin. (source)

By the way, there’s another old Catholic church in Dumbraveni, with catacombs. That one doesn’t seem to be maintained and isn’t known by tourists. You can see it here.

Enjoy the photographs!

Places

The Armenian Catholic Church in Dumbraveni

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Places

The Franciscan Church in Medias

According to monastic records, construction of the Franciscan compound in Medias, Romania, began in 1444. The compound includes a monastery, the church (which you can see in the photos shown here) and various annexes. In 1556, after the formerly-Catholic townspeople joined the Reformation, the monks were run out of town, and the buildings were used for various lowly purposes, such as stables, etc.

On a side note, I’m not a Catholic, but it seems to me that using a church as a stable just shouldn’t be done, no matter what its denomination may be.

In 1721, the buildings and the site were returned to the Franciscan order, and monks were invited back into the city, although by now the buildings were run-down and in desperate need of serious renovations. The church, originally of Gothic architecture, gained Baroque stylings on the inside, and the other buildings were re-built as needed.

The church doors were built in 1764, according to the numbers carved unto them.

Nowadays, part of the monastery’s compound is being used by the Medias Municipal Museum, and in the last few years, a Hungarian school has been built on the monastery’s land. The school is scheduled to go into use this fall. There’s more information on the monastery’s history (in Romanian).

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