» » Dârjiu, the Only UNESCO Monument that Feeds its Inhabitants
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27-02-2015, 13:52

Dârjiu, the Only UNESCO Monument that Feeds its Inhabitants

Category: History / Transylvania / Dârjiu

Dârjiu, the Only UNESCO Monument that Feeds its InhabitantsIncluded in 1999, the church of Dârjiu is the only fortified Székely church on UNESCO’s world heritage list. The church was built after a Saxon model at the end of the thirteenth century. This stone church was provided with battlements and guard roads, which allowed the locals to fight the Tatar and Cuman invaders. The village of Dârjiu was first mentioned in a papal document issued in 1334. Originally, the Dârjiu church had the shape of a Roman basilica, but later on, in the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, this place of worship was extended and strengthened. The church has an average height of 15 metres, yet its roof still measures five metres. In the sixteenth century, following the transformation of Hungary into an Ottoman province, and in the context of the increasing Ottoman threat, the local Székelys erected a fortress wall, five metres high. This wall now measures 38 metres and is reinforced with a tower with two bells and five bastions.
Meanwhile, progressively, the Roman Catholic Church became Evangelical-Lutheran, then Calvinist-Reformed, and during the reign of King John Sigismund, it became Unitarian. The construction of the wall was completed in 1530, and in 1606 the city was conquered by the Austrian troops commanded by General Giorgio Basta. In 1661, the castle withstood an Ottoman siege. The fortified church of Dârjiu was also besieged by Ottoman troops during the War of the Kurucs.

Wealthy Traditions

The medieval church of Dârjiu still preserves some invaluable fresco fragments. During the Reformation, these frescoes were covered with lime. These depict the conversion of the Apostle Paul, the Martyrdom of the 10,000 babies and the legend of King Ladislaus, to name but a few. Locals believe that the sound of the metal bells in Dârjiu can ward off storm clouds. Within the citadel, the residents built storehouses for keeping food, still in use today. Grain deposits can only be accessed once a day, while the tower where the pork fat and ham are kept can only be opened once a week, namely on Wednesday mornings, when the bells are drawn. Only the Dârjiu bell keeper has the keys to the tower.
Each resident has a number of wooden pegs, used for hanging the meat products. The number of pegs indicates their social status. The pegs can not be bought, because nobody wants to sell them. They are passed on from one generation to the next. There are practically no thefts in Dârjiu, because offenders are punished by taking away their rights to use the pegs in the Pork Fat Tower. Tourists can witness the ceremonial cutting of the fat for a six Euros fee. In return, they receive pălincă (plum brandy), pork fat, ham, sheep cheese and homemade wine. In recent decades, the locals fashioned the habit of safekeeping their valuables inside the citadel, including the traditional bridal dowry chests.

Travel info:
The distance between Bucharest and Dârjiu is 283 kilometres. While is is only 191 kilometres from Cluj-Napoca, to the Székely village.

Foto: www.szekelyderzs.com
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