Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Franciscan Church

The Franciscan Church and monastery were built in the first medieval centre of the town, in today's Museum Square. The Church was the first place of worship of medieval Cluj-Napoca. It was erected around 1260 until 1290 in the place of a pagan temple and the old church of the settlement destroyed during an invasion of the Tartars who plundered the city. The locals have always known this place of worship as the "church of the brethren", which derives from the Hungarian "barat", meaning brother monk.

The church is the burial place of many prominent Hungarian aristocrats. Theatrical plays were performed here and the Gothic monastery next to the church hosted a printing house for the first half of the 20th century under the name of Saint Bonaventura.

The latest restorations performed on the building brought to light the Romanesque style of the original construction, yet the facade displays Gothic elements which were screened by the Baroque alterations introduced in the time of the Franciscan monks. A 52-meter high tower with a bulbed roof, the most recent and important element of the Baroque, covered the central window in the 18th century.

Johannes Nachtigall sculptured the statues of patron saint Virgin Mary, St Jeremiah and St Anthony. The main altar, divided by three columns with Doric and Ionic capitals, displays a copy of a painting of Virgin Mary from Santa Maggiore Church in Rome. The painting is flanked by the statues of St Stephen and St Joseph.

Photos courtesy of Sanziana Craciun.

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