The Black Church of Brasov
Tourists from all over the world, as well as from all corners of Romania, flock to the town of Brașov every year, attracted by its various historical sites and monuments, not the least of which is the Black Church, a XIV century Gothic cathedral of unparalleled beauty and outstanding significance.
There are so many things that make this church stand out even among other, equally famous constructions of the same kind, that one would have trouble identifying the most important element. It could be the fact that it is the largest Gothic church in south-eastern Europe, or that its spire hosts the largest bell in the whole of Romania, a bronze contraption weighing 6 tons. Or one of the many other fascinating aspects that entrance its visitors as soon as they set foot inside.
Black and unshakable
The Black Church, built in the very center of Brașov, was erected in 1380 as a Catholic church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and subsequently passed into the hands of the Evangelicals. Between the XV and XVII centuries the church was affected by several earthquakes, as well as a violent fire, in 1689, that left the walls of the ruin blackened by smoke. This was how the church acquired its current name.
A carpeted path through history
The Black Church of Brașov hosts the second largest collection of Oriental carpets in Europe, most of them dating from the XV and XVI centuries. Approximately 110 such carpets are on display inside the church, creating a very vivid and colorful atmosphere, in stark contrast with the “blackness” of the rest of the church.
At 89 meters long and 38 meters wide, the Black Church stands as the biggest Gothic place of worship of south-eastern Europe, being able to accommodate about 5000 people at a time. It is also the largest sacred building in Romania, the greatest hall church east of Wien, and one of the most important medieval places of worship in Europe. Architecturally, it is a hall church pertaining to the late Gothic era, composed of a choir, a nave and a tower. The exterior of the choir is supported by 15 buttresses, each of them fitted with a small canopy and a miniature statue underneath it, a rare feature in Transylvanian churches. Inside, one of the most impressive sights is the enormous organ, made between 1836 and 1839 and composed of 3993 pipes, the longest of which reaches about 13 m. Long, wide, high, and breathtakingly beautiful, this is indeed a cathedral of giants.
In addition to being a monumental religious and architectural asset of world culture, the Black Church also includes a priceless thesaurus that includes countless works of art. Among them, the main altar, a Neo-Gothic structure dating from 1866; the bronze baptistery, dating from 1472, one of the very few assets to have survived the great fire; the pulpit, dating from 1696; the XV century altar of Feldioara, illustrated with scenes from the Life of Christ; the Gothic portals, dating from 1447; the Fresco of the Virgin Mary, dating from the XV century; the statue of Honterus de Harro Magnussen, dating from 1898.