The Church under the Belis Lake, Transylvania


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The Church under the Belis Lake, Cluj County can be easily observed in dry seasons, especially in hot summers when the lake’s level decreases. The Roman Catholic Church was built in 1913 by magnate John Urmanczy and is the only testimony of Belis village’s existence in the old location. On the walls of the church one can still see, despite its underwater location, wall paintings representing angels and biblical frescos.

Belis is a village in Transylvania, at an altitude of 1,000 meters, in the Gil?u mountains. There are no documents proving the date when Belis was founded or when the church was built. However, some historians believe the village was founded by shepherds, who almost lived in the area as their flocks grazed here. The first documents that mention Belis village, located between Bihor Mountains and Vl?deasa Gil?u, dates back from 1737.

Legend has it that during communism, in the village, people were announced that a flood was coming strong. The news reached for Bucharest, so they decided to erect a strong dam around the village, and all the inhabitants had to move to another location. The church, a symbol for Belis village was evacuated. Icons and chandeliers were taken from the church and carried away from the flood that would strike the village.

After the departure of the locals, the water rushed over the village and the church gradually disappeared into the lake.

Most of the year, the church is completely covered with water, and its foundation is more than 30 meters deep. However, despite unfavorable conditions the church remained standing.

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