The tower of the Fortified Church in Rotbav, Brașov county and a part of the church fell in on Friday night, bizbrasov.ro states. Locals say the church has been fragile for many years, while accusing the Evangelic Church had not taken care of the church rehabilitation.
The chronicles of the smallest village in Ţara Bârsei mention that during the 13th Century, hoping for a better future, 20 Saxon families settled on the banks of a river, approximately 1.5km to the West from today’s location. Yet, their peaceful living was violently interrupted by a devastating enemy invasion. The inhabitants are said to have washed the wounds they got in battle in the local river, whose water turned red because of their blood, from where came the German name of the place “Rothbach” (the Red River) and the Hungarian one „Vörösmart“ (the Red Banks).
After this event the colonists moved East, founded the village and built the church. More precisely, the construction of the Saxon Evangelical Roman-style church started in 1250 and the surrounding wall is built in the 15th century. Later on, the church has been surrounded by the walls of a Transylvanian Saxon fortified fortress. The fortification used to shelter several storehouses, workshops, stables, a common kitchen, a beekeeping farm, but they have been destroyed following numerous sieges and fires.
The fortified church was a safe hideaway for Giorgio Basta, the emperor’s general in 1602, when it has been unsuccessfully attacked by the Transylvania’s prince Gabriel Bathory. The church and the village burnt down in the 1732 fire. The church was rebuilt, but it is only the belfry that stood up until nowadays.
The roof of the tower is inspired from the bell tower of the Black Church in Brasov and was built after the fire in the 1730s.
The chancel with domical vault and the nave with flat ceiling are furnished in Baroque style. Valuable are the backless benches of the women whose beams are joined together with a single dovetail and the clock built by the Zachariä company from Leipzig, which is still impeccably preserved.
Three circles are sculpted in the girder of the entrance gate: before the Protestant Reformation these used to symbolize “The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit”, and after that the significance of “love, faith, hope” was added to them. The three circles still exist on the coat of arms of Rotbav nowadays.
70,000 Transylvanian Saxon families used to live in Rotbav in the past, but now only 10 persons are coming to the church services, so that they are held only once a month.
Despite the great historical significance of the place, few tourists are coming to visit the church, as it’s not open to public at all seasons.
The legends say that under the current Evangelic church there are many secret channels and catacombs used for defense.