©Cincu Evangelische Kirche (copyright creative commons)
History of the church
This Saxon fortified church was built around the middle of the XIII century by German settlers and dedicated to the Virgin Mary
The Cincu fortified church is located on a small hill between the rivers Olt and Hârtibaciu, a site so inaccessible from the north, east and south – due to the very steep slopes of the hill – that the church only needed defense systems on its west side.
While the two rows of fortification walls have survived only in fragments, the church is actually in very good shape, but has gone through many changes since it was first erected. Built in 1265 by German colonists, it was rebuilt in the first half of the XVI century in Gothic style, then rebuilt again in the XVIII century. A rare feature of this church worthy of note is the fact that it initially had two patron saints, the Virgin Mary and Saint Paul.
In terms of architectural composition too, the church that can be seen today is quite different from what it looked like at the beginning. At first it had three naves of different heights, which were subsequently all brought to the same height. The lateral naves, measuring about 38 m in length and located on both sides of the western spire, are 10 m longer than the central nave. The spire was renovated after a big fire and it was on that occasion that the central nave became smaller than the two lateral ones. The most important element of the church – and one of its main attractions – is the altar, painted with scenes illustrating the Incredulity of Saint Thomas. The altar had been initially made for the church of Moșna and then bought by the locals of Cincu, who brought in a great painter of Sibiu to decorate it. The paintings on the lower part of the altar actually represent members of the local community, painted in the dress of local shepherds.
The church is considered one of the most valuable architectural monuments of medieval Transylvania. It is one of the largest Roman basilicas to have ever been built by a Saxon community in Romania. The entire stronghold is listed today as a national historical monument and is composed of the following: the church proper, with a long and complex history, the fortified inner court and bulwark, dating from the XIV to XVII centuries, and the fortified outer court, dating from the XVI to XVII centuries.