Friday, October 15, 2010

Virtual visits to Transylvanian medieval churches

Gelence (Ghelinta)

A new website provides a number of very-well done virtual visits (360
° panoramas) to Transylvanian sites. The site, called Treasures of Szeklerland introduces monuments and sites from the eastern part of Transylvania, the territory of the Szeklers. Several of the medieval churches on the site contain important fresco cycles - including some of my favorites. 

These are all small village churches, and in most cases the 14th century decoration of the naves survives. The cycles occupy the uninterrupted north wall of these churches, painted in several rows. Generally the upper row on the north wall is dedicated to the legend of King Saint Ladislas (ruled 1077-1095), more specifically the story where he frees a Hungarian girl abducted by the invading Cuman warriors.

Other cycles generally include the Passion of Christ, and often the Last Judgment. On the Treasures of Szeklerland website, some of the most important such cycles can be studied. I cannot provide direct links to different parts of the flash-based site, but upon starting, you will land inside the church at Gelence (Ghelinta). I also recommend the virtual visit of the following churches: Bögöz (Mugeni), Székelyderzs (Dirjiu, with frescoes from 1419), and Kilyén (Chilieni). Csíkrákos (Racu) has fewer frescoes, but here the entire western tower is decorated, probably from the 16th century. The Apor-mansion at Torja (Turia) preserved interesting secular painting from the mid-17th century. Inside the (virtual) churches, be sure to look up at the 17th-18th century painted coffered ceilings! A great advantage of the website is that it provides succinct information on the sites in English (as well as in Hungarian and Romanian).

Naturally, more and more websites offer similar panoramas (usually with Apple Quicktime software). I am listing a few more churches from Transylvania, with medieval wall paintings - first of all panoramas from the Kárpá site (click on the photos at the top of these pages, and then select one of the links with the Quicktime logo next to it - all info is in Hungarian):

Almakerék (Mâlăncrav / Malmkrog), a church with two sets of frescoes, with those in the nave dating from the 14th century, and the extensive cycle in the sanctuary dating from around 1400.

Szászhermány (Hărman / Honigberg) is a 13th century church built by Transylvanian Saxons. Here the frescoes are in a chapel built into the fortifications around the church - the panorama only shows the interior of the main church.

On another site, you can see Demsus  (Densus)
, an Orthodox church from the 13th century, with wall paintings from the 14th.

Finally, although most of its frescoes were destroyed, you should still pay a virtual visit to the cathedral of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia), about which I wrote on this blog earlier.

1 comment: