The secular heritage
In all of Transylvania, thousands of historical houses, mills, barns and attics are in an advanced state of degradation.
Living isolated and with little financial power, their inhabitants are usually unaware of the historical value they have in their possession. This is not a surprising phenomenon: as most of the Saxons left Romania after ’89, these areas are now inhabited by a mix of people from different cultural origins.
By launching The Whole Village Project project we wanted to give an alternative not only to the arbitrary local development but also to the abandonment of the heritage.
In the beginning, for a strong visual impact and to stimulate local pride, we did a little bit of face lifting – we plastered and painted the house fronts, we revealed the Latin and German inscriptions, fixed the windows, window shades and roofs.
But renovating only one house or one church can look discrepant. Even if we would have recreated the entire architectural harmony of the medieval street landscape, this would have been only a temporary accomplishment if the locals did not embrace the practice. And for this, we had to improve their living conditions.
Even if the villagers don’t have a natural bond with the historical Saxon inheritance, they start looking at it as an economical resource that might become, with a little help, a dependable income source. This is how we build a future for both the local communities and the historical landscape.
Renewing the laic heritage:
The Apafi mansion, a tumultuous history
The mansion is the ex hunting lodge of the royal Apafi family - Transylvania’s rulers in the 17th century. This beautiful house is located above the village of Mălâncrav, on a plateau next to the fortified medieval church and the fruit orchard.
Documents found in the Budapest National Library tell us about the changes made to both the interior and the exterior of the house between 1679 and 1778. These writings talk about “elegantly painted” frescos with scenes from the Old Testament decorating Mihai Apafi and his wife Princess Kata’s living room.
After the Apafi blood line ended in the 18th century, the property went to their cousins – the Bethlens, and was eventually sold off. The Revai Encyclopaedia reveals that is has been rebuilt in 1830 by its then owner - count Haller - and inherited later on by his wife Suzanna.
In 1865 the British traveler Charles Boner, arriving in Mălâncrav during a trip around Transylvania, wrote about “the naked ruins of a Hungarian lady’s mansion… In the cellar, filled with tasty wine during the revolution, barrels lay broken and their precious drink spilled… I have tasted the excellent old wines that were once found here.”
Rebuilt and sold again, it was finally donated to the Saxon church in 1920. In 1949, communist troops confiscated and looted it. It was not completely abandoned though, but turned into a community centre, with a concrete kitchen added and a stage in the old Princess Kata’s living room.
With a lot of commitment and consistency, the MET together with the Mălâncrav locals have brought the Apafi mansion back to life.
The Furriers’ Tower, Sighișoara
The Tower House shares the north wall with the Furriers’ Tower and connects to the Butchers’ Tower in the south, through an arched gate.
Only eight towers still stand from the old defence system of the Sighișoara fortress. Each of them was built by one of the craftsmen guilds of the city.