The Black Church is the most representative historic monument in Brasov, the greatest Gothic church in Transylvania and the greatest religious edifice from Vienna to Istanbul. More than that, inside the church there is one of the greatest organs in Europe, and also the largest collection of old carpets from Asia Minor.
At the heart of the fortified city, St. Mary’s Church, known as the Black church after the fire in 1689, was ambitiously rebuilt as of 1383 from the initiative of Thomas Sander, Rector. Thus it became the most important gothic edifice in South-Eastern Europe. The Council House was erected in 1420, right on top of the fur merchant’s shop. The building was extended later on, during the coming centuries. In the Middle Ages the church was surrounded by several edifices, most of which have disappeared, excepting the nucleus of the rectory (mentioned in documents in 1379, but in fact much older) and the vestiges of Saint Catherine Chapel (1388), most likely situated on the spot of the former Premonstratensian monastery, mentioned in 1235, that had been destroyed during the 1241 Tatar invasion.
In the course of evolution of Brasov’s town planning, the oldest built residential area is considered to be the northern side of the current Council Square and the adjacent area of the Targul Cailor Street (the Horse Market Street). The first documentary mention of a stone house in Brasov dates from 1360 and it refers to some medieval vestiges of the buildings that were delimiting the church square at that particular time.
The oldest wall paintings that decorate the churches of Brasov date from the last decades of the 14th century. Fragments thereof have been preserved in the northern side of the choir in the Black Church and in the southern-side chapel of St. Bartholomew Church, where figures of prophets and scenes from St. Nichola’s life may still be identified. The first information on the city’s active painters appeared right after the mid-15th century, in 1454. Even though extremely degraded, some images dating from that period have been preserved to this day.
Then, after almost 200 years, a fire partially destroyed it in 1689, and the smoke blackened the walls, and for a long period of time the facade couldn’t be renovated. The restoration lasted about 100 years, but the place of worship was called the Black Church, because of its black smoked walls .
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