Christianity made its inroads in this land sometimes in the 3rd century. Converts banished from the Roman Empire found a new home in Dobrogea, the region on the coast of the Black Sea and migrated towards the Carpathians settling in the mountains where they dug dwellings in the limestone rock living a life of seclusion. They were coming from various places including the web of caverns in Capadochia where they built churches in the cavernous rock. In the Buzau area they did the same and in time converted their original dwellings in churches in a religious frenzy that continued till the 18th century. The local cult of the goddess was also present in the region, the Cybilla being transposed in the name of various local villages like Sibiciul, but in time was completely replaced by Christianity remaining only in superstitions little understood by today inhabitants and adopted in time by Christian mythology.
There are many of these primitive dwelling with altars and openings going deep in the mountain. We did not have enough time for a one full day tour of all the dwelling organized by Diana Gavrila (https://ro-ro.facebook.com/gavrila.diana) and I stopped for a short while in Alunis to visit its dug in the rock church. The church that was built in the 13th century was used continually till nowadays and is the active church of the village. Besides the church there are three other dwellings cut in limestone.
The place is enchanting but to get to it is a real challenge. The road, once paved, got completely destroyed together with the access bridge that has a sign that is in danger of collapse. The 13 km passes Colti village that has a Amber Museum, a stone that can be found in the mountains nearby, and stumbles towards Alunis where a large poster states that the road was paved with European Funds…..
When you cross the Siriu Mountains over the artificial dam you enter a completely different world.
Southern Transylvania was populated in the 12th century by Saxons.Together with them, a little bit latter, came the Teutonic Knights, order established in Accra to protect the pilgrims that were going to the Holy Lands. The knights represented a force that tried to juggle influence between the King of Hungary and the Pope and eventually were expelled but their heritage remained. The towns built in those times in Southern Transylvania were concentrated around a fortified church with a unique architecture. We stopped in Prejmer and Harman, two of these towns whose streets are aligned with German houses with attached walls and tall gates.
The Evangelical Church in Prejmer, the largest of the fortified churches, is surrounded by a tall thick guard wall in which were built shops and the school beside the administration of the citadel. Inside the wall, on the guard walk were the guns that were protected the city. The church is located in the middle of the town being surrounded by other schools that started to operate in that region in the 17th century. Most of the small towns of Southern Transylvania have this type of architecture that started to be renovated in recent years.