The Black Church Brasov: Over 600 Years of History
The Black Church is over 600 years old, and is visibly the most iconic historical monument in the old part of Brasov. The largest hall-church east of Vienna and one of the biggest medieval churches from the Dome of Saint Stephen in Vienna to Saint Sophia Church in Istanbul, this impressive construction is impossible to miss if you’re wondering through the center of Brasov.
Its dimensions are monumental: 90 meters long, 25 to 37 meters wide, 65 meters tall, with a capacity of receiving up to 5,000 people and walls 21 meters high. Initially named Saint Mary’s Church, this 14th century edifice also has the biggest mobile bell in Transylvania, weighting around 6 tones.
Architecture and history
The construction works started in 1383, but were not completely finalized in 1421 when a massive Turkish invasion partly destroyed it. The Black Church was rebuilt in 1477, but at a smaller scale given the scarce resources and constant threats. The church was again damaged 200 years later, this time by a fire that blackened its walls. It’s after this fire of 1698 that Saint Mary’s Church starts to be known as the Black Church.
While initially the Black Church belonged to the Catholic confession that promoted donation for its construction as a sure way for sins forgiveness, things changed in the end of the 16th century when the Saxons of Transylvania, the German colonists who settled in this area starting with the 12th century, adopted Lutheranism. In fact, the first Evangelical Lutheran religious service in German was held in this church in 1542 by Johannes Honterus, the most important promoter of the Protestant Reformation in Transylvania.
The treasures of the Black Church Brasov
The Black Church from Brasov is representative not only for its large scale Gothic style looks, but also for its amazing interior that increases the importance and the value of this historical monument.
The church has the biggest mechanical organ in Romania, around 4,000 pipes and 63 registers. The edifice also preserves a rare collection of over one hundred old carpets from Asia Minor, dating from the 17th and the 18th centuries, donated over the years by the craftsmen, merchants and citizens of Brasov. Take a closer look, this is the largest collection outside Turkey of this kind.
Other remarkable values of the Black Church include the painted panels representing the symbols of the old trades and the religious virtues, the altars, the paintings inspired by the Reformation and the rock carved pulpit. The thematic exhibitions from the southern and northern tower will guide through the history of the church and the life of Johannes Honterus. In the same area, you can admire splendid rock carved funeral stones of the elite members of the community from the past centuries.
Dominating the old city center, the Black Church is the highlight of the city’s past 600 years, and visiting it remains one of the best things to do in Brasov.
If you’re looking for a memorable experience while visiting the Black Church, visit it during the summer months when once or twice a week the church organizes organ pipe concerts.