The Evangelical Church
The history of the city of Sibiu, in Sibiu County, is tightly interwoven with that of the XIV century Evangelical church that is now considered its main symbol, “a genuine memorial house of the Saxons”. The religious buildings in existence at the site of the current Evangelical cathedral account for the first official record of the city of Sibiu, in a 1191 document confirming the independence of the Germans’ Church of Transylvania.
In addition to being a splendid architectural work of art, the church is also famous for some of the mural paintings inside, the most important being the fresco on the northern wall of the choir, a monumental representation of the Crucifixion of Jesus authored by Johannes von Rosenau.
The tower of condemnation
With a height of 73.34 m, the tower of this cathedral is one of the highest towers of Transylvania, placing the entire cathedral first in a top of the highest medieval structures of Romania. Its construction began in about 1371, but only its first five levels were erected at that time. It was completed in 1491, when another two levels were added. The massive tower was then topped with a pointed roof surrounded by another four turrets, a symbol of the fact that the city had ius gladii, the right to absolve from or condemn a man to death.
Sculptures and bas-reliefs
The top part of the southern façade of the choir, above a Gothic door, is decorated with a bas-relief dating from the last quarter of the XV century, illustrating the Prayer on the Mount of Olives. The central and best preserved scene is of Jesus Christ kneeling in front of the goblet. Inside, one of the pillars of the northern lateral nave is decorated with a sculpture representing a human mask and the keystones with the symbols of the evangelists Luke and Mark, as well as sculpted representations of Jesus Christ holding a book and of the Lamb of God.
This cathedral is a monumental Gothic construction with a polygonal choir composed of three bays, bordered north by the sacristy, followed, to the west, by a transept, the central nave and the lateral ones. The southern and northern porches are marked by Gothic portals decorated with complex stone carvings made in 1457 and 1509, respectively. Above the southern portal, the older one, there is a small chapel. Inside, the church is dominated by a recent organ, dating from 1914 and boasting the title of the biggest one in South-Eastern Europe, even though the old organ has remained too, a veritable work of art built in 1671 and set in the choir balcony.
The narthex was built in 1448, as part of the westward extension of the church. However, in 1853 it was separated from the main body of the church to provide a place for more intimate ceremonies. Until the middle of the XVIII century the most important people of the city were buried in the church, but the custom was banned in 1796, with the one exception of baron Samuel von Brukenthal. Today the narthex contains a gallery of 67 tombstones, unparalleled in Romania, the oldest of which dates from 1496. It also contains the old stone pulpit, authored by Andreas Lapicida in 1520, a XVII century marble baptistery and the altar of Dobârca.