Europa Nostra and EIB Institute mission visits wooden churches in Romania

Heritage and financial experts from the leading European heritage organisation Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute visited representative wooden churches in Southern Transylvania and Northern Oltenia, Romania, listed among ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ heritage sites in Europe in 2014, and met with local, regional and national stakeholders to discuss the restoration and redevelopment strategies of these churches on 6-9 October 2014. The delegates praised “the remarkable efforts made by the local communities to rehabilitate these religious buildings of historic, social and cultural importance”, but highlighted that “they need to be backed at all levels”. The experts will help formulate a technical and financial action plan for the conservation of these churches before the end of this year.

Rescue Mission in Almasu Mic, Boz, Tarnavita and Ursi, Romania
The European delegation was comprised of Hermann Fabini, Member of the Scientific Council of Europa Nostra, Peter Bond, technical consultant provided by the European Investment Bank Institute, and Jan Kurek, a specialist in religious architecture and historic wooden constructions. On behalf of the national heritage NGO Pro Patrimonio, which made the nomination for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ programme, its Vice-president, Şerban Sturdza, and the architect Raluca Munteanu, were in attendance.

During the four-day mission, the delegates travelled about 1000 kilometres to visit the most iconic wooden churches in Southern Transylvania and Northern Oltenia, dating from the 18th-19th centuries, namely the church of Almasu Mic, which is in an advanced state of disrepair, the church of Boz, which is also in need of urgent intervention, the church of Tarnavita, which is in a better state of conservation, and the church of Ursi, which is currently being rehabilitated.

The Pro Patrimonio Foundation and the National Chamber of Architects developed a project aiming at saving several hundred wooden churches in Southern Transylvania and Northern Oltenia from destruction. The delegates appreciated the quality of the project and the conservation works which have already been carried out.

The main goal of Europa Nostra and European Investment Bank Institute’s mission was “to have a better understanding of the project and and to help it to move forward”. In order to better structure the programme and prioritise actions, the experts will collaborate with Pro Patrimonio Foundation and its partners to collect more data.

The program should focus on conservation rather then restoration. This fine distinction should be taken into consideration while the data – about current status, potential use, local interest, quality of the building (structure, details, decoration, painting, etc) and potential for interest outside the community – is collected and analysed.

“There is much potential but also many technical, administrative and financial challenges to be addressed. The restoration of these religious buildings would contribute significantly to the revival of old crafts, materials and construction techniques as well as to the training of young people. This could pave the way for routes between the villages, also stimulating traditional hospitality. It is a long-term program which requires the active and full collaboration of all stakeholders, namely the Orthodox Church, the local municipalities and the central administration,” stated the delegates.

The delegates had meetings with the following stakeholders:

Dacian Popescu, priest of Boz and Tarnavita
Miricescu Gabriel, priest of Almasu Mic
Florin Dobrei, priest, working for the Cultural Department of the County Hunedoara
Bishop Gurie of Deva and Hunedoara
Arch. Alexandru Gavozdea, President of the Chamber of architects of Sibiu
Cristina Daneasa, painting restorer
Valeriu Serban, priest of Ursi
Serban Constantin, Mayor of Ursi
Archbishop Varsanufie of Valcea
Florin Epure, director of the Cultural Department of the County Valcea
Radu Nastase, director of the National Institute of Heritage
Octavian Arsene, representative of the Ministry of Tourism

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