Gumbo’s latest visit was to the famous Black Church of Brasov, Romania, the largest Gothic church in the country, and the largest Lutheran church there. As you can see from the picture, it isn’t really black anymore, but it got that name after it was damaged by fire and smoke in 1689. Another view of the church appeared in the answer blog for Where in the World #9.
it took a little longer than usual, but WorkerBee, ace problem solver, got the solution.
The church dates to the mid-1300s, and was built by Bulgarian workers for the German community in the town. That should give you an idea of Brasov’s history. The Germans were there because the kings of Hungary in the 11th century invited them there to develop mines and towns in the region.
Entrance to the church
Brasov is in southern Transylvania, an area that has passed back and forth between Hungary and Romania. At the time the church was built, Brasov was a pre-dominantly German-speaking community, known to its residents as Kronstadt. From 1950 to 1960, it was renamed Stalin City. Today, it has a population of 250,000 in a metropolitan areas of nearly 400,000.
The church has a six ton bell, the biggest in Romania, an organ with 4,000 pipes built in 1839 which is played during weekly concerts, and a collection of Anatolian carpets donated by German merchants to decorate walls as well as floors. Now they’re on display, not on the floor!
Brasov Town Center
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Transylvania was a vassal of both the Ottoman Turkish and Habsburg empires; late in the 17th century, the Habsburgs drove out Turkish governors and communities. The invasion of the area by Austrian troops in 1689 was the cause of the fire that turned the church black.
Here's a before-and-after: a 17th-century engraving of the walled town as it appeared in 1689 before the fire, with the Black Church near center, and a 2006 aerial photo of the modern city.
Don't forget to check out Where in the World is Gumbo #13!