One of the discoveries in the recent vacation spent in Romania was an architectonic and historical jewel in the hills below the Carpathians, near Hunedoara. The road that descends South to the village of Densus (read Den-soosh) is picturesque and in very good condition, allowing the travelers to enjoy the landscape.

 

 

 

I knew nothing about this place and I am to blame. Some of the sources describe it as the oldest church which is still active in Romania. As you are getting closer the silhouette of the church arrows to the sky in a way which is quite familiar for anybody who has seen the Romanesque churches in hills and mountains of Spain or Southern France. The history of this place is truly fascinating, its walls and stones catch some of the most interesting events of this area at the crossroads of nations and religions. It seems that there was a church in this place since the 6th century, and some of the stones in the structure have been identified as originating from the nearby Roman city of Ulpia Traiana Sarmisegetusa (not to be confounded with the Dacian capital located a few tens of kilometers from Densus). Inside the church eight Roman altars built in the 2nd or 3rd century were identified – brought here from the Roman city, or maybe remains of a previous pre-Christian religious structure.

 

 

The present rectangular structure dates from the 13th century, with a semi-circular apse to the East and a large diaconicon to the South. The denomination of the church changed several times during its history – it became Calvinist in the 16th century, and then Greek-Catholic – a branch of Christianity specific to Transylvania which unified the local Greek-Orthodox tradition with the Western Catholicism. In 1948, during the Communist rule, the Greek-Catholic faith was declared illegal, and the church of Densus (as many other) became Orthodox. It is today dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

 

 

Elements of the Roman city stones which were brought here to build the church are visible in the structure (the columns incorporated in the external wall which remind the Cathedral in Syracuse, Sicily), or decoration (the two lions on the roof on the backside). There are also Latin inscriptions on the stones around, which may have been once part of the central structure.

 

source http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fi%C8%99ier:Sf_Treime_Densus.jpg

 

source http://www.evz.ro/detalii/stiri/castelul-corvinilor-vandut-la-suprapret-892383.html

 

Photography is not allowed inside the church, so I could not take pictures in the interior. You can see above two photographs I found on the Internet, they show some of the saints images painted on the interior walls that survived. The older are dated 1443, contemporary to works of Fra Angelico and they belong to a church painter famous in the his time named Stefan.

More photographs, as well as  more information and discussions about this fascinating place for these of you who can read Romanian can be found at:

http://www.crestinortodox.ro/biserici-manastiri/biserica-sfantul-nicolae-densus-67830.html