November 29, 2015

2080-2083 ROMANIA (Braşov) - Sânpetru and its fortified church

2080 Sânpetru - Aerial view (1994)

In 12th and 13th centuries, kings of Hungary colonized Transylvania with Germans, to defend the new southeastern border of the kingdom but also to develope the area. After 1211, they built in Burzenland, along a strategic road leading to the Buţii Pass, 14 settlements, including Sânpetru (Petersberg). Also at that time, King Andrew II of Hungary invited the Teutonic Knights to settle and defend the Burzenland. Even if in 1225 the king expelled the Order from the area, alarmed by their rapidly expanding power, the colonists remained, and the settlement lasted until the present.

2081 Sânpetru - The interior of
the evangelical church

The colonists were named Transylvanian Saxons, but actually they came primarily from the Rhine Valley. The mainly three arguments are the language (a Franconian dialect), the names of the settlements (for instance are two Petersberg near to Trier), and the plan of the settlement. It is noteworthy that the settlers founded the village along the road above mentioned, with two almost parallel streets (the main street - Vordergasse, and the cemetery street - Hintergasse) between 1211-1225, the feature that lasts until today.

2082 Sânpetru - A frescoe from the chapel of the fortified church

In the center of the commune is a fortified church, used by locals as a refuge in case of danger. The tradition relates the beginning of the construction of the basilica to the presence of the Teutonic Knights and the ending with to the Cistercian monks who took over the construction site after the knights were banished; most probably the church was built at the beginning of the 14th century. After the devastating Turkish invasion in 1432, the community built an 8m high defensive wall fortified with 5 towers and a water trench.

2083 An anatolian carpet that belonged to the Lutheran Church,
now in the Black Church in Brasov

The Romanesque basilica was dismantled in 1794, after the belfry had collapsed over the church. The three nave hall church built later in a neoclassic style has the choir orientated towards the west. The ceiling of the church is supported by four pairs of octagonal pillars and the aisles were provided with lofts. The belfry placed on the east was built in 1817. To the curtain wall was annexed a 13th century long and narrow building with successive rooms which functioned as cells for the Cistercian monks. Some of them preserved traces of paintings.

The Corporis Christi chapel, with an ossuary that belonged to the monks can be found in the northeast tower. The chapel was the base for a future bastion, two rooms having resulted after its raising. With a cross vault on stone ribs and two entries with stone frames, the chapel is very valuable due to its mural paintings, very rare, because the majority were destroyed after the Reformation. On the upper part of the north wall can still be seen a rare scene of the catholic iconography - the Transubstantialisation.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the third set of a very extensive series, entitled Romanian Pottery, about which I wrote here.

Sânpetru - Wikipedia
De-a lungul timpului (rom.) - The official website of the commune's administration
Sânpetru / Petersberg - Fortified Churches

Sender 2080-2083: Dănuţ Ivănescu
Sent from Buşteni (Prahova / Romania), on 08.09.2011
Photo 2080-2082: Martin Rill
Photo 2083: George Dumitru

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