European funds for Romanian wooden churches’ rehabilitation

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Experts of Europa Nostra, the main European heritage organization, and of European Investments Bank Institute are in Romania for a three-days mission to sound out the rehabilitation of the northern Oltenia and southern Transylvania wooden churches, through “The 7 most endangered sits” programme. The Pro Patrimonio Foundation has nominated the Romanian wooden churches. Herman Fabini, member of Europa Nostra’ s scientific council, Peter Bond, EIB’s representative, Krakow renowned expert in religious architecture Jan Kurek and architect Serban Sturdza, vice-chairman of Pro Patrimonio and initiator of the project has met Hunedoara and Valcea local leaders to find means of proceeding with the ambitious project.

Precisely, the “60 wooden churches” project is meant to save and conserve the rural heritage of northern Oltenia and southern Transylvania dating back to 16th -19th centuries. The project was set up in 2009 and is functioning with the help of 100 youngsters, who are mostly volunteering and have various professions. Serban Sturdza says the name of the project is generic. “There are between 50 and 80 wooden churches in these regions, we picked up a random 60 figure to give an image on their importance as a compact group, not as some individual objects, and as elements belonging to a very important cultural scenery. No matter how this action is taking, the figure 60 will not change (…) for another church will enter the program. There are so many of them waiting in line for workover jobs”, Sturdza said, as quoted by Mediafax. He added the project is not only a religious one, but also cultural, also targeting and involving local communities. The experts’ team has already visited Boz, Târn?vi?a, Alma?u Mic and Ur?i wooden churches and had meetings with local communities, parish priests and mayors.

In his turn, Peter Bond said there is a unique inheritance in Romania that is facing extinction and warned that would be a pity, not only for Romania but also for Europe. Architect Jan Kurek said there is a wooden churches issue also in Germany, France or Scandinavia.

As for funding, Sturdza unveiled that funds have come only from private persons so far and there was no Government, Culture Ministry or Romanian Orthodox Church involvement. According to the project’s initiator, attempts were made to attract the partnership of some ministries (Development or Agriculture ministries) but unsuccessfully.

Europa Nostra is the pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage, covering almost 50 countries across Europe and beyond. It is composed of over 250 member organizations (heritage associations and foundations with a combined membership of more than 5 million people), 150 associated organizations (governmental bodies, local authorities and corporations) and also 1500 individual members. Europa Nostra’s main goal is to place heritage and its benefits in the mainstream of public consciousness and to make heritage a higher priority for public policy both at European and national levels. It was founded in 1963, and it is presently based in The Hague (Netherlands).



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